All the reasons why Matt Hancock isn't the person to help Africa recover from Covid
The former Health Secretary has been appointed UN special envoy to help Covid recovery in Africa
The face of the UK's fumbled Covid response, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, has been handpicked for a job in Africa - helping it bounce back from Covid.
There's been 211,853 Covid deaths in Africa, to September 30, and only 4.4% of the population is reportedly vaccinated. That figure would probably be much higher had the government not blocked attempts to increase vaccine supplies to poor countries.
So why send Hancock, a man who broke his own rules to snog an aide in his Whitehall office?
And the Health Secretary of a government behind what a parliament report on Tuesday described as "one of the worst public health failures" the UK has ever experienced?
We're not sure.
In honour of his new appointment, here's a look at a few low-lights from Hancock's career.
The UK's Covid death toll
According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2020, the UK had one of the highest rates of excess deaths in the world.
The UK recorded more excess deaths per million people than most other European countries and the US.
Responding to the data, at the time, Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund said: "In a pandemic, mistakes cost lives.
"Decisions to enter lockdown have consistently come late, with the government failing to learn from past mistakes or the experiences of other countries."
The UK is this week edging towards a death toll of 138,000.
Matt Fowler, co-founder of campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, who lost his 56-year-old father to Covid last April, said Hancock wasn't suitable for the job.
“Given Matt Hancock contributed to the 'worst UK public health failure ever' and was forced to resign after breaching his own social distancing measures, maybe he should take care of his obligations to those of us who lost loved ones to Covid-19 in the UK by making sure the evidence the forthcoming inquiry will need is available before taking on any new challenges," a statement from the group reads.
Blocked vaccine patents
Responding to Hancock's appointment, Labour MP for Streatham Bell Ribeiro-Addy drew attention to the UK government’s refusal to lift patents on the Covid vaccine.
She tweeted: “Just 4.4% of people in Africa have been fully vaccinated.
“Matt Hancock belonged to a Government that has consistently blocked attempts to increase vaccine supplies to poor countries in order to protect pharmaceutical profits.
“This is insulting”.
On Tuesday evening, activists carried coffins to Downing Street, highlighting the UK Government’s blocking of vaccine patents.
Protestors believe withholding vaccine patents is leading to increased mortality in the global south.
Last year, South Africa called on the World Trade Organisation to suspend its enforcement of patents amid the pandemic.
Nick Dearden, director of the group Global Justice Now, which campaigns for jabs to be rolled out across the world, said: “Matt Hancock blocked international efforts to allow low and middle-income countries to produce their own Covid-19 vaccines, leading to millions of deaths in the global south.
“The audacity of this man claiming to help African nations and promote sustainable development is sickening.”
The care home scandal
There’s also the issue of care homes. During a Downing Street press conference on 15 May 2020, Hancock said: “Right from the start, we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes”.
Anecdotally, many know this not to be true.
In 2020, the UK recorded 26,200 excess deaths in care homes, proving the 'protective ring' failed to materialise.
Additionally, Tuesday's parliamentary report concluded that discharging people from hospitals into care homes without adequate testing led to many thousands of deaths that could have been avoided.
Broke his own rules
— The Sun (@TheSun) June 25, 2021
The new appointment comes four months after Hancock was caught snogging Gina Coladangelo.
Married Hancock was caught on CCTV in his Whitehall Office, fumbling with his aide.
The former Health Secretary was forced to resign after pictures confirmed he’d broken his own social distancing rules.
Boris Johnson's former advisor, Dominic Cummings, under oath at a testimony in June, said Hancock should have been fired for “at least 15 to 20 things – including lying to everybody on multiple occasions.”
Later that June, the ex-Downing Street advisor published a dossier of bombshell texts. They included a message from Johnson, who had said Health Secretary Matt Hancock was “f****** hopeless” on coronavirus pandemic issues.
So much so he's been compared to Alan Partridge
Towards the end of September, the MP for West Suffolk tweeted a video of himself meeting and greeting constituents in Haverhill.
Hancock deleted the video of himself fist-bumping constituents, after twitter users compared him to Alan Partridge.
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