Sajid Javid

Covid Passes to be Scrapped Within Two Weeks

The Health Secretary has said Covid passes will be scrapped in England this month as the country’s Omicron wave continues to collapse. MailOnline has more

Sajid Javid is said to have told MPs [yesterday] that he shared their “instinctive discomfort” at the certificates, which 100 Tories voted against.

Ministers are also keen to ditch widespread working from home guidance when the current Plan B measures are reviewed on January 26th. It could mean that compulsory masks on public transport and in shops will be the only remaining curb.

Britain’s Covid cases have fallen week-on-week for the past eight days in a row, with 109,000 new positive tests on Thursday. Hospital admissions have also flatlined.

At a meeting with Tory MPs yesterday, Mr Javid hailed the “encouraging signs” – but warned that hospitals remained under “significant pressure”, the Times reports.

Currently, people in England need to show proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow to enter large events and nightclubs.

A Whitehall source told the newspaper: “There was always a very high threshold for the policy and it looks increasingly likely in a couple of weeks that threshold won’t be met. The way cases are going it will be hard to justify renewing.”

Boris Johnson faced his biggest Tory revolt since the start of the pandemic over the introduction of Plan B measures last month, with nearly 100 Conservatives defying the party whip to vote against them.

The PM’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost dramatically resigned in protest over the rollout of the curbs. Yesterday he slammed the “Covid theatre” of masks and passes, and called lockdown a “serious mistake”.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has done a U-turn, announcing that all Covid restrictions will be lifted in Wales in two weeks in spite of describing England as an “outlier” last week because it had fewer restrictions than Wales. MailOnline has the story.

Mark Drakeford today confirmed all major coronavirus restrictions will be lifted in Wales in two weeks as he faced accusations of “overreacting” to the Omicron wave.

The Welsh Government will reopen nightclubs, end the rule of six in pubs and lift the 50-person limit on outdoor events.

Mr Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, had warned just one week ago on January 7th that the Omicron “storm is fully upon us” as he predicted the peak would not arrive for “another 10 to 14 days”.

He also slammed Boris Johnson’s decision not to impose similarly tough restrictions in England as he branded the neighbouring country an “outlier”.

But speaking this morning, Mr Drakeford said case numbers are now “coming down very rapidly” as he rejected accusations of a U-turn.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Sign this petition which specifically calls for mandatory face masks in shops and on public transport to be scrapped.

Stop Press 2: Daily cases have fallen below 100,000 in the U.K. for the first time since before Christmas. MailOnline has more.

Fact-Checking the BBC’s ‘Fact Check’ of The Doctor Who Challenged the Health Secretary on Vaccine Mandate

The BBC has published another of its questionable ‘reality checks‘, this one by the aptly-titled “disinformation reporter” Rachel Schraer. Her target is doctor Steve James, who directly challenged Health Secretary Sajid Javid on the science behind the impending vaccination mandate when Mr. Javid visited the hospital where he works last week. Schraer, whose medical and scientific credentials are unclear, has taken it upon herself to assess Dr. James’s claims in a piece entitled “Fact-checking the doctor who challenged the Health Secretary“, saying the claims are “not exactly what the evidence shows”. However, the evidence she picks for this ‘fact check’ is very selective, and she overlooks several studies that do indeed back up what the brave doctor was saying.

Dr. James told Mr. Javid: “The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks with Delta. For Omicron, it’s probably less.”

‘Disinformation reporter’ Schraer responds:

While vaccines remain very good at protecting against becoming severely ill with Covid, the protection they give against catching it and passing it on does wane more quickly.

Dr. James was referring to a study that found a vaccinated person with Covid was just 2% less likely than an unvaccinated person to pass it on, 12 weeks after a second Oxford-AstraZeneca jab – he acknowledges his reference to “eight weeks” was an error.

But the same study found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which NHS staff are likely to have had, endured better. Vaccinated people had a 25% lower risk of infecting others than unvaccinated people after 12 weeks.

