Ex-WHO boss declares UK took too long to lock down, costing lives

18 April 2020, 11:40

By Seán Hickey

This global health expert opened up about how long he thinks lockdown will last, and if it was done correctly in the first place.

Anthony Costello is a former World Health Organisation director and now professor of Global Health at University College London. He joined Matt Frei on LBC to answer some of the most asked coronavirus questions. Matt started with wondering when the UK might come out of lockdown.

Professor Costello hinted that a lift on measures "might be towards the end of May" although it will be a slow and careful easing of restrictions rather than everything returning to normal.

The global health expert indicated that the government "may restrict mass gatherings" in lockdown easing. Professor Costello told Matt that when the UK comes out of lockdown "it won't be normal, it'll be a new normal."

He reckoned that in a similar style to what is seen in China, the UK will adopt a local lockdown strategy in future. "When we get flare ups they can jump on it very quickly" he said, using the example of Northampton finding a pocket of cases, and then being shut down for a fortnight.

"This is going to be a reality with us for quite a long time" Matt suggested, to which Professor Costello agreed.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

In terms of a vaccine for coronavirus, Professor Costello believes that the most likely time for mass rollout will be "early next year" based on the opinion of some of the UK's leading experts.

Reflecting on the UK's response to coronavirus in January and February and how there was uncertainty around the method of action, Matt asked the professor if the UK lost time in the beginning and if that cost the lives of thousands.

Professor Costello insisted that "if you compare with Germany and Ireland", two European countries that have been held up for the example they gave to the rest of Europe in their Covid-19 response then it is seen that the UK didn't act quickly enough.

In terms of the quick reactions of Ireland and Germany and comparing that to the UK "you can say we got that wrong" Professor Costello said.

He believed that although there was serious mistakes made in the beginning "we mustn't make the same mistakes twice" in our effort against coronavirus.