A minister who has criticized Boris Johnson's tiered lockdown system has been tasked with rolling out the vaccine in the UK.
Stratford-on-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi has been temporarily appointed Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health.
The role, which will continue next summer at the earliest, will push him to deploy the highly anticipated coronavirus vaccine across the country.
The newly appointed vaccine tsar has criticized the government's tiered structure that will put his constituency in the third tier lockdown next week despite low infection rates.
He will keep his role as Minister of Economics and at the same time take on his new duties.
His appointment comes amid a brewing Tory rebellion as angry backers accuse the government of risking catastrophic economic damage with its controversial system for life after the national lockdown.
Stratford-On-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi has been temporarily appointed Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health
Stratford-upon-Avon – which is in the administrative district of Stratford-on-Avon – has been placed in the third stage lockdown. In the picture: purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10
Almost the entire nation is slated to be banned from indoor socializing by Easter, officials admitted last night. The high-ranking sources said it was "unrealistic" to expect areas under the toughest curbs – Levels 2 and 3 – to drop to Level 1 before spring
Stratford-On-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi (pictured with Carrie Symonds) has been temporarily appointed Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Ministry of Health
Mr. Zahawi is the UK's second highest MP for a variety of roles including Chief Strategy Officer of the oil and gas company Gulf Keystone Petroleum.
He was a co-founder of the research and election bureau YouGov.
In Warwickshire, where Mr Zahawi's constituency is Stratford-on-Avon, pubs, bars and restaurants will remain closed when England's national lockdown ends on December 2nd.
Though the city of Warwickshire's already low rates continue to decline, it has teamed up with the rest of the county.
However, cities in nearby Oxfordshire and Worcestershire with higher rates belong to the second tier.
Following the government announcement, Mr Zahawi said, “I am very disappointed and saddened that Warwickshire will move into Tier 3 next week, especially given the impact this will have on our hotel and tourism industry which has been through this year.
“It seems that the high number of infections, especially among those over 60, and hospital stays in the north of the county have worked against us.
“I understand the concerns of a large number of constituents as to why the restrictions in Stratford-on-Avon are being influenced by factors in areas further from us than our immediate neighbors such as Worcestershire and Oxfordshire, both of whom will be relocating next week Tier 2. & # 39;
Stratford has an infection rate of 105.3 per 100,000. Among those over 60, the rate is even lower at 74 per 100,000, while the hospitalization rate is also low, with fewer than two people being admitted per day.
The city recorded 137 new cases in the week ended November 22 – a decrease from 67.
At the local level, there were only four cases in the Stratford South East and Torrington areas – a rate of 48.2 per 100,000. However, nearby Redditch in Worcestershire at a rate of 240 cases per 100,000 is in the second tier.
An angry MP predicted that up to 70 MPs would rebel at a Commons showdown next week against the new tiered measures, which would see Boris Johnson relying on Labor to approve the new restrictions.
As part of a "virtual lockdown" revealed on Thursday, 99 percent of the population was divided into the two top levels, which prohibits household assemblies and paralyzes the hospitality trade
Their anger was fueled by reports that it was "unrealistic" to expect areas under the toughest Covid curbs – Levels 2 and 3 – to descend to Level 1 before spring, known as a "virtual lockdown".
In a statement following Mr. Zahawi's appointment, Downing Street said in a statement: “The Queen was pleased to approve the appointment of Nadhim Zahawi MP as Parliamentary Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Welfare.
"He remains a parliamentary state secretary in the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Industrial Strategy."
Mr. Zahawi will focus on the use of the coronavirus vaccine, with the temporary rule expected to apply at least until next summer.
Michael Gove today issued a sharp warning to Tory's backers who plan to rebel against the tiered system in the commons next week.
The Cabinet Secretary called on MPs to "take responsibility for difficult decisions" to contain the spread of Covid-19, amid anger by some Conservatives that much of England will face severe restrictions.
Mr Gove wrote in The Times today that the decision to impose the restrictions was necessary to pull the handbrake and avoid the "catastrophe" of NHS hospitals – and the private and newly built Nightingale hospitals – that just did Covid is busy with patients and emergencies.
“Keeping our hospitals open, available, and effective was not only critical to dealing with Covid-19. It was essential to the health of the entire nation, ”argued the minister for the Tory shutdown.
"The only way to make sure we can care for cancer patients, have radiation therapy and chemotherapy, help stroke victims and treat heart attacks is to protect the NHS," he said, adding that this can only be achieved by reducing the spread of the NHS Virus and thus the number of Covid patients in hospitals is limited.
Mr Gove also claimed that reducing infections would save the UK economy, which has been decimated by shutdown restrictions preventing the hotel industry from trading, as well as retail, tourism and air travel.
Only three areas in England saw an increase in Covid-19 infection rates in the week ending November 22. This comes from the latest data from Public Health England's weekly surveillance report
LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER: Liverpool has been placed in Tier 2 after falling infections for at least two consecutive weeks. It had been under tier three in the previous system. But Manchester will remain in Tier 3 curbs, despite the fact that infections have subsided for at least two weeks in a row
MIDLANDS AND YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11 -50, yellow = 0-10
When official projections warned that national debt could climb to £ 2.8 trillion by 2025, he warned: "Think for a moment what would happen to our economy if we allowed infections to reach such levels our NHS is overwhelmed. "
However, his argument was challenged today by former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption, who blew up the government's use of "highly selective and biased" data to justify stalemates.
Lord Sumption, last year's BBC Reith Lecturer, told Radio 4's Today program that the tiering system was "unenforceable" and that the public was increasingly unwilling to abide by it.
This week's MailOnline analysis found that around 17 million people in parts of England whose coronavirus outbreaks have dwindled for at least two weeks in a row will be on the toughest shifts next week.
A third of English authorities – 51 out of 149 – saw a decrease in coronavirus infections in the seven-day spells that ended November 15 and 22, according to Public Health England's weekly surveillance report.
That includes all 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester, home to 2.8 million people alone, and authorities that have been severely restricted for months like Blackburn with Darwen, Gateshead and Lancashire, all of which are designated for Tier Three.
Boris Johnson – who announced that 99 percent of England will be living under tightened restrictions on December 2 – said the levels would be determined based on the rate of infection decline, as well as pressure on the NHS, the total number of cases and the rate of infection in the over 60s, who are more at risk from the virus.
However, officials have refused to provide the exact criteria required for areas facing lockdown to escape the tougher curbs, meaning the fate of millions is in the hands of the secret Joint Biosecurity Center that previously classified as such was "far too opaque".
EAST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10
SOUTH EAST AND LONDON: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10
SOUTHWEST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10
Experts said today they felt ministers were "cautious" in assigning tiers as infections were expected to spike ahead of the Christmas season. However, after the holidays are over, many areas could fall into the lower levels.
But Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who led negotiations with local authorities under the old tiered system, offered a glimmer of hope today when he said the areas could pull down the steps before Christmas.
However, UK chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty took on a very different tone yesterday when he suggested that Tier Two – with inter-household mixing bans – would be as good as it gets for most.
He said the new Tier One is similar to the previous system and is only available for areas with very low fall rates.
The levels were announced yesterday and will be voted on in the House of Commons next week.
After they have been imposed, they are continuously reviewed every two weeks.
MPs from all parties have spoken out against the plans, claiming their allocation is confusing and districts with low infection rates within the districts should have been moved to lower levels of restrictions.
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