Jeremy Hunt has mentioned Britain has “rather a lot to be taught” from Sweden’s decision not to impose a mandatory Covid lockdown.
The Chancellor acknowledged that the Scandinavian nation had achieved the same end result to the UK with out having to resort to draconian guidelines.
All through the pandemic, Stockholm stuck to a voluntary approach to restrictions, counting on folks to train private duty.
His remarks come as The Telegraph reveals how Boris Johnson was warned by Britain’s top civil servant over the impact of lockdowns.
Simply days earlier than the then prime minister shut down the nation for a second time, Simon Case, the cupboard secretary, instructed him doing so could be “horrible for different outcomes”.
‘A voluntary method’
Mr Hunt was requested in an interview with GB Information whether or not Sweden’s method had proved proper in contrast with the zero-Covid technique pursued by some international locations.
He mentioned: “I don’t assume it was fairly so black and white as that. We used the legislation, Sweden used a voluntary method, however we had broadly pretty related ranges of compliance with the lockdown.
“So, in that respect, I believe there’s rather a lot to be taught from what Sweden did. However I don’t assume there was such an enormous distinction.”
The Chancellor mentioned the UK was “the easiest on this planet” at rolling out the vaccine however admitted the early response to the virus was flawed.
He admitted that the contingency plans for an outbreak, put in place whereas he was well being secretary, had been designed for a flu pandemic so had been blindsided by the Covid outbreak.
‘All of us must be humble’
“All of us must be humble in regards to the occasions of the pandemic, as a result of I don’t assume we did in addition to we might have carried out as a rustic,” he mentioned.
“Trying again on it, the method that I advocated once I was chairing the Well being Choose Committee was actually to observe what they had been doing in Korea and Taiwan the place they prevented nationwide lockdowns by having a way more efficient test-and-trace system.”
It comes as WhatsApp messages obtained by The Telegraph reveal how senior civil servants expressed early concerns in regards to the potential affect of the second lockdown in November 2020.
In a message despatched on Oct 29, 2020, two days earlier than the curbs had been introduced, Mr Case wrote: “I believe now we have to be brutally trustworthy with folks. Full lockdowns optimise our society/financial system for tackling the Covid R charge – however they’re horrible for different outcomes (non-Covid well being, jobs, training, social cohesion, psychological well being and so on).”
His message was circulated in a WhatsApp group that included Matt Hancock, the then well being secretary; Prof Sir Chris Whitty, chief medical officer; Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser; and Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser.
Anxious by ‘minor illnesses’
The revelations are contained in the Lockdown Files, a cache of greater than 100,000 messages circulated amongst senior politicians and officers and obtained by The Telegraph.
The messages additionally present ministers had been apprehensive non-Covid extra deaths could be fuelled by the general public not being checked for “minor illnesses” that might “flip into acute” issues afterward.
The Lockdown Information additionally disclose that in Might 2021 a “fast evaluate” was undertaken into an alarming rise within the “sad deaths of children” in psychological well being in-patient models throughout England.
There have been additionally fears on the time over an “upcoming epidemic” in kids’s respiratory viruses brought on by lockdown suppressing an infection.
NHS England mentioned it had no report of the fast evaluate that came about and The Telegraph might discover no proof of any official report having been printed.
Mr Hunt’s remarks had been welcomed by Tory MPs who opposed the Covid lockdowns and wish to guarantee classes are realized from the response to the pandemic.
‘Restrictions on freedom’
Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, mentioned: “Clearly the restrictions on freedom that the federal government went for had been primarily based on what they thought was proper on the time.
“However there have been individuals who had been warning of the harm lockdown does for particular person liberty, for folks’s psychological wellbeing, but additionally for the financial system.
“I believe with hindsight with out the lockdown we’d’ve had just about the identical outcome. Should you advise folks to do one thing on this nation they have an inclination to do it. You don’t must have draconian legal guidelines.”
Sweden took a soft-touch method to policing folks’s behaviour throughout the pandemic, conserving outlets and eating places open all through.
The federal government relied closely on folks voluntarily following steerage to stay to social distancing, put on a masks and “journey provided that you will need to”.
It handed authorized restrictions in treasured few situations, with the principle space being limits on the quantity of people that might attend massive social gatherings.
ONS figures launched in December confirmed that Sweden suffered one of the lowest excess mortality rates in Europe, properly under that of the UK.