Appearing at the Covid Inquiry the former Prime Minister admitted that he should not have shaken hands with a patient during the pandemic and admitted he should have been more “precautionary.”
During a press conference in March 2020 Johnson admitted that he was still shaking hands with people.
He said, “I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were actually a few coronavirus patients. And I shook hands with everybody you’ll be pleased to know.”
Johnson told the UK Covid Inquiry, “I shouldn’t have done that, in retrospect, and I should have been more precautionary – but I wanted to be encouraging to people.”
He also admitted that the government at the time “underestimated” the threat of Covid in the early days and he then apologised to the victims.
Johnson said at the start of 2020 Covid “wasn’t really escalated to me as an issue of national concern” because at the time the data coming of China was not understood properly.
He was then pushed over the slow response to the Covid crisis, Johnson said that ministers should have “twigged much sooner” to act.
He told the inquiry, “When you read that an Asiatic pandemic is about to sweep the world, you think you’ve heard it before. And that was the problem.
“But I think it’d be fair to say that the scientific community within Whitehall at that stage was not telling us that – I was not being informed that – this was something that was going to require urgent and immediate action.”
He added, “If we had collectively stopped to think about the mathematical implications of some of the forecasts that were being made, and we believed them, we might have operated differently,” he told Baroness Heather Hallett’s investigation.
He continued, “The problem was that I don’t think we attached enough credence to those forecasts, and because of the experience that we’d had with other zoonotic diseases, I think collectively in Whitehall there was not a sufficient loud enough klaxon of alarm.”
He also said, “It would certainly be fair to say of me, the entire Whitehall establishment, scientific community included, our advisers included, that we underestimated the scale and the pace of the challenge.”