Matt Hancock has downplayed suggestions he took advice on the UK’s vaccine strategy from a Hollywood film, telling Good Morning Britain (GMB) he had in fact consulted numerous sources.
Hancock told LBC radio he had become aware that a row could break out over who was eligible for a Covid jab from Contagion, a 2011 thriller about the deadly outbreak of a virus in the US.
The health minister said that as a result, he understood the importance of ordering enough doses for every adult in Britain and setting out early a priority list.
Mr Hancock says he learnt from the film Contagion that there could be a row about who gets a vaccine first.
He said that as a result he knew the importance of ordering enough doses for every adult and setting out early a priority list designed to save most lives.
— Theo Usherwood (@theousherwood) February 3, 2021
Asked to comment on those remarks, Hancock told GMB hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid: “I think the safest thing to say, Piers, is that it wasn’t my only source of advice on this issue, but I did watch the film.
“And the film is actually based on the advice of very serious epidemiologists. But the insight that was so necessary at the start was that the big moment of pressure on vaccines nationally would not be before they were approved… But it’s after they’re approved.
“One of the things I did early was insist… that the UK’s production protects people in the UK in the first instance. As UK health secretary, that is my duty.”
Hancock said No 10 had worked with AstraZeneca to ensure the jab was available “at cost” to the rest of the world.
The minister also praised a report showing that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine cuts coronavirus transmission by two-thirds, adding: “It shows that the strategy of backing those vaccines was right.”
The report also stated that the efficacy of the vaccine increased when the second shot is taken at twelve weeks, instead of a fortnight, flying the face of concerns its protection would wane the longer a second jab was put off.