Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best Tortoise experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help, let us know at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.com

Wednesday 1 April 2020

C-19 Sensemaking

Coronavirus The inquest

One day, the government will have to ask hard questions about its response to the pandemic. We’re putting together a list to help get the process started

When all this is over, there are likely to be government inquiries held in Britain and many other countries around the world. Why weren’t we ready for the coronavirus? What was done wrong? And what was done right?

In anticipation of that moment, Tortoise is publishing this list of specific questions for Britain’s coronavirus inquiry to address. Much like our C-19 Tracker, it is a work in progress – we’ll be adding more questions and more detail as the months progress.

If you have any suggestions, please do email giles.whittell@tortoisemedia.com


  • Why did antigen testing of NHS critical care staff not start until 30 March?
  • Why was large-scale testing of the population at large not deployed early on, despite evidence of its success in containing spread of the virus in, for example, South Korea, Germany and Vo in Lombardy?

Contact tracing

  • Why has contract tracing not been used on a significant scale in the UK despite evidence of its success in containing the spread of the virus in, for example, Taiwan and Singapore?

Port of entry screening

  • Why has there been minimal screening of arrivals, including from C-19 hotspots in northern Italy, at any UK ports of entry at any point during the development of the pandemic?

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Why have doctors, nurses, paramedics and social care workers been required to work in close proximity to potential and actual C-19 carriers without the PPE that’s regarded as essential in other countries?


  • Why did the NHS start this crisis with just 8,000 ventilators?
  • Why did the government not accept the EU’s invitations to take part in four joint ventilator procurement programmes?
  • Were emails received in connection with these programmes? If so, who received them and what action was taken?
  • What is the truth about the government’s procurement of ventilators? How many applications did it receive? Who processed them? And who made the final orders?

NHS capacity

  • Why did the NHS start this crisis with only two hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared with six per 1,000 in Germany?
  • How effective, in terms of saving lives, was the extra capacity provided by emergency hospitals such as NHS Nightingale at the Excel Centre?

Herd immunity vs flattening the curve

  • Was herd immunity against C-19 ever the UK government’s official aim?
  • If so, on what basis? And was this a factor behind delaying the closure of schools?
  • Did the government make the wrong decision by not introducing tougher lockdown measures when Ireland and Denmark did, on 12 March? Was the idea of herd immunity behind this decision? What was the cost?


All our journalism is built to be shared. No walls here – as a member you have unlimited sharing