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Boris Johnson provided two days of intense testimony about Covid this week, fluctuating between defiant, critical, and outright absurd at times.
The long-awaited presence at the official investigation into the government’s management of the pandemic compelled the ex-prime minister to confront the shortcomings of his administration during the emergency.
During the extensive evidence sessions, a number of surprising discoveries were made, such as the absence of 5,000 WhatsApp messages on his phone from January 30, 2020 to June 2020.
The complete 233-page witness statement of the previous prime minister has now been released.
The Independent has compiled 10 important points from his statement.
There was no consideration given to testing patients before they were transferred to care homes.
Mr. Johnson acknowledged that there was no specific discussion regarding the testing of hospital patients before they were released to care homes in March 2020.
According to data from NHS England, a total of 25,060 individuals were transferred from hospitals to care homes during the period of 17 March to 16 April. The decision to test all patients prior to their admission to a care home was not made until 15 April by the health secretary.
At that point, the Office for National Statistics had reported over 3,000 deaths from Covid in care homes.
In his written statement, Mr. Johnson stated that his intention behind the discharge policy was to clear hospital beds.
He acknowledged that in retrospect, it is evident that the government did not fully grasp the potential dangers of infection, including those with no symptoms.
In April, judges from the High Court determined that releasing individuals with Covid to residential care facilities without conducting tests was against the law.
Mr. Johnson expressed dissatisfaction with individuals not following rules during the Partygate scandal.
In January 2021, Mr. Johnson expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that individuals were not following the regulations, which is especially noteworthy given the recent Partygate controversy.
Illegal gatherings occurred at Downing Street from November 2021 to May 2022, but these incidents were barely acknowledged in Mr Johnson’s 233-page statement.
Despite this, he does make a point to hold individuals accountable for not adhering to COVID-19 regulations, ultimately causing harm to the economy and children.
He also mentioned: “I do not know if reports from the media about violations of lockdown rules by advisors, officials, or ministers had any significant effect on people following the rules or guidance at that time.”
Mr. Sedwill suggests organizing ‘chickenpox parties’ as a solution for combatting Covid-19.
Former cabinet official Mark Sedwill made a surprising suggestion that Mr. Johnson should promote the idea of hosting “chickenpox parties” amidst the pandemic.
The ex-prime minister characterized the statement as a brief comment made to a small group in his office during an open conversation and was quickly disregarded.
According to Mr. Johnson’s statement, the group suggested a plan to protect the elderly while allowing younger individuals to be exposed to the disease and develop immunity.
Earlier, Mr Sedwill expressed remorse to the families of those affected by Covid during the inquiry and acknowledged that his statements may have been perceived as insensitive and insensitive.
The lockdown should have been implemented at a later time.
In March 2020, Mr. Johnson stated that the national lockdown was a well-timed decision and expressed his belief that it should not have been implemented sooner.
He acknowledged the potential for earlier actions to have been implemented, thus preventing the need for a nationwide lockdown. However, he believed this was highly improbable.
Professor Dame Angela McLean, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, stated during the Covid inquiry that the initial nationwide lockdown on March 23, 2020 should have been implemented two weeks earlier in hindsight. She believes this would have had a significant impact.
Mr. Johnson asserts that there is no advantage to public health by closing borders.
Mr. Johnson strongly stated that the decision to close borders at the beginning of the pandemic, although it was a popular choice, would not have had any positive impact on public health.
He contended that the decision would have negatively impacted the economy and the UK’s supply chains, particularly during a critical time when they needed to be protected.
The Commons Home Affairs Committee determined in August 2020 that the pivotal choice was a grave error that greatly accelerated the spread of the UK’s Covid-19 outbreak and resulted in a higher number of people contracting the virus.
According to Mr. Johnson’s statement, the decision ultimately caused tension between the national government and the decentralized administrations.
Mr. Johnson has acknowledged that the tier system was unsuccessful.
In his statement, Mr Johnson acknowledged that his tiered local lockdown system was not successful.
He stated, “Looking back, I realize that implementing local measures was not the best approach.” He also mentioned that the most important lesson he learned from the pandemic was the importance of a nationwide approach in the UK.
He stated that this was one instance where the lack of communication between the national government and the regional and local authorities was evident.
Mr Johnson is becoming increasingly agitated about the testing process.
Mr Johnson told the health secretary at the time, Matt Hancock, that he was “going quietly crackers” over the failure to expand testing fast enough.
The ex-prime minister stated in his testimony that although he had not personally seen the messages, he was aware that he had expressed his frustrations to Mr. Hancock through messages on June 4, 2020.
According to Mr Hancock, Mr Johnson stated that testing is the government’s biggest weakness and questioned why the country is unable to address it.
According to reports, Mr Hancock provided reassurance that the UK had the largest testing capacity in Europe at the time in his reply to him.
The former prime minister has denied offering to receive a Covid vaccine live on TV.
During a heated discussion, the ex-Prime Minister rejected the idea that he had offered to receive a COVID-19 vaccination on television in March 2020.
Lord Edward Udny-Lister, who was previously the chief of staff in Downing Street, confirmed in the Covid inquiry that Mr Johnson had made an “unfortunate comment”, which had first been reported in 2021.
In his testimony, Mr Johnson stated that he does not believe or give much credibility to the source of that account.
‘s bid to become the next Prime Minister
Mr Johnson supports Matt Hancock’s campaign to become the next leader of the country.
As expected, Mr. Johnson showed his support for his former health secretary, Mr. Hancock.
In his testimony, he declares: “I had no worries about the effectiveness of any Cabinet Minister, including Matt Hancock, when it comes to the Covid-19 response from January 2020 to February 2022.”
Even though Dominic Cummings stated his dislike for Mr Hancock and recommended his dismissal, Mr Johnson believed that Mr Hancock was performing well in challenging circumstances and chose to retain him in his position.
Former Prime Minister justifies absence from leading early Cobra meetings during pandemic.
The ex-prime minister justified his choice to not lead the Cobra meetings that took place at the beginning of the pandemic.
He mentioned in his statement that the initial Cobra gathering to discuss Covid took place on 24 January 2020. However, he did not assume the position of chair until 2 March.
He claimed he took over for Mr. Hancock once the gravity of the situation was apparent.
Initially, he referenced the Cabinet Manual when stating that he was adhering to its recommendation that the secretary of state in charge of the matter at hand should preside over the meetings.