Matt Hancock says ‘I do’ think this will be the ‘last of the lockdowns’
Health secretary confident in rollout of coronavirus vaccine
In Commons committee hearing, Hancock adds people may need to be vaccinated every six months
Matt Hancock has promised this will be the last ever coronavirus lockdown.
The health secretary pledged the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will remove the need for the government to place draconian restrictions on people’s freedoms in the future.
Because of the winter COVID crisis, with infections and hospital admissions accelerating rapidly, Boris Johnson was forced to impose a third lockdown on England on Monday.
The prime minister made clear, however, that the presence of two approved vaccines is “the one huge difference compared to last year”.
Watch: NHS staff describe being on the Covid-19 front line
And Hancock, appearing before the House of Commons health and social care committee on Thursday, was asked if he thought this would be the “last of the lockdowns” because of the vaccines.
He said: “I do, yes.”
In the same hearing, Hancock also told MPs that people may need to have a coronavirus jab every six months.
“I anticipate we will probably need to revaccinate because we don’t know the longevity of the protection from these vaccines.
“We don’t know how frequently it will be, but it might need to be every six months, it might need to be every year.”
He also explained that vaccines which may in future need small adjustments to protect against new variants of the virus probably won’t need to go through the same extensive trial processes – though that is a decision for the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).
Attempting to compare the vaccine to a car, he said: “If you are lucky to have Range Rover and you get a new wing mirror stuck on it, it’s still a Range Rover.”
Some 1.3 million people have already received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, with updated figures expected later on Thursday.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown