Coronavirus UK news – Boris blasted for 'liking the chaos' after refusing to deny comments about over 80s dying of Covid

Boris Johnson says he "tried to minimise loss of life" at "every stage" as he failed to deny claiming Covid was "only killing 80-year-olds".

During PMQs Mr Johnson slapped down claims he'd failed the nation after his ex-aide Dominic Cummings launched an extraordinary broadside at him over his Covid failings.

He told MPs: "I take full responsibility for everything that has happened. I am truly sorry for the suffering the people of this country experiences. But the government acted throughout with the intention to save lives, protect the NHS and in accordance with the best scientific advice."

It came after Dominic Cummings earlier shared a photo of a "2020 lockdown plan" that says "who do we not save?" before being grilled over the pandemic response.

The picture, which appears to be taken in Boris Johnson's study, is from March 13 last year, Mr Cummings has claimed.

He wrote: "Plan A 'our plan' breaks NHS,>4k p/day dead min.Plan B: lockdown, suppress, crash programs (tests/treatments/vaccines etc), escape 1st AND 2nd wave (squiggly line instead of 1 or 2 peaks)… details later."

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

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    CUMMINGS SAYS HANCOCK TOLD CABINET PEOPLE WOULD TESTED BEFORE THEY WENT BACK INTO CARE HOMES

    People with Covid-19 were sent from hospital to care homes without being tested, despite the health minister saying they would be, making a "complete nonsense" of claims they would be shielded, Prime Minister Johnson's former top adviser said.

    "Hancock told us in the Cabinet Room that people were going to be tested before they went back to care homes," Dominic Cummings told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

    "We only subsequently found out that that hadn't happened. Now all the government rhetoric was we put a shield around care homes and blah blah it's complete nonsense. Quite the opposite of putting a shield around the, we sent people with Covid back to the care homes."

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    CUMMINGS SAYS CABINET SECRETARY COMPARED COVID-19 TO CHICKEN POX

    Dominic Cummings said former Cabinet Secretary Lord Sedwill suggested Boris Johnson go on television to explain Covid-19 herd immunity was similar to chicken pox parties.

    The former adviser claimed he told Sedwill to stop comparing to the typically non-fatal illness as Covid was spreading exponentially and killing thousands of people.

    He said it was only then that the people in room really seemed to realise how serious the epidemic was.

    Chicken pox parties are when parents encourage small children to play with a child who has contracted chicken pox as the illness can only be contracted once and is much safer to have in childhood than adulthood.

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    INDEPENDENT SAGE MEMBER ON DOMINIC CUMMINGS' EVIDENCE

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    EU SUES ASTRAZENECA FOR MAJOR CONTRACT BREACH

    A lawyer for the European Union accused AstraZeneca on Wednesday of failing to respect its contract with the 27-nation bloc for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and asked a Belgian court to impose a large fine on the company.

    The EU took the Anglo-Swedish firm to court in April after the drugmaker said it would aim to deliver only 100 million doses of its vaccine by the end of June, instead of the 300 million foreseen in the supply contract.

    Brussels wants the company to deliver at least 120 million vaccines by the end of June. AstraZeneca had delivered 50 million doses at the beginning of May, one-fourth of the 200 million vaccines foreseen in the contract by then.

    "AstraZeneca did not even try to respect the contract," the EU's lawyer, Rafael Jafferali, told a Brussels court in the first hearing on the substance of the legal case.

    He said the EU was seeking 10 euros ($12.2) for each day of delay for each dose as compensation for AstraZeneca's non-compliance with the EU contract. This penalty would apply from July 1, 2021, if the judge accepted it.

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    NO BORDER POLICY

    Dominic Cummings on the decision not to close the borders:

    He said: "Fundamentally there was no proper border policy because the prime minister didn't want a proper border policy…his basic argument was that lockdown was a terrible mistake, I should have been the mayor of Jaws."

    He is referring to the mayor in the movie Jaws who kept the beaches opened despite the shark attacks who Johnson had previously cited as his political hero.

