Stratford MP and vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi says the death of his uncle has spurred him on to rollout vaccine asap
DETAILS have emerged about the death of Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi’s uncle from Covid-19.
As the Herald reported last week, Mr Zahawi admitted his uncle’s death had been “painful” but spurred him on as vaccine minister to get the whole country vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Faiz Issa, 88, succumbed to the virus while being treated at St Helier Hospital in south London, where his condition suddenly deteriorated on the evening of 18th January.
Describing what happened to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr Zahawi said: “The nurse was actually with him and he was talking to his daughter. He put the phone down and just took one breath. Suddenly everything stopped. And... and it killed him.”
Despite his age, Mr Issa had not had a vaccination as he had not been clear of coronavirus for 28 days.
In the article, published on Saturday, Mr Zahawi continued: “It was heart-wrenching because it tells you everything about this evil virus. I was literally – 48 hours before his death – asking him about his oxygen. And he was joking around on WhatsApp, saying: ‘I’ve got 94 per cent oxygen and I’m going to make it out of here. Got a bit of pneumonia but I am fine.’
“And I was like, ‘Come on, uncle, in 28 days’ time I’ll vaccinate you’, because he was eligible for the vaccine and is over 80.”
Mr Issa is the brother of Mr Zahawi’s mother Najda. Before retiring, he worked in the supply of medicine and medical equipment and had a doctorate in clinical biochemistry from the University of Surrey in Guildford.
The vaccine minister said the experience had made him “so angry and more determined than ever” to vaccinate the population. The Iraqi-born former businessman added: “This is the biggest, the most important job I’ll ever do in my life. This country has given my family everything.
“It really is quite horrific when it does become serious and it does end up like pneumonia, in your lungs, which is what happened to my uncle.
“We will do this. This country is at its very best when it’s challenged.”
So far nine million people have been vaccinated. This week Mr Zahawi gave assurances that the first four priority groups will receive their vaccines by mid-February.
He declined to set a target for doing the next five of the nine priority groups, which is people aged 50 and over and all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
LATEST UPDATE The government said today (Friday) that it will have given the vaccine to the first nine groups by 6th May - the day of local council elections.