The government ‘fell disastrously short of the standards the public has a right to expect’ during the pandemic, Dominic Cummings has admitted to MPs.
The former top aide apologised for mistakes made amid the Covid-19 crisis during his much-anticipated appearance before a joint parliamentary committee this morning.
In a series of damning allegations over the government’s handling of the pandemic, Mr Cummings confirmed that Boris Johnson was willing to be injected with Covid by the chief medical officer on live TV to show the public it was ‘just the new swine flu’.
Mr Cummings told MPs: ‘The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials and senior advisers, like me, fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its government in a crisis like this.
‘When the public needed us most, the government failed.
‘And 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.’
Giving evidence to the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, the ex-chief adviser said ‘many, many institutions’ around the world, including the UK, failed to adequately protect their nations.
He said there was ‘no sense of urgency’ and that many ministers, including Mr Johnson, were on holiday.
Mr Cummings said the western world simply watched as the Taiwanese government ‘hit the panic button’ around New Year’s Eve, 2019, and immediately put plans into effect, including closing borders and ordering quarantine periods.
‘It’s obvious the western world, including Britain, completely failed to see the smoke and to hear the alarm bells in January. There’s no doubt about it,’ added Mr Cummings.
The former chief aide told MPs the prime minister regarded the pandemic as ‘just a scare story’ in February last year and was willing to go to untold lengths to show the public there was no significant risk.
He said: ‘The view of various officials inside No 10 was, if we have the prime minister chairing Cobra meetings and he just tells everyone it’s swine flu, don’t worry about it, I’m going to get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of, that would not actually help serious planning.’