Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has come under scrutiny during the ongoing Covid-19 inquiry for allegedly suggesting that the government should “just let people die” instead of imposing a second national lockdown. The inquiry heard that in a meeting with then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sunak, Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser at the time, noted down comments made by Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior adviser during the pandemic. Cummings reportedly stated that Sunak believed it was acceptable to let people die and criticized the lack of leadership. Sunak’s spokesperson stated that the prime minister would address these allegations when he gives evidence to the inquiry.
The inquiry aims to examine how the British government handled the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in the closure of significant parts of the economy and caused over 220,000 deaths in the country. Senior officials have admitted that the government was ill-prepared for the crisis, and a “toxic” and “macho” culture hindered the response to the health emergency. In previous evidence, Sunak was criticized by a government scientific adviser, who branded him “Dr. Death” due to his “Eat Out to Help Out” policy in the summer of 2020. Although the policy aimed to boost the economy by subsidizing meals in pubs and restaurants, health experts argued that it contributed to the spread of the virus.
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