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Theresa May Questions Sajid Javid

Kevan James

December 7, 2021

Former Prime Minister and Home Secretary Theresa May has said that the Government must now recognise the UK will need to learn to live with recurring waves of COVID-19 (referring to it as a virus) rather than "starting and stopping" whenever a new variant emerges. Still MP for Maidenhead, Mrs May questioned Health Secretary Sajid Javid over the latest travel restrictions announced, which will require all arrivals into the country to take a test ahead of their entry and again on day 2.

Ms May said: "The early indications of Omicron are that it is more transmissible but potentially leads to less serious illness than other variants. I understand that will be the normal progress of a virus. Variants will continue to appear, year after year.

"When is the Government going to accept that learning to live with Covid, which we all have to do, means we most certainly have an annual vaccine and that we cannot respond to new variants by stopping and starting sectors of our economy which leads to businesses going under and jobs being lost?"

Mr Javid agreed Mrs May had made an "important set of points" but he defended his decision to reintroduce stricter measures as the best way to protect the UK while further data on Omicron is being reviewed.

The Health Secretary said: "And she is right about the early data about transmissibility - we're certainly seeing that in the UK and in the reports from our friends across the world.

"In terms of the severity of this, we shouldn't jump to any conclusion, we just don't have enough data. Most of the data that is available at this point in time comes from South Africa, that's where most of the cases are.

"It is important to remember it's a younger population and they also had the Beta wave, and Beta is a much closer to this variant. Whilst it's quite possible there will be a difference in terms of the clinical outcome, it's too early to jump to conclusions."

He continued: "She is right about her final point. Of course, we have to learn to live with this virus. It is not going away for many, many years, and perhaps it will lead to annual vaccinations. But we have to find ways to continue with life as normal."

The exchange between the Health Secretary and the former Prime Minister came as Mr Javid updated the Commons on the Omicron variant.

The Health Secretary said more information about how long new pre-departure COVID-19 testing measures will last could be revealed next week. He said: "I think we all understand why the actions have been taken but we must not forget it is a really important part of the economy, a hugely important sector that has been hit again and again."

He added that information from scientists due for next week's COVID-19 update will help inform an end date for the restrictions, saying: "That information will certainly help to give more certainty," adding: "As for whether Parliament should or should not be recalled, that is something I will take back to the Prime Minister."

Theresa May is absolutely right to raise the issue of new restrictions, as have a number of other MPs although nowhere near enough of them. Commons votes continue to be comfortably in favour of restrictions and there seems no end to the Coronavirus Act either.

That is why, put very simply and in direct answer to Mrs May's question, the UK government (along with many others), refuses to learn. We note also that Ministers, MPs and others, continue to refer to 'the virus' and not the disease.

A reminder; it is not the virus that is the problem. It is the disease that can result from the virus that is. We feel obligated to state for the umpteenth time that the virus is SARS-CoV-2 and that contracting this virus is not fatal. Many people will not even know they have it.

However, for some, it might result in the disease COVID-19 and if so, symptoms are usually mild and are similar to a cold or Flu. Although they are not the same; colds and Flu are different - anti-vaccine campaigners need to remember this as well as the difference between the virus and the disease. Governments most certainly don't.

But for those who do contract COVID-19, it is possible that having it might trigger other conditions, both known and unknown. It is these that can prove fatal. Not COVID-19 itself, by itself.

Returning to the exchange in the House above, we must remember that governments everywhere are responding in similar ways and with equally similar immediacy to every new variant. Yet as Mrs May correctly says, viruses have always evolved and always will. So have and do diseases. The idea that we might well be faced with an annual vaccine is not by itself unusual either. But there is one extremely important condition to this.

An annual COVID-19 shot, like those available for Flu and a number of other ailments, must be a choice made by people. The reason is not hard to understand and is a further point that has been made repeatedly by KJM Today - that all medicines and drugs have side-effects, without exception, for some people. And it is a minority that can be adversely affected, despite the cataclysmic figures quoted on social media. The size of that minority is however, irrelevant.

As long as any medical procedure has adverse reactions, it must never, never, NEVER be forced, coerced or otherwise imposed on people.

That is what governments the world over must learn and learn fast.

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