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U.K.'s Boris Johnson Says His Battle With Coronavirus 'Could Have Gone Either Way'

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened up about his nearly two-week-long battle with coronavirus on Sunday, revealing that at points during his ICU stay doctors were making arrangements for "what to do if things went badly wrong."

"It was a tough old moment, I won't deny it," the 55-year-old said in an interview with British newspaper The Sun. "They had a strategy to deal with a 'death of Stalin-type' scenario."

Johnson spent three nights in the ICU at St Thomas' Hospital in London, where he said medical workers gave him "liters and liters of oxygen."

During that time he said, his health indicators were headed in the wrong direction.

"It was hard to believe that in just a few days my health had deteriorated to this extent," Johnson said. "I remember feeling frustrated. I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting better."

"But the bad moment came when it was 50-50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my windpipe," Johnson said, which would have forced him to go into a medically induced coma.

The prime minister attributed his recovery to National Health Service (NHS) doctors and nurses. Johnson and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds,named their newborn son, Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, in honor of Nick Price and Nick Hart, the physicians the prime minister credited with saving his life.

The acknowledgment comes as NHS doctors have called out for more personal protective equipment and better pay.

Johnson said he wants to prevent people from suffering like he did, but that he is driven by a desire to get the U.K. "back on its feet."

The country has suffered more than 28,000 deaths due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 183,500 people in the U.K. have tested positive for COVID-19.

But the country is past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, the prime minister said. Last week, Johnson promised "a roadmap, a menu of options" on next steps to lift the lockdown in the coming days.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hannah Hagemann is a 2019 Kroc Fellow. During her fellowship, she will work at NPR's National Desk and Weekend Edition.
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