UK should have gone into lockdown earlier, Patrick Vallance tells Covid inquiry

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The UK should person gone into lockdown astatine slightest a week earlier it happened, Patrick Vallance has told the UK’s Covid inquiry, saying besides helium was reprimanded by 2 elder civilian servants aft helium called for enactment to beryllium taken successful mid-March 2020.

Vallance, the UK government’s main technological advisor until earlier this year, said that portion Boris Johnson archetypal announced a lockdown connected 23 March, by the play of 14-15 March it was wide to him that enactment was needed.

Data arriving that play showed “showed that determination were galore much cases, it was acold much wide and was accelerating faster than anyone had expected”, Vallance told the inquiry. He added: “This was an juncture erstwhile I deliberation it’s wide that we should person gone earlier.”

Questioned by Andrew O’Connor KC, Vallance said helium had been reprimanded for calling successful meetings astir mid-March for enactment to person been taken earlier, agreeing that astatine slightest 1 authoritative had been “incandescent” with anger.

This had, helium said, been Chris Wormald, who was and remains the apical civilian servant astatine the wellness department, arsenic good arsenic Mark Sedwill, then-cabinet secretary, the UK’s astir elder civilian servant.

Vallance said this sentiment had been forwarded to him, and helium asked Wormald wherefore helium was angry: “He said it was the mode of raising it successful the gathering alternatively than the substance, that helium was acrophobic that I’d benignant of thrown it into a ministerial meeting, whereas it should person gone done owed process. But I basal by the information that I deliberation it was the close happening to accidental astatine the time.”

The play of 14-15 March was “probably the earliest which that determination [to fastener down] could person been made”, Vallance said, adding that it could person travel a fewer days earlier if the information showing the accelerated progression of the microorganism had travel sooner.

But determination was, helium added, nary crushed to hold the determination to enforce restrictions erstwhile it became evident however accelerated Covid was spreading. He said: “I deliberation [at] that play determination was successful rule a determination that each of these measures would beryllium needed. And I deliberation it would person been sensible to person got connected and done those arsenic rapidly arsenic possible.”

When, aft Boris Johnson called initially for voluntary efforts to bounds transmission, Vallance said helium had besides suggested locking down London earlier the remainder of the state due to the fact that it was “so acold ahead” successful presumption of the virus.

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Vallance said: “The pursuing day, erstwhile the premier curate announced that determination volition beryllium voluntary measures to support radical from making contacts, I besides suggested connected that time that London was truthful acold up that it would beryllium indispensable to perchance fastener down London.”

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