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    BORIS JOHNSON FAILS TO DENY CLAIMS HE SAID "ONLY OVER 80s WERE DYING"

    Boris Johnson has insisted his Government at "every stage tried to minimise loss of life" as he failed to deny claiming Covid was "only killing 80-year-olds".

    Sir Keir Starmer used Prime Minister's Questions to grill Mr Johnson over allegations levelled against the Government, predominantly by his former senior adviser Dominic Cummings.

    At one stage the Labour leader asked Mr Johnson to refute an allegation that he delayed introducing a second lockdown last autumn because "Covid was only killing 80-year-olds", with Mr Johnson replying that the independent public inquiry will examine the matter, before defending his decisions.

    SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford also asked about claims that the Government considered "chickenpox parties" and "injecting the Prime Minister with Covid live on TV".

    Johnson replied: "I don't recognise the events he describes."

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    CUMMINGS SAYS BORIS JOHNSON LIKES THE CHAOS

    Dominic Cummings said he had decided to leave Downing Street by the end of 2020 because the system was too chaotic.

    Speaking to the Science and Health select committees, Cummings said he told Boris Johnson he was leaving just before he was due to have an operation in the summer.

    When asked why he was leaving he said he the system in No 10 was too chaotic and he could not put together the team to fix it.

    He said he told the PM: "You are more frightened of me having the power to stop the chaos than the chaos itself".

    The former adviser said Johnson then laughed and agreed, saying: "Chaos is not that bad, chaos means everyone has to look to me to sort it out".

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    CUMMINGS SAYS PM CAME CLOSE TO SACKING HANCOCK IN APRIL

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    BELGIUM SUSPENDS USE OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE AFTER WOMAN'S DEATH

    The Belgian government says it has suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for people under age 41 following the death of a person who had received the shot.

    The government said in a statement it was asking for urgent advice from the European Medicines Agency, the European Union's drug regulator, before it would consider lifting the suspension. It added that the impact on the national vaccination drive would be very limited.

    Belgium was using the American-made Johnson & Johnson vaccine for elderly with reduced mobility and the homeless since it only takes one shot to be protected. Those shots will be continued.

    It said it took the action after a single case "where there was serious side effects after administering the Janssen vaccine," using the local name for the Johnson & Johnson shot.

    It said a woman was vaccinated through her foreign employer outside the Belgian system and had died in Belgium last week after developing "serious thrombosis and reduced blood platelets."

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    CUMMINGS SAYS HE TOLD PM TO FIRE MATT HANCOCK

    Dominic Cummings has been severely critical of the conduct of the Health Secretary during the pandemic.

    • He said Hancock should have been fired for "at least 15,20 things" including "lying to everybody on multiple occasions".
    • Cummings said Hancock blamed the failure to produce enough PPE on NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens and the Treasury
    • Cummings claims then Cabinet Secretary Lord Sedwill began to question Hancock's honesty
    • Cummings accused Hancock of "criminal, disgraceful behaviour that caused serious harm" by pushing his 100k a day testing target while the PM was "on his deathbed"
    • Cummings said Hancock told people to push 100k a day target even though Whitehall told him to drop it
    • Cummings said Lord Sedwill sent up the 'Test and Trace system' as a separate entity to take it away from Hancock

    CUMMINGS SAID PANDEMIC RESPONSE WOULD HAVE BEEN "EVEN WORSE" IF THERE HAD BEEN NO 2019 ELECTION

    The PM's former top aide Dominic Cummings said the coronavirus pandemic would have been handled "even worse" if the 2019 election had not taken place.

    Cummings said: "I do think that one way in which this could have been even worse than it was, if you imagine that Parliament of 2019, that hung parliament.

    "If you imagine that Parliament colliding with this disaster in January 2020, God only knows what would have happened."

    He added: "If that broken Parliament had limped on into 2020 and confronted this crisis, I think that we'd be now be looking at … I think, frankly, the whole system would have would have melted down and fallen apart."