Well, 25% is not very much, and this is not the only study which looks at this, with others finding even smaller effect. A study in the Lancet found no difference in household secondary attack rate depending on whether the index case was vaccinated, and correspondingly no difference in viral load. A study by the U.S. CDC also found no difference in infectiousness and concluded: “Clinicians and public health practitioners should consider vaccinated persons who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 to be no less infectious than unvaccinated persons.” UKHSA and others have also found viral load no lower in the vaccinated. These studies are all pre-Omicron, which is likely to be even more able to evade vaccines.

Sajid Javid Confronted Over Mandatory Vaccination by Unvaccinated NHS Consultant: “The Science Isn’t Strong Enough”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been directly challenged by an unvaccinated hospital consultant over the Government’s policy of compulsory Covid jabs for NHS staff. Sky News has more.

During a visit to King’s College Hospital in south London, Mr. Javid asked staff members on the intensive care unit about their thoughts on new rules requiring vaccination for NHS workers.

And Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist who has been treating coronavirus patients since the start of the pandemic, told the Health Secretary about his displeasure.

“I’m not happy about that,” he said. “I had Covid at some point, I’ve got antibodies, and I’ve been working on Covid ICU since the beginning.

“I have not had a vaccination, I do not want to have a vaccination. The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks for Delta, with Omicron it’s probably less.

“And for that, I would be dismissed if I don’t have a vaccine? The science isn’t strong enough.”

Mr. James also revealed another of his colleagues held the same position.

Mr. Javid replied: “I respect that, but there’s also many different views. I understand it, and obviously we have to weigh all that up for both health and social care, and there will always be a debate about it.”

The consultant suggested the Health Secretary could use the “changing picture” of the Covid pandemic during the Omicron wave to “reconsider” the rule.

Alternatively, Mr. James suggested, the government could “nuance” the rules to allow those who have antibodies – but acquired from infection and not vaccination – to not be required to have a jab.

He told the Health Secretary that it “didn’t make sense” to dismiss doctors who already had Covid antibodies, but who did not want to be vaccinated.

“The protection that I’ve got from transmission is probably the equivalent to someone who is vaccinated,” Mr James said.

But Mr. Javid told him “at some point that will wane as well”. He added that the government takes the “very best advice” from vaccine experts.

“I respect your views and more than that I respect everything you’re doing here and the lives you’re saving,” the Health Secretary told Mr. James.

I respect everything you’re doing – but I’m going to sack you for not getting vaccinated, even though you’ve got antibodies and the vaccines don’t prevent infection or transmission.

Worth reading in full – and watch the video here.

Sajid Javid Says New Restrictions Unlikely as England Wakes Up With Hangover

The Health Secretary has said additional Covid restrictions are unlikely this year. Let’s hope that’s not wishful thinking on his part. MailOnline has more.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Javid insisted any fresh curbs on freedoms must be ‘an absolute last resort’, adding that the country is in ‘a far stronger position’ at the start of 2022 than it was 12 months ago.

Although Scotland and Wales had strict Covid rules, people living in other home nations flocked across the border for a chance to enjoy the New Year in style and in their best outfits.

In London thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames to watch the capital’s fireworks and drone display, while Piccadilly Circus was packed despite calls for caution around social distancing.

Thousands of revellers of all ages gathered in nightclubs, bars and pubs in Leeds as they brought the New Year in with huge smiles.

And in one Manchester nightclub, some 10,000 people partied until 4am, although there were some skirmishes in Newcastle, with one man being led away by police.

Meanwhile, after being forced to close under last year’s lockdown restrictions, many bars and clubs in Liverpool were pictured crammed with thousands of partygoers yesterday evening.

The wild celebrations came as Sajid Javid vowed today to do everything in his power to avoid a lockdown this year.

There were heightened fears about the spread of the virus as U.K. had another daily record of 189,846 cases yesterday and 203 deaths.

