SCOTTISH Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has slammed Rishi Sunak’s comments that "empowering scientists” during the pandemic was a mistake as “desperate Trumpism”. 

In an interview with The Spectator, the former chancellor said the UK Government “shouldn’t have empowered scientists in the way we did”.

Posting on his Twitter, Yousaf said he was staying away from the leadership contest but that Sunak’s comments needed to be addressed. 

He said: “Have stayed out of circus that is Tory Leadership contest but this needs called out. Such desperate Trumpism from Sunak. 

“If we ignored experts and let Covid rip through our communities, before a single vaccine was administered, thousands more would be mourning in Scotland alone.”

The Tory leadership hopeful said he felt “trade-offs” should have been acknowledged from the beginning, stating he felt concerns he raised about education and missed doctors appointments were not dealt with at UK Government meetings. 

Sunak said that empowering outside academics leaves you “screwed”.

Yousaf continued: “While clinicians advised us, Govts were free to make the policy decisions we did. 

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak says scientists had too much influence during pandemic

“Every Govt Minister should be grateful to our scientists & clinicians, not be attempting to throw them under the bus in a desperate attempt to win over those on the fringes.”

Yousaf then tweeted a link to a WHO-led paper which estimated that the vaccine programme in Scotland helped prevent over 27,500 deaths.

The Health Secretary isn’t the only one to criticise Sunak, with former health secretary Jeane Freeman also calling out the top Tory for his comments.

Writing on Twitter, Freeman (below) said: “Well finally the truth will out. Sunak 'SAGE had too much influence…' Oh yes, why let experts guide you. 

The National: Former Scottish Government minister Jeane Freeman also hit out at SunakFormer Scottish Government minister Jeane Freeman also hit out at Sunak

“Who needs epidemiologists, behavioural scientists, clinicians, global research experts to explain & advise on a pandemic on a scale we’ve never faced.”

Freeman continued: “Experts? No, let the guy who knows zip about it have his way. Thing is though, in that UK Government he was not the 'lone voice' he claims. 

“But in desperation for power, the dog whistle leads. Pfft.”

Sunak is still engaged in the Tory leadership race where he and Liz Truss are battling it out to convince Conservative members who should succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister. 

The Sunak leadership campaign has been approached for comment.