krishna2_ Guy SmallmanGetty images_nhs clap for carers Guy Smallman/Getty Images

The UK Government’s Pandemic Shame

COVID-19 infections and deaths in the United Kingdom are now falling, largely as a result of a rapid nationwide vaccine rollout. But the government’s incompetent provision of personal protective equipment means that frontline health-care workers remain in the pandemic’s crosshairs.

LONDON – Many rich countries have at times failed to provide enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for their health-care workers during the coronavirus pandemic. But the performance of the United Kingdom’s government – which has repeatedly urged the public to “Clap for Our Carers” – has been particularly shameful.

Although the government’s vaccination drive now dominates the headlines, we must not lose sight of the fact that at least 850 health- and social-care workers in England died from COVID-19 between March and December 2020. And these workers remain at risk.

The medical professionals who lost their lives include Peter Tun, a senior doctor managing COVID-19 patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, who pleaded for vital PPE supplies three weeks before he died from the disease last April. Similarly, Andrew Ekene Nwankwo, a locum nurse at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, died of COVID-19 after desperately trying to buy his own PPE online. How many other UK health-care workers would still be alive had the right equipment been available?