Boris Johnson struggled with Covid percentages and compared virus to 'falling down the stairs', leaked texts show | The Sun

BORIS Johnson struggled to grasp Covid percentages and compared the virus to “falling down the stairs”, leaked WhatsApps from the pandemic reveal.

The then PM was given a maths lesson by Dominic Cummings and Sir Patrick Vallance as they debated over text whether to tell old people to shield.

A cringey exchange from August 2020 leaked to the Telegraph shows aides trying to explain the mortality rate was hundred times higher than the Tory premier first thought.

Mr Johnson believed that just 0.04 per cent of cases resulted in a death, when the figure was actually the probability, meaning it was 4 per cent.

When his chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick breaks this down, the PM replied: “Eh? So what is 0.04 if not a percentage? (Five marks; show working).”


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Mr Cummings then attempts to explain the difference and says “this is a common confusion”. 

The texts are among 100,000 messages on ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s phone given to the journalist Isabel Oakshott to help write his memoirs.

They show Mr Johnson was sceptical about asking 2.2million elderly Brits to shield themselves away to avoid catching Covid.

He said: "If you are over 65 your risk of dying from Covid is probably as big as your risk of falling down stairs.

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"And we don’t stop older people from using stairs."

In another text he added: "If I were an 80 year old and I was told that the choice was between destroying the economy and risking my exposure to a disease that I had a 94 per cent chance of surviving I know what I would prefer."

The Government pressed ahead with the shielding policy for months despite top docs admitting it was not that effective.

Sir Patrick said: "It is a theoretically attractive idea but in reality we haven’t found shielding easy or very effective first time round and I don’t think anyone else has either.

"It is a particular problem with multigenerational households and will be even more difficult amongst some parts of society."

Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty weighed in too, telling Boris on WhatsApp he'd personally "think twice" before introducing shielding again, after it was first tried in March 2020.

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