“BRAVE” decisions at the start of the pandemic have helped Britain avoid a return to the tighter Covid measures now being seen on the Continent, the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey heard.

“I definitely think we feel safer and securer here in the UK than I think the most people must feel in the continent at the moment,” businessman and Labour peer Lord Willie Haughey said.

“Nearly all of the young people have had their two jabs and we’re now getting our boosters, we’re getting our flu jobs. I think it’s the one thing where nobody can point their finger at the UK and say that we were certainly asleep at the wheel when it came to vaccinations.”

Lord Haughey and entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter were responding to the news of rising Covid cases in Europe, leading to Austria’s return to a full national lockdown and tougher restrictions in countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy.

Sir Tom said: “It’s to be celebrated that Britain is further ahead than others.”

He continued that someone in government had taken the “courageous step” to back Dame Kate Bingham, former chair of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, when she had asked for investment early on in the pandemic to secure and roll out millions of vaccine doses across the UK.

“Because she comes from the world of venture capital, she’s used to failure,” Sir Tom said, adding that Dame Kate, who has a background in biotechnology investing, had been unsure whether the task was achievable.

“But somebody in government took the courageous step to say yes, on you go,” he continued. “And now we’re in a better position than most. And I don’t know who it was that made the brave decision. But I’d like to say thank you to them.”

The politicians of France and Germany need to “look at themselves in the mirror,” because they had “politicised” the vaccines, Sir Tom suggested.

A number of European countries had delayed the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns about its efficacy and reports of a possible link to blood clots.

Lord Haughey believed the government’s medical advisors deserved “a lot of credit,” and that the vaccine programme had been marketed effectively.

“I think the marketing campaigns have been really good,” he said. “They’ve got the young musicians out there trying to get the younger people to take up the vaccines. All of that has helped.”

Show host Donald Martin, editor of The Herald and Herald on Sunday, asked: “Isn’t it amazing how the narratives changed? Because very early on in the crisis, they were saying the messaging was confused. There was the deliberate difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK in messaging. But are we now saying finally, we’re getting it right?”

Lord Haughey replied that key lessons should be learned from the early impact of the pandemic on the region of Lombardy in Italy, which suffered the country’s highest rate per head of Covid infections.

“When people saw what was happening in Lombardy in Italy, everybody panicked,” he said. “We were all concerned we were going to run out of ventilators, we were going to run out of PPE. And I think that really, if we had just taken our time a wee bit and said, no, here’s what we really need to do...Loads of the things that we’ve done, we never needed any of it.” Sir Tom said he had sympathy with the politicians. “Nobody in business – nobody alive – had actually lived through a global pandemic of this nature,” he said.