British-Iraqi appointed as UK Covid-19 vaccine minister
British-Iraqi appointed as minister in charge of UK Covid-19 vaccine rollout
Nadhim Zahawi, an Iraqi-born MP of Kurdish origin, will be in charge of the vaccine rollout in the UK.
Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative MP of Kurdish origin, said the appointment was a "big responsibility and a big operational challenge" but that he was "absolutely committed to making sure we can roll out vaccines quickly – saving lives and livelihoods and helping us build back better".
Zahawi co-founded polling and market research giant YouGov, later going on to become a member of parliament for Statford-Upon-Avon in 2010.
He also worked as the chief strategy officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum, an oil and gas production company working in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.
That role, which he held until 2018, made him the second richest member of the UK parliament.
Zahawi will relinquish most of his current responsbilities as minister for business and industry in order to take on the vaccine role, Downing Street said on Saturday.
He will work as the Covid-19 vaccine minister until at least next summer.
Hospitals across the United Kingdom have been told to prepare for the arrival of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses as soon as December 7, although the earliest vaccinations are thought to be going to National Health Service workers.
The UK has also placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine - which should be enough to innoculate most of the population. That vaccine is expected to roll out in the next few weeks if approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Zahawi's appointment comes just days ahead of the scheduled end to an England-wide lockdown, with the reintroduction of a three-tier restriction system across the UK in early December.
The UK has reported more than 1.5 million positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including more than 57,000 deaths.
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