Breathtaking by Rachel Clarke, review — “a beautiful, blistering account of a key moment in our history”

“It’s a horror show.” That’s what Rachel Clarke’s friend Arjun told her on March 13 last year. A doctor specialising in infectious diseases, he, like Clarke and all the doctors they knew, had been watching the government’s response to the newly declared pandemic with growing incredulity. Hospitals were already filling up. Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, had just confirmed that 10 Downing Street’s policy was “to build up some degree of herd immunity”. Arjun was doing 12-hour shifts with Covid patients in ICU. He sounded on the verge of tears. “They’ve downgraded our PPE,” he said.

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