The cabinet minister has hailed the speedy approval of Covid-19 jab from Pfizer after the UK became the first country in the world to authorise it – paving the way for vaccination to begin next week.
ITV’s Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan suggested the healthy secretary reassure the British public by taking it on air, before Mr Hancock said: “Yeah, I’ll take it with you, Piers.”
The host said: “I’ll come to where you are anytime next week if we can do this. Let’s do it together, live on air. It would be powerful – it would send the right message.”
But Mr Hancock said he was not a priority vaccine candidate.
“Well, we’d have to get that approved because, of course, there is a prioritisation according to clinical need and, thankfully, as a healthy, middle-aged man, you’re not at the top of the prioritisation.”
However, the minister added: “But if we can get that approved and if people think that’s reasonable then I’m up for doing that … if that can help anybody else, persuade anybody else that they should take the vaccine, then I think it’s worth it.”
Asked why he would he would need the vaccine, since he had already contracted Covid-19 earlier in the year, Mr Hancock: “Because we don’t yet know the impact of, having had Covid, on whether you’re immune or don’t transmit it again.
“So we will be vaccinating whether or not they’ve had Covid.”
Boris Johnson’s spokeswoman later suggested that the prime minister would also be prepared to get the jab on TV. “We all know the character of the PM – I don’t think it would be something he would rule out,” she said when asked if he would consider it.
But the No 10 spokeswoman added that Mr Johnson would not want to get the vaccine before other people in higher-risk categories.
‘We will be vaccinating people whether or not they have had Covid.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirms he would take the vaccine despite having had Covid as it's unknown if you're immune or can't transmit it again if you've already had it. pic.twitter.com/J3UbI2FW6E
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) December 2, 2020
Mr Hancock said he was “very proud” approval had happened so quickly, and revealed that losing his step-grandfather to Covid-19 had “made him more determined” to see the end of the pandemic.
He told Sky News: “I have a big and complicated and loving family, and losing a member of your family is obviously a big thing for anybody. It's just made me more determined.
“This is a horrible disease and I’ve hated seeing so many people suffer from it. It just really brings it home when it's a member of your own family.”
The Pfizer jab has been shown in studies to be 95 per cent effective. Around 10 million doses are expected to be available for use in the UK in the coming weeks for priority groups, including healthcare workers, with 800,000 doses arriving next week.
During his Wednesday morning media appearances, Mr Hancock also confirmed a Scotch egg should be considered a “substantial meal” for pubs in England’s tier 2 areas.
His cabinet colleague Michael Gove added to the confusion on Tuesday by claiming he considered a Scotch egg a “starter.”