Three-Quarters Of UK Adults Have Now Had Their First Covid Jab
Matt Hancock will give a speech marking the news three-quarters of adults in the UK have had their first coronavirus vaccine (Alamy)
The UK began working on a vaccine against Covid-19 before a single case was recorded, health secretary Matt Hancock will say in a speech marking the news three-quarters of adults have had their first jab.
He is due to say “we dared to believe – and we started early” in praising the NHS for the rollout which has helped turned the tide in the coronavirus pandemic.
A week on from Dominic Cummings’ incendiary select committee appearance, where he claimed Hancock should have been sacked multiple times over the past year, the Cabinet minister will identify four main lessons learned during the crisis.
His speech at the Jenner Institute in Oxford today, ahead of the UK-hosted G7 Health Ministers' Meeting this week, will reflect on crucial decisions made early in the vaccination programme and how the UK drew on the best talent from across the civil service, NHS, armed forces and private sector to build the “finest team”.
Currently 65,211,877 jabs have been given in total, with 39,477,158 of those first doses.
On ‘starting early’, Hancock is expected to say: “Even before the first Covid-19 case arrived in the UK we’d started the work on how to develop, procure and roll out the vaccines that would ultimately make us safe.
“I was told a vaccine had never been developed against any human coronavirus. We dared to believe," Hancosk will say.
"We started early. We put out a call for research in February. By March, we were supporting six different projects, including the Oxford vaccine, alongside the vital work on treatments – including the Recovery trial, which led to the discovery of dexamethasone, the first proven treatment to reduce coronavirus mortality.
"These two projects, together, have already saved over a million lives.”The second lesson is ‘draw on your strengths’. "The NHS has performed with distinction throughout this pandemic, and it has deserved every plaudit that has come its way,” the health secretary is expected to say.
The third is to ‘take and manage risks’, and the fourth is ‘back the team’. “Instead of sitting back and waiting to see which vaccines came off, we were tenacious in helping them to get over the line, drawing on the abundant industry experience in our team," Hancock will say.
“We helped to bring together Oxford and AstraZeneca and bring them to the table, a partnership which has been a lifeline, not just here, but in the developing world.”