Nadhim Zahawi

English Patients Could Get Routine Annual Covid Jabs at Same Time as They Get Flu Vaccinations, Says Nadhim Zahawi

The media focus is currently centred on the booster jabs that will be given this year – starting with the over-50s and care workers – but the Government is already looking to the booster vaccine roll-outs of the future. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says that English patients could get routine annual Covid jabs at the same time as they get their flu vaccinations. The Guardian has the story.

Scientists have warned that the NHS is likely to be under significant pressure from other seasonal illnesses as well as Covid infections.

Zahawi said he hoped the booster programme would be the “last piece of the jigsaw” to allow society to continue through the winter without lockdowns.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said: “Where possible we will try and co-administer – with one caveat – with flu. GPs and pharmacies, which are the backbone of the vaccination programme, can rapidly vaccinate lots of people.

“This is probably the last piece of the jigsaw to allow us to transition this virus from pandemic to endemic and I hope by next year we will be in a position to deal with this virus with an annual inoculation programme as we do flu.” …

Boris Johnson is on Tuesday to confirm the start of a booster jabs programme for the over-50s, a day after Government scientists finally approved vaccinations for older schoolchildren. [Why finally? Why were they supposed to give the green light?]

Worth reading in full.

Fury as Government Green Lights Vaccines for Healthy Kids

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in a House of Commons speech tonight that the vaccination of healthy 12-15 year-olds would go ahead from the beginning of next week – and confirmed that children, not their parents, would have the final say about whether to get jabbed. MailOnline has more.

Mr. Zahawi also reiterated the safety of the vaccine for children, saying the decision to offer the jab to 12 to 15 year-olds had followed advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and had been “unanimously approved” by the U.K.’s Chief Medical Officers.

“We will now move with the same sense of urgency we’ve had at every point in our vaccination programme,” he added.

It comes as parents, experts and teaching unions today warned of tension in schools after the U.K. signed off on plans to offer Covid jabs to healthy 12 to 15 year-olds – which will see children get the final say on whether they are vaccinated.

Around three million under-16s are due to start getting their jabs from next week after Chris Whitty endorsed the move today, claiming it would help prevent outbreaks in classrooms and further disruptions to education this winter.

Doses will be largely administered through the existing school vaccination programme and parental consent will be sought.

But children will be able to overrule their parents’ decision in the case of a conflict if they are deemed mature and competent enough, which has caused fury.

Angry parents fumed against the move to leave the decision with young children who “can’t even decide what they want for tea, never mind” a vaccine, which carry small risks of side effects such as heart inflammation.

Professor Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading who is in favour of jabbing children, warned that giving youngsters the final say could lead to pupils being bullied by their peers into taking the jab.

He told MailOnline: “It will cause rows I think… You may end up in a situation where a minority, it will probably be the unvaccinated, get bullied and excluded by other children.”

Earlier headteachers revealed they had already received letters from pressure groups threatening legal action if schools take part in an under-16 vaccination programme.

The teachers’ union NAHT demanded urgent reassurance medics will be responsible for concerns about consent and vaccination rather than being left to schools, which could lead to tension with parents.

Children’s rights campaign group Us for Them said it needed a “cast-iron guarantee” from the Government that all parents would get the final say on whether their child is vaccinated.

Professor Whitty revealed today that children will be able to override their parents’ decision if they pass a “competence assessment” by the medical professional charged with administering the vaccine.

Under decades-old medical law used for other routine vaccines, youngsters get the final say if they are judged to have sufficient intelligence to be able to fully understand – and therefore consent to – vaccination.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Sarah Knapton, the Science Editor of the Telegraph, points out that Chris Whitty’s recommendation was distinctly lukewarm, which is bound to create confusion among parents.

No, Minister, Vaccine Passports Are Not Necessary to End the Pandemic

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has insisted to MPs in the Commons that vaccine passports are necessary to end the pandemic. The evidence, however, suggests otherwise.

While the U.K. has seen a spike in reported ‘cases’ in recent days, much of it is driven by the increase in testing as schools have returned. The positive rate, by contrast, shows a gentle decline.

There’s no sign here of vaccine passports being needed to prevent unmanageable spread.

What about elsewhere? Israel is a highly vaccinated country which got in there early with vaccines, so that upwards of 55% of the population has been double vaccinated since early April, and it has made extensive use of vaccine passports.

India, by contrast, is a low vaccination country which only recently broke through 10% double vaccinated.

How are they faring? Israel is currently experiencing a big surge in Delta infections, at a time when over 62% of the population is double vaccinated.

Nadhim Zahawi Won’t Rule Out Vaccine Passports in Pubs

The Vaccines Minister insisted vaccine passports will not be imposed on “essential services” in a clash with MPs today but refused to rule out their introduction at pubs and restaurants. The Sun has the story.

Nadhim Zahawi defended the introduction of vaccine passports which he said would “reduce transmission and serious illness”.

