Former Prime Minister Cameron said Britain was prepared for a flu-like pandemic rather than COVID

LONDON (Reuters) – Former Prime Minister David Cameron told an inquiry on Monday that Britain was prepared for a flu-like pandemic but little work had been done in advance to deal with an illness asymptomatic similar to COVID-19.

Britain is carrying out an investigation into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic after Britain recorded one of the highest death rates in the world. More than 175,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus had been reported by July last year.

Inquiry lawyer Hugo Keith last week said Britain had been taken by surprise by many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and had not considered policies in advance. such as locking and shielding.

It could prove a headache for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was finance minister during the pandemic and faces an election scheduled for next year.

However, the inquiry begins with the preparations for the pandemic and Cameron is therefore the first politician to give evidence in the inquiry, despite his term as Prime Minister having ended seven years ago.

“A lot more time has been spent on pandemic flu and the dangers of pandemic flu rather than the potential pandemics of other more respiratory illnesses like COVID has turned out to be,” said Cameron, who served as prime minister. from 2010 to 2016, in the survey.

“It’s so important because so many consequences have flowed from it.”

Cameron said that while the government was considering other diseases like MERS and SARS, he wondered if there had been adequate follow-up to this work and the possibility of asymptomatic transmission of respiratory diseases.

“When you think: what would be different if more time had been spent on a highly infectious asymptomatic pandemic, different recommendations would have been made on what to prepare for.”

Cameron’s finance minister George Osborne will testify on Tuesday while Jeremy Hunt, the current finance minister and health minister under Cameron, will testify on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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