UK fell 'disastrously short' on COVID-19: Boris Johnson's former aide
Dominic Cummings, a former aide of the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has apologized for the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, Cummings said the UK "fell disastrously short" of what the "public expects during a crisis like this." Cummings—who was often described as Johnson's "brain"—was notably booted after his mid-pandemic travel sparked controversy last year.
'When the public needed us most, the government failed'
Cummings appeared before a joint inquiry by the government's Health and Social Care and the Science and Technology committees over the UK's response to COVID-19. "When the public needed us most, the government failed. I'd 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," he said.
'Crackers that Johnson is still PM'
Cummings did not hold back from speaking ill of former colleagues, including the PM. He said it was "crackers" that Johnson was continuing to serve as PM. He revealed that the PM had initially treated COVID-19 as a "scare story." Many key people were "literally skiing" in mid-February, he said, adding that the government was not on "war footing" early enough.
'Herd immunity was part of government's plan'
Cummings said that Johnson was aware that the UK's initial strategy involved achieving herd immunity by September. He said the government had assumed nothing could be done to stop the virus and that herd immunity was an "unavoidable fact." Health Secretary Matt Hancock was "completely wrong" when on March 15, 2020, he claimed herd immunity was never part of the government's strategy, Cummings said.
Delay in imposing nationwide lockdown
Cummings also said that he had first called for a hard lockdown in the UK on March 11, 2020. A nationwide lockdown was not imposed until March 23. Critics say the initial delay in the COVID-19 response and the lack of preparedness led to more infections and deaths. So far, 4.4 million have been infected in the UK, while 0.13 million have died.
Cummings 'most dangerous' among Conservatives' opponents
Cummings was formerly a close aide to Johnson and is said to have masterminded his successful 2016 Brexit campaign and the 2019 election victory. Jonathan Tonge, a politics professor at the University of Liverpool, told The Washington Post that Cummings is the "most dangerous" among the Conservatives' opponents. "He sees this committee appearance as a vehicle for revenge," he said.