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Chris Whitty expected to say he regrets saying people would not tolerate long lockdown in Covid inquiry – UK politics live

Good morning. Prof Sir Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, and chief medical adviser for the UK, is giving evidence all day to the Covid inquiry. The session starts at 10am, but we have already had an insight into one of the points he might make from a witness statement from Sir Patrick Vallance published by the inquiiry last night. In it, Vallance says Whitty regrets saying “fatigue” might stop people putting up with a long lockdown.

Extract from Patrick Vallance’s witness statement Photograph: Covid inquiry

This was in one of three witness statements from Vallance published by the inquiry last night, after the government’s former chief scientific adviser finished giving evidence in person.

In his evidence Vallance said Whitty had initially been more reluctant than others to support an early lockdown at the start of the Covid crisis. This wasn’t a great secret because in those very early press conferences Whitty argued that, if the government were to introduce restrictions on what people could to too early, there was a danger that people would get tired of complying, and start reverting to normal behaviour, at a point where Covid was still a threat. This is what Vallance is referring to when he talks about Whitty introducing the concept of “behavioural fatigue”.

This later became highly controversial not just because it was wrong – people were willing to comply with lockdown restrictions for a long time (perhaps surprisingly) – but also because there does not seem to be much evidence to support the concept in the first place. Scientists on SPI-B (the Scientific Paendemic Insights group on Behaviour) subsequently said the idea did not come from them.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: Prof Sir Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, and chief medical adviser for the UK, gives evidence to the Covid inquiry.

10.15am: Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee about the Bank’s monetary policy reports.

11.30am: No 10 holds a lobby briefing

After 3pm: David Cameron is due to speak in the Lords for the first time as foreign secretary in a debate on the trade (comprehensive and progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific partnership) bill.

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