Matt Hancock's message for Covid anti-vaxxers as Pfizer jab approved

2 December 2020, 09:07

By Fiona Jones

As the Government announces a Covid vaccine will be rolled out from next week, the health secretary had a message for those who are opposing the treatment.

Matt Hancock has hailed the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine which will be rolled out from next week.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, the health secretary declared that "help is on its way" and confirmed that jabs from company Pfizer will be available from next week to specific members of the public.

"The majority of this will be rolled out from the New Year," he added, telling LBC that 800,000 doses of the drug are already set to come to the UK from Belgium.

Nick Ferrari asked the health secretary what he would say to the fringe campaigners who maintain completely unfounded concerns about the vaccine.

Mr Hancock said that the "really good news" is the Covid anti-vaccine movement is not growing, and "the number of people who want to have the vaccine is increasing."

"The regulators are fiercely independent, they would not approve this if it wasn't safe, and I'm just delighted that the UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically authorised vaccine," the health secretary said.

He continued: "You don't have to take it from me, listen to the clinicians. The lead clinician on this is Jonathan Van Tam and he called his mum and said if you're called by the NHS go and get the vaccine because it'll keep you safe.

"This is a horrible disease...you do not want to get this disease, especially if you're older and the vaccine can keep you safe."

Officials said the vaccine will be made available "from next week" and hailed the news which makes the UK the first country in the world to have a clinically approved Covid-19 vaccine. The jab has been shown in studies to be 95% effective and works in all age groups but needs to be stored at minus 70C.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20m people.Health care workers, people in care homes and the elderly are understood to be at the front of the queue to receive the jab when it is rolled out. Details of who will receive it first will be announced later today.

Matt Hancock has personal experience of the disease, having fought back tears in the Commons after revealing his step-grandfather died last month after catching Covid-19.

The Health Secretary told MPs on Tuesday of the death of his "loving grandfather” in Liverpool on November 18.

He was speaking in the House of Commons at the end of a six-hour debate on the new tier restrictions to be implemented in England from Wednesday, replacing the national lockdown.

Mr Hancock said: "We know through repeat experience what happens if this virus gets out of control. If it gets out of control, it grows exponentially, hospitals comes under pressure, and people die."

Mr Hancock's voice cracked with emotion as he added: "This means more to me than I can say because last month my step-grandfather caught Covid there and on November 18 he died."In my family, as in so many others, we've lost a loving husband, a father, a grandfather to this awful disease."