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Top aide to Boris Johnson says the PM considered COVID a ‘scare story like swine flu’ in early 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson considered COVID-19 to be a ‘scare story’ in February 2020, his former top aide Dominic Cummings told parliament on Wednesday.

“The basic thought was that in February the prime minister regarded this as just a scare story… he described it as the new swine flu,” Cummings told lawmakers. Explaining why Mr Johnson did not attend the COBRA meetings at the start of last year, he said: “The prime minister described it as the new swine flu, I certainly told him it wasn’t. “The view from No 10 was if the PM chairs COBRA and says it’s just swine flu that would not help.” He added that the PM wanted to be injected with the coronavirus live on TV by chief medical officer Chris Whitty to show it was not harmful.

Mr Cummings spoke of how many junior people in government “did great things” but were let down by those in senior positions, adding: “The problem in this crisis was lions led by donkeys over and over again.” Labour leader Keir Starmer asked Johnson during PMQ’s (Prime Minister’s Questions), as claimed by Cummings on Wednesday morning, if he failed to initially realise the severity of Covid, “dismissing it as, ‘another scare story, like the swine flu’”. Johnson replied: “I don’t think anyone can credibly accuse this government of being complacent about the threat of this virus.” 

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ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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