Health Secretary Sajid Javid came into the UnHerd studio to talk to Freddie Sayers and look back at lessons learned from the Covid era. In a wide-ranging 30 minute discussion, he said:
On Zero Covid:
- “Look at what’s happening in China and Hong Kong, where the so-called Zero Covid policy has been an absolute utter disaster…. It’s doomed to fail. You can’t control nature.”
On the end of the pandemic:
- “Tomorrow’s change to policy, including an end to universal testing, shows that we are no longer in the pandemic phase…We’re probably the first country that is successfully moving from pandemic to endemic”.
- “Health ministers across Europe and around the world… are all very envious of the position that the UK is in and I wouldn’t trade my position for any one of them”.
- “People coming to see me from abroad, whether they’re businesspeople or ministers, they look at how open we are and say ‘wow, this is like the old times!’”
- “If any government is going to take away freedoms from people, there needs to be a very, very, very high bar to that”.
- “The impact [of lockdowns] on businesses, people’s life chances, particularly young people, the impact on schooling… mental health problems, the cases of cancer that went undiagnosed in their thousands.. I don’t think we still have fully understood that and digested that as a society”.
- “The speed at which freedoms were taken away — if someone had told me that before we even heard the word Covid, I would have thought that doesn’t sound right. That doesn’t sound like we could do that as a society”.
On the Omicron wave and the December lockdown we nearly had:
- “There were voices, including scientists and others, saying the best way to respond to this is to lock down again or put other restrictions in, but we decided rightly to focus on pharmaceutical defences”.
- Within cabinet there was “a spectrum of opinions”, but he denies that he had a “wobble”.
- Scientists are “doing their best” but “some scientists” have a tilt towards the worst case scenario. He and the Prime Minister were both “wary” of the scientific modelling. “These are scenarios based on assumptions”.
On mandatory vaccination:
- “We didn’t have vaccine passports, we didn’t have mandatory vaccination other than for in NHS settings — which when the facts changed, we changed our mind”.
- “Vaccines should be like any drug: there should be full transparent information to all individuals, and then they make their own judgement based on that. The risks, potentially of a vaccine versus the risks of not taking the vaccine. That should be a judgement for individuals. For children, it should be a judgement for their parents and their carers. And that’s been our approach as a country”.
On future pandemics:
- “What I can say is that there will be no knee jerk reaction to restrict people’s freedoms. Not at all.”
Download the full transcript HERE.