The Prime Minister thought Covid-19 was just a “scare story” and the “new swine flu” and it was suggested Professor Chris Whitty should inject him with the virus on live TV, Dominic Cummings has told MPs.
Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser said the Prime Minister had suggested coronavirus was another swine flu in February 2020.
“In February, the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story, he described it as the new swine flu,” Mr Cummings told the Commons health and social care and science and technology committees.
When asked if he had told the Prime Minister it was not, Mr Cummings said: “Certainly, but the view of various officials inside Number 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 (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of’, that would not help actually serious panic.”
Mr Cummings also told MPs that he did not attend early Cobra meetings but had one-to-one briefings with Prof Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance instead.
He said this was because Cobra meetings were known to be the source of leaks to the press.
Mr Cummings said: “Bear in mind one of the huge problems we had throughout was things leaking and creating chaos in the media.”
When asked if these were leaks from Cobra, he said: “Leaking from Cobra, leaking from practically everything.
“So when I wanted to have sensitive conversations that I didn’t want to see appear in the media, I did not have those conversations in Cobra.”
Mr Cummings said he attended some meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), of which the first meeting regarding Covid was on January 21.
He said he “couldn’t understand” some of the modelling and what was being said and sent other experts to the meeting instead.
Mr Cummings said he listened to a lot of Sage conversations in February and March “but a lot of it was over my head”.