David Cameron heckled after admitting 'failing' in preparations for pandemic at Covid inquiry

19 June 2023, 15:12 | Updated: 19 June 2023, 15:19

One person shouted "shame on you" as David Cameron entered his car after giving evidence in the Covid inquiry
One person shouted "shame on you" as David Cameron entered his car after giving evidence in the Covid inquiry. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

David Cameron has admitted there were "failings" in his government's attempts to prepare for a pandemic.

The former prime minister said his government did not ask enough questions about factors that ultimately affected the Covid pandemic, including asymptomatic transmission.

Giving evidence in UK official inquiry, Mr Cameron said: "I don't think it's right to say the government only looked at pandemic flu, it didn't look at other things - the risk registers and other documents mention Mers and Sars and other types of pandemics.

"So I think that wasn't a failing; I think the failing was not to ask more questions about asymptomatic transmission, highly infectious... what turned out to be the pandemic we had."

He also questioned whether there had been "adequate follow-up to some of the work".

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David Cameron gives evidence to the Covid Inquiry
David Cameron gives evidence to the Covid Inquiry. Picture: Getty

Mr Cameron also told the Covid inquiry that it had been a "mistake" not to look at different types of diseases when preparing for future pandemics.

Asked about Dame Deirdre Hine's independent review into swine flu, he said: "My reaction to reading Hine was, like many of the other reports, it doesn't mention the potential for asymptomatic transmission.

"And so, you know, when you think what would be different if more time had been spent on a highly infectious, asymptomatic pandemic, different recommendations would have been made about what was necessary to prepare for that."

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After he gave evidence to the inquiry, Mr Cameron was heckled as he got into his car.

One member of the public shouted: "Have you damaged the reputation of the Tory Party?"

Another person shouted: "Shame on you".

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Mr Cameron faced a number of questions while giving evidence, including on austerity - which involved the government introducing cuts to public spending.

This meant there was less money available for schools, parts of the NHS and the police, who had officer numbers cut.

George Osborne, who was Mr Cameron's Chancellor, and Jeremy Hunt - the former health secretary - have also been asked to give evidence to the inquiry.