Delay to first lockdown a “serious error” that should have been challenged

13 October 2021

Two of Parliament’s leading Committees have published a detailed, 150-page report examining the initial UK response to the Covid pandemic.

Coronavirus: lessons learned to date is available at and is based on evidence from over 50 witnesses — including Matt Hancock, Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick Vallance, Baroness Harding and Dominic Cummings.

Produced by the Science and Technology and the Health and Social Care Committees, the report was agreed unanimously by all 22 MPs on the committees, drawn from three political parties — Conservative, Labour and SNP.

In a joint statement, the two chairmen, Jeremy Hunt (Health and Social Care) and Greg Clark (Science and Technology), said: "The UK response has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes. It is vital to learn from both to ensure that we perform as best as we possibly can during the remainder of the pandemic and in the future”.

They praise the vaccine programme as boldly planned and effectively executed but argue that the test and trace programme took too long to become effective.

“The Government took scientific advice seriously but there should have been more challenge from all to the early UK consensus that delayed a more comprehensive lockdown when countries like South Korea showed a different approach was possible,” they went on.

The report notes that the UK was not alone in suffering significant loss of life in care homes but highlights that the tragic scale of loss was among the worst in Europe and could have been mitigated.

It also points out that that Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in the NHS, who are under-represented in leadership and management roles, faced greater difficulty in accessing the appropriate and useable personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Committees’ conclusions and recommendations can be found here and cover a range of topics from pandemic preparedness to social care and from lockdowns and social distancing to testing and contact tracing.