The Preexisting Conditions That Doomed Britain’s COVID-19 Response

The Preexisting Conditions That Doomed Britain’s COVID-19 Response
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, Sept. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Alastair Grant).

This week, the United Kingdom recorded more than 7,000 new coronavirus cases and 71 fatalities. That’s the country’s highest single-day increase in new cases yet, and its biggest one-day death toll since July. It’s all part of an ongoing COVID-19 resurgence that Britain has been experiencing since early September. In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has tightened lockdown measures in the country’s coronavirus hot spots.

The U.K. has been one of the hardest-hit countries, with the fifth-largest death toll from COVID-19 in the world. Tom McTague, a London-based staff writer for The Atlantic, recently wrote that Britain’s key institutions had been severely weakened even before the pandemic hit. This resulted in “a sobering reality: Institutional weaknesses of state capacity and advice were not corrected by political judgment, and political weaknesses were not corrected by institutional strength.”

Today on Trend Lines, McTague joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman to discuss the structural failures that undermined the U.K.’s coronavirus response.


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Relevant Articles on WPR:
For the U.K. and Ireland, Brexit and COVID-19 Are a Perfect Storm
Will Ireland and the U.K.’s Divided Responses to COVID-19 Fuel Irish Unification?
‘It Was Always Going to Be Horrible.’ Britain’s Former Top Emergency Planner on COVID-19
Boris Johnson Is Hurtling the U.K. Toward Another Brexit Cliff

Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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