The prime minister’s office said Zahawi’s new position is temporary and will last until at least next summer.
According to UK media, Zahawi is expected to oversee the rollout of a vaccine across the country once it is approved. He will report to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Zahawi has served as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy since 2019, and will retain this portfolio.
On Friday, Zahawi said he was “extremely disappointed and sad” that his constituency in Warwickshire was slated to be moved to Tier 3 quarantine restrictions next week. He warned the stricter lockdown will cripple the area’s economy, especially its tourism industry.
Earlier this week, the government asked the country’s medical regulator to provide its opinion on the Covid-19 vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. If authorised, the company is expected to produce up to four million doses for the UK by the end of the year and 40 million by the end of March, officials said.
The vaccine’s trials brought some concerns when it was revealed that its 90 percent efficacy rate was demonstrated in a group consisting of people younger than 55. At the same time, in a group that included people older than 55, the reported efficacy rate was 62 percent.
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