On Wednesday, Newsweek reported that a former top adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is alleging former President Donald Trump used the Central Intelligence Agency to scoop up personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and medical gowns out from under rival countries’ bids at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dominic Cummings made the claim while giving testimony to British lawmakers on a joint committee reviewing the U.K.’s coronavirus response on Wednesday,” reported Brendan Cole. “Cummings, who left Downing Street in November 2020 after a bitter split with Johnson, said the U.K. had been lagging in its efforts to get essential equipment and that the British Department of Health’s PPE procurement process was ‘completely hopeless.'”
Cummings told members of Parliament that “There wasn’t any system set up to deal with proper emergency procurement,” and that “When I was having PPE meetings around the cabinet room table, we were told ‘oh well the PPE obviously isn’t going to arrive for months’ … because it takes that long to ship.” Meanwhile, the Trump administration was “sending the CIA round trying to gazump everybody on PPE.” (“Gazump” is British slang for outbidding a real estate buyer on a house they are already closing on.)
Despite all of this, the U.S. infamously struggled to get PPE into the hands of professionals who needed it during the first wave. One former Trump official has blamed Congress for the delays, although the administration had the power to allocate funds more quickly.