Doubt over Dominic Cummings's claim he warned of coronavirus threat last year

May 26, 2020

Dominic Cummings appears to have edited a year-old blog post to add a mention of coronavirus on his first day back at work after recovering from the disease last month.

The prime minister's chief adviser, who is currently facing calls to resign after being accused of flouting lockdown rules, said this week he had warned of the dangers of pandemics "for years".

"Last year I wrote about the possible threat of coronaviruses and the urgent need for planning," Mr Cummings said at a news conference on Monday defending his 260-mile trip to Durham during lockdown.

However, doubt has been cast on that claim after a search of Mr Cummings's blog revealed the only mention of "coronavirus" was added to a post in an edit on 14 April this year.

Cached versions of the blog post, originally written on 4 March 2019, show there was no specific mention of "coronavirus" before April this year.

But the post now includes a paragraph which describes a "well-publicised incident in China in which two researchers conducting virus research were exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus samples that were incompletely inactivated".

The sitemap of Mr Cummings's blog shows an edit to that post on 14 April.

This was the day, according to Mr Cummings's account of his movements during lockdown, that he returned to work in 10 Downing Street after spending two weeks at his parents' farm in Durham - more than 260 miles away from his London home.

The section about coronavirus that was apparently added last month replaces the words "an example" in the previous cached version of the post.

The earlier version of the post did not mention coronavirus specifically but did link to a 2019 article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which makes the same reference to coronavirus that appears to have been later added to Mr Cummings's blog.

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Mr Cummings's blog does include 14 specific mentions of "pandemic" in both the post on 4 March 2019 and another written three days earlier.

Boris Johnson's senior aide is under pressure to quit his role following the high-profile row over his lockdown trips.

More than 30 MPs have publicly called for Mr Cummings to resign or be sacked, despite the prime minister's support for his top adviser.

Downing Street did not respond to Sky News' requests for comment.

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