“Let the bodies pile high in their thousands.” That was what Tory prime minister Boris Johnson said on 30 October last year, in response to the idea that there could be further lockdowns.
“No more fucking lockdowns—let the bodies pile high in their thousands,” he is alleged to have said. It was a deliberate, conscious decision to send more people to their deaths because Johnson put bosses’ profits before ordinary people’s health.
Johnson is said to have made the comment after he was forced to agree to a second lockdown last year. Scientists and even Tory ministers had called for a second lockdown throughout September and October.
Johnson kept ignoring them—as cases and death rates soared.
There were an average of 2,200 new virus cases a day at the start of September By the week of 14 September this had nearly doubled to 4,000.
Still Johnson resisted imposing more restrictions, before being eventually pushed into it at the end of October. At that point, new cases averaged around 6,000 a day.
Just ten days earlier Johnson had told MPs in the House of Commons that the idea of a new lockdown was “the height of absurdity”.
But at the 30 October meeting minister Michael Gove gave a dire warning of what would happen without a second lockdown. “We will be forced to put the army on the doors of hospitals to turn the sick away as the NHS will be overwhelmed,” he said. “We will not be forgiven and the Tories will be driven from power.”
Gove and other Tories who called for more restrictions didn’t do so because of concern for our health. They were focused on the damage that a deadly second wave of the virus could do to their party.
But the warnings were enough to force Johnson to agree.
The Sage group of scientists that advises the government had called for a two-week “circuit breaker” on 21 September to be imposed immediately.
“Not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences,” it warned.
Sage said the second wave would be more deadly than the first. And it would “fall disproportionately on the frailest in our society, [people on] lower incomes and BAME communities”. It was right.
On 21 September, there were 4,368 recorded new cases of Covid-19, and 11 deaths. By 30 October, there were 24,405 recorded new cases and 274 deaths. It would get much, much worse.
Some 68,053 new cases were recorded on 8 January, and 1,325 deaths. Total recorded deaths on 30 October last year were 46,229. By last Sunday the figure was 127,428.
Boris Johnson is responsible for the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of people. He should go now—along with the rest of the murderous Tory government.
The failures behind the second wave
Boris Johnson blames the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant for the second wave of coronavirus in Britain. This variant, which first appeared in Kent, wasn’t identified until November.
But the evidence that new restrictions were needed was there months before.
On 1 July, the rolling average of new daily cases stood at 576—the lowest number recorded. By 22 August, daily cases had doubled.
Johnson brought in the “rule of six” on 14 September, limiting the numbers of people who could mix together. But workplaces, schools, colleges and universities were exempt.
A week later, The Sage group of scientists that advises the government recommended a circuit‑breaker. Cases were nearly at 6,000 a day.
Johnson kept resisting a new lockdown, bringing in more minor restrictions instead.
On 14 October, the government introduced a tier system with varying restrictions across England. Cases continued to rise. On 5 November, it was forced to impose a four-week lockdown—yet still kept schools open.
There were last‑minute changes to advice over Christmas, but the government still said people could mix on Christmas day.
Soaring virus cases caused a third lockdown in January, when daily cases passed 60,000 for the first time. By the end of March there were 150,000 deaths with Covid-19 cited on the death certificate.
More than half were from the second wave.
Cases expected to rise
The reopening of schools and colleges has led to rising numbers of coronavirus outbreaks.
Between 22 and 28 March, the week before the Easter holidays, there were 107 outbreaks of the virus in education settings. Public Health England figures show that 52 of them were in primary schools and 30 in secondary schools.
There had been a total of 96 the previous week and 49 the week before that.
Between 5 and 11 April, when most educational settings were closed for Easter, the number of outbreaks fell to six.
Cases across Britain have fallen significantly since the start of the year. But as the Tories lift lockdown restrictions, the rate of decline has slowed. More easing of restrictions—without putting proper safety measures in place—will send cases rising again.
Scientists expect a third wave of the virus to hit Britain later this year. Modelling from scientists at Imperial College London predicts that the Tory roadmap out of lockdown could lead to 15,700 more deaths in England by next summer.