Difficult weeks ahead’ but booster a cause to be ‘optimistic’

Difficult weeks ahead' but booster a cause to be 'optimistic'

He said because of the booster, the vast majority of people will be kept safe from the new Omicron variant.

“Although Omicron has reminded us that Covid has not gone away as a threat, we know that the boosters now being rolled out at breath-taking speed, will keep the vast majority safe from severe illness,” he told the Times.

“Within a few weeks, when most of the population has been robustly protected, and the Winter warms to Spring, we can be confident in resuming life free from the restrictions that have dogged us, on and off, for nearly two years.

“As we do so, the prospects for 2022 are some of the most optimistic that we have experienced as a country for many years as we rebound from some of the most challenging times we have experienced outside wartime.

“The next few weeks will be difficult – but everyone expects they will be short lived and I hope that the Platinum Jubilee Year of 2022 will be, for the best of reasons, a year to remember and to enjoy.”

His words come a week after the Tunbridge Wells MP decided not to rebel against the government and voted for the Covid Plan B restrictions last week.

Mr Clark was widely expected to vote against the new raft of measures when they went before parliament last Wednesday [December 15] after voicing his discontent with the government’s plans when they were introduced at the beginning of the month.

The MP, who is also chair of the Science and Technology Committee, had rounded on the Health Secretary in the House of Commons, and told him he had ‘jumped the gun’ by introducing the new measures.

Despite this, and even though the rebellion last week was much larger than anticipated with nearly a hundred MPs voting on the most contentious of the four bills that came before parliament – the introduction of so-called vaccine passports – Mr Clark voted with the government.

When asked by the Times what had convinced him to vote for the government last week, Greg Clark said: “As Chair of the Science & Technology Committee, I convened a special meeting of the Committee on the morning of the vote in the House of Commons.

“The consistent evidence given to the Committee was that we face a very real threat from Omicron, which is now spreading rapidly, and the latest evidence from South Africa shows an increase in the hospitalisation of double-vaccinated people compared to the previous delta variant.”

He continued: “I very much hope that the UK experience of Omicron will prove more benign than feared, in which case the measures should be withdrawn as soon as that is evident – they expire automatically on 26 January – However, I have to tell you that I fear that we are heading for a difficult few weeks.”

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