Health expert accuses government of poor leadership over Covid-19

‘Normal people’ are paying the price for an “incoherent” public health response to the coronavirus crisis, a global health expert has said.

Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health at Edinburgh University, said the public was ‘paying the price’ for poor leadership in the UK, criticising the government’s response and comparing the UK to other countries across the world.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, she took aim at the government’s leadership amid the crisis, as well as referring to the controversy surrounding Boris Johnson’s top advisor Dominic Cummings after it emerged that he had broke lockdown restrictions.

Prof Sridhar said there were “parallels” between the US and the UK, adding: “public ultimately pays price for poor leadership”.

She went on: “Not a right/left/Brexit/Remain issue. This is about normal people suffering from an incoherent public health response, late & long lockdown, & leaders losing sight of the people they’re supposed to serve.”

In a series of tweets on Saturday morning, Prof Sridhar wrote: “#Cummings needs to resign but also massive distraction from core issues: UK has excess deaths nearing 60K, no functioning test, trace, isolate system, public tiring of lockdown & no clear leadership from the top on what the objective is (slow the spread or stop the outbreak).

She went on: “We need to think ahead to next winter when flu season hits & activity moves indoors. How can a second lockdown be avoided? How can more deaths be prevented? How can we best use the summer to create strong public health infrastructure (incl. mass testing)?

“Other countries look at the UK with a mix of pity & disbelief. Clear loss of UK smart & soft power. Like how the UK is looking at the US right now.”

On Sunday, as the row over the government’s support of Cummings deepened, Prof Sridhar added: “Government burning political capital instead of keeping spotlight on the forward-looking steps needed to get out of the current situation & get on track so that lockdown can lift safely.

“We all need this govt to succeed in containment so that health/economy/society are protected.”

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