The Office for National Statistics reported an estimated 2.3million people in the UK had Covid in the week ending December 23rd, setting another pandemic record.

Downing Street sources indicated that the Government’s work from home guidance is likely to be extended when it comes up for review next week because infections and hospitalisations are continuing to rise across the country.

While coronavirus cases are continuing to rise due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant, official figures showed yesterday that in parts of Britain up to four in 10 hospital patients with Covid were actually there to receive treatment for something else. The figure nationally is one in three.

Mr Javid said the numbers in intensive care units remained stable, meaning “we have welcomed in 2022 with some of the least restrictive measures in Europe”.

Mr Javid added: “Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and the British people rightly expect us to do everything in our power to avert them.”

You can read Sajid Javid’s piece here.

No New Covid restrictions to Spoil New Year’s Eve

Covid restrictions will NOT be tightened in England before the New Year, Boris Johnson has decided after reviewing the latest data on the spread of the Omicron variant. This is a decisive win for lockdown sceptics. The Telegraph has more.

It means that New Year’s Eve parties can go ahead, although the possibility of new rules in January has not been ruled out.

The public are also being urged to show “caution” in the coming week, including taking a lateral flow test before gatherings, keeping windows open where possible and wearing a mask when required.

The Prime Minister is understood to have taken the decision not to bring in further restrictions at this stage because of signs in the data that Omicron may be a milder form of COVID-19, as suggested by previous scientific analysis. …

The number of people in hospital in England with Covid is less than half of what it was last year, despite there being three times as many reported cases.

The number of daily cases fell on Monday to 98,515, from 108,893 on Boxing Day.

And Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, revealed on Monday that 75% of eligible adults have received a booster jab, with the speed of the rollout being cited as one reason for not bringing in new restrictions.

However, the move leaves England out of step with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have all imposed limits on household mixing in social settings.

Announcing the decision, Mr Javid said: “We look at the data on a daily basis – that hasn’t changed over the Christmas period. But there will be no further measures before the New Year.

“Of course, people should remain cautious as we approach New Year’s celebrations. Take a lateral flow test if that makes sense, celebrate outside if you can, have some ventilation if you can.

“Please remain cautious and when we get into the New Year, of course, we will see then whether we do need to take any further measures. But nothing more until then, at least.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Will the Government introduce tighter restrictions in the New Year? The Telegraph says Government officials have draw up plans for a number of different measures, including reintroducing the ‘rule of six’. But none of these have been put to ministers yet.

Sajid Javid Says The Unvaccinated Are Having a “Damaging Impact” On Society

In an interview with Sky News, Sajid Javid criticised the unvaccinated for “the damage they are doing to society” by not coming forward for the jab. The Health Secretary also mentioned that further Covid restrictions, including the imposition of a post-Christmas lockdown, are not off the cards, and that the Government “will do what is necessary”. Sky News has more.

When pushed on reports that ministers are drawing up plans to introduce more restrictions after Christmas, the Health Secretary told Sky News‘ Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme the Government will “do what is necessary”, but that any change must be “backed up by the data”.

He added that ministers are discussing the latest Covid data “almost on an hourly basis” with scientific advisers.

“We’ve shown in the past as Government in dealing with this pandemic that we will do what is necessary but it’s got to be backed up by the data,” the Health Secretary said when probed on any possible plans.

“We are watching the data and discussing it with our scientists and our best advisers almost on an hourly basis. And we will monitor that very carefully. We will keep the situation under review.”

Javid then reiterated that various factors, including vaccinations for Covid, mean “the situation today in terms of our defences is very different”.

He also confirmed that Parliament would be recalled if the Government believed introducing further restrictions was necessary adding that “it would have to be a decision for Parliament”…

The Health Secretary also told Sky News that 10% of the population (more than five million people) have still not taken up the offer of the vaccine, and that around nine out of 10 of those needing the most hospital care were unvaccinated.

