Health Secretary Sajid Javid apologises for government’s Covid ‘failures’ and insists ‘lessons will be learned’ – but takes swipe at predecessor Matt Hancock by pointing out he was ‘humble backbencher’ at the time 

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  • Sajid Javid has offered an apology for ‘failures’ during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Health Secretary insists that lessons will be learned after serious reports of MPs
  • Mr Javid explained that he was not personally in government at the time of the crisis

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Sajid Javid today apologized for the government’s Covid ‘failures’ and insisted that a ‘lesson be learned’.

The health secretary insisted he was ‘sorry’ for the loss and suffering – anger erupted after a cabinet colleague refused to apologize 11 times in an interview earlier this week.

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But speaking to broadcasters, Mr Javid also took a dig at predecessor Matt Hancock, saying he was personally ‘out of government when those important decisions were taken’.

Mr Javid, who was removed as chancellor in a reshuffle in January 2020 but brought back as health secretary after Mr Hancock left the relationship with an aide in June this year, said:’ I was a humble backbencher.’

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The first major investigation into the Covid crisis was published on Tuesday, concluding that thousands of care home residents had died in the pandemic, and ministers were blindsided by ‘groupthink’ among scientific advisers, Those who wrongly wanted to manage the spread of the virus, rather than suppress it.

The dossier also claimed that the No10’s initial decisions on lockdown and social distancing rank as ‘one of the most significant public health failures the UK has ever experienced’.

Sajid Javid insists he is ‘sorry’ for the loss and pain – anger erupted after a cabinet colleague refused to apologize 11 times in an interview earlier this week

Mr Javid also appeared to take a dig at predecessor Matt Hancock (pictured), pointing out that he was personally 'out of government when a lot of those important decisions were made'

Mr Javid also appeared to take a dig at predecessor Matt Hancock (pictured), pointing out that he was personally ‘out of government when a lot of those important decisions were made’

But Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barkley faced a backlash after he refused to apologize 11 times during an interview on Sky News on Tuesday.

What were the major findings of the first COVID report?

The UK’s first Covid investigation was published in the House of Commons this week by MPs on the Health and Science committees.

It revealed a list of failures to the top of the government, and sparked anger among families who lost loved ones. Pressure is building to launch an independent judge-led investigation as soon as possible.

Major findings include:

  • Thousands of care home residents died unnecessarily during the pandemic, with the elderly considered ‘after’;
  • The performance of the £37 billion test and trace system was ‘chaotic’;
  • Early decisions on lockdown and social distancing are ranked as ‘one of the most significant public health failures the United Kingdom has ever faced’;
  • Ministers were blindsided by ‘groupthink’ among scientists who erroneously wanted to manage the spread of the virus rather than suppress it;
  • The UK response was too ‘narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model’ that failed to learn lessons from SARS, Mers and Ebola;
  • This was a ‘serious initial error’ at a time when other countries were taking drastic action;
  • The lack of a proper test and trace system meant that a complete lockdown was ‘inevitable’ and should have come sooner;
  • Decision making was wasteful with the exchange of important information between public bodies ‘inadequate’;
  • Mortality rates were disproportionately high among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and those with learning disabilities.
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Tory president Oliver Dowden said in a softer tone yesterday, saying he was ‘very sorry’ and admitted ‘we didn’t get everything right’.

Asked on BBC Breakfast this morning whether he was sorry for the ‘failures’, Mr Javid said: ‘Yes, of course I am sorry.

‘Obviously I’m new to the role, but on behalf of the government, during a pandemic, anyone, especially anyone, who has spoken to a loved one, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a friend I’m sorry for the loss. Of course I’m sorry for that.

‘Even all those people who haven’t lost anyone but they are still suffering – many people have been suffering from covid for a long time, we still don’t know the effect to that. of course I am.

‘There will be lessons for this government to learn from this pandemic, for governments around the world, there will be lessons. It is important that is done.

‘There’s going to be a public inquiry and I think this is the best place to learn that lesson.

‘But if you’re asking me if I’m sorry, of course I am.’

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today program what mistakes he was apologizing for, Mr Javid said: ‘What I am saying is sorry for the harm people have suffered and how they have been affected. I don’t think I am in a position right now to go back and look at whatever decision has been taken and how we can do for that.’

Under pressure if he felt he was wrong as a backbench MP to argue for giving more weight to economic needs during the pandemic, Mr Javid said: ‘No, not me, the information I have and than do I know.’

He continued: ‘I have been in this job for 100 days and was out of government when a lot of important decisions were made. I was a humble backbencher.’

Mr Javid disclosed that he had not yet read all of the Commons Science and Health Committee reports into the pandemic.

‘It is a report and I welcome the report. I haven’t had the opportunity to study every word of the report. I will study it properly later this week,’ he said.

Keir Starmer has said saying sorry is ‘the least the PM can do’ and insisted that a planned public inquiry should be brought forward.

Sir Keir said: ‘The prime minister must take responsibility because the responsibility is his, and he should apologise.’

Mr Johnson has promised that a formal investigation into the government’s response to the pandemic will begin in the spring of 2022, but an exact date has yet to be set. When he announced the investigation, he insisted that the key players be kept ‘under the microscope’.

Labor had originally asked to launch an investigation…

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