In a video clip obtained by Sky News, Sir Desmond Swayne is reported to have commented on the threat of Covid-19, by saying: “It seems to be a manageable risk, particularly as figures have been manipulated”.
“We’re told there is a deathly, deadly pandemic proceeding at the moment. That is difficult to reconcile with ICUs [intensive care units] actually operating at typical occupation levels for the time of year and us bouncing round at the typical level of deaths for the time of year.”
However, data from the Office for National Statistics showed deaths were 14 per cent above the five-year average at the time of his comments.
Mr Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, refused to be drawn on whether the party would remove the whip from Sir Desmond, but stressed: “I would hope that he issues a full and complete retraction and apology for what he said — it’s unacceptable”.
“Sir Desmond is wrong. I work with Sir Desmond, I have great affection for him but I’m afraid here is completely out of order.”
Labour has also called for the party to take action over the comments made during an an interview with anti-lockdown group Save Our Rights UK in November.
Sir Desmond, a frequent critic of government lockdowns, posted on Twitter on Wednesday evening, saying: “Sky is wrong. Aside from my question to the PM this afternoon, an examination of my blogs will reveal that I am a most enthusiastic vaccinator”.