“They must really think about the damage they are doing to society… they take up hospital beds that could have been used for someone with maybe a heart problem, or maybe someone who is waiting for elective surgery,” Javid said.

“But instead of protecting themselves and protecting the community they choose not to get vaccinated. They are really having a damaging impact and I just can’t stress enough, please do come forward and get vaccinated.”

Worth reading in full.

You’ll Need Three Jabs For a Covid Passport, Warns Sajid Javid

In news that will surprise no one, Sajid Javid has told the House of Commons that the Government intends to change the definition of “fully vaccinated” to exclude those who’ve merely been double jabbed, so only those who’ve been triple jabbed will be entitled to a Covid passport. MailOnline has more.

The Health Secretary told the Commons that the Government intends to change the definition as soon as all adults have had a “reasonable chance” to get a booster.

The comment came after Boris Johnson’s bid to ramp up the rollout risked descending into shambles, with booking websites crashing and huge queues at walk-in centres.

Mr Javid ran the gauntlet of Tory anger at the new ‘Plan B’ restrictions to tackle the Omicron variant in the Commons this evening. More than 70 MPs are threatening to rebel in crunch votes on the plans tomorrow.

He pointed out that the incoming rules on Covid passes meant that from Wednesday people will need to show a negative lateral flow test to go to nightclubs or large events.

Javid said that those who are double-jabbed will be exempt – but added: “Once all adults have had a reasonable chance to get their booster jabs we intend to change this exemption to require a booster dose.”

The Cabinet minister significantly refused to give an exact timeline, amid criticism that the government is not being clear about whether all adults will get dates for jabs that fall before January 1st – or whether the bookings will be merely made before New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, the new regulations bringing in ‘Plan B’ measures have finally been published – barely 24 hours before the votes are due.

People could be fined £10,000 if they try to falsify a Covid pass or test result.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021 make it an offence to make, adapt, supply or offer to supply ‘false evidence of Covid status to another person’ which is known to be ‘false or misleading’ and this will be punishable by a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

Other offences under the regulations also could result in fines for breaking the rules. These include a £1,000 FPN in the first instance, reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days, for example for venues who do not comply with the rules or ignore improvement notices issued by councils.

The fines double for the second and third offences (£2,000 and then £4,000), jumping to £10,000 for the fourth or any subsequent offences thereafter.

Johnson begged Tories to back his ‘Plan B’ Covid curbs today amid fears more than 70 will rebel in a crunch vote tomorrow.

Worth reading in full.

Sajid Javid Says the U.K. Is “Nowhere Near” a Return to Full Lockdown Measures

Sajid Javid has said that the Government is “nowhere near” bringing back full lockdown restrictions in the U.K., saying that the measures “carry a very heavy price”, such as economic damage and negative mental health outcomes. The Health Secretary also said that “people should continue with their plans as normal for Christmas” despite the emergence of the Omicron variant. The Sun has the story.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said “we’re nowhere near” reintroducing working from home or social distancing measures to combat Covid.

He told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “We know now those types of measures do carry a very heavy price, both economically, socially, in terms of non-Covid health outcomes such as impact on mental health.

“So, if one was to make decisions like that they would have to be done very, very carefully and we’re not there yet, we’re nowhere near that.”

He added that people should plan for Christmas as “normal”.

“I think it’s fair to say that the nature of this pandemic is it would be irresponsible to make guarantees,” Javid said.

“As for Christmas, I think people should continue with their plans as normal for Christmas, I think it’s going to be a great Christmas.”

It comes as compulsory mask-wearing is set to return next week in a bid to save Christmas from a super-mutant coronavirus.

Boris Johnson ordered the move after at least two cases of the fast-spreading Omicron variant were found in the U.K.

He also urged people to get booster jabs, saying: “It’s more vital than ever.”

Mask-wearing will again be compulsory in shops and buses, trains and taxis in England from Tuesday.

Overseas travel and self-isolation rules have been tightened after the first two cases of the super-strain were detected in Britain.

