Dominic Cummings accuses government of backing herd immunity as pandemic strategy

The PM’s former adviser made the allegations in a series of Tweets posted days before he is due to appear before a Commons inquiry.

The former adviser has made a series of allegations about the government's handling of the pandemic.
The former adviser has made a series of allegations about the government's handling of the pandemic.

Dominic Cummings, former adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has accused the government of pursuing herd immunity as a pandemic strategy and subsequently lying about doing so.

Cummings made the allegations in a series of Tweets posted on Saturday (May 23), accusing health minister Matt Hancock of lying about the government’s pursuit of herd immunity, which Cummings said was “literally the official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings until it was ditched”.

He then expressed “surprise” at how many media outlets “parroted Hancock’s line that ‘herd immunity wasn’t the plan’”.

"No10 decided to lie: 'herd immunity has never been... part of our coronavirus strategy'. V foolish, & appalling ethics, to lie about it. The right line wd have been what PM knows is true: our original plan was wrong & we changed when we realised”, he wrote in one Tweet.

Cummings also said that the first lockdown, and subsequent lockdowns, could have been avoided if “competent” people had been in charge of coronavirus strategy in its early stages.

The Tweets come ahead of Cummings’ appearance before a joint Commons select committee looking into the UK’s handling of Covid-19 on Wednesday (May 26).

They are the latest in a series of attacks on both the government and the PM by Cummings in recent weeks, with the former adviser blogging in April about the lobbying scandal surrounding the PM and James Dyson.

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It is understood that the former adviser is set to produce incriminating emails, texts and WhatsApp messages detailing apparent incompetence in the government’s handling of coronavirus during the period in which Cummings was still an adviser to the PM.

It’s reported that he’s keen to focus on Johnson’s reluctance to order another lockdown in September 2020 when cases were rising.

According to reports in the Sunday Times, officials in the Cabinet Office are concerned that Cummings will accuse the PM of missing key coronavirus meetings because he was working on a biography of Shakespeare, the money from which he needed to fund his divorce.

This morning (May 23), Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, appeared on Andrew Marr’s politics show strenuously denying the allegations made by Cummings, saying the policy was “never” put forward.

On the allegations made by Cummings, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “Herd immunity has never been a policy aim or part of our coronavirus strategy. Our response has at all times been focused on saving lives and ensuring the NHS was not overwhelmed. We continue to be guided by the latest scientific advice.”

They added that the prime minister had announced a public inquiry to learn any lessons that needed to be learned.