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Slow COVID-19 response led to thousands of deaths in Britain, report says

Slow COVID-19 response led to thousands of deaths in Britain, report says
The study says it was clear early in the pandemic that there would be a need for lockdown measures, but British leaders were slow to implement them. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Hesitation to impose lockdown restrictions in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic last year led to thousands of preventable deaths in Britain and was a "serious mistake," an investigative report from British Parliament said Tuesday.

The 147-page assessment is Britain's first comprehensive review of the government response to the health emergency. It's a joint report from the House of Commons science and health committees.

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The study says it was clear early in the pandemic that there would be a need for lockdown measures. Leaders acted too slowly in imposing the restrictions, however, the authors said, out of an overabundance of economic concern.

"There was a desire to avoid a lockdown because of the immense harm it would entail to the economy, normal health services and society," the report states.

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"In the absence of other strategies such as rigorous case isolation, a meaningful test and trace operation, and robust border controls, a full lockdown was inevitable and should have come sooner."

The report makes 38 recommendations to avoid similar pitfalls in the future.

The investigation began a year ago and sought to assess Britain's preparedness for a pandemic, its prevention procedures and impact and the strategy to roll out vaccines.

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It said delays in establishing an adequate test, trace and isolate system hampered efforts to understand and contain the coronavirus outbreak.

However, the study did point to the success of Britain's successful vaccination program.

"The success of the vaccine program -- one of the most effective in Europe and, for a country of our size one of the most effective in the world -- shows that positive, as well as negative lessons, should be taken from our handling of the pandemic," it states.

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"All learning needs to happen rapidly because of the likelihood of future pandemics which is why we are producing this report now."

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