UK’s new health secretary; Sajid Javid says he will continue to wear a mask but admits that the world can no longer think only about COVID-19 and ignore the other critical health issues, economic problems, and education challenges that have build up during the pandemic.
Sajid who took over from Matt Hancock few weeks ago spoke on Tuesday to Sky News. He said the country must “take advantage” of the effectiveness of the vaccines and “learn to live” with the virus.
“It is not about some number of deaths being acceptable, of course not,” Mr Javid said.
“What we are seeing is with rising case numbers – and yesterday I said we could see a doubling of case numbers by the time we get to 19 July – we are not seeing a corresponding increase in hospitalisations and death numbers.
“And that is because the vaccine is working, that is what the vaccine is for.
“And we can’t live in a world where the only thing we are thinking about is COVID and not about all the other health problems, not about our economic problems, or education challenges, and we have to make use of a vaccine that is thankfully working.”
Mr Javid’s comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed how he plans to “restore people’s freedoms” in England at a news briefing on Monday evening, ahead of the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out plans on Monday to end social and economic COVID-19 restrictions in England in two weeks’ time, a test of whether a rapid vaccine rollout offers enough protection from the highly contagious Delta variant.
After imposing the most onerous constraints on behaviour in Britain’s peacetime history to battle the novel coronavirus, Johnson is betting the vaccination programme, which has weakened the link between infections and hospital admissions, can prevent the health service from being overwhelmed by a new wave of COVID-19.
Britain has suffered the seventh-highest global death toll from COVID-19, and Johnson has been accused of being too slow to implement each of England’s three lockdowns.
But the take-up of vaccines in Britain has been strong, with 86% of adults receiving a first dose and 64% receiving two doses as of Monday, according to government data.
Public Health England figures indicate that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing the Delta variant from leading to severe illness or hospital admission, especially after two doses.
Britons are hopeful that come 19 July, the last phase of lockdown easing is due to take place but this is subject to the government’s four key tests being met. However, before then, a decision will be taken as to whether this will go ahead as planned in a week’s time.