Scientists will explore how the booster programme can be extended, including to those as young as 18 years-old.

Omicron, discovered only days ago in southern Africa, has been declared the worst variant yet by one expert, while there are fears it might reduce vaccine protection over time.

The Prime Minister’s measures, outlined at a Downing Street briefing, aim to slow down its spread until scientists know just how dangerous it is.

But Johnson stopped short of imposing a devastating shutdown of pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas.

He insisted that if the public stick to the rules and get their jabs, there will be no need for another last-gasp festive lockdown…

Despite the reassurances, the mere prospect of fresh Covid curbs will send shockwaves through the hospitality industry which saw takings fall by almost 80% in the festive period last year.

Johnson refused to give any guarantees but he is clear that there will be no lockdown like last year, and people were not being asked to work from home.

In a further move, he announced plans to step up the pace of the jabs programme.

Worth reading in full.

Nu Variant: Sajid Javid Says U.K. “Must Move Quickly, and At The Earliest Possible Moment”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has told the Commons that the new Nu variant identified this week in Botswana is of “huge international concern” and that: “One of the lessons of this pandemic has been that we must move quickly, and at the earliest possible moment.”

Although he said we don’t know “definitively” whether the exponential growth in reported infections in South Africa is directly associated with the new variant, he added that analysis suggests there may be many cases that haven’t been detected so far.

“We’re heading into winter and our booster programme is still ongoing, so we must act with caution,” he said.

The FTSE 100 crashed 3.4% on the news of the new variant’s emergence, revealing investors’ worries about the impact a new, potentially vaccine-evading variant might have on economic activity.

Ross Clark summarises the reasons for the concern:

Sajid Javid Rules Out ‘Plan B’ – For Now

Sajid Javid has said that the Government does not need to trigger ‘Plan B’, which would see the return of mask mandates and the introduction of vaccine passports for certain venues, but instead urged members of the public to take up the offer of a booster jab so the country can “look forward to Christmas together”. However, the Health Secretary insisted that the Government will “take further measures” and implement ‘Plan B’ if it needed to. MailOnline has the story.

The Health Secretary said that the country is “not at that point” of needing restrictions to be re-imposed. 

But he said “if we needed to take further measures with ‘Plan B’ then we would do so” as he stressed the Government is “not complacent in any way”.

Bookings for Covid booster jabs are opening this week for people aged 40 years-old and over. 

Ministers have faced fresh questions over whether they will push the button on ‘Plan B’ after a Covid surge across Europe prompted some countries to return to lockdown measures. 

The Netherlands has confirmed a three-week partial lockdown while Austria is set to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people.

A further 40,941 Covid cases were confirmed in the UK as of yesterday morning while a further 150 people had died within 28 days of testing positive. 

The Government’s ‘Plan A’ for tackling Covid is to rely on the vaccination programme and testing to limit the spread of the disease. 

‘Plan B’ would see vaccine passports required for attending certain events and the return of face masks being compulsory in certain settings.            

Javid was asked during an interview on Sky News this morning if people should brace themselves for a return of restrictions before Christmas. 

The Health Secretary said: “As we all look forward to Christmas, it is very sad to see cases rising, surging, in certain parts of Europe.

“We have always known that this virus, it loves the winter, it likes the cold, darker days that winter brings and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect ourselves against that.

“What has made a real difference here in the UK is our booster programme, our hugely successful booster programme.

“Almost 15 million booster jabs given already, covering some quarter of the population over the age of 12 years-old, almost 400,000 a day across the U.K.

“That is making the difference and we know that because just this week there was more data published after more studies that shows that the protection you get from your booster… it almost doubles from 50% to over 90%

“I will be extending the booster programme starting tomorrow to 40 to 49 year-olds.

“But we have all got a role to play in this, in our national vaccination programme and if you are eligible, whether it is your first shot, second shot or your third shot, please come forward and let’s look forward to Christmas together.”

Worth reading in full.