Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has opened up about the “heart wrenching” death of his uncle from Covid-19.
Faiz Issa, the brother of Mr Zahawi’s mother Najda, was being treated for Covid-19 in St Helier Hospital in Sutton, south London, when he succumbed to the virus on the evening of January 18.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, 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.”
Mr Issa, 88, was eligible for the coronavirus jab, but could not receive one until he was clear of coronavirus for 28 days.
Mr Zahawi said his uncle was confident of overcoming his condition in the days before his death.
He told the paper: “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’.”
Despite the pain of the experience, Mr Zahawi said it had ultimately made him “so angry and more determined than ever” to succeed with the vaccine rollout.
He said: “This is the biggest, the most important job I’ll ever do in my life. We will do this. This country is at its very best when it’s challenged.”