Back to Africa Check

No, UK’s Boris Johnson didn’t say Covid-19 pandemic was a lie – fake BBC headline

A graphic circulating on social media in South Africa claims that the UK’s former prime minister Boris Johnson has denied the existence of the disease Covid-19. The graphic includes the logo of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and reads “Breaking: Boris Comes Clean”. 

Below a photo of Johnson it quotes him as saying: “There was no pandemic, we were lying to you throughout. We fiddled the figures, ruined your lives and destroyed the economy. All to gain draconian powers that we can use to inflict a lifetime of control and tyranny over you all.”

The graphic has appeared in various Twitter posts, here, here and here, in one instance receiving thousands of likes. 

This admission by a former head of government would confirm many of the fears and conspiracy theories that have circulated since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. But is it true?


No evidence of quote

The posts do not include any links or information on where and when Johnson is meant to have said this. This is often a red flag on social media that a quote has been fabricated.

And we found no evidence of the quote on the BBC’s website or verified social media accounts. In fact, the quote cannot be found online outside of the graphic.

Although Johnson’s government was criticised for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no evidence that he made this statement, or that the BBC published a piece containing this quote. 

A substantial amount of misinformation around Covid-19 has circulated online since the pandemic began. Versions of the idea that the pandemic does not exist, and never did, have been debunked in multiple fact-checks.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.