Former United Kingdom Health Minister Matt Hancock asked when to “deploy” a new COVID-19 variant in December 2020, leaked personal messages reportedly show.
The Whatsapp conversation, leaked to The Telegraph by anti-lockdown journalist Isabel Oakeshott, shows an exchange between Hancock and an aide back in December 2020 in which the ex-Health Secretary discusses plans to deploy the announcement for the new variant, the BBC reported. (RELATED: Health Minister Says South Africa COVID-19 Strain Could Be ‘More transmissible’ Than UK Strain)
“We frighten the pants of everyone with the new strain,” Hancock reportedly says, to which the adviser responds, “Yep, that’s what will get proper behaviour change.”
“When do we deploy the new variant,” the minister then asks the aide, according to the outlet.
Matt Hancock told team to ‘deploy new Covid variant’ in explosive leaked messages
— GB News (@GBNEWS) March 5, 2023
Hancock announced the new variant in a parliament session the following day, after the messages were exchanged, according to the BBC.
In April of 2022, Hancock announced he was working on a book, titled “Pandemic Diaries,” that would detail his experience as health minster during the COVID-19 outbreak. Oakeshott assisted with the book, which was published in December 2022, according to the BBC.
“There is absolutely no public interest case for this huge breach. All the materials for the book have already been made available to the Inquiry, which is the right, and only, place for everything to be considered properly and the right lessons to be learned. As we have seen, releasing them in this way gives a partial, biased account to suit an anti-lockdown agenda,” Hancock said in a statement responding to the leaked messages, the BBC reported.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced criticism for breaking lockdown restrictions. Johnson and his wife, as well as current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, all received a fine for attending a birthday party back in June 2020, the BBC reported.