Boris Johnson: EU expected to honour vaccine exports to UK
The Prime Minister said he was “deeply sorry for every life lost” as the UK death toll hit 100,000 yesterday. On one of the darkest days of the pandemic, the sombre PM said he took “full responsibility for everything”. He admitted it was “hard to compute the sorrow”. But he vowed that the country will come together to remember the huge loss in a “moment of commemoration” once the pandemic has finally passed.
During the solemn news conference at Downing Street yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “The best and most important thing we can all do to honour the memory of those who have died is to work together with ever greater resolve to defeat this disease.
“I’m deeply sorry for every life lost. What I can say is that the Government will continue to do everything we can to minimise life lost as we go forward.
“On this day, I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost.
“And, of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done.
“What I can tell you is that we truly did everything that we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very difficult stage and a very difficult crisis for our country. And we will continue to do that.”
The Prime Minister said he was ‘deeply sorry for every life lost’
Officials yesterday confirmed a further 1,631 UK deaths from Covid, taking the overall total to 100,162.
But, in a glimmer of hope, figures also showed the number of new cases reported yesterday fell to 20,089, the lowest total since mid-December.
Announcing the sad milestone, the PM said: “I am sorry to have to tell you that today the number of deaths recorded from Covid in the UK has passed 100,000, and it is hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic.
“The years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and, for so many relatives, the missed chance even to say goodbye.
“I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one.
“Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and the many grandparents who have been taken.
The UK recorded a further 1,631 deaths yesterday, taking the overall total to 100,162
“And, to all those who grieve, we make this pledge: that when we have come through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others.”
Mr Johnson looked emotional and visibly shaken as he gave his address at the news conference.
He even bowed his head at one point in the proceedings, looking down at the podium.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty described yesterday as a “sad day”.
He added: “Unfortunately, we’re going to see quite a lot more deaths over the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines begin to be felt.”
Boris Johnson looked emotional and visibly shaken during yesterday’s news conference
Professor Whitty added that the number of people testing positive for coronavirus was “still at a very high number, but it has been coming down”.
He said: “I think we need to be careful we do not relax too early.”
A lights display commemorating the 100,000 lives lost to Covid was projected onto the BMA House events venue in central London yesterday. It contained the message: “We will never forget.”
A Downing Street source said a number of options for commemorating the losses in the pandemic had been discussed by ministers but no decision was likely until after the crisis is over.
At the news conference, the PM said the country would remember the courage of NHS staff, transport staff, pharmacists, teachers, police, armed forces emergency services and others “who kept our country going during our biggest crisis since the Second World War”.
He added: “We will commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteering and the daily sacrifice of millions who placed their lives on hold time and again as we fought each new wave of the virus, buying time for our brilliant scientists to come to our aid.”
The commemoration will also “celebrate the genius and perseverance” of the scientists who discovered the vaccines and the “immense national effort” to roll out the jabs. Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, pointed out that it has now been a year since the first two UK patients with coronavirus were treated in hospital.
He said: “It’s a year in which over a quarter of a million severely ill coronavirus patients have been looked after in hospital.
“This is not a year that anybody is going to want to remember nor is it a year that, across the health service, any of us will ever forget.” Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: “This is a sobering moment in the pandemic – these are not just numbers.
“Each death is a person who was someone’s family member and friend. This virus has sadly taken millions of lives across the world, but we have learnt a lot about this virus over the past year.
England’s Medical Chief Officer Chris Whitty described yesterday as a ‘sad day’
“The best way to slow the spread is to follow the rules and right now that means staying at home.
“We should all be encouraged that hundreds of thousands of people are now receiving a vaccine every day.
“However, there is still a way to go.
“That is why it is essential for all of us to work together by staying at home.
“This sacrifice will help slow the spread, protect the NHS and save lives.”