Boris Johnson has kicked off his second day of evidence at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.

The former prime minister on Wednesday admitted he should have “twigged much sooner” about the threat posed by Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic, but he also sought to defend his administration from claims of a toxicity and dysfunction.

Relatives of Covid-19 victims gathered again outside the inquiry building at Dorland House in west London. Mr Johnson on Wednesday apologised for “the pain and the loss and the suffering” of its victims.

In a full day of evidence that focused on the early stages of the pandemic and the decision to introduce the first lockdown, Mr Johnson also defended the under-fire former health secretary Matt Hancock.

His final day of evidence is expected to focus on the later stages of the pandemic and the decision to apply a second lockdown.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was chancellor during the pandemic, will give evidence to the inquiry on Monday.