Coronavirus: If 20,000 deaths was a ‘good outcome’ 100,000 is the most painful failure

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A grim milestone has been hit as over 100,000 deaths from coronavirus in the UK have taken place since the beginning of the pandemic, official data shows from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The virus reached the country in late January 2020. As of 23 January 2021, there have been 3.67M confirmed cases and officaly over one hundred thousand deaths, the world’s fourth-highest death rate per hundred thousand population and the highest number overall in Europe.

The devastating toll of 100,000 people who have died from coronavirus in the UK since the disease first appeared in the country almost a year ago, is nothing less than “phenomenal failure of policy and practice”.

On 17 March, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said keeping the number of UK deaths below 20,000 would be a “good result” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we can get this down to 20,000 and below, that is a good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get to with this outbreak,” he told a committee of MPs.

This 20,000 was a figure that represented tragic loss, pain, and hurt for families and loved ones but 100,000 is an unforgivable failure by government.

The figures are also in stark contrast to counties that have maintained low case and death rates, including Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia where death rates per 100,000 people stand at 0.03, 0.5 and 3.6.

Gabriel Scally, a visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, said the 100,000-plus death toll was an indictment of the way the pandemic had been handled.

“It is an astounding number of preventable deaths from one cause in one year, [an] absolutely astounding number. It’s a sign of a phenomenal failure of policy and practice in the face of this new and dangerous virus,” Scally said.

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