    CARE HOME COVID DEATHS 6X HIGHER IN LARGER FACILITIES

    Coronavirus death rates in Scotland's care homes were more than six times higher in larger facilities over the course of the pandemic, according to a report.

    New figures from the Care Inspectorate watchdog show fatalities increased from 2.1 deaths per 100 places in facilities with up to 20 places to 12.6 deaths per 100 places in those with more than 80 places.

    The watchdog has recorded more coronavirus-related deaths in care homes than the National Records of Scotland – 3,774 between March 16 2020 and March 31 2021 – although it said its data could not be of the same quality.

    'BILL GATES COULD NOT HAVE RUN UK'S GOVERNMENT RESPONSE'

    Dominic Cummings has said no one could have run the UK's early pandemic response well as the system was not in place.

    Speaking to the Science and Health select committees, Cummings said that although Boris Johnson was not up to the job he was also let down by the disorganisation and incompetence of Whitehall.

    He said if you dropped the "most competent person in the world" – such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates – they still would have had "an absolute nightmare" trying to run the UK's Covid response as the system would have let them down.

    "MATT HANCOCK SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED", CUMMINGS SAYS

    Whitehall's top official recommended to Boris Johnson that Health Secretary Matt Hancock should be fired over coronavirus failings, Dominic Cummings has claimed.

    The Prime Minister's former adviser said there were around 20 reasons why Mr Hancock should have been given the sack – including, he claimed, lying both in Cabinet room meetings and publicly.

    He said Mr Hancock performed "disastrously" below the standards expected and the cabinet secretary – the country's top civil servant – had recommended the Health Secretary should be sacked.

    Cummings claimed that while Donald Trump was ordering the CIA to "gazump" rival countries on orders for personal protective equipment (PPE), the Department of Health was still trying to get orders from China by ship.

    "I think the Secretary of State for Health should've been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly," Cummings said.

    "COMPLETELY CRACKERS" THAT PM WAS IN CHARGE

    Dominic Cummings said it was "completely crackers" Boris Johnson was in charge and that thousands of people in the country could provide better leadership than the Prime Minister.

    Cummings said the fact that the public had to choose between Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 election meant it was clear that the electoral system had "gone extremely, extremely badly wrong".

    "There's so many thousands and thousands of wonderful people in this country who could provide better leadership than either of those two," he said.

    "And there's obviously something terribly wrong with the political parties if that's the best that they can do."

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      PM THOUGHT ECONOMIC EFFECTS WERE WORSE THAN COVID

      Dominic Cummings said that Boris Johnson and other senior Whitehall figures believed in early March last year that the economic effects of coronavirus were worse than the disease.

      The former chief aide to the Prime Minister told the Commons committee: "At this time, not just the Prime Minister but many other people thought that the real danger is not the health danger but the overaction to it and the economy.

      "The Prime Minister said all the way through February and through the first half of March the real danger here isn't this new swine flu thing, it's that the reaction to it is going to cripple the economy.

      "To be fair to the Prime Minister, although I think he was completely wrong, lots of other senior people in Whitehall had the same view, that the real danger was the economic one."

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      FORMER MINISTER ON CUMMINGS' EVIDENCE

      Former minister Johnny Mercer has tweeted that he was asked to publicly defend Dominic Cummings – despite never having met him – and suggested ministers were being told to critcise him.

      Mercer quit the Government earlier this year accusing Boris Johnson of dishonesty over a failure to stop Northern Ireland veterans from prosecution.

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      "LIONS LED BY DONKEYS"

      Dominic Cummings said there is something wrong with the UK political system that the choice at the last election was between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

      He said the Government's Covid response was "lions led by donkeys" as there were brilliant people on the ground but top leadership let them down.

      Cummings said there is something wrong with the system that some like him – who is "not smart" and "has not contributed anything" – should be in such a powerful position in the Government.

      He also said the problem with the civil service is that there are so many great people working there but they "tend to get weeded out from top positions".

      He said: "What is it about Whitehall that promotes so many people who are out of their depth."

