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17 Mar 2021 | 10:39

Dominic Cummings calls for 'urgent' Covid-19 inquiry

(Sharecast News) - Dominic Cummings said when lockdown ends Parliament should look urgently at what went wrong during the Covid-19 crisis. With ministers resisting the idea of an inquiry any time soon into the government's handling of the pandemic, Boris Johnson's former adviser told MPs there should be an "urgent and very, very hard look in this building into what went wrong in 2020."

Johnson and other ministers have said there would be an inquiry but have taken no action. On Wednesday Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said there would be "plenty of room for an inquiry" when the worst of the pandemic was over but announcing one now would be premature.

Cummings also said the UK was successfully rolling out Covid-19 vaccines because procurement was taken away from the health department in 2020. The department was a "smoking ruin" after its "total disaster" securing personal protection equipment, he said. Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance took the vaccine project away from the department.

"[Health] had an absolute total disaster in terms of buying - how it buys, procures, how it deals with science and tech. Its why we had to take vaccine process out of [the department]," Cummings told the House of Commons' science committee.

Cummings left Downing Street in December amid reports of tension between him, Johnson and advisers including Johnson's fiancee Carrie Symonds. Cummings told the committee he had already informed Johnson he would leave by 18 December.

He said he took the job as Johnson's adviser on the condition that the science budget was doubled. In an apparent message to Chancellor Rishi Sunak he said the new Aria research body he pushed for was "pencilled in to get generous spending increases year on year".

Cummings said he would be happy to return to answer questions about how Downing Street works and why he left.
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