The Prime Minister’s former chief advisor has been vocal in his condemnation of Boris Johnson Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and others since leaving Government after a behind-the-scenes power struggle in November.
You can follow all the updates here as Cummings gives evidence to a joint inquiry of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees.
Dominic Cummings’ select committee RECAP: Boris Johnson’s former adviser appears before MPs
Last updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2021, 10:42
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Cummings tells MPs there was not “any sense of urgency” about the pandemic until the last week of February
Dominic Cummings committee evidence LIVE: Watch Boris Johnson's former chief adviser give evidence to select committee
Watch Dominic Cummings explosive select committee evidence on time as Boris Johnson's chief adviser live
Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings is appearing at a Westminster select committee hearing in front of MPs.
Dominic Cummings said that information from Cobra meetings was often leaked to the media.
He told the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees: “Also bear in mind one of the huge problems we had throughout was things leaking and creating chaos in the media.”
When asked if these were leaks from Cobra, he said: “Leaking from Cobra, leaking from practically everything.
“So when I wanted to have sensitive conversations that I didn’t want to see appear in the media I did not have those conversations in Cobra.”
Dominic Cummings claims Boris Johnson suggested getting injected with coronavirus 'live on TV'
Dominic Cummings has claimed Boris Johnson suggested getting injected with coronavirus “live on TV” to show it was nothing to be worried about.
Dominic Cummings said the Government was not operating on a “war footing” in February in relation to the emerging coronavirus pandemic.
Giving evidence to the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, Mr Cummings said that key people were “literally skiing” in the middle of February.
He added: “The Government itself and Number 10 was not operating on a war footing in February on this in any way, shape or form.
“Lot of key people were literally skiing in the middle of February.”
Dominic Cummings has said that herd immunity was “seen as an inevitability” across Whitehall early last year.
He told MPs: “It’s important to bear in mind on this whole herd immunity point, obviously no one is saying that they want this to happen, the point is it was seen as an inevitability – you will either have herd immunity by September after a single peak or you will have herd immunity by January with a second peak, those are the only two options that we have.
“That was the whole logic of all of the discussions in January and in February and early March.”
Dominic Cummings said Whitehall had made a series of wrong assumptions in their planning of the pandemic in relation to the inevitability of herd immunity early last year.
The former chief aide to the Prime Minister said: “Essentially the logic of the official plan from the Department of Health was that this disease is going to spread, vaccines are not going to be relevant in any way, shape or form over the relevant time period, we were told it was essentially a certainty that there would be no vaccines available in 2020, something else which turned out to be completely wrong because, as I think we’ll come onto, it actually turns out we could’ve done vaccines much faster than happened.
“But at the time the whole plan was based on the assumption that it was a certainty that there would be no vaccines in 2020. So the logic was you can either have … if it’s unconstrained it will come in and there will be a sharp peak like that, and it will completely swamp everything and huge disaster.
“The logical approach therefore is to introduce measures which delay that peak arriving and which push it down below the capacity of the health system.”
He said that in response to questions over the lockdowns being enforced across Wuhan and Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, it was assumed the measures “won’t work for them and they will all have second peaks later on”.
“Secondly, it’s inconceivable that the British public are going to accept Wuhan-style measures here,” he added.
“Even if we therefore suppress it completely all you’re going to do is get a second peak in the winter when the NHS is already every year under pressure, so we only actually have a real choice between one peak and herd immunity by September – terrible but then you’re through it by the time the next winter comes – if you try and flatten it now the second peak comes up in winter time that’s even worse.
“So, horrific as it looks in the summer, the numbers will be even worse if this happens in October, November, December-time.”
Dominic Cummings said he is “completely baffled” as to why No 10 has tried to deny that herd immunity was the official plan early last year.
The former chief aide to the Prime Minister told the Commons committee: “It’s not that people were thinking this is a good thing and we actively want it, it’s that it’s a complete inevitability and the only real question it’s one of timing, it’s either one of herd immunity by September or it’s herd immunity by January after a second peak. That was the assumption up until Friday March 13.”
He said that Health Secretary Matt Hancock was “completely wrong” on March 15 to say herd immunity was not part of the plan.
“That was the plan. I’m completely baffled as to why No 10 has tried to deny that because that was the official plan,” Mr Cummings said.
Dominic Cummings said advice surrounding mass events early last year was “bizarre in retrospect”.
The former chief aide to the Prime Minister told the Commons committee: “I was really torn about the whole thing because in the first 10 days of March. I was increasingly being told by people I think this is going wrong but I was also really, really worried about kind of like smashing my hand down on a massive button marked ‘ditch the official plan, stop listening to the official plan, I think there’s something going wrong’.
“I did do that as we’ll come on to but on the fifth I was reluctant to do that.”
He said that he did not advise that the mass events of the Cheltenham festival and the Champions League match in Liverpool should not go ahead.
He said official advice at the time was that those measures would not greatly affect transmission, “which obviously seems bizarre in retrospect”, and that they could make matters worse by pushing people into pubs.
“No one in the official system, in the Department of Health, drew the obvious logical conclusion, which was ‘shouldn’t we be shutting all the pubs as well?’” Mr Cummings added.