London (AP) – The once chief adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accused the government of a catastrophic failure at the start of the corona pandemic.
Johnson himself has completely underestimated the virus, Dominic Cummings told MPs in London on Wednesday. The head of government even wanted to be infected with corona to demonstrate that the virus was not dangerous, Cummings says. Johnson later contracted the virus and had to be treated in an intensive care unit for days on end.
Ministers, officials and advisers “fell catastrophically short of the standards the public can expect in a crisis,” Cummings said. “When the public needed us the most, we failed.” The government failed to see the signs of the expanding pandemic, said Cummings, Johnson’s most influential adviser at the time.
It was not until the end of February 2020 that the prepared contingency plans were found to be “hollow”. The government called for late work from home and left pubs and sports facilities open for too long.
Cummings apologized to the relatives of the corona deaths. The ex-adviser spoke to members of two lower house committees of the UK Parliament. He left the government in a dispute in November 2020. Members of the government accuse him of a revenge campaign.
Cummings testified, “In February 2020, Boris Johnson just thought it was a scary story. He thought it was the new swine flu. He went on to claim that Johnson said, “I’m going to ask (the chief medical advisor) Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with the coronavirus so everyone can see that it’s not something to be afraid of.”
The real plan of the government was to achieve immunity from herds. For example, in mid-March, then-top official Mark Sedwill said Johnson should call the population to coronavirus parties, similar to how parents organize chicken pox parties for their children. That was official advice from the Department of Health, Cummings claimed. Department head Matt Hancock should have been fired repeatedly, he had “lied” in many cases, for example about purchasing protective equipment. Cummings and other high-ranking people would have said that repeatedly to Johnson. Hancock is still in office.