Covid-19: UK unheeded Warnings and some success stories #3… useful articles (Updated)

I’m including links to articles that I’ve found useful in terms of providing a holistic view of how things have unfolded in the UK.

I’m sure (as with all media) that they are biased… I’m including them for the information they contain not the political points they may be trying to make. I want to keep a record of the unfolding story with a particular focus on failed opportunities to learn.

If there are other key articles you think should be included please send me a link.

Learning from success: The coronavirus slayer (14 May) The Guardian

If we’re serious about learning, understanding success is perhaps more important than all the attention we are placing on what’s gone wrong where we have failed.

This story filled me with hope and I’m struck that (again) a woman spearheaded this. What can we learn?

Why we fail to prepare for disasters 9 May (originally published in the FT)

Measuring excess mortality: 5 May 2020

Useful comparison of uk response.

And the impact of focussing on Brexit 1 May (The Guardian)

Details of the Risk Assessment warning of the dangers of a pandemic: 24th April (The Guardian)

Why do Women Make Such Good Leaders During COVID-19 (19 April) Forbes

38 Days when Britian sleepwalked into disaster: April 19 (The Times)

Non-paywalled version link.

And the official government response to the Times article (an extraordinay move?): April 29 (

A Timeline of the UK Governements Response: 11 April (Byline Times)

Geoff Mulgan blog on managing big risks: 8 April (Blog)

Coronavirus: The NHS workers wearing bin bags as protection: 5 April (BBC)

Exercise Cygnus: 31 March (The National Scotland)

Why we weren’t ready (30 March, New Statesmen)

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  1. Thanks Gill … there is an interesting challenge in an exercise of this type where things are moving quickly and you have these articles captured in real time and perhaps raw, but if you wait there is the potential to be influenced by hind sight and individuals updating their memories. For example at the present moment all of the data we are being inundated with such as numbers of cases and deaths, are inaccurate, but it is the best we have to influence current decisions. Later when the information or data is filtered and refined it will paint a different picture that we cant see at the present moment.

    An example is the data on deaths. Until recently we were charting the number on deaths using the date of confirmed COVID infection of the deceased, which can be some days after the individual actually passed away. Recently the BBC has been providing a graph using the date of death of the deceased confirmed as COVID related and it identifies we are past the peak of potential COVID related deaths, which isn’t apparent from the raw data of COVID confirmation.

    There is no doubt the UK Government, and many others, were not ready and made mistakes. Did they do what was reasonably with the information known at that time ? There will be a time to assess and to provide recognition where it is due, but also accountability for errors in readiness from past simulated exercises and in reasonable judgement as events unfolded.

    One thing that stands out for me is that we don’t have an appreciation for emergency readiness in the UK. Living in Texas, there is a state of emergency preparedness from June to November every year, therefore the communication needs and methods of mobilizing resources are regularly tried and tested. Arguably others such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia have had similar experience which New York, UK, Italy etc have not had in recent times. Has this influenced the outcomes ?

    Preparedness not only enables you to start off on the right foot but ensures the people and systems are in place for effective decision making in the heat of the crisis. I feel this is an opportunity in the UK where each major incident is treated like a one off by those in positions of authority as if nothing could have been done to prepare.

    • Totally agree… I think the siloed view of major events is a huge contributor to failing to learn…. I’m a little cynical that we will do much differently after this but we shall see… maybe there will be enough pressure for more radical thinking.

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