Oliver Dowden finally apologises for government mistakes that led to Covid deaths

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Oliver Dowden finally apologises for government mistakes that led to Covid deaths
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A minister has apologised for mistakes which led to thousands of avoidable Covid-19 deaths - the day after a damning report outlined “serious errors” at the beginning of the pandemic.

Tory Party chairman Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday he was “sorry” and that ministers would “do some things differently with hindsight”.

It follows Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay rejecting calls to apologise to bereaved families more than a dozen times on Tuesday morning.

The Government’s inaction in the early stages of the pandemic was “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”, the cross-party report found.

Ministers and scientists were too focused on trying to manage the virus by achieving herd immunity and this led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, it said.

“Of course I’m sorry, as the Prime Minister is sorry,” Mr Dowden told Sky News.

“I was just listening to the sort of experiences yesterday of those bereaved families and that kind of terrible loss that they have suffered.

“We are sorry for the loses that all those families have suffered. This was an unprecedented crisis, a once in 100 years event.

“There isn’t some perfect rule book that we could follow, we were having to adapt and move very quickly and of course we would do some things differently with hindsight.”

Almost 138,000 people in the UK have died with Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee report singled out the policy to discharge elderly patients directly from hospital into care homes without testing them for the virus as particularly deadly, resulting in “thousands” of deaths.

The report does also highlight successes - in particular the vaccination programme - which from the research and development through to the jabs rollout is “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”.

“As the report rightly says, with things like the vaccine programme we made huge progress as real pace,” Mr Dowden said.

“I completely appreciate and understand the hurt and the pain that families up and down this country have suffered.”

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