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Michael Gove clashes with Piers Morgan over herd immunity

Micheal Gove joined Good Morning Britain today for a fiery debate on the government’s record over the pandemic.

He denied any claims that they had followed a policy of herd immunity and staunchly defended the lack of preparation when it came to the right sort of PPE, saying that every country has faced difficulties.

Mr Gove also said he would be happy to see a public inquiry look into the matters in detail in future. 

On hesitation about taking the vaccine, he said: “For anyone who thinks it would be a mistake to take the vaccine, they should just watch GMB and listen to Martin Kenyon and your other interviewees and I think then people would see then that those who your colleague Piers rightly described as ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the best of us’ are first in the queue for the vaccine. They want to protect not just themselves but also their families and it’s their leadership and not anyone else’s that we should follow.”

Speaking about government mistakes, he said: “You’ve run through a range of issues there and yeah, the government has made mistakes, every government has made mistakes.”

Touching on the lack of PPE, he explained: “I think it’s important to stress three things. We had stocks that were there for an expected flu pandemic and not a SARS-style coronavirus pandemic. It wasn’t the only thing we prepared for but it was the principle danger or threat that was identified as a result of the work that had been previously undertaken. Of course, there are lessons for everyone to learn…”

Pressed on the cost of PPE, he replied: “No one anticipated that we would have a coronavirus or SARS-style pandemic like this. Every country that was buying additional PPE was doing so in a market where prices had increased… I’m the first to admit, and I’ve regularly admitted on this programme and others, that the UK government has made mistakes and we will need to learn lessons but it’s also the case, to be fair, if we look at Germany, a country that has done pretty well in the circumstances, it was the case that German doctors were protesting outside the German Parliament at the lack of PPE there. It was a difficult challenge of a universal crisis. I'm not saying that to excuse the UK government, I’m just saying that to provide context because I think it’s always wise  when we are discussing these situations to put these things in context."

He admitted that Germany has had fewer deaths. He said they had less population density than we do.

 Speaking on how prepared the UK was for this kind of pandemic: “These are complex issues and when we are looking at the particular situation that existed in the east Asian nations that you mentioned as as well, it is the case that they imposed restrictions on people’s movement and people’s liberties that we wouldn’t…”

When speaking about the Swedish approach, he added Sweden did not employ a policy of herd immunity and nor did the UK government.

On why Sir Patrick Vallance spoke about herd immunity on the radio, Mr Gove said: “Advisors advise, ministers decide. That was never the policy we were following. We were not following a policy of herd immunity….You will have to ask Sir Patrick, a great man who offers dispassionate appaioniate advice… “

Piers pressed: “He didn’t know what policy the government was following and he’s your chief scientific advisor?” 

Mr Gove replied: “I’m the minister and I’m telling you we were not following a policy of herd immunity…”

He added “Our policy is informed by the science.”

The MP went on: “I’m not saying he has no idea what he was talking about, he knows a great deal more about these issues than a number of commentators but the whole point is when you receive scientific advice you weigh it against a number of different considerations.”

He went on: “I know how these decisions were taken, I don’t believe you were in the room at the time.” 

Piers added he will be in the room for the public inquiry and he would love to speak at an inquiry.Mr Gove added: “I have always said that I would be more than happy to have a public inquiry and to have all the decisions we made assessed. One of the things about a public inquiry it will take evidence from witnesses and those witnesses will have a chance to lay out in detail what happened and the whole point about a public inquiry it will be there in order to establish the truth rather than allow any individual to use it as an opportunity to burnish their ego.”

Also on the show Martin Kenyon, the 91 year old whose post covid vaccine interview went viral spoke to Piers and Susanna. He had them both in stitches as he described how he is spending Christmas now he’s had the jab. 

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