British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted to be injected with COVID-19 on live television to prove that there is “nothing to fear” just weeks before it nearly killed him, his former chief adviser told Parliament on Wednesday.
“In February The Prime Minister saw this as just a scary story, “Dominic Cummings told Parliament’s science and health committees as part of an investigation into the UK’s pandemic response.
“He described it as the new swine flu,” said Cummings, beating his former boss for taking two weeks vacation instead of “operating on a war basis” that month.
Instead, Johnson said he would get Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty to inject him with “live on TV coronavirus” so “everyone can see it’s not something to be afraid of,” Cummings testified.
Weeks later, on March 27, Johnson announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 – which resulted in a time in the intensive care unit where he almost died, he later admitted.
His infection came just days after he imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 23 – after a period when the government’s response “seemed like a runaway movie,” Cummings testified.
“Number 10 in February wasn’t on a war basis [COVID] in any shape or form. Many key people were literally skiing in mid-February, ”he said, including Johnson, who“ went on vacation for two weeks ”.
The lack of action at the start of the pandemic meant “many people died in dire circumstances,” he said.
“And I want to say to all the families of those who died needlessly how sorry I am for the mistakes that have been made and for my own mistakes,” he said.
A self-proclaimed political disruptor, Cummings was named a top advisor when Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019 after helping shape the UK’s Brexit from the European Union.
He quit his job in November amid a power struggle in the prime minister’s office.
As of Wednesday, the UK had nearly 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest number in Europe with nearly 4.5 million confirmed cases.
It also experienced one of the deepest recessions in the world in 2020 when three consecutive lockdowns hampered the economy.
Meanwhile, Johnson defended the government’s response on Wednesday, saying “it had been shockingly difficult to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude.”
“I don’t think anyone could credibly accuse this government of being complacent at any point about the threat this virus poses,” Johnson said at the House of Commons.
“We have tried in every phase to minimize the loss of human life, to save lives and to protect people [health service] and we have taken the best scientific advice we can. “
His spokesman said the government will not go into any allegations made by Cummings.
With postal wires