In a striking revelation to the U.K.'s official coronavirus inquiry, it was disclosed that Boris Johnson, the then Prime Minister, had expressed a desire to be injected with the coronavirus on live television at the onset of the pandemic.
This was intended to demonstrate to the public that the virus was not a significant threat. Edward Lister, Johnson's chief of staff from 2019-2021, provided a witness statement to the ongoing probe, detailing Johnson's suggestion to senior civil servants and advisors.
This is reported by Politico.
Lister, who has also served with Johnson during his tenure as the Mayor of London and is now a Conservative member of the House of Lords, characterized the comment as "unfortunate" and clarified that it was made when COVID-19 was not yet widely recognized as the severe disease it later proved to be.
He described the proposal as being made "in the heat of the moment."
This is not the first time such a claim has been made about Johnson's unconventional approach to handling the pandemic.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson's former top adviser, had previously told a parliamentary committee that there were concerns within No. 10 Downing Street that Johnson would downplay the severity of COVID-19, comparing it to swine flu, and propose a televised injection involving Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
The inquiry is set to continue, with Boris Johnson expected to give evidence and present his account of his government's pandemic response.