The cross-party report found that government inaction in the early stages of the pandemic was “one of the most significant public health failures the United Kingdom has ever faced”.
It added that ministers and scientists were focusing on trying to manage the virus by gaining herd immunity and that the lockdown was delayed before that.
“Of course, I am sorry, as is the prime minister,” Dowden told Sky News.
“I was just hearing about the experience of the bereaved families yesterday and the kind of terrible loss they have suffered.
“We are sorry for the loss caused to all those families. It was an unprecedented crisis, a once in 100 years event.
“There isn’t some right rule book we can follow, we had to adapt and move very quickly and of course we would do some things differently.”
Around 138,000 people in the UK have died with Covid since the start of the pandemic.
Reports from the Committee on Science and Technology and Health and Social Care specifically singled out the policy of discharging elderly patients directly from hospital to care homes without testing for the virus as fatal, resulting in “thousands” of deaths.
The report also highlights the successes – notably the vaccination programme – that range from research and development to jabs rollout “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”.
“As the report rightly says, with things like the vaccine program we’ve made great progress in terms of real speed,” Dowden said.
“I fully appreciate and understand the hurt and pain caused to families up and down this country.”