Did Boris Johnson have a point in leaked Dominic Cummings texts about the second Covid lockdown


Boris Johnson was last night outed by his former top aide over claims he dismissed a second lockdown because Covid was ‘essentially’ only killing the elderly and that he ‘didn’t buy’ claims the NHS would be overwhelmed. 

But one of No10’s scientists told MailOnline today that while the Prime Minister’s remarks were flippant, there were signs in the data last autumn which suggested it was reasonable to ‘take a more measured approach’.

Leaked WhatsApp messages from October purportedly show Mr Johnson was questioning forecasts from his own advisers that hospitals could be pushed to the brink again if he did not put the country into another lockdown.

But on the day he allegedly made the comments — on October 15 — there were about 4,500 Covid patients in the NHS and the number was around 10,000 when the PM caved into a second lockdown on October 31.

For comparison, there are currently 3,800 Covid inpatients now and SAGE estimates there could be up to 20,000 at a peak this autumn— levels deemed acceptable enough to go ahead with Freedom Day. However, the difference between this wave and last year is that the country now has vaccines on its side.

Scientists accept that the NHS would have ultimately been overwhelmed last winter if it were not for the second and third lockdowns — which came in November and then in December. 

The NHS was already in a fragile state heading into the second wave after amassing a huge backlog from the first shutdown in spring, which saw tens of thousands of operations delayed to make way for the influx of Covid. 

But it is difficult to know how the second wave would have played out if it was not for the emergence of the Kent variant, according to Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of the UK Government’s vaccine advisory group.

The highly infectious strain emerged in the South East in late September but was only detected the following month and announced to the public in December. Professor Dingwall suggested it was possible that the NHS would not have been overwhelmed if the country was faced with the earlier version of the virus last autumn.

Messages leaked last night by the PM’s maverick former chief of staff Dominic Cummings, also show that Mr Johnson resisted calls for an October lockdown because ‘the people who are dying are essentially all over 80’.  

Mr Johnson appears to have been referring to Office for National Statistics data which show that the average age of Covid fatalities throughout the pandemic has been 80 — 78 for men and 82 for women. 

Over-80s also made up nearly 70 per cent of all Covid deaths at the height of the first wave. Now the proportion of elderly people dying from the virus stands at around 47 per cent thanks to the rollout of the vaccines, which were prioritised for the most vulnerable.    

Office for National Statistics data shows that last spring, over-80s made up up to 70 per cent of all Covid deaths, which dropped to around 60 per cent in the second wave. The number has dipped below 50 per cent now thanks to the vaccines which were prioritised for the elderly

Office for National Statistics data shows that last spring, over-80s made up up to 70 per cent of all Covid deaths, which dropped to around 60 per cent in the second wave. The number has dipped below 50 per cent now thanks to the vaccines which were prioritised for the elderly

Separate NHS England data shows of the 165 deaths recorded in hospitals over the last week, 140 were in people aged 60 or older. Eighteen were aged 40 to 59, seven were between 20 and 39 and none were younger than 20

Separate NHS England data shows of the 165 deaths recorded in hospitals over the last week, 140 were in people aged 60 or older. Eighteen were aged 40 to 59, seven were between 20 and 39 and none were younger than 20

On October 15 — when Boris Johnson allegedly sent text messages dismissing a second lockdown — there were about 4,500 Covid patients in the NHS. For comparison, there are currently 3,800 Covid inpatients now, a level which has been deemed acceptable enough to go ahead with Freedom Day

On October 15 — when Boris Johnson allegedly sent text messages dismissing a second lockdown — there were about 4,500 Covid patients in the NHS. For comparison, there are currently 3,800 Covid inpatients now, a level which has been deemed acceptable enough to go ahead with Freedom Day

There were nearly 1,000 admissions for the virus every day by October 15, which was quadruple the number the previous month

There were nearly 1,000 admissions for the virus every day by October 15, which was quadruple the number the previous month

The former chief adviser alleged he warned the PM that there were already people in No 10 who were isolating and told him: ‘You might have coronavirus'

In a fresh assault on his ex-boss, Dominic Cummings said he had to persuade the PM (pictured right) not to have his weekly audience with the monarch in case he gave her the fatal virus

In a fresh assault on his ex-boss, Dominic Cummings (left, in his explosive BBC interview airing tonight, and right, with the PM in 2019) revealed that Mr Johnson had made flippant comments about Covid deaths and NHS pressure

Professor Dingwall told MailOnline: ‘I think there’s a lot of people’s predictions on both sides [of the argument for and against lockdown last autumn] that were thrown out by the rise of the Alpha [Kent] variant which was clearly beginning to effect the figures in early November.

‘The Prime Minister could well have looked at the data at the time [in October] and decided the higher projections from his chief scientific advisers were at the upper end of what was plausible and made the reasonable judgement to take a more measured approach. 

‘His role as Prime Minister is to challenge the advice he was given and if he felt that the higher projections were not persuasive then he has no obligations to follow them.

‘Some of the advisers and modellers were lucky the Alpha variant pushed things up to coincide with their models or we might have been having an argument about over-estimations now.’

‘Get Covid and live longer’: Dominic Cummings claims Boris Johnson joked about virus only killing the over-80s 

Boris Johnson attempted to resist pleas for a second lockdown last autumn, joking that the Covid pandemic was only killing pensioners, his former aide Dominic Cummings claimed last night.

In a fresh assault on his ex-boss, Mr Cummings alleged that the Prime Minister said he ‘didn’t buy’ evidence from scientists and other experts that the NHS was in danger of being overwhelmed.

The former advisor, who was sacked at the end of last year, shared WhatsApp messages with the BBC as he alleged the Prime Minister was reluctant to heighten restrictions because ‘the people who are dying are essentially all over 80’ and therefore expendable.

