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Cummings: Officials feared PM would try to be injected with Covid on TV to stop 'panic'
26 May 2021, 10:58 | Updated: 26 May 2021, 13:05
Government officials were worried Boris Johnson wanted Chris Whitty to inject him with coronavirus live on TV to prove it was nothing to be scared of, Dominic Cummings has claimed.
The former adviser, who has publicly and explosively fallen out with the Prime Minister, has also apologised to families who lost loved ones to the virus over the Government's reaction to the outbreak last year.
But among a series of claims made to MPs on the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, Mr Cummings said: "In February (2020) the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story, he described it as the new swine flu."
Asked if he had told the Prime Minister it was not, Mr Cummings added: "Certainly, but the view of various officials inside Number 10 was if we have the Prime Minister chairing Cobra meetings and he just tells everyone 'it's swine flu, don't worry about it, I'm going to get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it's nothing to be frightened of', that would not help actually serious panic."
- Said Government fell "disastrously short" in its handling of the Covid-19 crisis
- Issued a direct apology to "the families of those who died unnecessarily" from Covid
- Said the government didn't treat Covid-19 as "the most important thing" on its agenda early in 2020, adding that lots of key figures were on skiing holidays
- Claimed in January 2020, organisations "across the western world were not ringing great alarm bells" about Covid-19
- Said that assurances given in January last year that pandemic preparations were brilliant "were basically completely hollow"
Cummings' claims about England's Chief Medical Officer injecting Mr Johnson, which was written about ahead of his appearance, have been denied to LBC.
Transport Secretary Shapps was asked if he had ever heard the Prime Minister use the term "kung flu", which he said he never heard.
Asked if he had heard Mr Johnson say he wanted to be infected on TV, Mr Shapps said: "No, never, again no."
Mr Shapps added: "It's a bit of a circus from someone who was there at the time and had the facility and the ability to influence a lot of these decisions, of course."
Apologising at the committee, Mr Cummings said: "The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its Government in a crisis like this.
"When the public needed us most the Government failed.
"I would like to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made and for my own mistakes at that."
Mr Cummings continues to give evidence this morning. Watch and follow it live here