Richard Horton på The Lancet: ”regeringen har blod på sina händer”

En av de som varnade att brittiska regeringen gjorde fel redan tidigt, och var ilsken över senfärdigheten, fortsätter att kritisera regeringen. Richard Horton, chefredaktör på den ansedda medicinska tidskriften The Lancet.

Till en början trodde han att det inte skulle bli en global pandemi, men i februari insåg han allvaret och har sedan dess varnat för det som komma skulle.

Läs vad Horton har att säga i Financial Times.

”Since February, he has accused ministers and their advisers of failing to see the coming storm, keeping up a barrage of criticism in The Lancet, in newspapers and on television.

The UK response to the pandemic, he told the BBC on March 26, is a “national scandal”. I go to the heart of the matter: does the government have blood on its hands? “I’m not going to use those words, but I do believe lives could have been saved had we acted earlier,” he says. “If we had used February to scale up capacity for testing and contact tracing, and to begin surge capacity for intensive-care bed use, it’s absolutely clear we would have saved lives and saved the NHS. Even if it wasn’t the extreme lockdown we see now, we should have been reducing social mixing and winding down economic activity, like promoting working from home and physical distancing, so that we started to cut the lines of transmission.”

We are speaking against the backdrop of an increasingly rancorous debate over the UK’s response. He has despaired at how the science and politics of this pandemic have been handled at every turn: from the lack of testing at the beginning to what he says is the “charade” of the daily press conferences and the “strategic failure” of the government to plan adequately. He, along with others, has demanded transparency on the opaque epidemiological models that shaped the UK’s originally laissez-faire response, which included floating the idea of “herd immunity”…

  Horton has offered to act as conduit for their dispatches from the pandemic front line: “Workers have been bullied and forced to see patients who clearly have or are suspected of having Covid-19 without PPE. When they raise concerns, they are belittled or threatened. It’s horrifying to see the lack of concern by some NHS management.” War zones, one doctor told him, are better prepared than the world’s sixth-largest economy.  

The NHS was left playing catch-up, Horton says, because the government either ignored or did not act on information in a timely manner.

The first paper suggesting the existence of a new contagious virus appeared in The Lancet on January 24. Horton now wants to know why that chilling assessment was seemingly passed over in Whitehall. “Why wasn’t that paper read by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, or the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, or NHS England, or the chief medical officer or the chief scientific adviser?” he asks.   “We had all of these committees and all of these offices and all of these organisations, but somehow they didn’t connect. We’ve had the biggest science policy failure in a generation.” He dismisses the idea that such a devastating outbreak could only have been predicted with hindsight: “How can it be hindsight? It’s there in black and white on January 24, written in a paper from China, telling people, ‘Please act now, this is urgent, there’s a crisis.’ ”  

A week later, another Lancet paper warned that, since the virus was no longer contained in Wuhan, and that “self-sustaining outbreaks in major cities globally could become inevitable . . . Preparedness plans and mitigation interventions should be readied for quick deployment globally…   Besides, the World Health Organization declared a public-health emergency on January 30. “I do think it’s a misrepresentation, absolutely,” he says. “Between January 24 and 31, there was daily mounting evidence and concern that this was tipping into a pandemic.” ”

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The Lancet