| 9 December 2023, Saturday |

UK PM Sunak reportedly said ‘just let people die’, COVID inquiry hears

During Monday’s hearings examining how Britain handled the COVID-19 epidemic, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was cited as suggesting that instead of imposing a second national lockdown, the government should “just let people die.”

On October 25, 2020, Patrick Vallance, the government’s main scientific adviser during COVID, wrote in his journal about a meeting between Sunak, the finance minister, and then-prime minister Boris Johnson.

The diary entry shown to the inquiry recorded how Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior adviser during the pandemic, had relayed to Vallance what he said he had heard at the meeting.

Vallance quoted Cummings in his diary as saying: “Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s okay. This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”

A spokesman for Sunak said the prime minister would set out his position when he gives evidence to the inquiry “rather than respond to each one in piecemeal”.

The inquiry is examining the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that shut large sections of the economy and killed more than 220,000 people in Britain. It is due to run until the summer of 2026.

Senior government officials have repeatedly said the government was unprepared for the pandemic and a “toxic” and “macho” culture hampered the response to the health crisis.