Boris Johnson has appeared to admit he once suggested lockdown was not needed as Covid was only killing people in their 80s, telling MPs his view has since “changed”.
Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former adviser, this week released text messages he said was sent to aides by Johnson in October.
“I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women,” they read.
“That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer.
“Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent ) and of those virtually all survive.
“And I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate.”
Speaking during PMQs on Wednesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer said the text released by Cummings was “proof” that Johnson had wanted to abandon people to Covid.
“Over 83,000 people aged 80 or over lost their lives to this virus, every one leaving behind a grieving family and loved ones,” he said.
“Will the prime minister now apologies for using those words?”
Johnson did not deny he had sent the message. “Nothing I can say from despatch box, nothing I can do, can make up for the loss and suffering people have endured,” he said
“There will of course be a public inquiry into what has happened.”
He added: “What has changed since we were thinking in those ways, is of course, we have rolled out vaccines faster than any other country in Europe.”
Johnson said there had been “incredibly tough balancing decisions” that were taken, including the “catastrophe of the disease against the suffering that is caused by lockdowns”.