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'Hindsight is wonderful': Vaccines minister defends Matt Hancock over Covid testing

30 May 2021, 12:23 | Updated: 30 May 2021, 20:25

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The vaccines minister has told LBC that "hindsight is a wonderful thing" when quizzed about allegations of incompetence and lying directed at Matt Hancock.

Nadhim Zahawi defended the Health Secretary following a scathing appearance from former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings, who accused Mr Hancock of repeatedly lying to the public and in Government meetings about the UK's Covid testing capacity.

The minister said that although the UK only had the ability to test frontline staff and those that were "really suffering" with symptoms of the virus, a plan was published in April 2020 to ensure all care home staff and residents that requested a test would get one.

READ MORE: Matt Hancock did not ask experts to consider vaccinating children 'until recently'

READ MORE: Tory support slashed after Dominic Cummings' explosive attack on PM

LBC played the minister a Downing Street press conference from the same month, where Mr Hancock said that all care home residents and staff who need a test would get one.

In reality, many facilities were left without any tests or only enough to partially test those working or receiving care in April last year.

"Hindsight is a really wonderful thing," Mr Zahawi responded.

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC that "hindsight is a wonderful thing" when quizzed about Matt Hancock
Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC that "hindsight is a wonderful thing" when quizzed about Matt Hancock. Picture: PA Images

He continued: "It's so easy now to look back and say 'now that we can do a million plus tests a day, what was happening [last year]?' - we had limited capacity that was increased to 100,000.

He said that setting the targets for daily tests, something that Dominic Cummings claims interfered with the testing system, was "really important".

He added: "As we've seen with the vaccination programme, by setting out those targets the system begins to focus and as the NHS began to operationalise that commitment to give people being discharged from hospitals into care homes those tests."

READ MORE: 'Only right' to consider if NHS and care staff should be compelled to get vaccine, minister says

Mr Hancock also defended his own actions throughout the pandemic earlier this week, branding allegations by Mr Cummings "unsubstantiated and untrue".

But the Tories have seen their support slashed by seven points after his explosive attack on the government's handling of the pandemic, dropping to only a six point lead as Labour jumped five points in the polls.

Boris Johnson also saw his approval rating drop from plus six per cent to minus six per cent, the Opinium survey found.

See other highlights from Swarbrick on Sunday on the LBC.