James O'Brien: PM's 12 weeks of Covid promise now gives 'shivers down the spine'

14 June 2021, 13:06

By Tim Dodd

James O'Brien recalls the moment in March 2020 which now 'sends shivers down your spine' when the PM said the UK can 'turn the tide' of coronavirus in just 12 weeks.

On the 19th March 2020 the Prime Minister told a daily press conference on the Covid-19 pandemic that he was "absolutely confident we can send coronavirus packing in this country, but only if we all take the steps outlined."

It comes as Downing Street holds a press conference to update the nation on whether the so-called 'freedom day' relaxations for June 21st will go ahead.

James began by saying: "Do you know that it was on the 19th of March 2020 that Boris Johnson said the UK can turn the tide of coronavirus in 12 weeks? That almost sends a shiver down your spine, doesn't it? 12 weeks, you can turn the tide, and now we're seeing the third tide sweeping over our islands.

"The one thing on which we can all agree is that we did well in procuring vaccines, which does have some roots in Government decisions, and in rolling them out - which doesn't - that's a triumph for the NHS."

On the current rates of the Delta variant, which may interfere with the proposed date of June 21st for an end to restrictions, James said:

"It's just boring now actually. It's actually boring, saying oh well he's muffed that up as well. Maybe that's the plan? Maybe they're boring us into submission, maybe they're going to bore all criticism out of existence. They've got absolutely everything wrong, except the vaccines, and now they've squandered the social and economic benefits of the vaccine.

"The whole point of our vaccination success, when you remove the obvious health impacts, was supposed to be the early release from restrictions.

"For the majority of the population, the health impact of the vaccines is not the be-all and end-all of the [vaccination] programme, is it? Especially if you're younger, you're less likely ... you know all that. The international comparisons are built almost entirely on bringing a swifter end to the regulations than we otherwise would've done so."

"There are various ways you can empty the bath of infection," James said.

He continued: "When do you think we put foreign travellers arriving from high risk countries into quarantine?

"Do you want to have a guess at the date? It was the 15th of February 2021. So if you want to empty the bath of infections, you don't turn the taps off a year after they started running."

Downing Street has confirmed the press conference will take place at 6pm on Monday evening.

The Prime Minister will be joined by England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.