Boris Johnson has appointed Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon, as a health minister responsible for the deployment of the coronavirus vaccine, Downing Street has announced
Zahawi will report to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and will remain in his current role as a junior business minister, though will temporarily relinquish responsibility for most areas of his brief at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The MP’s focus will be on the deployment of the coronavirus vaccine, with the temporary arrangement set to last until at least next summer.
Zahwai called his new role “a big responsibility and a big operational challenge” but insisted he is “absolutely committed to making sure we can roll out vaccines quickly-saving lives and livelihoods”.
His appointment follows calls from Labour for the Government to appoint a minister to oversee the vaccine rollout who would provide accountability.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth appeared to welcome the news, saying: “Only days ago Labour called for a vaccines minister to oversee the huge logistical challenge of widespread vaccination.
“We now need a mass public health campaign urging uptake of the vaccine, alongside ensuring the resources are in place for GPs and other health professionals to rapidly roll this out as soon as possible.”
The task that faces Zahawi will be a “mammoth logistical operation”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned in recent weeks.
The Iraqi-born British MP is the co-founder of the international market research firm YouGov, of which he was Chief Executive until February 2010.
During his parliamentary career, Zahawi has been apart of the Number 10 Policy Unit, the Business Inovation and Skills Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
He backed Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, arguing that the EU will never be willing to change its rules and that the United Kingdom should take back control over a variety of issues.
Zahawi’s official temporary role will be as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care.