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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s inept handling of the COVID pandemic led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, and officials even feared he would ask to be injected with the virus on television to show it was benign, his former chief adviser said on Wednesday. With almost 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the world’s fifth highest official COVID-19 toll, far higher than the government’s initial worst-case estimates of only 20,000. During seven hours of explosive testimony to a parliamentary committee, Dominic Cummings told lawmakers Johnson was like a shopping cart that could not be guided, and that it was “crackers” that someone like him should be prime minister. “Everybody was screaming, on quarantine — ‘Have a policy, and set it out clearly and stick to it!’,” Cummings said. “But nobody could find a way around the problem of the prime minister — just like a shopping trolley, smashing around from one side of the aisle to the other.” Asked about Cummings’s criticisms at a weekly question-and-answer session in parliament, Johnson said nobody could credibly accuse him or his government of complacency.

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