Matt Hancock was hopeful that the current lockdown measures would be the last as the UK has offered vaccinations to everyone in the top four priority groups – roughly 15 million people. The Health Secretary is now focusing on the next phase and ensuring not only the new priority groups receive their first dose but others now receive their second later this month. Mr Hancock believed it would a huge logistical challenge, but he revealed many who received their first vaccine were given cards with a date and location for their second while being vaccinated.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, presenter Charlie Stayt asked Mr Hancock about the lockdown and what the future holds for the country.
He asked: “If someone was thinking the cautionary approach, would it be right to say sees this as the final lockdown?”
Mr Hancock replied: “Absolutely, we very much hope so, and having a sustainable exit and lifting the measures in such a way that can be sustainable so we don’t have to have another lockdown is an important part of our considerations.
“For me, making sure that as we lift measures we do so carefully and cautiously to make sure that we don’t have to put them on again.
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“That is at the core of the judgement that we have to make.
“And the vaccine programme helps us in doing that because we know that the vaccine protects people, it protects them from hospitalisation and serious disease and from dying.
“And there’s also early evidence that it reduces transmission so people who have been vaccinated, we think, reduce transmission by about two-thirds.”
While the government has provided 15,062,189 people with a vaccine only 537,715 have received their second booster jab, according to Government data.
The next phase of the vaccination programme will be rolled out and will target those aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions and everyone over the age of 50.
The total UK deaths from coronavirus reached 117,116, according to the latest government figures.
The first vaccine given in the UK was on December 8 with the 15 million person target hit ten weeks later.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest and fastest in Europe and in the health service’s history and that is down to the skill, care, and downright hard work of our fantastic staff, supported by local communities, volunteers and the armed forces.”