COVID-19: Matt Hancock’s claims on lockdown timing, asymptomatic transmission and PPE carry eyebrows


Matt Hancock made quite a few claims throughout the process his proof to the science and well being joint committee that have due to this fact been puzzled through MPs and a few scientists.

On problems such because the provides of PPE, the rationing of care, and asymptomatic transmission, the well being secretary’s account was once time and again challenged.

Listed here are one of the most spaces the place Mr Hancock’s statements got here in for shut scrutiny.

PPE provides

The well being secretary claimed that whilst there have been “native problems” across the provision of PPE closing spring, there was once “by no means a countrywide scarcity”.

Labour’s Sarah Owen instructed this declare was once not possible to reconcile with the pictures of well being staff the use of bin luggage for aprons extensively circulated on social media on the time.

Nurses care for a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care ward
PPE provide has been below much less pressure for the reason that early days of the pandemic

Matt Hancock pointed to the Nationwide Audit Workplace file from closing November to enhance his statement, mentioning this passage at once: “The NHS supplier organisations we spoke to informed us that, whilst they had been involved in regards to the low shares of PPE, they had been at all times in a position to get what they wanted in time.”

Then again, Mr Hancock didn’t shed light on that the next paragraph says: “This was once no longer the revel in reported through many front-line staff. Comments from care staff, medical doctors and nurses display that important numbers of them thought to be that they weren’t adequately secure throughout the peak of the primary wave of the pandemic.”

It is going on to mention: “From this survey proof we can’t know the way consultant those stories are of the entire group of workers, however prevalence of shortages is supported through different qualitative proof.”

A file through the Public Accounts Committee printed in February got here to a identical conclusion: “Many staff on the entrance line in well being and social care had been put within the appalling state of affairs of getting to deal with other people with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 with out enough PPE to give protection to themselves from an infection.”

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Rationing of remedy

Matt Hancock was once company that at no level within the pandemic had the NHS been not able to offer hospital therapy – “availability of remedy was once at all times there”, he informed the committee.

However in his reaction to additional interrogation from Labour’s Barbara Keeley, it turned into transparent the well being secretary was once creating a extra delicate level – no longer that denial of remedy didn’t occur, as a substitute that it was once by no means one thing which was once counseled.

In line with examples Barbara Keeley put ahead of “don’t resuscitate” (DNR) orders getting used and hospitals refusing COVID-positive admissions from care houses, Mr Hancock mentioned the “scientific recommendation” from executive clinical officers had by no means advisable such triage and that steering was once issued to stop using DNR orders.

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Asymptomatic transmission

The well being secretary additionally described how he “bitterly” regrets no longer ignoring recommendation from the International Well being Organisation (WHO) that asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 was once not likely.

Mr Hancock claimed he were informed through the WHO that references to asymptomatic transmission in studies from China in January 2020 had been “most probably mistranslation”.

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Since closing summer season, Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have each steadily pointed to the ignorance round asymptomatic transmission as an reason behind why such a lot of deaths befell in care houses.

This defence, on the other hand, has lengthy been disputed through scientists.

Mins from the assembly of the federal government’s Clinical Advisory Crew on Emergencies (SAGE) from 28 January 2020 say: “There may be restricted proof of asymptomatic transmission, however early indications suggest some is going on. PHE growing a paper in this.”

SAGE mins from four February 2020 display ministers had been informed: “Asymptomatic transmission can’t be dominated out and transmission from mildly symptomatic people is most probably.”

On the SAGE assembly on 30 April 2020, it was once famous that an NHS learn about indicated the tremendous take a look at fee amongst asymptomatic healthcare staff was once round 5-6%.

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Lockdown not on time because of ‘fatigue’ considerations

Some other argument put ahead through Matt Hancock was once that locking down previous closing spring would have long gone towards the medical consensus on the time.

“The transparent recommendation on the time was once that there is just a restricted length that folks would post with it…would post with lockdown…now that proved if truth be told to be flawed,” he mentioned.

Mr Hancock insisted he had scrutinised the recommendation, however “in the end we did not know the way lengthy other people would post with it and now it kind of feels evident that folks will post with lockdowns – it was once in no way evident”.

Nurses care for a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care ward
PPE provide has been below much less pressure for the reason that early days of the pandemic

Professor John Drury, who’s a member of the SPI-B crew of presidency advisers who center of attention on such problems, has rejected this narrative.

“Because the SPI-B record from March closing 12 months signifies, there was once no longer a ‘consensus’ amongst scientists that the general public would no longer ‘post with’ the limitations,” he says. “The limitations we had been requested about on this briefing record had been to do with lowering social contacts (i.e. bodily distancing), no longer ‘lockdown’.”

Then again, it’s flawed to mention the problem was once no longer raised in any respect through executive advisers.

At a Downing Side road briefing on nine March 2020, the executive clinical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, mentioned: “It isn’t only a subject of what you do however while you do it. The rest we do, we now have were given so that you can maintain.

“As soon as we now have began these items we need to proceed them during the height, and there’s a chance that, if we cross too early, other people will understandably get fatigued and it is going to be tough to maintain this through the years.”


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