Cummings says ‘herd immunity’ was UK policy in latest swipe at Boris Johnson

Dominic Cummings has said the Government originally intended to let coronavirus rip through the community in an attempt to build “herd immunity”.

The PM’s former right hand man says the government’s initial Covid strategy was “herd immunity by September” – and blasted claims to the contrary by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as “bull****”.

No 10 has repeatedly denied it pursued the controversial tactic of allowing Covid-19 to spread unchecked.

But in a series of tweets Mr Cummings said the idea was only abandoned in early March after Downing Street was warned it would lead to a “catastrophe”.

He claimed herd immunity was “literally the official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings until it was ditched”.

Boris Johnson in March last year when Dominic Cummings says herd immunity was abandoned

Mr Cummings’ latest intervention comes as he prepares to give evidence to MPs investigating the Government’s response to the pandemic this week.

He said all three country-wide lockdowns could have been entirely avoided if there were “competent people in charge” and ministers had made “the right preparations”.

He described the Government’s strategy as “AWOL/disaster” and claimed the first lockdown in March was only necessary because “awful decisions” were made.

As well as accusing Health Secretary Mr Hancock of lying, Cummings attacked the media for accepting the Government’s denials.

He tweeted yesterday: “Media generally abysmal on Covid but even I’ve been surprised by one thing: how many hacks have parroted Hancock’s line that ‘herd immunity wasn’t the plan’ when ‘herd immunity by September’ was ‘literally the official plan in all documents/graphs/meetings’ until it was ditched.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock
Cummings has accused the Health Secretary of spreading “bull****”

“Yes the media is often incompetent but something deeper is at work: much of SW1 (the Westminster postcode) was happy to believe Hancock’s bull**** that ‘it’s not the plan’ so they didn’t have to face the shocking truth. Most political hacks believe in ‘the system’…

“In week of March 9, No10 was made aware by various people that the official plan would lead to catastrophe. It was then replaced by Plan B. But how ‘herd immunity by September’ could have been the plan until that week is a fundamental issue in the whole disaster.”

At the time, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, had said that if they tried to suppress the disease “very, very hard” it would simply bounce back when restrictions were released.

Dominic Cummings
Mr Cummings left No 10 in November last year after an apparent deterioration of relations with Mr Johnson

Instead he suggested the aim was to “build up some kind of herd immunity” so more people were resistant to the disease and transmission was reduced.

In his tweets, Mr Cummings said there had been “so much lockdown confusion”.

“Obviously they’re ‘destructive’. But if you have to do it because alternative is ‘hundreds of thousands choking to death and no NHS for months for everybody else and economy sunk because everybody hiding in terror’ then earlier/harder is better for health AND economy,” he wrote.

“If we’d had the right preparations and competent people in charge, we would probably have avoided lockdown 1, ‘definitely’ no need for lockdowns 2 and 3.

“Given the plan was AWOL/disaster and awful decisions delayed everything, lockdown 1 became necessary.”

Sir Patrick Vallance had spoken of "building up some kind of immunity"
Sir Patrick Vallance had spoken of “building up some kind of immunity”

The former top aide is said to be planning a devastating critique of the PM’s leadership when he appears before a joint session of the health and science committees on Wednesday.

No 10 has been bracing for the next attack from Cummings for some time, after he was accused of leaking messages from the PM’s phone last month – and then went on the offensive.

Cummings denied he was behind the leaks and launched a fierce tirade against his former boss – accusingBoris Johnson of “unethical, foolish (and) possibly illegal” behaviour.

Cummings has reportedly spent weeks readying a store of secret documents that could deliver a devastating blow to Johnson. The ex-aide had access to some of the most confidential information in government before he was booted out last year.

Last month, he attacked the PM’s “competence and integrity” in an online blog post.

Dominic Cummings at his Downing Street press conference after the trip to Barnard Castle emerged
Dominic Cummings at his Downing Street press conference after the trip to Barnard Castle emerged

Mr Cummings left No 10 in November last year after an apparent deterioration of relations with Mr Johnson.

The pair had been close allies on the Vote Leave campaign and Mr Cummings played a key role in the Tory election victory in 2019 and the early days of Mr Johnson’s premiership.

But he experienced a sensational fall from grace after he broke lockdown restrictions last year, making a journey from London to County Durham and Barnard Castle.

The Mirror revealed he had driven 300 miles while his wife had coronavirus symptoms.

Mr Cummings then gave a bizarre hour-long press conference in the Downing Street garden. He claimed a trip to Barnard Castle from his family farm – where he should have been isolating – was to test his eyesight.

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