Politics

People may need Covid vaccines every 6 months to contain virus, Hancock suggests


Matt Hancock has people may need to be revaccinated every six months in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The warning came as he insisted – despite the government’s catalogue of errors – that this will be the last national lockdown.

Mr Hancock said: “I anticipate we will probably need to revaccinate because we don’t know the longevity of the protection from these vaccines.

“We don’t know how frequently it will be, but it might need to be every six months, it might need to be every year.”

Asked if he thought this would be the “last of the lockdowns” because of the vaccines, Mr Hancock said: “I do, yes.”

Mr Hancock also said that Covid-19 vaccines that require adjustments to fight new variants of the virus may not need to go through the usual full trials process.

He said that as pressure on the NHS grows “it is more stretched in delivering the services that people need” and pointed to the cancelling of routine elective procedures in the second peak.

Asked if he has faith that the health service in London will be able to cope, he said: “Well, yes, I’m sure that the NHS is going to do everything that it possibly can to ensure that everybody gets the care that they need.”

Mr Hancock said critical care capacity had been extended over the summer in the capital and reiterated that the Nightingale is on stand-by.

It came as Public Health England confirmed that case rates in England are  rising among all age groups.

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Mr Hancock said he believed the NHS would be not be overwhelmed

The Health Secretary also warned that the number of people in hospitals may not fall as quickly as death rates once the vaccine is rolled out as a result of the number of younger adults with the virus.

He said” Hospitalisation levels I would also expect to fall, but ironically not as quickly as deaths in the first instance.

“The reason is that people that are slightly younger spend longer in hospital, often because they survive when somebody who is very old and frail might not survive for as long.”

On vaccines, he added: “As with the flu vaccine each year, for a type of vaccine that has been clinically trialled and approved, if you make small adjustments to it, then it may not need the full year-long trials process that a new vaccine needs.

“That, of course, is a decision for the independent MHRA.”

He added: “The way I have described it, is if you are lucky to have Range Rover and you get a new wing mirror stuck on it, it’s still a Range Rover and should be classified as such.

“In the same way, if you make a small change to a vaccine it’s essentially a regulatory clinical decision as to whether that needs to go through the full panoply of the full three phases of clinical trials”

Mr Hancock also warned that the number of people in hospitals may not fall as quickly as death rates once the vaccine is rolled out.

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A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Covid-19 vaccine

He told MPs: “Hospitalisation levels I would also expect to fall, but ironically not as quickly as deaths in the first instance.

“The reason is that people that are slightly younger spend longer in hospital, often because they survive when somebody who is very old and frail might not survive for as long.”





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