Matt Hancock Confirms Pilot To Drop Self-Isolation For Those Who Have Had Both Vaccines
The new policy could see those with both jabs able to avoid mandatory self-isolation
Matt Hancock has confirmed the government is considering dropping the requirement for self-isolation for those who have had both vaccines.
The Health Secretary confirmed a new pilot study will examine whether those who have received two doses of the vaccine could be able to stop forced self-isolation for ten days if they are identified as a contact of an infected person.
Under the current rules, anyone identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive is required to stay at home for a full ten days after their potential exposure, even if they have tested negative for the virus.
But Hancock said on Monday that a new testing regime could be brought in to replace the self-isolation programme for those who have had both jabs.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said the government was "not ready" to introduce the new policy, but said that pilot studies were already underway.
"This is something that I am working on but I am taking clinical advice because we want to make sure people are safe and that the systems we have in place are cautious and manage to contain this virus," he said."We are piloting that approach so that if you have had two jabs instead of having to isolate if you are a contact then you have a testing regime.
"We are piloting that now to check that would be effective, and it is something we are working on. We are not ready to take that step yet, but it is something that I want to see."
Hancock insisted that once clinicians had agreed the plan was safe, it would be brought in "as soon as it is reasonable to do so".
The plan comes amid pressure on the government to drop the forced self-isolation programme for those protected by the virus because it can hamper people's ability to work.
But Hancock said that for now, people must continue to follow the self-isolation rules if contacted by Test and Trace because it is necessary to break "chains of transmission".
"For now, the most important thing is if you are pinged by the app, get a test, if you are called by Test and Trace then you do need to isolate," he added.
"The reason you need to isolate is because you may have the infection."We have all gotten used to the idea that if you are a contact you've got to isolate because it is all about breaking the chains of transmission.
"I want to replace these interventions with the vaccine as the thing that will keep us safe and we are making very good progress towards that."
His comments came after public health expert Professor Linda Bauld told Sky News a similar policy had already been adopted in the United States.
"If we want to move ahead and not have people losing time at work – or indeed in education... then we are going to have to adapt our guidance to make it reasonable," she said.
"Long spells of self-isolation are damaging for lots and lots of reasons, and that's something I think we have to work to avoid once we have many more people vaccinated."
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