BBC QT: Geneticist TEARS into UK COVID-19 response for ‘playing catch-up’

Paul Nurse, a geneticist and the director of the Francis Crick Institute, appeared alongside former Chancellor George Osbourne and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

In response to Fiona Bruce asking whether he believed that the UK had done enough to prepare for a pandemic, Mr Nurse was scathing in his rebuke of a perceived lack of preparedness.

He said: “We were totally unprepared for it, and we should have been prepared for it.

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“(…)We have been playing catch up for this entire pandemic and I think when it’s analysed we will see that we didn’t do very well

“But you’re right that we have to look at the figures carefully, and make sure it’s still exactly where we would be.

“But it was a lack of preparation that was the start of our trouble.”

The geneticist also paid reference to an NHS report from 2017, detailing the health care services need for more preparedness for a full blown pandemic.

Mr Nurse said: “The fact was that there was a review of the functioning of the NHS, how it would work in a pandemic if it happened to be an influenza one.

“It was never published, it happened three years ago, and we didn’t do well, in fact we failed.

“Now was there any action there? I didn’t see any action, wasn’t even published.

“Austerity was mentioned, was the NHS well enough funded to actually take that report seriously? And lead when the pandemic took place?”

Paul Nurse’s appearance comes as the UK has reached an official death toll of 26,711.

NHS England declared 391 COVID-19 victims, while more were announced outside of hospitals and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for a total of 674 on Thursday.

Amid fears thousands of victims were being missed, ministers gave in to mounting pressure to include COVID-19 fatalities in care homes in the daily update.

Officials on Wednesday, the first day of the new recording scheme, added an extra 3,811 deaths onto the tally.

The revised count saw Britain jump to third in the global COVID-19 fatality table, and meant Britain’s daily death toll exceeded 1,000 nine times in April.

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George Osbourne, who is now the editor of the Evening Standard, said in his appearance that the UK needs to “be honest” with the likelihood of many businesses not recovering from the pandemic.

He said: “Thinking that this country is going to go back to the world of February 2020 is a big mistake.”

He was also asked by Fiona Bruce if the UK was likely to see a return to austerity, which Mr Osbourne suggested may be an unfortunate reality.

Mr Osbourne said: “I think the recovery will take place more quickly.

“But the basic truth is sadly, our country because of this virus is not as rich as we thought it would be.”

Grant Shapps also cast doubt on the UK’s likelihood of returning to life before the pandemic

Mr Shapps said: “It’s quite clear that this is going to reshape our economy, our ways of working and much else about society.”

He also added that many parts of the government’s response to the pandemic have gone “very much to plan.”

He said: “We haven’t seen what we saw in other countries.”

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