As the UK COVID death toll passed 100,000 this week, the government has insisted it did "everything it could to protect people’s lives”.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said this week that ministers took the “right decisions at the right time” throughout the coronavirus crisis, despite the high number of deaths.
However, a YouGov poll found that two-thirds (66%) of the country does not think the the government has done everything it reasonably could to protect the public from COVID – compared to just over a quarter (26%) who think it has.
Insisting that “we did everything that we could to protect people’s lives”, Jenrick nonetheless admitted some things could have been done differently “with the benefit of hindsight”.
He told Sky News: “We took the decisions that we could at the time on the basis of the information that was available to us.
“And we did everything that we could to protect people’s lives and help to weather the storm, and take the country through this very challenging period.
“There is no textbook as to how to respond to a pandemic like this, but we do believe that we took the right decisions at the right time.”
The government will publish a strategy for the “gradual and phased” easing of lockdown in the week beginning 22 February, with schools expected to be the first to reopen.
Vaccine numbers continue to rise, with figures released on Wednesday showing 7,164,387 people receiving a first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines – a rise of 311,060 on the previous day’s figures.
Based on the latest figures, an average of 412,401 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the government’s target of 15 million first doses by 15 February.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown