UK PM Johnson considered having Covid injection in early 2020

Cheryl Sanders
May 26, 2021

The former top aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was presented as inevitable in government that the virus would have to rip through the United Kingdom population at the start of 2020, before thinking changed and the government began to lock the country down.

Johnson subsequently caught COVID-19 early in the pandemic, and was moved to intensive care in hospital, where he received litres of oxygen.

Mr Cummings said: "In my opinion, disastrously, the secretary of state had made, while the Prime Minister was on his near-death bed, his pledge to do 100,000 by the end of April".

While it was broadly anticipated that Dominic Cummings, who was unceremoniously kicked out of Downing Street past year during a power struggle over access to the Prime Minister's ear, would use Wednesday's committee hearing to attempt to damage the Prime Minister, perhaps the first individual to seriously come under his fire was Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The thinking around herd immunity began to change as the government realized the true scale of what was about to hit Britain, Cummings said.

Mr Cummings claimed he, the cabinet secretary and other senior officials told the PM he needed to fire Health Secretary Matt Hancock over "15-20 things, including lying", with the cabinet secretary saying he had "lost faith in the health secretary's honesty".

The health ministry declined to comment.

With nearly 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth highest official COVID-19 toll, far higher than the government's initial worst-case estimates of only 20,000.

Though Cummings's attacks have so far failed to dent the prime minister's popularity, his testimony is likely to form the broad lines of scrutiny of a public inquiry next year into the Covid-19 response.

Dominic Cummings accused the British government of being too "slow" to handle the crisis.

"We have worked flat out to minimise loss of life", said Johnson. This denial stands in direct contradiction of the claims, given Cummings insisted he and others had personally told Boris Johnson he had to fire Hancock for incompetence in 2020.

As pressure grew on the prime minister to explain the journey, a press conference with Cummings was held in the No 10 rose garden, a year ago this week.

His evidence before lawmakers gave an alarming insight into the heart of the British government as it grappled with the onset of what would become the most devastating public health crisis in a century.

"The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me, disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its government in a crisis like this", he said.

He related meetings in early 2020 when it started to dawn on some officials that Johnson's resistance to a lockdown was a deadly mistake.

"So, essentially, we never really got to grips with it until the Prime Minister was back in the office, and the cabinet secretary and I could say to him "we've got to do the track and trace thing in a completely different way".

He quoted Helen MacNamara, deputy cabinet secretary, as saying "I've come through here to the prime minister's office to tell you, quote, I think we are absolutely fucked".

'I can completely understand why people think it's weird. "I think we're going to kill thousands of people".

In a series of investigations, Reuters has reported how the British government made several errors: it was slow to spot the infections arriving, it was late with a lockdown and it continued to discharge infected hospital patients into care homes.

"There was all this bureaucratic infighting in April, and remember the Prime Minister wasn't back then either, Dominic Raab was doing a brilliant job chairing the meetings, but this was a huge call and very hard for him to basically start carving up the Department of Health in April".

"When I came back, nearly the first meeting I had in the Cabinet room was about the disaster over PPE and how actually hospitals all over the country were running out".

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