Britain's government "disastrously" failed the public by mishandling its coronavirus pandemic response, former top adviser Dominic Cummings told politicians on Wednesday, calling Prime Minister Boris Johnson "unfit for the job".
United Kingdom leader Boris Johnson wanted to get injected with COVID-19 on live TV to prove there was "nothing to be frightened of" - just weeks before it nearly killed him, his former chief adviser told Parliament Wednesday.
"I take full responsibility for everything that has happened", Johnson told lawmakers on Wednesday.
'Fundamentally, there was no proper border policy because the Prime Minister never wanted a proper border policy, ' he told MPs, adding that Mr Johnson thought the travel industry would be destroyed if stricter measures were brought in.
"People did not get the treatment they deserved".
COVID-19 has claimed almost 128,000 lives in Britain - the fifth-highest official death toll in the world, and the highest in Europe.
"He described it as the new swine flu" and mused about getting injected with the virus on live TV to allay people's fears, Cummings claimed.
"Lots of people were literally skiing in the middle of February", Cummings said.
Boris Johnson's government lacked plans, brains, urgency and leadership, the ex-aide said.
Johnson subsequently caught Covid-19 early in the pandemic and was so ill that he was moved to intensive care at a London hospital where he received litres of oxygen.
Meanwhile, Johnson defended the government's response Wednesday, saying "to deal with a pandemic on this scale has been appallingly hard".
"We have at every stage tried to minimize loss of life, to save lives, to protect the [health service] and we have followed the best scientific advice that we can".
During seven hours of explosive testimony to a parliamentary committee, Dominic Cummings told lawmakers Johnson was like a shopping cart that could not be guided, and that it was "crackers" that someone like him should be prime minister.
Mr Cummings also attacked Mr Hancock for setting a "stupid " target of offering 100,000 Covid tests a day, saying it "hugely disrupted" efforts to "properly" establish a testing system. He said his real motivation in leaving London was his family's safety, because there had been threats to his London home.
Cummings, the strategist behind the 2016 Brexit campaign and Johnson's landslide election win in 2019, left Downing Street late a year ago, carrying his personal belongings in a box, after falling out with the prime minister. But his frequent clashes with colleagues are said to have led to persistent tensions and he left government a year later.
Cummings alleged that Johnson refused to heed the advice of scientific advisers to impose a second stay-at-home order in September and also expressed regret about ordering the first lockdown.
He added that the head of the civil service said: "I have lost confidence in the secretary of state's honesty in these meetings".
The government accused Cummings of downplaying the fact that he was at the heart of the government when key decisions were made.
In an excoriating account of the crisis's early days, Cummings - a divisive figure who carved out a uniquely powerful role in Johnson's government before stepping down in December - said senior ministers and officials "completely failed" to adequately plan.