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      DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH A 'SMOKING RUIN'

      Dominic Cummings has described the Department of Health as a "smoking ruin" at the start of the pandemic.

      He said the entire shielding plan was put together by a few civil servants in several all-nighters despite previously being told they could not do it because they did not the resources.

      He accused Health Secretary Matt Hancock of lying about people getting the treatment they needed at the early stages of the pandemic.

      Cummings said offers of ventilators were rejected early on in the pandemic because the price had been inflated.

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      "THERE WAS NO PLAN"

      Dominic Cummings said Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Treasury did a great job creating the furlough scheme but it was cobbled together in a matter of days.

      Speaking to the Science and Health select committees, the former No 10 adviser said there had been no plan for furlough for people who could not work and no plans to offer financial incentives for people who cannot afford to self-isolate.

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      CUMMINGS SAYS CABINET SECRETARY COMPARED COVID-19 TO CHICKEN POX

      Dominic Cummings said former Cabinet Secretary Lord Sedwill suggested Boris Johnson go on television to explain Covid-19 herd immunity was similar to chicken pox parties.

      The former adviser claimed he told Sedwill to stop comparing to the typically non-fatal illness as Covid was spreading exponentially and killing thousands of people.

      He said it was only then that the people in room really seemed to realise how serious the epidemic was.

      Chicken pox parties are when parents encourage small children to play with a child who has contracted chicken pox as the illness can only be contracted once and is much safer to have in childhood than adulthood.

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      CUMMINGS ADMITS MASS EVENTS ADVICE WAS "BIZARRE IN RETROSPECT"

      Dominic Cummings said advice surrounding mass events early last year was "bizarre in retrospect".

      The former chief aide to the Prime Minister told the Commons committee: "I was really torn about the whole thing because in the first 10 days of March. I was increasingly being told by people I think this is going wrong but I was also really, really worried about kind of like smashing my hand down on a massive button marked 'ditch the official plan, stop listening to the official plan, I think there's something going wrong'.

      "I did do that as we'll come on to but on the fifth I was reluctant to do that."

      He said that he did not advise that the mass events of the Cheltenham festival and the Champions League match in Liverpool should not go ahead.

      He said official advice at the time was that those measures would not greatly affect transmission, "which obviously seems bizarre in retrospect", and that they could make matters worse by pushing people into pubs.

      "No one in the official system, in the Department of Health, drew the obvious logical conclusion, which was 'shouldn't we be shutting all the pubs as well?"' Cummings added.

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      CUMMINGS DESCRIBES CHAOS AT No10 AS IT WAS DECIDING ON LOCKDOWN

      Dominic Cummings said the Government realised it needed a "Plan B" on 12th March when they saw data about the spread of the virus.

      He said they realised they had to abandon their plan for herd immunity and move towards household quarantine.

      The former adviser said he was texted by a senior government official that "There is no plan, we're in huge trouble. I think we are absolutely f*****. I think this country was heading for a disaster, I think we're going to kill thousands of people."

       

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      DOWNING STREET IN DISARRAY IN RUN UP TO LOCKDOWN

      Dominic Cummings said No 10’s attention was divided while it was deciding whether to impose a lockdown.

      He said the Government was dealing with the fallout of the U.S.'s bombing campaign in southern Iraq and a story about the No 10 dog which Carrie Symonds was “going crackers about” and wanted the press office to deal as well as Covid.

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      PM "WANTED TO BE INJECTED WITH COVID" LIVE ON TV

      Dominic Cummings said Boris Johnson dismissed the severity of Covid-19 and suggested England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty inject him with Covid-19 live on TV to prove it is not dangerous.

      The former No 10 adviser told MPs "The view of various officials inside Number 10 was, if we have Prime Minister chairing COBR meetings and he just tells everyone this is swine flu, don't worry about it and I'm going to get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus … that would not help,"

      After contracting Covid-19 in March, Johnson was rushed to intensive care after becoming critically ill and spent weeks recuperating as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stood in for him.

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