PM Johnson's ex-chief adviser: UK failed in COVID

"The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisors like me, fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its government in a crisis like this," Dominic Cummings told a parliamentary committee.

The West, he said, failed to see the brewing crisis, adding that many senior ministers, including the prime minister, were on holiday in February 2020, some skiing.

With almost 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth worst official COVID toll, and Johnson was slow to appreciate the significance of the threat from the virus in early 2020 as it spread from China towards Britain's shores.