Michael Rosen, the children’s poet and writer who survived Covid after six weeks with a fan, has backed calls for a public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the pandemic amid mounting pressure on Boris Johnson to announce a calendar.
The author came out as several other prominent figures urged the government to launch a legal investigation into the Covid-19 experience in the UK, including broadcaster Joan Bakewell, film director Stephen Frears, and music producer and composer Talvin Singh.
Sophie Morgan, a TV presenter with a spinal cord injury, said a public investigation was needed “urgently” as figures show that nearly two-thirds of Covid-related deaths in the UK have been people with disabilities.
The calls came at the end of a week in which a group representing more than 2,800 grieving people issued an ultimatum to Boris Johnson that they would initiate legal action in a few weeks unless it triggered a statutory public inquiry. They want you to have the power to subpoena witnesses and evidence and to examine the reasons why the UK has the worst death toll per capita of all the world’s largest economies.
Pressure increased on Friday when the NHS Race and Health Observatory, set up by England’s NHS and the NHS Confederation to reduce racial and ethnic inequalities in health care, said it also wanted a “robust and comprehensive public investigation” .
“Research must consider immediate actions to address the specific ethnic health inequalities exposed by the pandemic, and the responses that are potentially leading to their increase,” said its director, Dr. Habib Naqvi.
On Friday it received further support from hundreds of families of nursing home residents, around 40,000 of whom died with Covid in the UK. The Care Campaign for the Vulnerable wrote to the prime minister demanding an investigation saying that “emotional, physical and mental distress … demands recognition.”
Government scientific advisers Professor John Edmunds and Professor Andrew Hayward told The Guardian this week that they support the idea, as does former head of the civil service Lord Kerslake, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing. and the Muslim Council of Great Britain. Both Labor and Liberal Democrats have also called for a public inquiry.
Labor leader Kier Starmer told Sky News that grieving families “want closure, they want justice and they want their questions answered. We cannot keep saying that now is not the time…. It has to start as soon as the restrictions are lifted. I don’t think we can park it in the next few years. “
The prime minister promised last July that there would be an “independent investigation”, but Downing Street’s current position is that “now is not the right time to devote large amounts of official time to an investigation.” Both Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and Deputy Medical Director Jonathan Van-Tam have suggested that an investigation may distract from the vaccination program.
Rosen said he wanted an investigation to focus in part on why the virus was allowed to take hold in the UK in February and March last year, and said he suspected “the government was experimenting with herd immunity without vaccination” . He said that he believed himself to be a victim of that experiment “like thousands of people who died or are also suffering from prolonged Covid.”
He said: “We desperately need an investigation into how and why this deadly idea was taken seriously. We owe it to the dead and wounded and we must learn from such a terrible mistake. “
TV host and fellow Labor Party colleague Joan Bakewell said that everything the NHS had controlled had worked well, but she was concerned about the money being given to private companies. “[The government] handing out contracts to people they know, that needs to be investigated, ”he said.
Frears, whose films include My Beautiful Laundrette and The Queen, said the NHS should have been in charge of testing and tracing and that an investigation is needed due to the death toll. “There is nothing to discuss about it, it must be understood,” he said.
Singh said an investigation would help transparency. “It is difficult to explore and investigate for any individual, as it feels like a closed curtain of what is happening behind the scenes and what decisions are being made for the future,” he said.
The four UK nations could launch their own investigations and the group Families grieving for justice from Covid-19 wants “a joint approach to common questions and areas of evidence.”
Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said this week that a public inquiry should be conducted into the Welsh government’s handling of Covid-19 when “the pandemic has left behind.” In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has promised a public inquiry, but has so far received no response to a letter from 20 organizations representing affected communities urging it to begin.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism