UK parliament report raps initial COVID-19 action

A British parliament report has criticized the government's initial response to the coronavirus pandemic as "one of the most important public health failures" the country has ever experienced.

The UK is one of the European countries hit hardest by the pandemic, with the death toll reaching about 138,000.

Two committees of the House of Commons on Tuesday published a report on how the government has handled the pandemic so far.

The report says the government's approach early in the pandemic was to try to manage the spread of the virus, rather than to stop it spreading altogether.

The report says, "This amounted in practice to accepting that herd immunity by infection was the inevitable outcome."

The government ordered its first comprehensive coronavirus lockdown only in late March 2020. The report says the delay in implementing the measure "led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy."

The report says the country was "not open to approaches being taken elsewhere -- such as earlier lockdowns, border controls and effective test and trace" as it should have been.

The report expresses understanding on "the reluctance to introduce measures with significant negative economic impact."

In July last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government "could have done things differently" in the early stages of the fight against the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the report says the country's vaccination program "has been one of the most successful and effective initiatives in the history of UK science and public administration."

The report noted that the government supported the research and development of a number of coronavirus vaccines, including the one jointly developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.