"they insult all those still doing their best to protect others"
Sajid Javid has been criticised for telling people that they should no longer “cower from” Covid-19.
The Health Secretary made the remarks on July 24, 2021, while announcing that he had made a “full recovery” a week after testing positive for the virus on July 17, 2021.
Mr Javid has had both vaccine doses and he praised the “amazing vaccines” for the fact that his symptoms were only mild.
He wrote: “Please, if you haven’t yet, get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.”
But the comments were called insensitive to those who shielded due to health conditions or who had lost loved ones due to the virus.
Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said Mr Javid’s comments were “deeply insensitive on a number of levels”.
She added: “Not only are they hurtful to bereaved families, implying our loved ones were too cowardly to fight the virus, but they insult all those still doing their best to protect others from the devastation this horrific virus can bring.
“Words matter and the flippancy and carelessness of this comment has caused deep hurt and further muddied the waters of the government’s dangerously mixed messaging.”
Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said the remarks would be “painful to read for those who were severely ill” and those who lost loved ones to Covid-19.
She said: “It wasn’t because they were weak, just unnecessarily exposed to a virus.
“And wanting to avoid getting Covid isn’t ‘cowering’ – it’s being sensible and looking out for others.”
Politicians from opposition parties also criticised Sajid Javid’s comments.
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy questioned the health secretary’s use of the word “cower”, saying:
“129,000 Brits have died from Covid under your government’s watch.
“Don’t denigrate people for trying to keep themselves and their families safe.”
The Liberal Democrats health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said:
“[Mr Javid’s] careless words have insulted every man, woman and child who has followed the rules and stayed at home to protect others.
“He owes them all, especially the millions who are shielding, an apology.”
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, said:
“‘Cower from this virus.’ Really. The job of the government is to keep people safe.
“To show empathy with folk. To seek to protect people when necessary.
“This is not acceptable. You might want to reflect and think about your role as health secretary in England.”
I've deleted a tweet which used the word "cower". I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise.
Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact.
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 25, 2021
Sajid Javid has since deleted the tweet and issued an apology.
In a statement, he said: “I’ve deleted a tweet which used the word ‘cower’.
“I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise.
“Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact.”