Nearly 2 million people ‘still suffer effects of Long Covid’, new research finds

The hearing was also told that those over 70 had a 10,000-times greater risk of dying than under-15s.

On average, each victim lost over 10 years of life, while mortality was 2.6 times higher in the most deprived areas, compared to the most well-off.

It was also found that Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and black communities had highest mortality rates.

The figures were read out by lead counsel Hugo Keith KC on the first day of the inquiry’s latest phase – expected to last nine weeks – that focuses on the Government’s role.

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Relatives of those who died gathered outside holding pictures of lost loved ones as they waited for the doors to open. In a video played at the London hearing, 14 people told how the pandemic devastated their lives.

Mr Keith said: “Never again can a virus be allowed to lead to so many deaths and so much suffering.”

The KC said Dominic Cummings, former chief adviser to then PM Boris Johnson, would testify that the Government adopted a “deliberate strategy…a goal” of allowing “herd immunity” to play out.

Mr Cummings also claims the PM did not think Covid was “a big deal”, mainly fearing economic damage.

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Brenda Campbell KC, representing Northern Ireland victims, told how one woman died of it alone in hospital on May 20, 2020 – the day Downing Street threw a “bring your own booze” bash attended by Mr Johnson.

Peter Weatherby KC, for Covid 19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said there was a “leadership void” during the crisis and “cavalier” Mr Johnson was “dismissive of disaster”.

His WhatsApp messages from January 31 to June 7, 2020, were “unrecoverable” – a “remarkable and unfortunate coincidence”.

Earlier, it was reported that Rishi Sunak could not provide WhatsApp messages from during the pandemic because he failed to back them up.

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