The UK government has rejected claims by former prime minister Boris Johnson’s top aide that officials pursued a herd immunity strategy in the early days of the pandemic.
Dominic Cummings, who is set to present evidence about the government’s handling of the pandemic to lawmakers on Wednesday, sparked a series of tweets on Saturday critical of the UK’s response.
He said that allowing sufficient numbers of citizens to become infected to achieve natural herd immunity was the “official plan in all documents / drawings / meetings” until early March 2020, when it became clear that such a policy would lead to disaster.
While the Johnson administration has won praise for the rapid launch of the vaccine, its measures to deal with the virus are still under intense scrutiny, adding to the focus of Cummings’ appearance this week.
Critics say Johnson has always been too slow to enforce coronavirus lockdowns – and they say delays have contributed to the UK’s record of the highest number of deaths in Europe from the pandemic, over 127,000.
On Saturday, Cummings wrote: “How was” herd immunity for September “the plan until that week was the main theme throughout the disaster.
Asked about the allegations in an interview with the BBC on Sunday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “not the plan at all”. This is not the country’s strategy, said Jenny Harries, Executive Director of the UK Health Security Agency.
Since leaving office late last year, Cummings has become a vocal critic of the government’s handling of the pandemic.
In the same context, he indicated that the United Kingdom could have avoided its second and third blockade, which began in November and January, with “correct preparations and competent officials.”
Cummings resigned after a tumultuous period in the Johnson administration, as he clashed with other officials, broke government agreements, and sparked national outrage with a 250-mile (400 km) road trip at the height of the first shutdown of the pandemic.