Matt Hancock suggested that if there was a new variant of Covid-19 coronavirus that has largely escaped existing vaccines, lockdowns and social distancing could return.
The Minister of Health has been interviewed by MPs examining the government’s response to the pandemic.
Mr. Hancock said, “The plan is based on having a variant of the vaccine as soon as possible. The prime minister’s goal is to have a variant of the vaccine, treatment and diagnosis available within 100 days, but we’re not there yet. “
He said he was “very confident” that the vaccine would be developed faster than before.
“In the meantime, the tools that are available to us are the tools that are available,” he said.
He didn’t deny the plans include bans and social distancing requirements when asked.
Mr Hancock said he would “consider” releasing the playbook on Dealing with a New Vaccine Avoid Strain for review.
“Writing a plan for absolute vaccine escape is essentially writing a plan for a new pandemic,” he added.
Mr Hancock said before the committee today that the scientific advice that says people would only tolerate lockdowns for a limited time during the pandemic was wrong.
He said: “The clear scientific advice at the time was that you must have these tools like lockdown, but also that the consequences and costs of lockdown start immediately, and critical was the clear advice then that there is only a limited time in which people would resign themselves to endure the lockdown. That has actually turned out to be wrong. “
Mr Hancock’s comments came as Covid-19 case rates rose in all regions of England, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.
Northwest England saw the largest increase, at 149.6 cases per 100,000 in the seven days ending June 6, up from 89.4 week-to-week.
This is the highest value for the region since the week ending February 21, and also the highest of any region in England.
South West England has the lowest rate: 20.8, up from 9.7 week-on-week.