Delays in implementing the UK’s winter lockdown caused around 25,000 excess deaths, and meant the lockdown needed to be longer and stricter, according to new research from a think tank.
The Resolution Foundation analysed the response to the Covid pandemic over the 12 months since the first lockdown on 23 March 2020, and described delayed lockdowns as the Government’s “biggest failure”.
Around 20 per cent of all the deaths caused by Covid-19 are attributable to the delayed implementation of a second lockdown, it is claimed, despite evidence that cases were rising rapidly before Christmas.
And while the pandemic has had an impact on everyone in the UK, the report notes that mortality rates have been significantly higher in deprived areas, and poorer households have suffered greater health and economic difficulties due to Covid.
What about the positive aspects of the Government’s response?
The report notes that the Government’s approach has been successful so far with regards to public support and the Covid vaccine rollout. Households and firms have received a total of £186 billion in financial support since last March.
The UK is delivering vaccines three times faster than Europe, and is on course to vaccinate all over-50s by April, the report notes.
While the Resolution Foundation study focuses on the second lockdown, there have been reports in recent weeks that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed regret over his slow initial reaction to the pandemic.
When news of the spread of the virus began to circulate toward the end of January last year, Mr Johnson said the “best thing would be to ignore it”, according to the BBC.
‘Timid and late’
Chief Economist at the Resolution Foundation, Mike Brewer, said: “As we approach the first anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown, it’s important to take stock of where the Government has delivered - and where it has failed - during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Its record on delivering jabs to people’s arms and cash to people’s pockets has been hugely impressive. On both, the strategy of going big, bold and early has clearly paid off.
“In contrast, going timidly and late on lockdowns has been a disaster - causing many thousands of avoidable deaths. Furthermore, delays to restrictions have meant them needing to be tougher and longer-lasting than in other countries, thereby worsening the economic damage.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has touched everyone, but lower-income families have borne the brunt of the crisis in terms of their lives and livelihoods. This shouldn’t be forgotten as we look to rebuild post-pandemic Britain.”