‘It’s not a hoax!’ Farage says he takes COVID seriously despite call for lockdown to end

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Speaking to Times Radio on Wednesday, Nigel Farage stressed he does not believe coronavirus is a “hoax” as he confessed two young members of his family caught the deadly disease. But the leader of the Brexit Party still urged the Government to lift lockdown measures across the country as he argued restrictions will cause more deaths in the long term than COVID-19 itself. 

He said: “We now have a parliamentary system where the parties are out competing each other on who can lockdown the hardest.

“We have to ask ourselves does a lockdown actually work?

“And infections are going up, deaths are going up.

“And by the way, two quite young members of my family have had this disease and are suffering some long-term effects.

“So I’m not underestimating what coronavirus is for certain people, I’m not saying it’s a hoax or anything of that kind.

“But what I’m saying is this: if the effect of locking down means that lung cancer diagnoses fall by 75 percent as they have, if it means detecting serious heart conditions is fallen by 60 percent, and virtually nobody with diabetes type one has even been screened since March, you realise in health terms that more people will die over the next three to five years because we closed the NHS than from COVID.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged on Wednesday to have the coronavirus vaccine once developed as England’s deputy chief medical officer said he would be happy to work evenings and weekends to vaccinate people himself.

Number 10 said the Prime Minister would be willing to have the jab after Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he had told his own mother to get ready to receive the vaccine.

It came as official Government figures showed the coronavirus death toll had passed 50,000 in the UK.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Any vaccines which are determined for use will undergo a vigorous series of safety checks, they will be absolutely safe for the public to use.

“And the Prime Minister would, therefore, of course, be very happy to take the vaccine himself.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, Mr Johnson said science has given the country “two big boxing gloves” in the form of a possible vaccine and testing.

But he added: “Neither of them is capable of delivering a knock-out blow on its own.

“That’s why this country needs to continue to work hard to keep discipline and to observe the measures we’ve put in.”

According to Government data, 50,365 people had died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths when COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 65,000 deaths involving coronavirus in the UK.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the official UK death toll having passed 50,000 as a “grim milestone”.

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Earlier, Prof Van-Tam told a Downing Street press conference that Britain is poised for the “most important vaccination programme we’ve done for decades”.

The 56-year-old said he has a health condition that puts him at “medium to high” risk from COVID-19 but he will wait his turn to be vaccinated, with priority given to the elderly.

Asked whether high-profile Government figures such as himself or the Prime Minister should have a vaccine first to prove to the public it is safe, Prof Van-Tam said he would be “at the front of the queue” if he was allowed.

“If I could, rightly and morally, be at the very front of the queue, then I would do so because I absolutely trust the judgment of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) on safety and efficacy,” he said.

“But that clearly isn’t right, we have to target the most highest risk individuals in society and that is how it should be in terms of our system.

“If I could be at the front of the queue, then I would be. I think the ‘mum test’ is very important here.

“My mum is 78, she will be 79 shortly, and I have already said to her, ‘Mum, make sure when you are called you are ready, be ready to take this up, this is really important for you because of your age’.”

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