Sajid Javid admits he hasn't read report into the government's 'catastrophic' COVID failings yet

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·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
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Health Secretary Sajid Javid during a visit to the Bournemouth Vaccination Centre, in Bournemouth, Dorset. Picture date: Wednesday August 4, 2021.
The health secretary admitted he is yet to read parliament's report on the government's management of the pandemic (PA Images)

The health secretary has admitted he has not yet read a scathing report on the government's management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sajid Javid said he was yet to read a report published by the parliament's health and social care committee, 'Coronavirus: lessons learned to date' earlier this week.

“It is one report and I welcome the report," he told the BBC. "I haven’t had the opportunity to study every word of the report. I will study it properly this weekend."

The report, from MPs on the Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said the UK’s preparation for a pandemic was far too focused on flu, while ministers waited too long to push through lockdown measures in early 2020.

MPs said it was only in the days leading up to the March 23 lockdown that people within Government and advisers “experienced simultaneous epiphanies that the course the UK was following was wrong, possibly catastrophically so”.

In the wide-ranging study, MPs criticised the fact community testing was abandoned in March 2020 as a “seminal error”, said NHS test and trace was too slow and failed to have a big impact, and that thousands of people died in care homes partly due to a policy of discharging people from hospital without testing.

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The health secretary also apologised to people bereaved or those who have suffered during the pandemic.

"What I am saying sorry for is the loss that people have suffered and how they have been affected," he said.

But he added: "I don’t think I am in a position yet to go back and look at every decision that was made and how we can for that.”

His comments follow a backlash over a cabinet minister, Steve Barclay, refusing to apologise more than 11 times after the report was published earlier this week.

Also speaking to Radio 4, Javid refused to criticise his previous position on the pandemic where he claimed the government were not prioritising the economy enough.

A woman views the National Covid Memorial Wall, in Westminster, central London, which commemorates people killed in the UK by coronavirus. Picture date: Monday April 5, 2021.
A memorial for victims of the pandemic in Westminister (PA Images)

“No, I don’t [believe it was wrong], based on the information that I have had and also from what I know."

Adding: “I have been in this job for 100 days and was out of government when a lot of those crucial decisions were made. I was a humble backbencher.”

A spokesperson for COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, Hannah Brady, said the report was "laughable".

"The report [the health and social care committee] produced is laughable, and more interested in political arguments... than it is in the experiences of those who tragically lost parents, partners or children to COVID-19," she said.

"This is an attempt to ignore and gaslight bereaved families, who will see it as a slap in the face."

Watch: Health secretary Sajid Javid apologises to those who suffered during the pandemic

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