In his first broadcast interview, with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, the hostile former chief adviser to Mr Johnson accused his one-time boss of putting ‘his own political interests ahead of people’s lives’.

He also revealed that the Prime Minister also wanted to carry on meeting the Queen in person while Downing Street was rife with Covid, eventually backing down when it was pointed out he could kill her.  

Mr Cummings has repeatedly accused the Prime Minister of being too slow in imposing the second lockdown, which came into force on November 5.

The political adviser, who left Downing Street during a bitter row in November, shared a series of messages from October 15 that appear to be from Mr Johnson to aides.

‘I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get COVID and live longer. Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent ) and of those virtually all survive. And I no longer buy all this nhs overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate,’ they read.

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‘There are max 3m in this country aged over 80. It shows we don’t go for nation wide lockdown.’

However, Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, said the writing was already on the wall in October when Mr Johnson is said to have made the remarks.

There were nearly 1,000 admissions for the virus every day by October 15, which was quadruple the number the previous month and 150 daily deaths, up on the 20 or so a month earlier. 

The country was also heading into the winter, when Covid finds it easier to spread and kill, and the NHS deals with extra pressures. 

Dr Clarke told MailOnline: ‘What you’ve got to remember is what had come before he made the comments. 

‘The evidence from the spring lockdown was that the NHS wouldn’t have been able to cope without a lockdown.’

Mr Johnson eventually caved into pressure from his scientific advisers and ordered a second lockdown in England on November 5. Daily hospital admissions peaked at 1,900 that month and fell over the four-week shutdown.

A third lockdown had to be imposed the following month when the epidemic began growing exponentially again due to the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Kent variant.

In January, daily infections peaked at a record 68,000, daily deaths at 1,200, daily admissions 4,200, and the number of Covid sufferers in beds reached almost 39,000. 

SAGE models that gave No10 the confidence to go ahead with Freedom Day yesterday said hospital occupancy should not even reach half of the levels seen in the second peak due to the success of the jab rollout.

But they admit that there could be 2,000 daily admissions during the worst of the third wave, which would still put significant pressure on the health service. 

Even now, trusts in Leeds, Birmingham, Inverness and elsewhere have already had to start cancelling operations.

Top NHS doctors, including Stephen Powis, the medical director in England, are confident the national NHS will ultimately be able to cope. 

The difference between this wave is that people being admitted to the virus are presenting with more mild symptoms and are being discharged quicker, due to a combination of the vaccines and the fact young people make up a higher proportion of admissions.  

However, there could be challenges for the NHS in juggling the Covid pressures with trying to clear the backlog of 5million patients waiting for routine surgery in England. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this number could rise to an extraordinary 13m by the end of the year. 

And infectious disease experts have warned that the country could be in for one of the worst flu outbreaks in years because so few people have natural immunity — a side effect of lockdown. 

Mr Johnson’s flippant comments about the second wave were revealed in a BBC interview Mr Cummings gave to the BBC, which is due to air tonight at 7pm. 

In his first broadcast interview, with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, the hostile former aide accused his one-time boss of putting ‘his own political interests ahead of people’s lives’.

NHS doctor warns routine surgery may come to a ‘STANDSTILL’ again if Covid ICU admissions continue to rise 

NHS medics have warned routine surgery could grind to a ‘standstill’ again if Covid ICU admissions approach levels of previous waves. 

Currently there are more than 500 Covid patients in intensive care, double the number last month. But this is still an eighth of the 4,000 in January. 

There are more than 615 general admissions each day, of which a small number become seriously ill. Admissions have tripled in just over a month. 

Intensive care doctor Charlotte Summers, an honorary consultant at Cambridge University, said if ICU capacity numbers get into the thousands then routine care could be put on the backburner once again.

There are a record 5.3million people on the waiting list for routine surgery due to the pandemic, and officials have warned this could rise to 13m by the end of the year.

Dr Summers said that every Covid patient admitted to ICU stays for about two weeks. This disrupts care for other patients — such as those needing hip replacements and heart surgery — who also need the beds for their operation.  

He also revealed that the Prime Minister also wanted to carry on meeting the Queen in person while Downing Street was rife with Covid, eventually backing down when it was pointed out he could kill her.  

Mr Cummings has repeatedly accused the Prime Minister of being too slow in imposing the second lockdown. The political adviser, who left Downing Street during a bitter row in November, shared a series of messages from October 15 that appear to be from Mr Johnson to aides.

‘I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get COVID and live longer. Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent ) and of those virtually all survive. And I no longer buy all this nhs overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate,’ they read.

‘There are max 3m in this country aged over 80. It shows we don’t go for nation wide lockdown.’

In his first TV interview since leaving No 10, Mr Cummings claimed the PM ‘put his own political interests ahead of people’s lives for sure’.

He said Mr Johnson’s attitude last autumn was a ‘weird mix’ of ‘partly ‘it’s all nonsense and lockdowns don’t work anyway’ and partly ‘well this is terrible but the people who are dying are essentially all over 80 and we can’t kill the economy just because of people dying over 80′.’

He added: ‘Lots of people heard the Prime Minister say that, the Prime Minister texted that to me and other people.’

However Tory MPs rallied behind Mr Johnson. Peter Bone has dismissed Mr Cummings’s allegations, saying the former aide was driven by revenge and had failed to prove a series of explosive claims he made about the inner workings of No 10 before parliamentary committees in recent months.

‘He didn’t provide the evidence when he was before the select committees, which he promised to do. He failed miserably to do that,’ Mr Bone told the BBC.

‘If you want my opinion, you can discount virtually everything Dominic Cumming says about anything. He is a man who is driven by revenge and serious journalists cannot possibly believe what he says.’



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