The study, from the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said the UK’s preparation for a pandemic was far too focused on flu, while ministers waited too long to push through lockdown measures in early 2020.
In the wide-ranging study stretching to 151 pages, MPs criticised the fact community testing was abandoned in March 2020 as a “seminal error”, claimed NHS test and trace was too slow and failed to have a big impact, and that thousands of people died in care homes due to a policy of discharging people from hospital without testing.
Now Mr Cummings has criticised the Prime Minister he helped elect and and the system of Government.
He told Sky News: “The government system for dealing with crises is a disaster, as I wrote in 2019.
“The system was bad for many years before Covid. Me and others put into place work to try and improve the system in 2020 after the first wave, unfortunately the Prime Minister – being the joke that he is – has not pushed that work through.
“Now we have a joke Prime Minister and a joke leader of the Labour Party and we obviously need a new political system.”
Tuesday also saw the minister for the Cabinet Office Stephen Barclay defend the Government’s handling of the crisis, but also admit he had “not had a chance to read” the report despite it being handed to media on Monday.
Mr Barclay, who was repeatedly asked to apologise for Government failings but did not, said: “It was an unprecedented pandemic, we were learning about it as we went through and of course, with hindsight, there’s things we know about it now that we didn’t know at the time.
“Of course there are going to be lessons to learn, that’s why we’ve committed to an inquiry, but the Government took decisions at the time based on the scientific advice it received, but those scientists themselves were operating in a very new environment where they themselves were learning about the pandemic.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, when Covid-19 emerged in China, MPs said the UK policy was to mistakenly take a “gradual and incremental approach” to interventions such as social distancing, isolation and lockdowns.
They said this was “a deliberate policy” proposed by scientists and adopted by UK governments, which has now been shown to be “wrong” and led to a higher death toll.
The MPs concluded that the “decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic – and the advice that led to them – rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”.
After hearing evidence from people including the Prime Minister’s former adviser, Dominic Cummings, and former health secretary Matt Hancock, the MPs said it was only in the days leading up to the March 23 lockdown that people within Government and advisers “experienced simultaneous epiphanies that the course the UK was following was wrong, possibly catastrophically so”.