“There is no textbook as to how to respond to a pandemic like this, but we do believe that we took the right decisions at the right time.”Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary, Sky News 27/01/2021
The government ministers plead with us, that they’re very sorry and are doing the very best they can, and there is “no textbook” for this pandemic crisis (essentially an admission they’re making it up as they go along).
Before we get into that, there have been all kinds of scientific studies on pandemic response over the years, and to say that nobody out there has a clue how to handle it is massively insulting to science. The problem isn’t that nobody knows, it’s that nobody listens. Even over the last year, Boris Johnson has repeatedly ignored clear scientific warnings on the matter, deciding for example to keep pubs and restaurants going (Eat Out To Help Out?) and refusing to lock down early enough, or at all, when his medical advisors pleaded with him to do so.
The problem isn't that nobody knows, it's that nobody listens.
In 2016 (what a year!), Excercise Cygnus was carried out. Public Health England undertook a simulation of a pandemic to learn lessons in how the UK should best to respond and react to exactly this type of emergency. The excercise identified all of the weaknesses in the UK’s pandemic response systems so that, should the worse happen, we would be prepared.
A lot of useful data was gathered, reccomendations made, warnings noted – and all of it totally ignored by the government.
“The UK’s preparedness and response, in terms of its plans, policies and capability, is currently not sufficient to cope with the extreme demands of a severe pandemic that will have a nationwide impact across all sectors.”Excercise Cygnus conclusion on the state of UK readiness for a pandemic, back in 2016.
Perhaps back in 2016 the issue of protecting the UK against mass death wasn’t seen as a high priority. The entire focus was on protecting the UK from its peaceful trading partners next door.
Given their track record however it seems highly likely that the Tory governments of both Theresa May and Boris Johnson since have simply lacked the sense, capability or foresight to action the outcomes of such an excercise, or to implement the lessons learned. I have yet to hear Johnson even mention Cygnus, but I yearn for a journalist to ask him directly about it.
“The lack of joint tactical level plans was evidenced when the scenario demand for services outstripped the capacity of local responders, in the areas of excess deaths, social care and the NHS.”Excercise Cygnus conclusion on the existence of any proper plans for pandemic response, 2016
Please remember whenever you hear the phrase, “We have no textbook for this,” that it’s a complete lie. There is indeed a textbook for this, their own textbook, plus the many scientific studies beside it, but the Tory government chose to ignore it all and forge their own path, focusing on garden centres, pubs, restaurants, staying alert, traveling to test eyesight, and other such stupidity.
Some other recommendations of Cygnus include;
- Further modelling to understand the capacity of the care sector (FAILED)
- Further work to understand how the public would react to the crisis (FAILED)
- Creation of a “joint-level tactical plan” to help different organisations cooperate more effectively (FAILED)
Remind your MP that a textbook for this pandemic does exist. Ask them why Excercise Cygnus was ignored along with so much other scientific advice.
Over 100,000 people are dead.
Over 100,000 people are dead. Over 100,000 people are dead. Over 100,000 people are dead. Over 100,000 people are dead. Over 100,000 people are dead. Over 100,000 people are dead. And just to clarify this, Over 100,000 people are dead… Largely because the government ignored the textbook and then pretended it didn’t exist.