The UK’s response to the COVID-19 crisis is “too little, too late, too flawed,” an editorial in the BMJ states.
Dr Gabriel Scally from the University of Bristol and Bobbie Jacobson from Johns Hopkins University in the US, along with the BMJ’s Executive Editor, Kamran Abbasi, say the UK was “forewarned but not forearmed” for the pandemic. They ask: how did a country with an international reputation for public health get it so wrong?
They point out that a pandemic simulation exercise in 2016 identified shortcoming, but the necessary remedial steps were not taken. The article lists numerous flaws in the Government’s approach to date in the COVID-19 crisis, including ignoring repeated warning from the World Health Organization (WHO). By the time the UK formally announced a lockdown, almost two months of potential preparation was squandered, they say.
They call for an end to political involvement in scientific advisory groups and recruitment of more public health experts, along with a clear, locally-led strategy based on case finding, testing, contact tracing and isolation.
The most serious public health crisis of our times requires a strong and credible public health community at the heart of its response, they write. “A UK government that prioritises the health and wellbeing of the public will see the importance of rebuilding the disempowered and fragmented infrastructures of its public health system. Anything less is an insult to the tens of thousands of people who have lost their lives in a pandemic for which the UK was forewarned but not forearmed,” they conclude.