Javid 'Sorry' for COVID-19 Losses After Report Decries One of UK's 'Worst Public Health Failures'

© AP Photo / Frank AugsteinFILE - In this Monday, April 1, 2019 file photo, Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives at 10 Downing Street for a knife crime summit in London. Britain is set to get a new prime minister, but only members of the Conservative Party have a say in the decision
FILE - In this Monday, April 1, 2019 file photo, Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives at 10 Downing Street for a knife crime summit in London. Britain is set to get a new prime minister, but only members of the Conservative Party have a say in the decision - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.10.2021
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After a year-long inquiry conducted by two committees of the House of Commons, UK lawmakers earlier published a report about the government’s early response to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he is “sorry” for the suffering the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, while conceding that “there are lessons to learn from this period for the UK government and for governments across the world”.
“Yes, of course I'm sorry. Obviously I am new in the role but on behalf of the government I am sorry for, during the pandemic, anyone that suffered, especially anyone that lost a loved one, a mother, a dad, a brother, a sister, a friend. Of course I am sorry for that,” said Javid, appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Commenting the publication on Tuesday of a health select committee report which found the UK government’s management of the crisis “one of the worst public health failures in British history”, Javid appeared not to regret urging the government to prioritise the economy over introducing coronavirus lockdown.
“I don’t think I got it wrong based on the information I had at the time, but … I was out of the government when decisions were made,” said Javid.
The former Chancellor who was removed in a cabinet reshuffle in January 2020 but later took over as Health Secretary after Matt Hancock quit over an affair with an aide in June, said he had been a "humble backbencher” at the time when decisions were made. Javid, who revealed that he had not read the report in detail, added:
“I do think when governments make decisions should they be thinking beyond a single department and thinking about the wider interests of society and the public.”
According to the minister, he was “not in a position to look back at every decision made”, with the upcoming public inquiry better equipped to handle the matter.
‘Public Health Failure’
UK ministers and MPs have been weighing in on the publication of a damming report by the Commons Science and Health Committees into the pandemic, which stated that while the UK’s pandemic planning had been “globally acclaimed, it performed less well than other countries when we needed it most”. Accordingly, thousands of lives were lost due to delays and errors by ministers and their scientific advisers.
© AFP 2022 / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVASA veteran wearing a Royal Hospital Chelsea hat, and in PPE (personal protective equipment) of a face mask, as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, stands outside the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London
A veteran wearing a Royal Hospital Chelsea hat, and in PPE (personal protective equipment) of a face mask, as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, stands outside the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.10.2021
A veteran wearing a Royal Hospital Chelsea hat, and in PPE (personal protective equipment) of a face mask, as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, stands outside the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London
Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay refused to apologise 11 times during an interview on Sky News on Tuesday.
“We followed, throughout, the scientific advice. We got the vaccine deployed extremely quickly, we protected our NHS from the surge of cases," he insisted.
Tory chairman Oliver Dowden was cited by Sky News as saying he was “very sorry”, acknowledging that “we didn't get everything right.”
According to Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, saying sorry is the “least the PM could do” as he urged a public inquiry to be brought forward.
“The PM should take responsibility because the responsibility is his, and he should apologise,” said Starmer.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed a formal inquiry into the government's response to the pandemic by Spring 2022, promising that high-profile players would be put “under the microscope.”
A 150-page report by the joint Health and Social Care, and Science and Technology Committees, a cross-party group of MP, published the first major probe into the government’s handling of its early response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday.
© AP Photo / Alastair GrantPeople, some wearing masks queue outside a John Lewis store, in London, Thursday, July 16, 2020. Unemployment across the U.K. has held steady during the coronavirus lockdown as a result of a government salary support scheme, but there are clear signals emerging that job losses will skyrocket over coming months
People, some wearing masks queue outside a John Lewis store, in London, Thursday, July 16, 2020. Unemployment across the U.K. has held steady during the coronavirus lockdown as a result of a government salary support scheme, but there are clear signals emerging that job losses will skyrocket over coming months - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.10.2021
People, some wearing masks queue outside a John Lewis store, in London, Thursday, July 16, 2020. Unemployment across the U.K. has held steady during the coronavirus lockdown as a result of a government salary support scheme, but there are clear signals emerging that job losses will skyrocket over coming months
Early 2020 decision “failures” pertaining to lockdowns and social distancing on the part of the British government had “led to many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided”, it claimed, as it slammed insufficient community testing capacity, inadequate and “chaotic” £37bln test and trace system, reluctance to challenge scientific advice, and excess efforts to avoid lockdowns.
© AFP 2022 / TOLGA AKMENPeople pass signs indicating the entrance to the London Bridge Vaccination Centre in London on August 9, 2021
People pass signs indicating the entrance to the London Bridge Vaccination Centre in London on August 9, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.10.2021
People pass signs indicating the entrance to the London Bridge Vaccination Centre in London on August 9, 2021
While hailing the development and deployment of the UK’s Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, both officials and scientific advisers were criticised for “groupthink” and “a policy approach of fatalism.”
Lawmakers were reproached for concluding that “herd immunity by infection was the inevitable outcome.”
The UK's government was found to have made a “serious early error” as its response to the challenges of the pandemic was too “narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model”, claimed the report, failing to draw lessons from Sars, Mers and Ebola outbreaks.
The probe cited former government adviser Neil Ferguson as warning members of Parliament that a national lockdown introduced just a few days earlier “would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half.”
“Decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic — and the advice that led to them — rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced,” the lawmakers concluded.
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