Mixed messages, broken trust, avoidable deaths: a critical appraisal of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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This short commentary draws on academic and grey literature to critically evaluate the UK response to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting aspects in which the response fell short and their ramifications on public trust and compliance with preventive measures. Such aspects include the initial delay in response to the outbreak, the controversial “herd immunity approach,” the mismanagement of care home patients, the inadequacy of the contact tracing system, the scandals around the procurement of personal protective equipment, and the breach of lockdown/social distancing regulations by government officials. Based on the lessons learned from these shortcomings, this commentary seeks to provide suggestions for effective public governance in the face of future health emergencies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20230016
Number of pages7
JournalOpen Health
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2024


  • pandemic response
  • COVID-19
  • UK government
  • PPE scandal
  • Partygate
  • pandemic preparedness

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