LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was quoted as saying the government should “just let people die” during the COVID-19 pandemic rather than impose a second national lockdown, the inquiry into how Britain handled the crisis heard on Monday.

Patrick Vallance, who was the government’s chief scientific adviser during COVID, made a note in his diary on Oct. 25, 2020, about a meeting involving then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sunak, who was finance minister.

The diary entry shown to the inquiry recorded how Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior adviser during the pandemic, had relayed to Vallance what he said he had heard at the meeting.

Vallance quoted Cummings in his diary as saying: “Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s okay. This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”

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