Professor Sir David King, who was in the role between 2000 and 2007, said that he didn’t know why the country wasn’t more prepared.
He said experts had produced reports back in 2006 on dealing with pandemic and showing it would spread eventually to the UK’s shires.
Speaking to LBC earlier, he said: “Why we didn’t respond so much sooner once this epidemic broke out in China, I simply don’t know.
“And I say this because in 2006, we published a report on actions needed to deal with a pandemic and in that report, we showed that if an outbreak occurred of any new virus of this kind, anywhere in the world, within three months, due to air travel, it would be everywhere in the world and that, of course, is what has happened.”
He said Britain was “unprepared” for the outbreak and “we didn’t take action”.
“We didn’t manage this until too late and every day’s delay has resulted in further deaths in the United Kingdom,” he said.
Sir David said the plan to push ahead with Cheltenham festival with massive crowds” shouldn’t have happened.
And he blames “austerity measures” to the cutting back on “risk management programmes” too – which have cost lives.
“We were much better prepared for better spending for the Environment Agency on that and equally unprepared for pandemics. For me, this is very upsetting because we had set this preparation process in place, as I say, back in 2006.”
Britain’s experts claimed they have done the right things at the right time – even though we waited until after countries like Ireland had began to lock down.
The UK is on course for as many deaths as Italy at the moment, as the numbers continue to add up.
Ministers think Britain is still some days away from the peak.
They are set to extend the lockdown tomorrow after a COBRA meeting to discuss the latest evidence of how the lockdown has worked.
It’s expected that the shutdown will continue into May – and possibly June.
But a gradual approach to getting back to normal is expected, rather than reversing all the measures in one go.
But the chancellor is keen to re-open parts of the economy to avoid a complete meltdown.
Now ministers need to “massively ramp up measures”, Sir David argued today.
“Until we get testing done on a very much wider scale, we’re not going to begin to manage this,” he said,
“I think it has been taking the eye of the ball, hoping that it would somehow blow away and we are acting too late.”
A No10 spokesperson said this afternoon: “We believe that we took the right decisions at the right point in time.”