THE first lockdown was delayed despite warnings nearly one million might die, Matt Hancock has admitted.
The Health Secretary said scientists feared the public would only tolerate short restrictions.
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Ministers were warned that nearly 1 million Brits would die from Covid – but delayed locking down anyway, Matt Hancock has admitted[/caption]
The Health Secretary hit back at bombshell claims from Dominic Cummings that he had mishandled the pandemic[/caption]
And he hit back at claims by Dominic Cummings that he mishandled the pandemic and lied to cover his tracks.
Hours after Mr Hancock’s evidence to MPs, the former No10 aide launched a website selling Covid secrets.
Mr Cummings is charging subscribers £100 a year for evidence on how ministers handled the crisis.
Yesterday, Mr Hancock admitted facing problems caused by advice which turned out to be wrong, shortages of tests and PPE and China’s secrecy.
And he demanded an inquiry into claims Covid came from a Wuhan lab.
On early lockdown talks, he told the health committee: “The clear advice at the time was that there’s only a limited period people would put up with lockdown.
“Now that proved actually to be wrong. These are huge decisions — to take those decisions against the scientific advice is an even bigger decision to take. Now when the scientific advice moved, that became easier.”
Matt Hancock denied a shortage of PPE led to any deaths[/caption]
Experts warned in January last year that Covid-19 could kill up to 820,000 people.
This so-called reasonable worst-case scenario was signed off at an emergency Cobra meeting on January 31.
By the week of March 9, data showed “we were on the track of something close to that”, Mr Hancock said.
PM Boris Johnson locked down Britain on March 23.
Mr Hancock said that in January the World Health Organisation dismissed evidence Covid could be passed on without symptoms as a “mistranslation”.
He also denied a shortage of PPE led to any deaths and denied lying to the PM over care home tests for discharged hospital patients. And he hit out at claims by Mr Cummings that he should have been sacked.
He accused him of briefing newspapers rather than helping the team effort.
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Prof Stephen Reicher, a member of the Government’s Sage panel, rubbished claims an earlier lockdown would have gone against advice.
He said: “We were horrified because we felt it would do great damage.
“We felt that it would be used subsequently to blame the scientists for the Government’s failures.”