The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, did not speak out when asked about the Dominic Cummings affair, compromising urgent public health messaging. This makes their positions untenable.

In the astonishing UK government update on the pandemic on the evening of Thursday 28 May, we watched the relationship between government and science collapse before our eyes. Much of the media coverage has focused on Boris Johnson’s muzzling of his chief medical officer (CMO) Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser (CSA) Patrick Vallance, as he intervened to prevent them from answering questions about the public health repercussions of Dominic Cummings breaking the lockdown rules. But that much was business as usual: we should by now be used to this increasingly isolated prime minister shutting down inconvenient debate.