Excruciating moment sees Boris Johnson struggle to pronounce the name of new Covid drug seven times

Excruciating moment sees Boris Johnson struggle to pronounce the name of new Covid drug seven times

We haven’t seen many gaffes and bizarre moments at the UK government’s Covid briefings as of late but Boris Johnson managed to provide the nation with a truly excruciating moment on Monday.

A new drug called ‘tocilizumab’ is being hailed as a life-saver against Covid-19 especially when it is used alongside dexamethasone. However, the prime minister won’t want to be repeating its name on live television anytime soon, at least not without some practice first.

Speaking to chief medical officer Chris Whitty, Johnson was briefly distracted in his attempts to say ‘tocilizumab’ which we’ll admit, isn’t the easiest word to write let alone say. However, Johnson had six attempts at saying the name in what proved to be an awkward few moments for the PM.

“What’s the name of that drug again, Chris?” Johnson says only for Whitty to pronounce it perfectly twice for all the viewers before adding what appears to be “it doesn’t matter” as the prime minister stumbles of his pronunciation.

“Toc. Tocizzy, toc we’re going to get this right. Toczulu, is it toczulumab?” Johnson says several times, with Whitty adding “something like that.”

The prime minister eventually gets it but not for the want of trying. “Toc...Tocilizumab folks. Tocilizumab. OK. Good.”

Of course, there was some ridicule.

As mentioned, this drug isn’t the easiest word to same but you would have hoped the PM would have at least practised before he spoke to the entire nation, especially at such a pressing time.

On a more serious note, tocilizumab has helped reduce death rates amongst Covid patients by 15 per cent and is reportedly even higher when administered with dexamethasone.

When the two drugs are combined they managed to reduce deaths by a third on conscious patients who needed oxygen, and the death rate was reportedly cut by half when used on patients who are in a coma and on a ventilator.

More: The four key lessons from Covid that should shape policy decisions everywhere

The Conversation (0)