PM Boris Johnson’s handling of pandemic scathed by ex-aide

London, May 26 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of Covid-19 deaths could have been avoided in the United Kingdom, Dominic Cummings, the former chief advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said Wednesday as he painted a chaotic picture of the government’s handling of the pandemic.

In an extraordinary and often scathing evidence session with a committee of Members of Parliament, Cummings said senior Downing Street officials, including himself at the time, had reacted late to the crisis and had fallen “disastrously” short of public standards.

He called for a full inquiry into the government’s handling of Covid-19.

“Tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die. There’s absolutely no excuse for delay now, because a lot of the reasons for why that happened are still in place now,” he said.

“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.”

The political strategist was particularly unforgiving in his depiction of Johnson, who he said compared Covid-19 to a “scare story” at a time when other countries were already implementing measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

He said the government’s original plan was to achieve herd immunity by September and that Johnson had been reluctant to enforce a nationwide lockdown.

The UK eventually went into its first lockdown on 23 March 2020.

Cummings also heavily criticized the UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, who he accused of “lying to everybody on multiple occasions,” adding that he had urged Johnson to fire him.

Cummings alleged that Hancock had advised staff in April to hold tests back so that he could hit his target of 100,000 per day to please the media and had undermined the set-up of the UK’s track and trace system.

“In my opinion, he should have been fired for that thing alone,” he said. “It was criminal, disgraceful behavior that caused serious harm.”

With public scrutiny mounting, Johnson defended his handling of the pandemic during a parliamentary questions session Wednesday, saying his government’s priority was to “save lives.”

Cummings, who left Downing Street last year, is no stranger to controversy and during the select committee was asked to revisit his explanation as to why he traveled to the popular tourist spot Barnard Castle in northern England when the country was in lockdown.

He stuck to his initial story that it was to see if he was well enough to return to London after recovering from Covid-19.


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