The Guardian view on the Covid inquiry: scientists and the government under the microscope | Editorial

Expanding on his startling diary entries, Sir Patrick Vallance gave crucial evidence from a unique perspective

The relationship between the government and scientists is under the microscope as never before. The former chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, gave evidence to the Covid inquiry on Monday, and Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, is due to take the witness stand next. Some of Sir Patrick’s views are in the public domain already, due to the release of sections of his diaries. Blunt descriptions of politicians including Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock echo those of other recent witnesses, who described Mr Johnson as incapable of leading and confused by science, Mr Sunak (then chancellor) as overly focused on the economy at the expense of health, and Mr Hancock (who was health secretary) as dishonest.

Shocking details included the fact that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which Sir Patrick chaired, did not hear anything about Mr Sunak’s “Eat out to help out” scheme until it was announced. On another occasion, Mr Hancock asked for evidence contained in official advice to be changed (the request was refused).

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