Priti Patel denies Dominic Cummings' claims herd immunity was considered by Government

23 May 2021, 11:30 | Updated: 23 May 2021, 11:41

By Kate Buck

Priti Patel has denied claims made by Dominic Cummings that the Government originally intended to let Covid-19 spread in an attempt to build "herd immunity".

Boris Johnson's former top adviser said that when the disease emerged in early 2020, the plan had been to develop resistance in the population in the months leading up to September.

In a series of tweets he said that it was only abandoned in early March after Downing Street was warned that it would lead to a "catastrophe".

Read more: Government backed using 'herd immunity' to combat Covid-19, Dominic Cummings says

But the Home Secretary told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday the government's strategy "from the outset" was to "protect the NHS and save lives".

"I'm not going to comment on what Mr Cummings has written about or what he may or may not say, but I can categorically say that the advice which came from scientists that cane to meetings that I was involved in, Ministerial meetings was all based upon saving lives in this country,

Boris Johnson's former top adviser said that when the disease emerged in early 2020, the plan had been to develop resistance in the population in the months leading up to September.
Boris Johnson's former top adviser said that when the disease emerged in early 2020, the plan had been to develop resistance in the population in the months leading up to September. Picture: PA

"It all feels like a long time ago but the extent of the pandemic that shot to the country, the decisions, the choices they were all unprecedented, led by Prime Minister who all credit to him had to make the toughest decisions in peacetime that a country has ever faced."

Mr Cummings' latest intervention comes as he prepares to give evidence on Wednesday to MPs on the Commons health and science committees who are investigating the Government's response to the pandemic.

Downing Street is braced for a potentially highly damaging onslaught following his acrimonious departure from No 10 at the end of last year.

In a foretaste of what to expect, he said that there may have been no need for any lockdowns if the country had had the "the right preparations and competent people in charge".

Instead he said that at the beginning of March last year, the plan had been "herd immunity" and that claims to the contrary by Health Secretary Matt Hancock were "bullshit".

He also strongly attacked the media for accepting the Government's denials.