A very short list of lessons Boris Johnson learned from the first COVID-19 wave…

Boris Johnson — Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

During the first wave of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson and his administration spend 6 weeks cheering ‘take it up the chin’ [sic] and ‘let it move through the population in one big wave’ [sic] while the healthcare systems was already collapsing underneath their noses. When the first PPE crisis emerged, Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock were hoping that ‘good old British ingenuity’ [sic] would solve the rapidly escalation crisis, and when the completely overloaded healthcare workers in the so often cited NHS rang the alarm bells, Boris Johnson stated that ‘they should tap into their can-do mentality and keep their spirits up’ [sic] while death tolls reached levels unseen in any other European country.

What followed was a chain of disasters initiated by 10 Downing Street. The NHS Contact Tracing APP that was launched and claimed as functional, ‘World Class’ in the words of Boris Johnson, only to be withdrawn several weeks later with a hasty admission that it had never worked in the first place. As if it is not bad enough that experts like Bill Mew and yours truly have warned that this APP was flawed already by design, Boris Johnson wend on to claim that ‘no country in the world has a functioning Contact Tracing APP’ [sic], despite the fact that more than 20 countries already had a functioning APP, including Germany.

The NHS Track & Trace program, also World Class according to Boris Johnson, showed the depth of the leadership crisis in the United Kingdom. The dust of missing tens of thousands of contacts did not yet settle when the next catastrophe happened. Using an Excel sheet for a mission critical, and in this case literally lifesaving project, sums it up, and at the other hand is also just an example of to which extend the disastrous leadership of Boris Johnson is costing lives…

Where basically every country worldwide was ramping up their testing capability already in March, the UK under Boris Johnson decided to take it easy. Maybe they were still thinking this would all blow over by itself. Or maybe the famous ‘British can-do mentality’ would solve it for them. Every country pushed in March for being able to test massively to contain the spread of COVID-19. Boris Johnson had other plans. Being able to do 100,000 tests per day by April 30th was ambitious enough for his administration.

Of course, Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock claimed victory, they even wend as far as claiming that they had excelled far beyond the target of 100,000 daily tests. Given the track record of these gentlemen, it should be no surprise that this too was the result of creative bookkeeping. Adding some backlogs from previous weeks, mixing in tens of thousands of tests done abroad, and ‘by mistake’ confuse signed contracts for future capacity with actual tests being performed by the self-set and very late deadline. Official data from the UK Government confirms that they did not even perform half of the number of tests they had set out to do.

Daily COVID-19 testing in the United Kingdom

The PPE crisis was of course downplayed by Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock, just like they downplayed the lethal impact on the healthcare workers throughout the NHS.

Multiple sources now estimate that over 650 health and social care workers have now died of COVID-19.

Source: Nursing Notes

Other countries wend through the same shock of a global pandemic, but except for the U.S. and Brazil, no other country decided to wait-and-see during the first wave like the United Kingdom did under Boris Johnson. And what is even worse, no other country, with maybe the same exceptions, refused to learn the lessons from the first wave. In all honesty, no other country messed up during the first wave like Boris Johnson’s UK did. With lethal consequences…

It is no surprise that the second wave is coming. A massive intake into the healthcare system will lead to significantly increased usage of PPE. Did Boris Johnson learn the lessons from his catastrophic decisions during the first wave and pump up the emergency stockpile to what will be required during a global pandemic? No. The emergency stock levels, which were far from adequate, are unchanged and still not fulfilled. Yes, you read that right. On top of not being increased to cover the demand, the emergency stock levels are still not fulfilled. Lessons learned? None!

The measures taken by Boris Johnson during the first wave were chaotic and, in most cases, confusing, sometimes even contradicting. And late, most of all late! What happens, and this is leadership basics, when you drag your feet to make the difficult decisions, is that the impact of those decisions is also delayed. So, when you decide to implement restrictions to reduce the spread and flatten the curve to prevent a collapse of the healthcare system, but you wait more than 6 weeks to do so, it should be no surprise that you have to deal with the full impact of that delay. It is most likely, and this is still leadership basics, that your delayed measures will have little to no effect.

Did Boris Johnson learn from his mistakes to drag his feet through every decision to implement restrictions, or learn from his mistakes to ease those restrictions long before data would even remotely support those decisions? Apparently not! The growth of COVID-19 infections per million citizens started already in September, and so did the growth of deaths per million citizens. Not only did Boris Johnson absolutely nothing to curb this concerning trend, but he also decided to keep loosening restrictions even further. In fact, he even kept pushing his agenda and slogans that the economy comes first, and all the rest would be somehow ok. As usual and similar to what happened under his rule during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing his Brexit agenda was apparently significantly more important than controlling the spread of a lethal virus happening right underneath his nose. Again!

Too little, too late is the only way to describe yet another phase of complacency leading up to the ‘3-tier’ system which had to be overruled less than 2 weeks later with a halfhearted lockdown which is not really a lockdown. In fact, it is just a fancy title for a chain of U-turns of previous measures and easing of restriction. Looking at the timing and comparing the development of the first wave in the United Kingdom with he second wave, it becomes crystal clear that Boris Johnson has not learned from his previous lethal failures. He even decided to wait 2 weeks longer this time…

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Dad, consultant, coach, speaker, author. Mainly Cyber Security, leadership, responsible tech and organizational change. https://johannesdrooghaag.com

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