COVID-19: Ministers should have 'learned lessons properly' from first wave, adviser says

·2-min read

The UK and other European countries locked down "too late" in autumn, a government top scientific adviser has told Sky News.

Appearing on Sky's COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons, Professor Neil Ferguson said ministers should have "learned the lessons properly from the first wave" to be in a "much better situation coming into Christmas", given the vast speed at which coronavirus-related deaths grew.

He suggested autumn lockdowns did not last "long enough" and that politicians "could have responded faster" in the run up to the "stay at home" order being issued again at the start of 2021.

Watch: Government failed to contact 375,000 to tell them to shield, watchdog finds

But Prof Ferguson, who used to sit on the government's advisory group SAGE and is a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), added measures like the creation of Tier 4 in England and the tightening of Christmas bubbles did help.

"We would have been in a much worse position had that not happened," he told the special programme on Tuesday night.

Sir David Nicholson, a former chief executive of NHS England, also pressed the case for an inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic - something Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said is not the right time for yet.

"How on earth are we going to get better?" Sir David asked.

"The way you get better is to recognise what you've done and then change as you go forward. It doesn't take a genius to work out."

Watch: Lack of PPE and moving patients out of hospitals 'contributed significantly' to high death rates in care homes

Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK's response to the pandemic.

Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February.