Boris Johnson is already facing a major rebellion over the plans, with more than 50 Tories expected to mutiny.

Covid papers will be needed to enter nightclubs and other large indoor venues from later this month.

Mr. Zahawi didn’t rule out their use becoming more widespread.

He sparred with raging MPs during a heated debate at the Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee.

The vaccines minister was pressed by Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner on where people will have to show Covid papers.

He replied: “I can assure her that there are some essential services which will not need for people to show Covid vaccine certification.

“These settings that have stayed open throughout the pandemic, such as public sector buildings, essential retail, essential services and public transport.”

Mr. Zahawi insisted it “pains” him to introduce vaccine passports and it’s a decision “we do not take lightly”.

He said it is “something that goes against the DNA of this minister and his PM but we are living through difficult times, unprecedented times”. …

But fuming Tory MPs lined up to angrily denounce the Government’s plans.

William Wragg accused the minister of talking “a load of rubbish” and said he was trying to “defend the indefensible”. …

Mark Harper, Chairman of the Covid Research Group, said vaccine passports are “a pointless policy with damaging effects”.

He added: “I’m afraid the Minister is picking an unnecessary fight with his own colleagues. I say to him the Government should think again.”

Worth reading in full.

Confusion Over Reported Plans for October ‘Firebreak’ Lockdown

There is some confusion today on recent reports that the Government is planning a potential October ‘firebreak’ lockdown. A senior Government scientist told the i that an “extended peak” of Covid ‘cases’ and hospitalisations could push ministers to impose another lockdown next month, but BBC News today quotes from both the Department for Education (DfE) and the Prime Minister’s spokesman who have denied this report.

“It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or ‘firebreak’ around the October half term,” [the DfE] said in a tweet.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman also denied the report. He said plans had been kept for a range of scenarios – “but these kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS”.

“I think we’ve been clear throughout that we will take action, and indeed we have done when necessary to protect our NHS,” he said.

But the spokesman pointed out that when rules were brought in the past, the U.K. did not yet have the protection from vaccines.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has, however, been a little less clear in his denial of reports. He is reported in Sky News as saying that we can “continue on this sort of one-way road” towards reopening “if we do [the booster vaccine roll-out] well” (emphasis added).

Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, Mr. Zahawi did not confirm or deny whether he would endorse an October ‘firebreak’ if hospitalisations for Covid remain high. …

He added: “So the booster programme that we have had interim advice from the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] on is my absolute priority.

“That will protect the most vulnerable to serious infection – that will absolutely help us to transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status.

“The important thing is that we get that right, because I think if we do that well, we can continue on this sort of one-way road towards sustaining the opening of the economy and, by next year hopefully, transitioning the virus from pandemic to endemic and dealing with it on an annual basis.”

Later during his Tuesday morning broadcast media round, Mr. Zahawi added that he had seen no plans for an October ‘firebreak’ lockdown if cases rise this autumn.

It is worth noting that, on the basis of the impending introduction of vaccine passports despite Zahawi’s previous claims to the contrary, an October lockdown could be on the cards even if the Vaccines Minister had ruled one out.

The BBC News and Sky News reports are both worth reading in full.

Why the Government is Wrong to Claim 12 Year-Olds Are Competent to Consent to Covid Vaccination Against Their Parents’ Wishes

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that if a 12-15 year-old wishes to receive the jab and is judged to be “competent” then his or her decision would overrule the parents’ refusal for their child to be vaccinated. The Telegraph has more.

In an interview with Times Radio on Sunday morning, Mr. Zahawi was asked what NHS clinicians could do if a parent says no to their child being vaccinated but the teenager says yes.

He replied: “The NHS is really well practised in this because they’ve been doing school immunisation programmes for a very long time so what you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do.”

This idea that a 12 year-old can overrule his or her parents in a medical decision is based on the notion of Gillick competence, which derives from a 1985 House of Lords legal judgment (Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority) which provides that children under 16 may be able to consent to their own treatment if they are deemed to have sufficient intelligence, competence and understanding to appreciate fully what the treatment involves.

However, as the U.K. Medical Freedom Alliance (UKMFA) explains in a recent open letter, the judgment in Gillick makes it clear it is to apply only in exceptional cases.

Nadhim Zahawi Confirms Vaccine Passports Will be Introduced at End of the Month

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi – who said the Government had no plans to introduce vaccine passports in January – confirmed on Trevor Philips on Sunday (and Sky News) that plans to introduce a vaccine status certification scheme for entry into large venues would go ahead at the end of the month. This is in spite of the fact that double jabbed people can still become infected and infected others. MailOnline has more.

The Vaccine Minister said the Government is concerned large venues “could end up causing a real spike in infections” because of groups of people mixing in close proximity.

He said the “worst thing” for those venues would be for surging coronavirus case numbers to result in an “open shut, open shut strategy” and the “best way” to ensure they can remain open for the long term “is to check vaccine status”.

