THE UK has been a leader in its coronavirus response, but not in a way any government would aspire to. The country now has the highest absolute excess deaths in Europe, 59,537 more than usual since the week ending 20 March, and the second highest per million people, behind only Spain for countries with comparable data, according to a Financial Times analysis. The total number of confirmed covid-19 deaths at the time of writing was second only to the US, and was still rising by more than 100 a day.

“Not knowing they were infected, many people were carrying on as normal and infecting others”

“I think it’s nothing short of a disgrace, and a dereliction of duty,” says former UK chief scientific adviser David King about the figures, which are coupled with more than a quarter of a million lab-confirmed cases.