Matt Hancock addresses Covid-19 anti-vaxxers as he says vaccine unlikely to be compulsory

4 May 2020, 18:58

Matt Hancock spoke at Monday's coronavirus press conference
Matt Hancock spoke at Monday's coronavirus press conference. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Matt Hancock has said it is "unlikely" the government will have to make a coronavirus vaccination compulsory as a high level of public take up is expected.

The Health Secretary played down suggestions that the Government may have to make vaccination compulsory once an effective vaccine became available.

"I think the extent of the public's reaction following the lockdown shows we will be able to achieve very, very high levels of vaccination without taking that step," he said.

"We are proceeding on the basis that just such a huge proportion of the population are going to take this up because of the obvious benefits to individuals and their families and their communities and indeed the whole nation, that there will be enormous demand for it as and when the science is safe to proceed."

His statement comes as teams around the world strive to make a coronavirus vaccine.

The trial taking place at Oxford University has started trials.

Addressing potential opposition from anti-vaxxers, Mr Hancock added: "There has been no better demonstration in modern history that vaccines save lives than the need for a vaccine to save lives and to get the world going again.

"The government will only license a vaccine when it is effective and safe and if and when the independent regulators license a vaccine they will know it is safe.

"Everyone should follow that advice."

Matt Hancock said it is not certain a vaccine will be found
Matt Hancock said it is not certain a vaccine will be found. Picture: PA

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Mr Hancock also said that adults would be prioritised for a possible vaccine as mortality rates in children have been low.

However, he also cautioned that there was no guarantee that a vaccine would be found.

"We can't assume there will be a vaccine. There is no coronavirus vaccine yet for any of the existing coronaviruses and this is uncertain science," he said.

Also at the press conference, Matt Hancock said test, track and trace was aimed at making sure the number of cases continued to decline and the infection rate of coronavirus remained below one as he officially announced the new app being launch on the Isle of Wight.

"Test, track and trace becomes more effective the lower the number and then we want to keep the number going down by keeping the R below one, the rate of infection," he said.

"Our goal is not simply to flatten the curve, it is to get the occurrence of Covid-19 infections to very low levels."

The Health Secretary said more than 18,000 contact tracers could be required for the test, track and trace programme.

Matt Hancock said: "There is no magic around the 18,000 figure, that is the initial scale that we think is necessary.

"If it needs to be bigger, when we find out from the ONS survey that is in the field at the moment what the prevalence of the disease is - the number of new cases per day actually out there rather than that we find through positive tests - then we will adjust that figure.

"That is the initial goal but it will be up and running by the middle of the month."

It comes after the UK announced 288 new coronavirus deaths in care homes, hospitals and the wider community today, down from 315 yesterday.

It is the lowest daily death figure since the end of March.