Boris Johnson asked if Covid could be 'cured by blowing hairdryer up nose', Dominic Cummings says

1 November 2023, 14:37

Dominic Cummings said Boris Johnson asked if Covid could be cured with a hairdryer
Dominic Cummings said Boris Johnson asked if Covid could be cured with a hairdryer. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Boris Johnson asked scientists if people could cure Covid-19 by blowing a hairdryer up their nose, the pandemic inquiry has heard.

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Mr Johnson, the Prime Minister at the outbreak of Covid in early 2020, shared a video with advisers on WhatsApp to show the dubious technique.

Dominic Cummings, a top adviser at the time who has become an outspoken critic of Mr Johnson, accused the former PM of misinformation.

Mr Cummings said in a written statement: "A low point was when he circulated a video of a guy blowing a special hair dryer up his nose ‘to kill Covid’ and asked the CSA (Chief Scientific Adviser) and CMO (Chief Medical Officer) what they thought".

The former adviser said that Mr Johnson wanted to go see the Queen on March 18 - just five days before the announcement of lockdown.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson. Picture: Alamy

He rejected our advice,” Mr Cummings wrote. “I was desperate and said something like, ‘If you’ve got Covid and you kill the Queen you’re finished'".

Cleo Watson, another former adviser, said she would not let him get in the car," Mr Cummings said. "He agreed not to go.”

Mr Cummings also claimed that Mr Johnson said that he felt like Inspector Clouseau, the clownish detective from the Pink Panther series.

"He repeatedly said versions of a Clouseau analogy: ‘the British state has totally failed, it’s been a humiliating disaster, the government machine isn’t a Rolls Royce, I feel like Clouseau in the Pink Panther in that scene where he pulls the brake and it comes off in his hand, then pulls off the steering wheel and chucks it out the window, that’s what being PM has felt like in this crisis’.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings. Picture: Alamy

"Unfortunately his approach was the worst of all words - he would depress everybody with his Clouseau analogy, by implication offend officials many of whom had made tremendous efforts in public service, but then swerve real action to solve the problems. This encouraged despair, anger and leaks from all sides to pressure ‘the trolley’."

Mr Cummings said that in autumn 2020 the Prime Minister asked him to create a "dead cat" story to distract from Covid - and he refused.

Mr Cummings said: “My relations with the PM were in a bad state and getting worse.

"By June he was blaming me for, in his words, ‘bouncing’ him into the first lockdown and saying he should have been the Mayor of Jaws… He wanted to declare Covid ‘over’ even though this would obviously backfire, not just on him but on government credibility generally.

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"At one point in autumn he told me to ‘put your campaign head back on and figure out how we dead cat Covid, I’m sick of Covid, I want it off the front pages’. I said that no campaign could ‘dead cat Covid’ and I would not spend my time on such a project."

He also said Mr Johnson took a two-week holiday in February 2020, as the pandemic was beginning to brew as a global issues.

"He was extremely distracted," Mr Cummings said. "He had a divorce to finalise and was grappling with financial problems from that plus his girlfriend’s spending plans for the No10 flat,” he wrote.

"An ex-girlfriend was making accusations about him in the media. His current girlfriend wanted to finalise the announcement of their engagement. He said he wanted to work on his Shakespeare book."

The Covid inquiry has also heard on Wednesday that Mr Johnson thought Britain would “sail through” coronavirus at the start of 2020 and did not question pandemic planning because he assumed it would be “world-beating”.

Over 239,000 people have died with Covid-19 on their death certificate