Dominic Cummings edited an old blog to add a reference to coronaviruses

Internet archive services and Cummings’ own sitemap show a post published in March 2019 was edited last month to add a section on the risk of a coronavirus pandemic.

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UPDATE: This piece has been updated to include that Downing Street has confirmed the blog was retroactively edited.

A post on Dominic Cummings's personal blog from March 2019 was edited in April 2020 to add a reference to coronaviruses, Downing Street has confirmed this afternoon.

Cummings himself drew attention this particular blog yesterday, during a press conference in which he attempted to explain trips he made to his father's property in Durham during the lockdown period.

"For years, I have warned of the dangers of pandemics," said Cummings in a prepared statement. "Last year I wrote about the possible threat of coronaviruses and the urgent need for planning."

However, the one mention of coronaviruses on Cummings's blog has been shown by an internet archiving service to have been added on 14 April this year.

The blog post quotes research published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which found that secure bio-labs routinely make errors "which could cause a global pandemic". As recently as 9 April 2020, internet archival service The Wayback Machine shows no mention of previous coronaviruses in the piece.

On 3 May 2020, however, The Wayback Machine shows a section of Cummings’ blog has been added that includes a reference to the SARS coronavirus first identified in 2002. 

The sitemap of Cummings's blog says this edit was made at 20:55 on 14 April 2020. Cummings attended a government briefing in Downing Street on the same day. 

Sarah Manavis is the New Statesman's tech and digital culture writer. Sign up to her free weekly newsletter the Dress Down for the latest film, TV, art, theatre and book reviews.

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