The Health Secretary warned about the “really appalling” surge of Covid in other parts of the world and said the UK must continue to follow to the Government’s cautious lifting of lockdown.
Their modelling suggests that the number of those protected against coronavirus, either because they are naturally immune or have had a vaccine, will hit 73.4 per cent on April 12.
However, Mr Hancock told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “Well I was told by some scientists that we were going to have herd immunity in May and then in June and then after that…”
Asked if he thought the reports were exaggerated, he replied: “What I prefer to do is watch the data. We’ve set out the roadmap. The roadmap is really clear. It is our route back to normal. We are on track to meet the roadmap and that is our goal.”
Asked why he did not accept the modelling from UCL, Mr Hancock replied: “I think we have taken the right course in plotting our way to freedom and doing it carefully because we want it to be irreversible.
“We have seen what happens when this virus gets going and we are seeing getting going right now on the continent and other parts of the world – some of the scenes are really appalling.
“We want to get out of this safely and irreversibly and that’s why we set out the roadmap.”
Since then, a further 7.1 million people have received a first jab, while nearly 100,000 more people have tested positive for Covid-19.
In addition to this around 10 per cent of the population are thought to be naturally immune, either through exposure to other coronaviruses or because they have T-cells, which would not be picked up in antibody testing.
Professor Karl Friston, from UCL, said: “The herd immunity estimates surprised me. However, they are unremarkable when one considers that over 50 per cent of adults have been vaccinated, around 42 per cent of people have now been exposed to the virus and about 10 per cent have pre-existing immunity.