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UK defends coronavirus response after Reuters investigation

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UK defends coronavirus response after Reuters investigation

By Andrew MacAskill



UK's Raab says virus not peaked; too early to lift lockdown


LONDON (Reuters) - The British government defended its early handling of the coronavirus epidemic after a Reuters investigation found its scientific advisers were too slow to communicate their growing concerns about the outbreak to the public and ministers.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially approved a much more modest response to the outbreak than other major European countries, who took more stringent measures, though he later approved an effective shutdown of the United Kingdom.


Reuters reported this week that the scientific committees that advised Johnson did not study in detail, until mid-March, the option of the kind of stringent lockdown adopted early on in China, where the disease arose in December.


As they watched China impose its lockdown, the British scientists assumed that such drastic actions would never be acceptable in a democracy like the United Kingdom, the Reuters investigation found.


But Patrick Vallance, the government's top scientific adviser, said that modelling was carried out quickly enough to effectively inform Britain's reaction to the pandemic.


"It's not correct that we didn't model it until March. We modelled it throughout February," Vallance said at a news conference in Downing Street. "We modelled all of the interventions you have now seen."


Asked by Reuters why members of the modelling committee said that they had not carried out detailed modelling for a lockdown until March, Vallance said: "I know what happened, and I've just told you what happened, and the modelling came in from a variety of different sources."


The United Kingdom is entering what scientists say is the deadliest phase of the outbreak, with deaths expected to continue to rise over the Easter weekend.


Total UK hospital deaths from COVID-19 rose by 881 to 7,978 as of 1600 GMT on April 8, the government said on Thursday.


Minutes of technical committees reviewed by Reuters also indicate that almost no attention was paid to preparing a programme of mass testing.

After developing a test for the new virus by January 10, health officials adopted a centralized approach to its deployment, initially assigning a single public laboratory in north London to perform the tests.


But early on there was no wider plan envisaged to make use of hundreds of laboratories across the country, both public and private, that could have been recruited.


Chris Whitty, the government's chief medical adviser, who earlier this week admitted that the government should have moved much faster to mass test, said one of the problems was the government wanted to be sure the test worked.


"Initially we had to start off to make sure the test worked," Whitty said at the Downing Street briefing on Thursday. "We had to be confident about that and then it was rolled out in stages and continues to be rolled out in stages."



-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-04-10
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A conspiricy troll post has been removed:


Any posts or topics which our moderation team deems to be scaremongering, deliberately misleading or has been posted to deliberately distort information will be removed without warning. You may also be subject to a posting suspension or have your profile permanently suspended from the site. 

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, pegman said:

It seems big money interests dictated the response in some countries. Let the good times roll. Don't do anything to slow the boom economy. Both bumbling Boris and Trump tried to delay the inevitable and it is costing their respective populations dearly. Some western countries like Canada did get an early jump on testing and isolating people. I saw a poll today where Trump had a 42% approval rating for his handling of the pandemic. By contrast Trudeau was at 74% approval. One Canadian premier was at a crazy 97% approval.

Yes, those are the rating one expects in times of need when a country unites and the approval grows. 42% is the same as every other day.

Edited by stevenl
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they never do no one does

yes, the uk was slow to act the whole world was slow to act and yes money was an overriding decision maker


what i cannot understand is why no one is trying any prophylactic on front line nhs 

yes we dont have a cure for covid

but we also do not have one for hiv but we do have a prophylactic that reduces risk

we have many anti viral agents that may or may not prohibit infection 

maybe thats what the anti malarial drug is all about


maybe they cannot publish because there would be an insane rush to try obtain it.

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