When asked by Andrew Marr, “You are sure locking down when you did and not earlier did not cost lives?”, Matt Hancock responded: “I’m sure.”
This went directly against the view of John Edmunds, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who was the first member of Sage to state openly that failing to implement restrictions earlier was a potentially lethal decision.
Edmunds said delaying lockdown ‘cost a lot of lives’.
Professor Neil Ferguson said that locking down one week earlier could have saved over 20,000 lives.
He told MPs on the House of Commons Science Committee that, “had we introduced lockdown a week earlier we’d have reduced the final death toll by at least half.”
The testimony from SAGE committee member Jeremy Farrar on this subject is powerful. He later wrote: “The decision not to act sooner was wrong and undoubtedly cost lives.”
Matt Hancock’s view may have been sincerely held. However, the judgement of experts undermines his claim that locking down earlier would not have saved lives.
When we asked Matt Hancock to respond to the claims laid out in this website, a spokesperson said: “This list is false, wildly inaccurate, and in some cases possibly even defamatory. For example claiming that some of Matt's claims in the Commons were in defiance of the ministerial code, when they were in fact accurate. The priority throughout this unprecedented pandemic has been saving lives.”