COVID Crisis: A comprehensive timeline of the UK response to the pandemic

·2-min read

Boris Johnson has so far resisted calls for a public inquiry into the COVID-19 crisis but the UK response needs examining as soon as possible to start analysing what lessons can be learned.

Sky News' COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons provided an in-depth look at the UK's handling of a pandemic that has changed all our lives in ways unimaginable even just a year ago.

Now, for the first time, we are publishing the work behind that effort in a statement of intent about the importance of public interest journalism ahead of any inquiry into the handling of the pandemic.

We have charted the entire course of the pandemic from the very first reporting of the disease to the end of January 2021 - 12 months after the first confirmed cases were reported in the UK.

At almost 130 pages and nearly 55,000 words, the PDF you can download here was put together by a team collating contemporaneous reporting from Sky News, as well as primary sources from the Office for National Statistics, the government's own transparency documents, the NHS, the House of Commons and many more.

Mapping out the backbone of the timeline required the most reliable and the most regular sources of information to be input first: minutes from the government's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE).

After that, the Downing Street briefings that took place from March were examined. Then a layer of business events was put on top of that, and another layer of the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply saga on top of that...and so on.

There are seven coloured categories: SAGE meetings; business/economic/travel measures; PPE/ventilators/medical equipment; vaccines; testing, tracking and tracing; statistics; and international events.

COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons covered the timing of lockdowns; the need for an education strategy; whether the government kept people safe and if hospitals managed to change the fortunes of those most severely ill.

But the document will hopefully be able to go further and serve better all those looking for an impartial insight into the pandemic.

There will be revisions and substitutions in years to come, but for now this is the first major draft of scrutiny in order to inform journalists, policymakers and historians so that those academics of the future can better reach a conclusion on the UK's management of the pandemic.

Below are the articles we have published examining the UK's response to the COVID crisis and considering the lessons we have learned so far.