‘Disaster’: PM Johnson’s former adviser blasts UK’s COVID plan

Cummings has recently been involved in a war of words with Downing Street, which accused him of leaking internal conversations and documents to the media.

Cummings was sacked late last year and has recently been involved in a war of words with Downing Street [File: Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

Britain’s early plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic was a “disaster” and “awful decisions” led to the government imposing lockdowns that could have been avoided, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former top adviser has said.

Dominic Cummings, who was sacked late last year, made his comments in a series of tweets just days before he is due to give evidence to members of parliament about the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Before his sudden departure, Cummings had been Johnson’s most influential adviser on Brexit and played an important role in his successful 2019 election campaign.

He was also the architect of Britain’s campaign to leave the European Union.

Cummings has recently been involved in a war of words with Downing Street, which accused him of leaking internal conversations and documents to the media.

Johnson, who has imposed three lockdowns during the pandemic, has hailed Britain’s vaccination programme as a success, but the United Kingdom has one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls and it has suffered a deep economic slump.

“If we’d had the right preparations + competent people in charge, we wd probably have avoided lockdown 1, *definitely* no need for lockdowns 2&3,” Cummings wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

“Given the plan was AWOL/disaster + awful decisions delayed everything, lockdown 1 became necessary.”

The UK has recorded more than 4.4 million coronavirus cases and over 127,000 deaths.

Since facing accusations of being slow to impose lockdowns, the government has said there are lessons to be learned.

On herd immunity, where the virus spreads through the population to increase overall resistance, Cummings wrote on Twitter: “Our original plan was wrong and we changed when we realised.”

The UK has recorded more than 4.4 million coronavirus cases and over 127,000 deaths to date  [Toby Melville/Reuters]

In March this year, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance suggested that herd immunity was one of the goals, but two days later, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “not a goal or strategy”.

The former adviser warned he will release a “crucial historical document from COVID decision-making” to the Commons committee in advance of his appearance before MPs on Wednesday.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from London, said many people are likely to take someone like Cummings, a person who held a very senior position in the government, “very seriously”.

“The government I think would have been anticipating and probably frankly have been quite worried about this moment when it came,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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