Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has come under scrutiny at an independent hearing. The hearing revealed that Johnson was fixated on the idea that elderly people should accept their fate and saw the virus as nature’s way of dealing with old people. Notes from his top science adviser, Patrick Vallance, were shared during the hearing, highlighting Johnson’s obsession with older people accepting risks related to the potentially fatal virus.
The notes, dated August 2020, stated that Johnson wanted to let the young carry on with their lives and keep the economy going. Vallance described Johnson’s stance as a “quite bonkers set of exchanges.” The notes also indicated that Johnson believed the whole situation was pathetic and saw Covid-19 as nature’s way of dealing with old people. He even expressed agreement with his party’s view on the matter. Johnson wanted to rely on polling to inform his decisions regarding the pandemic.
These revelations were shared by Johnson’s former director of communications, Lee Cain, during the UK’s Covid-19 inquiry. The independent investigation aims to assess the government’s response to the pandemic. Cain testified that Johnson was reluctant to impose a circuit-breaker lockdown in September 2020 as it went against his political DNA. However, Cain’s research indicated that the majority of the UK public desired a more cautious approach.
Cain also highlighted Johnson’s indecisiveness and frequent oscillation between different Covid policies, which hindered the government’s effective response to the pandemic. He described the experience as exhausting. When asked if Johnson was the right person to lead the UK through the pandemic, Cain expressed his belief that it was wrong for the prime minister’s skill set.
The revelations from Vallance’s notes were deeply impactful. Brenda Doherty, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, compared the feeling to being punched in the stomach. She emphasized that the UK had one of the highest death tolls per capita during the first and second waves of the pandemic, and Johnson was personally responsible for this.
The inquiry, which was announced by Johnson in May 2021 during his prime ministership, aims to shed light on the government’s handling of the pandemic. Johnson has not publicly commented on the evidence presented at the hearings, but his spokesperson stated that he is fully cooperating with the inquiry. Both Johnson and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are expected to provide evidence later this year.
According to available data, the United Kingdom has recorded 230,669 deaths from Covid-19. The majority of these deaths occurred among individuals aged 75 or over.