Doctor slams Boris Johnson for 'lying' about government's Covid effort

Dr Rachel Clarke was asked on Good Morning Britain what she thought about Boris Johnson's claim that the government did everything it could

An NHS doctor has said she is "absolutely sickened" by Boris Johnson, claiming the prime minister lied about the government doing "everything we could” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to the prime minister's claim when the UK coronavirus death toll passed 100,000, palliative care physician Dr Rachel Clarke said on ITV's Good Morning Britain it was "patently and obviously a lie".

She also criticised him for telling the nation what is “popular rather than what is right”.

When shown the comments later in the programme, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said "there are lessons to be learnt" and the government is "learning them in real time about how to improve our response.

"If we look at other countries as well, we have learnt from them.

"We have all faced a new virus which has operated in a horrendous way.”

Mr Gove continued he was "full of admiration and thanks for those on the frontline. They are heroes and heroines.

"As we know from reporting on the frontline, it is a harrowing and extremely difficult task."

Michael Gove responds to Dr Rachel Clarke on GMB:

The minister also said it has been a "challenge" for his children who are learning at home while schools are closed and responded to questions about vaccinating teachers.

When asked by Susanna Reid how home schooling is going in his house, he replied: “Well, it is a challenge as it is for everyone.

"But I am very lucky because my son and my daughter, as I think you know, are facing GCSE and A levels this year but they are both at great comprehensive schools that are doing a fantastic job at making sure there is remote learning to help them.

"But we all want to make sure that children are back in the classroom at the earliest possible opportunity.”

  • Michael Gove talks about his own kids' learning at home

Asked why the government is not vaccinating teachers, he said: “It would be great to be able to vaccinate more and more people in the classroom and on the frontline.

"We proceed when we are prioritising people for vaccine on the basis on top scientific advice about who should be vaccinated first. There are a list of those who are most vulnerable and we want to make sure that they are protected.”

Asked if the goverment could prioritise teachers once the most vulnerable have been vaccinated and whether that could start around February half-term, he said: “I think that we need to make sure that we do that with the benefit of the best scientific advice because again what we want to do overall is help those that are most of risk and reduce pressure on the NHS.

"But of course we also want to make sure that teachers and others can have confidence as well.”

Challenged on whether the government’s decision to allow mixing at Christmas was a mistake, he said: “My approach has been to concentrate on doing better everyday in those areas where we can improve. In due course we will have an opportunity to look back and to review all of the decisions that were made.

“It is the case that we have improved our response in a number of areas, so the number of people who are being tested has risen dramatically, contact tracing has improved.

"The vaccine rollout, which GMB has been so fantastic in supporting, has made sure that we have vaccinated more people than other European countries.

"These are all areas that the government and those whom we work with have been learning in real time about how to improve.”

ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke explains why the UK's vaccine supply should not be impacted for now

Asked for his opinion on the row between the EU and AstraZeneca and whether the UK might lose out on vaccines because the EU has a supply issue, he said: “No, the programme of vaccination has been agreed and assured and the supplies were fixed some time ago and we will make sure the the vaccine programme will proceed exactly as planned.

"Of course it is the case that we will want to talk with our friends in Europe to see how we can help but the really important thing is making sure that our own vaccination programme proceeds precisely as planned.”

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