He also signalled the requirement would likely be imposed on other venues.

He said at the time: “I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere. But it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing.

“As we said last week, we do reserve the right to mandate certification at any point if it’s necessary to reduce transmission.

“And I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s have had their chance to be double jabbed we’re planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.”

The Government has faced mounting Tory backbench anger over the vaccine passports plan, with critics arguing the documents are unnecessary and infringe on individual freedoms.

Worth reading in full.

Unvaccinated Brits to Be Barred From Large Venues Later This Year Following Government U-Turn

Just six months ago, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi ruled out the introduction of “discriminatory” vaccine passports in England. “That’s not how we do things,” he said.

It didn’t take long, however, for the Government to tell nightclubs and other large venues that it was their “social responsibility” to check their customers’ Covid status. “Covid status” gave the impression that a negative test or recent recovery from the virus would be enough for entry to be granted as opposed to just full vaccination.

It has taken even less time for ministers to go one step further. With so few nightclubs having decided ‘voluntarily’ to introduce checks, Zahawi has announced that they will be forced to do so from late September. And this time, nothing short of full vaccination will open the door for entry, barring unvaccinated Brits from all such venues.

The Vaccines Minister said that Covid checks would be “discriminatory” if they were just based on vaccination only four days ago. So why the sudden change of mind?

Sky News has more.

Nadhim Zahawi said proof that people are fully vaccinated against coronavirus will be required for them to be allowed into nightclubs and other “crowded venues” from that point.

Until then, Covid passes – which show if you are vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus – will be required, although these are not mandatory for venues to operate.

In the Commons this afternoon, Mr Zahawi said: “By the end of September everyone aged 18 and over will have the chance to receive full vaccination and the additional two weeks for that protection to really take hold.

“So at that point we plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.

“Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient.”

Mr Zahawi promised that the plans would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, and that there would be “appropriate” exemptions for people with a medical condition that means they cannot be vaccinated.

“We will always look at the evidence available and do all we can to ensure people can continue to do the things they love,” he added.

Worth reading in full.

People Still “Expected” to Wear Face Masks After July 19th, Says Vaccines Minister

The Government has added further confusion to mask-wearing requirements after July 19th today. While there will be no “legal compulsion” to wear a mask in England when the final stage of the lockdown roadmap is reached, people will continue to be “expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces”, according to Vaccines Minister Nadim Zahawi. He is quoted in the Guardian.

I think it’s important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we’ll set out tomorrow will demonstrate that, including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces. 

And of course to remain vigilant with your hands and face and just remember that we all act responsibly as we did with the vaccination program. …

We can come together and deal with this pandemic in a way that is responsible, by thinking about our own actions and how they impact other people, including people who may be immunocompromised.

Whether or not people are guided by this “expectation”, masks will still need to be worn in a number of settings as businesses have been told they will be allowed to set their own rules.

Stop Press: The Vaccines Minister has also denied reports this morning that the gap between Covid vaccine doses will be cut down to four weeks. He told Sky News: “The eight-week interval offers that additional fortification in terms of protection with the two doses much better than having the interval shortened any further.”

Vaccines Minister Makes Bizarre Claim That Postponing Freedom Day Has Saved “Thousands of Lives”

Nadhim Zahawi was in rare form at today’s Downing Street press conference, claiming the Prime Minister’s decision to “pause” the easing of lockdown restrictions had saved “thousands of lives”. Eh? The Telegraph has more on the bizarre reasoning behind the Vaccine Minister’s claim.

Nadhim Zahawi said the Government had been right to delay the lifting of all Covid restrictions by a month to allow more people to be fully vaccinated.

He told a Downing Street press conference: “Last week we took the difficult, but I think essential, decision to pause Step 4 in our roadmap for four weeks with a review of the data after two weeks.”

He said: “Two weeks ago there were over 2 million people aged over 50 in England who had a first dose, but not their second dose. Now that number, two weeks later, is 900,000.

“This pause has saved thousands of lives and will continue to do so by allowing us to get more of the second doses into arms of those most vulnerable to Covid before the restrictions are eased further.”

Mr Zahawi added: “We’re going to use these four weeks to give our NHS that bit more time so we can get those remaining jabs in arms of those who really do need them.”

He said that overall more than 14,000 lives had been saved by the vaccination programme so far, while 44,500 hospital admissions had also been averted in England, which is 2,500 in the past two weeks.

The underlying assumption behind Zahawi’s claim is that had Boris not pressed the “pause” button, the vaccine roll-out would have ground to an abrupt halt on June 21st. Eh? Surely, it would have continued on its current trajectory? In which case, it’s not clear that the pause should have saved a single life, let alone “thousands”.

Needless to say, not a single journalist in attendance picked up on the Vaccine Minister’s tortuous reasoning.