We are at a critical point in the pandemic where we are still suffering from a comparatively high level of new cases being identified, with the social care sector suffering from epidemic spread risking the lives of thousands of very vulnerable residents. The government has rather belatedly recognised the WHO advice to test, test, test, and has successfully increased testing capacity but has failed to invest in rebuilding the capacity of local public health teams in Local Government and more local Public Health England teams. In its struggle to get on with the response it is choosing to invest in private companies who have over the past decade already profited from NHS contracts in support services and laboratories but now seem to have been also given access to NHS data. There is a serious risk of further and deeper privatisation of NHS provision while publicly extolling the virtues of the NHS. Finally exiting lockdown will not be easy to achieve, as the epidemic has not declined in a persuasive manner with the first wave suppressed and therefore prolonged. What people need is a clear staged plan for the steps to be taken and the data that will monitor progress rather than a statement of intent.
As cardiologist Dr Banerjee notes in the Observer: “We were not humble enough to look at other countries and learn a lesson from them and lock down quickly – it is as simple as that. We were arrogant and thought that we had nothing to learn from other countries and thought that we were an exceptional case. In fact we had a lot to learn but didn’t take the opportunity”