Sajid Javid, the new Health and Social Care Secretary, has said that ending the COVID-19 pandemic will be his priority in the role, as the former chancellor replaced Matt Hancock in a shock return to the Cabinet.
Speaking at his first appearance in the House of Commons as Health Secretary, Mr Javid said ‘Our vaccines are working, including against the delta variant. The latest modelling from Public Health England shows that they have saved more than 27,000 lives and have prevented more than 7 million people from getting COVID-19. We know that, after a single dose of vaccine, the effectiveness is lower against the new delta variant, at around a 33% reduction in symptomatic disease, but two doses of the vaccine are just as effective against hospital admission with the delta variant as with the alpha variant.’
He also briefly touched on a pay rise for nurses and other staff but refused to be drawn into a debate about whether the 1% rise was sufficient, saying: ‘Of course, it is absolutely essential that, when the pay settlement process is complete, that is a fair process. Of course, it absolutely will be and it will be a fair pay settlement.’
Mr Javid succeeded previous Health Secretary Matt Hancock, after details of Mr Hancock’s affair with an aide were revealed to the public.
‘I’m incredibly honoured to take up the post of Health and Social Care Secretary, particularly during such an important moment in our recovery from COVID-19. This position comes with a huge responsibility and I will do everything I can to deliver for the people of this great country,’ said Mr Javid.
‘Thanks to the fantastic efforts of our NHS and social care staff who work tirelessly every day, and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we have made enormous progress in the battle against this dreadful disease. I want our country to get out of this pandemic and that will be my most immediate priority.’