"I see two immediate challenges.
"The first is how we restore our freedoms and learn to live with Covid-19. The second is to tackle the NHS backlog – something that we know is going to get far worse before it gets better.
"We are on track for July 19 and we have to be honest with people about the fact that we cannot eliminate Covid.
"We also need to be clear that cases are going to rise significantly. I know many people will be cautious about the easing of restrictions – that’s completely understandable. But no date we choose will ever come without risk, so we have to take a broad and balanced view. We are going to have to learn to accept the existence of Covid and find ways to cope with it – just as we already do with flu.
"The economic arguments for opening up are well known, but for me, the health arguments are equally compelling.
"The pandemic has hit some groups disproportionately hard. Rules that we have had to put in place have caused a shocking rise in domestic violence and a terrible impact on so many people’s mental health. All the progress we have made is thanks to the sacrifices of the British people – and our phenomenal vaccine programme. The jabs are working. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows that eight in ten UK adults have the Covid-19 antibodies that help the body fight the disease.
"Tragically, the last time we had 28,000 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, we saw about 500 people die each day. On Friday, we had almost 28,000 cases a day, but 24 times fewer people lost their lives.
"There will always be the possibility that we have to deal with dangerous new variants that evade the vaccine but I encourage everyone to get their jabs now if they haven’t already done so. It is the single biggest contribution you can make to this national effort.
"We have many other crucial health challenges that we need to confront.
"The steps we took saved countless lives but also led to the build-up of a vast ‘elective’ backlog – checks, appointments and treatments for all the less urgent, but often just as important, health issues.
"Because of the pandemic, we estimate that about seven million fewer people than normal came forward for healthcare. Even if only some of that demand returns, we will see enormous pressure on the NHS.
"If you are feeling unwell, you need to come forward. The NHS is always there for you .
"We’re putting record levels of funding into the NHS. In March, we committed a further £7 billion of funding – including £1 billion to begin tackling the elective backlog and about £500 million for mental health services and investment in staff.
"And we’re bringing so many more talented colleagues into the workforce. We have record numbers employed in the NHS, with more than 58,300 more staff in hospital and community health services since March last year, including over 5,600 more doctors and 10,800 nurses.
"It’s time to build on the spirit of innovation we’ve all embraced and use it for the other challenges we face: from finally fixing social care and putting it on a sustainable footing, to tackling the health inequalities that the pandemic has brought to the fore.
"I’m determined we get that right.
"There’s a lot of work ahead, but if we hold on to the spirit that has seen us through these difficult days, we will have a country that is not just freer, but healthier, too."
(Health Secretary Sajid Javid, extracts from a newspaper article in this weekend's Mail on Sunday which you can read in full here.)