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We’re fundraising for a reporter to cover the Covid inquiry – all of it

We want to report on every day of the Covid-19 inquiry. Will you help us keep holding the government accountable?

Ramzy 001.jpg
Ramzy Alwakeel
14 February 2023, 11.00pm

Will you help us cover the Covid-19 inquiry?

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Adobe Stock/James Battershill

Bereaved families spent more than a year pushing for a full independent investigation into the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is to their credit that even while grieving they helped secure the inquiry whose preliminary hearings are now under way, which will begin formally gathering evidence in the spring and summer.

The questions for this inquiry to answer are immense.

It is not just about Britain’s readiness for Covid when it made landfall here in early 2020.

Help us uncover the truth about Covid-19

The Covid-19 public inquiry is a historic chance to find out what really happened.

It is not just about ministers’ decisions regarding who was and wasn’t given support to self-isolate.

It is not just about the discharging of sick patients into care homes despite promises to protect their residents, nor the awful loneliness and isolation faced by so many living there.

It is not just about the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on disabled people, on health workers, on working-class people, on Black and Asian people, on cleaners, on transport workers, on poor people, on homeless people. It is not just about Belly Mujinga or Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong.

It is not just about the decisions made regarding the timing and scale of lockdowns.

It is not just about the fact health workers were sent onto the front line without adequate PPE, or about the billions of pounds spent procuring and storing unused or unusable masks and aprons, or about the fact that lucrative Covid contracts were fast-tracked for MPs’ friends and contacts while the usual procurement checks and balances were suspended.

No – it is also about the things that we do not already know. The things that will emerge during years of detailed hearings, that will in all likelihood shock us, that will help us to finally understand what happened inside the government as this illness struck the UK, and to hold the people responsible to account.

And that is why we need your help.

We want to bring you a depth and breadth of coverage you will not find anywhere else. We want to investigate issues around and about the inquiry, as we have done for the past three years.

Our investigations have uncovered that PPE supplied through the government’s murky ‘VIP’ lane of politically connected companies was three times more likely to be unusable than normally procured equipment – and that the government tried to block the release of the VIP firms’ names.

We also revealed that private schools pocketed £157m in Covid loans denied to state schools. And that consultancy firms won Covid contracts worth more than £700m. And that testing companies lost 3,000 people who entered England with Covid in the weeks leading up to a huge spike in cases.

Just last week we found that two Tory-linked PR firms had been given contracts to manage bereaved families at the official inquiry.

We want to continue this important work. But first and foremost we want to report the inquiry’s day-to-day activities. That means attending the inquiry every day that it sits to give you a direct line to its work through text, images, graphics, audio and video.

Stretched national news desks will send reporters to cover the inquiry on the days that are most likely to generate a quick headline. But the devil is in the details. Britain’s response to Covid was not simple. It was a years-long, cross-departmental process that both took and ignored thousands if not millions of pages of scientific advice. Decisions big and small were made every day. Some of these were right. Some of them were wrong. Sometimes it may have been hard to tell.

We all deserve to know what went on in depth, not just for today but for readers in the future. Our coverage will be a historical document as well as a rolling news source.

To do all that, we’ll need to hire a top-flight journalist to work exclusively on the Covid inquiry.

openDemocracy is a small, independent news organisation. That independence gives us our editorial freedom – but it also means that we don’t have the financial safety net enjoyed by larger news operations.

We rely heavily on reader donations. Without those, we won’t be able to do this work. We know times are hard but, if you can, will you please make a donation now to help us pay for a Covid inquiry reporter? Your donation will be used to pay for our Covid work and will make a real difference.

You can do so by clicking here. Thank you.

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