Radio caller reveals the government's biggest mistake tackling Covid-19

Picture of LBC presenter James O'Brien 

LBC presenter James O'Brien - Credit: LBC

A radio caller has said the government's biggest mistake tackling the coronavirus occurred days after the country exited lockdown.

Caller Harry suggested that a decision by Downing Street to rapidly re-open the economy after the first lockdown may have had detrimental consequences on Covid infection rates.



He explained to LBC radio that "schools and universities came back, there was Eat Out to Help Out, our service industry was back up and running, pro sports came back and you had your banks in Central London at the behest of the good mayor saying they needed their employees to come back.

"We have no idea where in the economy the R number is taking the biggest hit because at the time we had it under control, they had the opportunity to experiment with different areas of our economy and see whether or not the service industry that really boosts the R, or if it's hospitality."

He argued the UK could have found an equilibrium between protecting people and running the economy had it taken a phased approach to re-opening society.

Asked if government scientists would ever lie about the data, as some right-wing papers have reportedly implied, Harry said they might have to avoid admitting its handling of the last lockdown exit had been "hugely underwhelming and a significant mistake".

He went on to say: "My conclusion that unfortunately, the nature of statistics these days is there's such a wealth of information out there, that it's actually quite easy to manipulate the data in your favour."

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He added: "In trying to get public support for your opinion, you need to have an idea which is easily conveyed.

"Perhaps trying to explain...running a proper experimental reopening of our economy whereby we stress-test different areas and reach quasi-scientific conclusions about which areas of our economy up and running, perhaps that messaging is not something which we can actually do."

James observed that this would be entirely opposite to the current government messaging which is "simplistic and often quite crass."

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