Saturday, December 4

Dominic Cummings tells the BBC that the prime minister denied that Covid overwhelmed the NHS | Dominic cummings

Boris Johnson denied that the NHS was overwhelmed, saying he was not prepared to blockade the country to save people in their 80s, texting his adviser: “Get Covid and live longer,” according to new messages. of WhatsApp published by Dominic Cummings.

In his first television interview, the former senior adviser to the prime minister said Johnson resisted reimposing the Covid restrictions because “the people who are dying are essentially over the age of 80.”

Cummings also told the BBC that Johnson was determined to go see the Queen in person, even though the people at Number 10 were already sick with Covid in March 2020. Downing Street denies the account.

In WhatsApp messages, shared with the BBC, which were sent to attendees in mid-October, Johnson seems to say: “I must say that some of the data on the Covid deaths has shaken me a bit. The average age is 82 to 81 years for men and 85 years for women. That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer. Almost all those under the age of 60 are admitted to hospital (4 percent) and virtually all survive.

“And I no longer buy all this stuff overwhelmed by the NHS. Friends, I think we may need to recalibrate. “

Dominic Cummings, during an interview with Laura Kuenssberg.
Dominic Cummings, during an interview with Laura Kuenssberg. Photograph: Jeff Overs / BBC / PA

Johnson also appears to send text messages to his assistants: “There is a maximum of 3 m in this country over 80 years old” and says “that shows that we are not going for the blockade in the whole country.

The new messages will cast further doubt on the prime minister’s actions in the lead up to the November shutdown, a time during which Cummings and other senior scientists have said the prime minister was fiercely opposed to the shutdowns.

Cummings told the BBC that Johnson, who nearly died after being hospitalized with Covid in April 2020, told meetings at No. 10 that he should never have agreed to the first lockdown.

He said Johnson referred to the Telegraph as “my real boss” and was extremely concerned about the reaction from the right-wing press and the Conservative Party.

“Then he basically reversed himself and said, it was all really a disaster, we should never have done it, he was right in February, basically we should just ignore it and just let the matter go through the country and not destroy the economy and move on.” , He said.

Cummings said Johnson had repeatedly ignored the advice of his top scientific and medical advisers.

“When you get into the week of September 15-19, at that point, the data was clear on what was going on and Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty came to Downing Street and said, uh, it’s clear where it’s going, we think I should consider doing it hard and early … the prime minister said no, no, no, no, no, I’m not going to do it. “

In the BBC interview, Cummings claims that he had to prevent Boris Johnson from going to see the Queen in person at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, when the staff of Number 10 were already falling ill and the Prime Minister had already given instructions. to the public to avoid everything. unnecessary contact, especially with older people.

“I told him, what are you doing, and he said, I’m going to see the Queen and I said, what the hell are you talking about, of course you can’t go see the Queen. He said, uh, that’s what I do every Wednesday, fuck this, I’m going to go see her, ”Cummings said.

Downing Street denied that this incident had taken place. Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

Cummings said he finally convinced Johnson not to take chances. “I told him, there are people in this office who are isolating themselves, it is possible that you have coronavirus, I may have coronavirus, you cannot go to see the Queen. What if you go to see her and give the queen the coronavirus?

“Obviously you can’t go… I just said if you give her the coronavirus and she dies what, what are you going to do, you can’t do that, you can’t risk that, that’s crazy. And he said, basically I hadn’t thought it through, he said, yeah, ‘shit, I can’t go.’

A spokesperson for Number 10 told the BBC: “Since the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has taken the necessary steps to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice.

“The government he leads has delivered the fastest vaccination rollout in Europe, saved millions of jobs through the licensing scheme and prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed by three national closures. The government is fully focused on cautiously emerging from the pandemic and rebuilding better. “

Cummings has launched multiple attacks on his former boss after leaving Downing Street in December, including at a seven-hour committee meeting with MPs and via a new subscription blog.

The former senior adviser came under vociferous public criticism after The Guardian revealed that he had traveled to Durham with his family, and then to Barnard Castle, during the national lockdown.

Cummings repeated his explanation that he had left London due to threats against his family, which he told MPs in May, but declined to say so at a press conference he gave about the incident. “Everything I said at the Rose Garden was true … but I didn’t put all the security concerns in the background,” he said.

“The way we handled the whole thing was wrong on Monday. What I should have done is just quit and say nothing about anything, or I should have talked to my family and said, listen, we’ll have to clear the whole thing up. “

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