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Boris Johnson resisted a second national lockdown last year because he concluded that everyone dying was over 80, according to his estranged former chief aide.

Dominic Cummings, who left Downing Street last year, has been highly critical of the prime minister since leaving his post and accused the prime minister.

He shared a WhatsApp message with the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg apparently sent by the prime minister on October 15, when aides were urging him to introduce a second national lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The message read: "I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on COVID fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get COVID and live longer."

"Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent) and of those virtually all survive. And I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate."

A second message said: "There are max 3m in this country aged over 80. It shows we don't go for nation wide lockdown."

The lockdown eventually came into force on early November.

Johnson also had to be persuaded not to visit the Queen for his regular weekly meetings as coronavirus spread around his office, Cummings claimed.

He told the BBC of his conversation with the prime minister: "I just said 'if you give her coronavirus and she dies, what are you gonna, you can't do that. You can't risk that, that's completely insane.'"

A Downing Street spokesperson did not directly respond to the BBC when asked about Cummings' claims.

Instead they gave a general defense of Johnson's conduct, saying: "Since the start of the pandemic, the prime minister has taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice."

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