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At the Covid Inquiry Cabinet Secretary Simon Case struggles under questioning from the Long Covid Groups' KC

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary and head of the Home Civil Service appeared belatedly at the Covid Inquiry yesterday in the final session for Module 2, Core UK decision-making and political governance.

Although in many respects he was a strong witness - well prepared, thoughtful, reflective and giving the impression of being honest in his replies, he floundered under questioning from our KC Anthony Metzer.

The main thrust of Metzer's questioning was around whether in 2020 Long Covid had been part of decision making over the use of NPI's - non-pharmaceutical interventions - to control the virus, in particular lockdowns. We of course already know from previous evidence presented to the Inquiry that very little information was sought by or provided to those making these decisions in government during the first year of the pandemic. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty only advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson about Long Covid in Spring 2021.

However, Case struggled to remember anything about Long Covid, and needed several prompts from our KC in order to jog his memory. When asked whether he recalled any action being taken after Boris Johnson posted a Financial Times article entitled 'Mystery of prolonged Covid-19 symptoms adds to unknowns' in a WhatsApp group in May 2020. Case couldn't remember.

In his witness statement Case described the role of the Covid Taskforce as "ensuring the government receives the most up to date advice on the state of play on the ground, was guided by the science, and continued to adopt a holistic approach to decision-making to ensure that the impact of all decisions was assessed in the round" however it took until April 2021 before any advice was given to the Cabinet Office on Long Covid. Why did it take so long? Case clearly struggled to recall any detail.

Our KC asks: "How could Cabinet Office factor Long Covid into decisions around NPI's including the impositions of later lockdowns if they were not provided with timely advice or data on it?" Case prevaricates, vaguely mentioning possible discussions in papers from COVID-S and COVID-O (Cabinet Office committees on Covid 19 Strategy and Covid Operations) around the time of the second lockdown, but admitting he may not be correct. Our KC confirms that he is not right about that.

"Simply put, was it that Cabinet Office did not take into account that a significant number of people would suffer long term effects of Covid-19 when carrying out that balancing exercise required to make a decision to lockdown?"

"I think that's true 2020" - Simon Case acknowledges that this was indeed true when decisions were made around the second and third lockdowns.

Long Covid was not taken into account when making policy decisions.

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