Boris Johnson mocks Dominic Cummings during meeting with UK business leaders

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (Covid-19) from Downing Street's

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (Covid-19) from Downing Street's new White-House style media briefing room in Westminster, London - Credit: PA

Dominic Cummings was apparently "scouting out the complex" for the production of the new Novavax vaccine in the UK, Boris Johnson joked with business leaders during a meeting.

Johnson decided against a Barnard Castle gag at his press conference on Monday where he announced Britain would produce the Novavax jab in the North East, saving it instead for his call with business leaders last night.

The prime minister's former chief adviser made headline last year when he travelled from London to County Durham at the start of the first national lockdown while he and his wife were ill with Covid-19.

Cummings later drove 30 miles from his parents' home in Durham to Barnard Castle in what he described as a trip to test his "eyesight" which he claimed had been impaired by the virus.

Discussing plans to build a new vaccine facility in the North East as part of No 10's 'build back better' strategy with business leaders, The Sun reported Johnson joked that "what Dom was actually doing was scouting out the complex".

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Cummings' trip occurred at a time when hospitals were being flooded with coronavirus patients and Britons were bring told not to leave their homes in a bid to stop the spread.

Johnson backed his adviser during the ordeal, suggesting his reason for flouting the restrictions to seek childcare for his young son was legitimate. This then led to accusations that government officials could ignore the very Covid restrictions they had imposed on the public.

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Johnson's comment came as Germany announced it was restricting access to the AstraZeneca jab to those under 60 over blood clot fears.

Chancellor Angela Markel and French president Emmanuel Macron held a video call with Russian president Vladimir Putin to discuss the possibility of "cooperation" on the delivery of the Sputnik vaccine on Tuesday after both EU countries continue to suffer from a slow vaccine roll-out.

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