Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland's national clinical director, made the admission days before the third anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns to curb its spread on March 23, 2020. He said that had authorities known the full impact of the lockdowns, different decisions might have been made.
"I made some missteps. We did what we did because of the knowledge we had at the time," Leitch said during a talk at Christ Church in Edinburgh. "I don't know if we'd do it the same way again because we have different knowledge now. I wonder if closing the schools is something we'd reconsider."
The expert recounted how he was drafted for the Scottish government's TV briefings over fears that only half the nation liked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. During that time, he served as a spokesman for the Scottish National Party instead of a decision maker. Leitch remarked that his role in the daily briefing was necessary to win "public consent," adding he would advise ministers when he felt that it was necessary to "go hard" on certain things.
"The feeling was that a clinical leader would be better than a politician because only half [of Scotland] liked Sturgeon and the other half didn't," said the clinical director.
"During the pandemic, I had a family I did not see and that were not being educated. That was horrible. And what was happening in care homes and in schools will stay with me forever." (Related: COVID-related school closures cause DROP in reading, math test scores.)
Leitch ultimately denounced the use of lockdowns during his talk in Edinburgh, calling it "an old-fashioned approach to managing a disease that is going around the world in an airplane."
According to the Daily Mail, the professor's comments appear to undermine the hardline tactics adopted by the Scottish government and the U.K. government at large. These tactics caused huge disruptions to education, healthcare, business and society for two years.
Children's rights group UFTScotland welcomed Leitch's admission and acknowledgement that shutting down schools and shifting to home schooling was a terrible political decision that impacted a generation.
"We knew from the data at the time that COVID was affecting older people and was not an issue for younger people. The harm of closing schools was never considered," a spokesperson for the group said. "Everyone lost their mind and children were thrown under a bus. Now, Leitch is admitting children were not being educated."
Dr. Sandesh Gulhane, a member of the Scottish Parliament under the Scottish Conservative Party, revealed that they have repeatedly called on Sturgeon's government to prioritize schools when it came to easing lockdown restrictions. However, schools were last to see COVID-19 pandemic restrictions lifted.
The Scottish government meanwhile said it was committed to a public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic. "Our priority throughout the pandemic was to save lives and reduce the harms of the disease," a government spokesman said.
Visit Pandemic.news to read more about COVID-19 lockdowns.
Watch Jimmy Dore expound on studies that reveal very low transmission of COVID-19 in schools below.
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