Covid Inquiry Alert
Next week, the Covid inquiry led by Baroness Hallett will reveal new insights into Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak's roles in the early pandemic months. The focus will be on testimonies from senior scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser to Mr. Johnson.
Diary entries penned by Sir Patrick throughout the crisis are anticipated to expose previously undisclosed details about the then-prime minister's handling of the pandemic. These entries, described as one of the most crucial contemporaneous accounts from an insider's perspective, have already been shown in part to the inquiry.
Sir Patrick's diaries paint a vivid picture of the chaos within No. 10 and reveal scathing assessments of the government's response. Phrases such as "No 10 chaos as usual" and "all over the place and so completely inconsistent" offer a glimpse into the challenges faced by ministers, civil servants, and advisers as they grappled with the unfolding Covid crisis in early 2020.
Key excerpts from the diaries also shed light on major disagreements within the government over post-lockdown policies later in the year. Sir Patrick's criticism of Mr. Johnson's decision-making, such as describing it as "impossible flip-flopping," further highlights the internal strife.
Sir Patrick disapproves of Mr. Johnson's approach, calling it "complete bollocks." Diaries reveal key info about Sunak's Eat Out To Help Out not shared with them; they would have advised against it if informed.
The inquiry, set to continue next week, is expected to uncover additional comments from Sir Patrick regarding the controversial scheme, which some believe contributed to a second wave of the virus in the UK in autumn 2020.
Sir Patrick will testify on Monday, followed by Sir Chris on Tuesday, and former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Sunak are slated to appear before the inquiry in early December to present their defenses.
The Covid inquiry will probe Sir Patrick and Sir Chris's advice in February 2020. Initially, Downing Street considered a "herd immunity" approach, but by March, scientists advocated for a full lockdown to prevent NHS collapse and widespread hospitalizations.