This will be the last lockdown as Covid vaccine is rolled out, Matt Hancock says

Matt Hancock believes this will be the last lockdown with the Covid vaccine rollout
Matt Hancock believes this will be the last lockdown with the Covid vaccine rollout Credit: PA

Matt Hancock believes this will be the last national lockdown for England as the Covid vaccine is rolled out across the country.

Asked by Watford MP Dean Russell where we thought the country would be this time next year, the Health Secretary replied: "There’s absolutely no doubt that vaccines and testing will still be a feature next year. 

“We will need both the surveillance testing to be able to understand where the virus is and we will need testing for people who have symptoms, in the same way that you get tested for all sorts of other things.”

On vaccines, Mr Hancock told MPs that people may need to have the vaccine as regularly as every six months.

England has entered a full national lockdown in the first week of January. Credit: PA

He said: “I anticipate we will probably need to re-vaccinate 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.

"As with the flu jab, we vaccinate every year and we update it according to any mutations that will have taken place and we do that over the autumn because although you can catch flu over the summer, it's highly unlikely because the lower ventilation and much more time spent indoors that flu transmits more easily over the autumn.

"So I anticipate Covid and flu vaccinations long into the future."

Asked by Mr Russell if he perceived this third national lockdown being the "last of the lockdowns", now that vaccinations are being rolled out, the Health Secretary replied: "I do, yes."

The Health Secretary also suggested that although the vaccine may need to be adjusted to fight new variants of coronavirus, it may not take too long as it may not need to go through the usual full trials process.

Matt Hancock answers 'I do, yes', when asked if this would be the last of the lockdowns during a Health and Social Care Committe meeting Credit: Parliament

He said: “As with the flu vaccine each year, for a type of vaccine that has been clinically trialled and approved, if you make small adjustments to it, then it may not need the full year-long trials process that a new vaccine needs.

“That, of course, is a decision for the independent MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).”

He added: “The way I have described it, is if you are lucky to have Range Rover and you get a new wing mirror stuck on it, it’s still a Range Rover and should be classified as such.

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out to GP surgeries:

“In the same way, if you make a small change to a vaccine it’s essentially a regulatory clinical decision as to whether that needs to go through the full panoply of the full three phases of clinical trials.”

He also assured MPs that 13 million people will have been offered to have had the vaccine by February 15, adding he hopes everybody will take up those offers.