AN Oxford MP says a report into the Government's handling of the pandemic has missed out 'key areas'.

The study, from a group of MPs in the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, concluded that serious errors cost thousands of lives.

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It did however hail the success of the vaccine rollout.

But Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran, who is Chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, says the report has missed out key points.

Responding to the report, she said: "Although it is right that the committee have found their voice and their findings echo many of those made by the APPG over the past year, this report is notable by its silence on a number of key areas including the catastrophic mismanagement of schools, the continued under delivery on donations to COVAX and no mention of Long Covid in 151 pages.

Oxford Mail: Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla MoranLiberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran

"This report is no substitute for the full public inquiry this government has promised and the government must now commit to releasing interim findings from this inquiry before the next general election."

The study said the UK’s pandemic planning was too “narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model” that failed to learn the lessons from Sars, Mers and Ebola.

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Former chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies told MPs there was “groupthink”, with infectious disease experts not believing that “Sars, or another Sars, would get from Asia to us”.

The UK’s national risk register, which was in place at the start of the pandemic, said “the likelihood of an emerging infectious disease spreading within the UK is assessed to be lower than that of a pandemic flu”.

It also said only up to 100 people may die during any outbreak of an emerging infectious disease.

Once Covid-19 emerged in China, MPs said the UK policy was to take a “gradual and incremental approach” to interventions such as social distancing, isolation and lockdowns.

In their study, they said this was “a deliberate policy” proposed by scientists and adopted by UK governments, which has now been shown to be “wrong” and led to a higher death toll.

The MPs said the “decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of  the pandemic – and the advice that led to them – rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”.

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On the issue of whether the Government was pursuing a policy of herd immunity, which has proved controversial, MPs said that while it was not an official Government strategy, there was a “policy approach of fatalism about the prospects for Covid in the community”.

Experts and ministers sought to “only moderate the speed of infection” through the population – flattening the curve – rather than seeking to stop its spread altogether.

Care homes were particularly impacted in the early days of the virus, but The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT), which runs a number of care homes in Oxfordshire, said teams had managed to adapt quickly.

Patsy Just, OSJCT regional director for Oxfordshire said: “Today’s report offers some valuable insight into the actions of central government. The first few weeks and months of the pandemic were extremely difficult, when teams faced huge uncertainty without adequate testing for residents and staff, and challenges accessing PPE.

"Throughout the pandemic teams across OSJCT homes adapted extremely quickly, and continue to do so, despite government policy changing frequently.

“I am incredibly proud of my colleagues on the front line of social care delivery for the courage and dedication they have shown, and their brave and vital service to the nation.

"As the nation continues to recover from the pandemic, we urge government to make social care a priority and be more ambitious with its plans to reform and support the sector.”

Oxfordshire's Public Health Director Ansaf Azar refused to comment.

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