Matt Hancock to give No.10 coronavirus briefing at 5pm as Boris Johnson self-isolates
Matt Hancock will give the update after Boris Johnson was forced into self-isolation (Image: ANDREW PARSONS/10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty Images)
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Matt Hancock is due to give a Downing Street press conference to the nation today after Boris Johnson was forced into self-isolation.
The Health Secretary will take to the podium at around 5pm for the latest update after officials decided to make them twice per week.
It’s thought No10 wants to hold ministerial press conferences on Monday and Thursday evenings until England’s lockdown ends on December 2.
The Monday versions were meant to be led by the Prime Minister, with a rotation of ministers set to lead the updates on Thursdays.
But Mr Johnson is now having to self-isolate in the Downing Street flat until next Thursday after meeting an MP with Covid-19.
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Mr Hancock is expected to update the nation on issues including Covid rates, a vaccine and mass testing, although no major new announcement is expected.
Earlier today he appeared to be playing down hopes that a vaccine would come on December 1.
In a video from the No10 flat, Boris Johnson hailed the news that a vaccine rollout could begin in the UK before Christmas after a breakthrough from pharma giant Pfizer.
The PM said there was the prospect of a vaccine “which I hope we’ll be able to start distributing to those who need it, perhaps even before Christmas.”
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned “vast bulk” of any rollout, even if the Pfizer vaccine passes trials, would only be in the new year.
And while the NHS will be “ready from December 1” to start it, that will only happen if nothing goes wrong, and a date later in December is more likely.
Boris Johnson sent a video message from isolation
Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “Of course we’ll be ready to roll it out as soon as it comes.
“We’ll be ready from December 1, but that’s the earliest it could possibly come. Everything would have to go right for that to happen.
“More likely is that we may be able to start rolling it out before Christmas. But almost certainly the vast bulk of the rollout – if the safety data proved that it’s safe, and that is still not known, we still don’t have a vaccine – but even if we do, it’s likely that the bulk of the rollout would be in the new year.
Mr Hancock warned “vast bulk” of any rollout, even if the Pfizer vaccine passes trials, would only be in the new year
(Image: Copyright : BioNtech)
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“Obviously we’re doing all we can and the NHS is working incredibly hard to be ready for the best-case scenario if that comes off.”
The Prime Minister was planning to use this week to reset his premiership after a disastrous week of infighting saw off his top two aides.
He was due to make critical announcements on electric cars, coronavirus restrictions, next week’s spending review and most importantly Brexit.
But now Mr Johnson is having to stay in his flat above Downing Street until Thursday 26 November after he was “pinged” by privatised Test and Trace.
It comes after he met Tory MP Lee Anderson, who later tested positive, last Thursday with no masks and standing less than two metres apart.
He met Tory MP Lee Anderson, who later tested positive, last Thursday with no masks and standing less than two metres apart
Grilled by Sky News, Mr Hancock claimed it wasn’t necessary to wear masks because “there’s Covid-secure guidelines in any workplaces”.
Asked if he wears a mask in No10, the Health Secretary said: “Not always, no, because the Covid secure guidelines for that building don’t require it at all times.”
Downing Street officials today insisted the planned announcements would still take place, either through Mr Johnson remotely or via other ministers.