Aide: Boris Johnson Suggested COVID Injection to Prove a Point

The idea was to show the public there was nothing to fear, former chief of staff tells UK inquiry
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2023 6:30 PM CST
Aide: Boris Johnson Suggested COVID Injection to Prove a Point
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a vial of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Cwmbran, south Wales, in February 2021.   (Geoff Caddick/Pool via AP)

Boris Johnson made the comment "in the heat of the moment," and the seriousness of the virus wasn't clear at the time, but still, an inquiry has been told, the prime minister once suggested he be injected with COVID-19 live on TV to show there was nothing to fear from the disease. Edward Lister, who was Johnson's chief of staff, made the statement to a government COVID investigation, Politico Europe reports. Johnson told "senior civil servants and advisors" that the demonstration would reassure the public, Lister said. He wasn't sure when Johnson brought up the idea, other than being early in the pandemic, and Lister called it an "unfortunate comment."

Lister confirmed a previously reported statement by Johnson, per the BBC, in which the prime minister said in September 2020 that letting "the bodies pile high" would be better than instituting another lockdown. A senior civil servant told the inquiry last week that Downing Street had a "macho" culture during the pandemic and that decision-making was affected by the toxic environment. Johnson is supposed to appear before the inquiry to answer questions about the pandemic response but hasn't yet, per Politico. (More Boris Johnson stories.)

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