Covid mismanagement – Who is responsible and can they be held accountable?

Infection and mortality rates have varied widely across the globe during the covid pandemic and fluctuated considerably over the past year within individual countries and continents.
It is clear that in most countries social and health inequalities have contributed very significantly to this variation, with covid disproportionately affecting the poor and underprivileged. There have also been other factors in play, with gross mismanagement and multiple policy failures in some countries leading to thousands of excess deaths. This has been particularly evident in certain countries, such as the US under Trump, Brazil, India and arguably the UK, where misplaced economic considerations or the hubris of their political leaders has been associated with the wilful neglect of scientific advice, delayed and mistimed lockdowns and thousands of premature deaths, both due to covid and also delays in treatment of non-covid disorders. This raises the question of political leaders’ accountability for their citizens avoidable deaths.

Kamran Abbasi MB ChB, FRCP is a doctor, journalist, broadcaster and executive editor of the British Medical Journal, and is also a visiting professor at the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College. He has recently written about Covid mismanagement in the UK  as well as the wider international perspective and argues
that such public health malpractice could be classified as at the least criminal negligence, or at worst a crime against humanity. He will discuss this in his talk, as well as the possible avenues for redress; ranging from a public inquiry (already much delayed by the UK government), political solutions such as a change of leader (as in the US) or the possibility of a global system of governance such as the International Criminal Court including mismanagement of pandemics in its jurisdiction, given the consequences in individual countries have such a significant deadly impact on the whole world.

Following five years in hospital medicine, working in various medical specialties such as psychiatry and cardiology, Dr Abbasi moved into senior editorial roles at the British Medical Journal from 1997 to 2005. He is now back at The BMJ in a new role as executive editor for content, leading the journal’s strategic growth internationally, digitally, and in print. He has contributed to the expansion of international editions of the BMJ and argued that medicine cannot exist in a political void.

21st June 2021