Matt Hancock Coronavirus briefing gives a summary of Covid and the pandemic
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has just finished giving evidence about Covid to MPs on the health and science committees.
The meeting which lasted more than four hours involved discussing Coronavirus and the pandemic.
91% of new cases are now the Delta variant which first emerged in India, Hancock says.
There needs to be a fully independent investigation about the origins of the virus, Hancock says, because “we do need to get to the bottom of this”
He says he “bitterly regrets” not pushing back against initial scientific advice which said Covid was unlikely to spread asymptomatically – something later found not to be true
Hancock says he was aware that up to 820,000 people could die – which was described as the “worst-case scenario” in January 2020 – but that ordering an earlier lockdown would have gone against the scientific advice
He says it was not obvious at the start of the pandemic that people would accept lockdowns – or “how long they would put up with it” – even though that is clear now.
The health secretary says when he told Cabinet members he would have to tell people to stop social contact, it was “the most extraordinary thing that I’ve ever said”
Hancock defends the government’s initial advice to care homes that Covid testing was not necessary before they received patients from hospitals
He stresses that ministers always “followed the clinical advice”
The minister says he made the decision to increase the amount of AstraZeneca vaccine bought by the government – the initial advice was 30m doses and he said he decided 100m were needed.
He says he saw no evidence to suggest any medics died due to a failure to provide them with PPE during the pandemic – he adds there was never a national shortage of equipment
Hancock also faced a series of questions about Dominic Cummings’ evidence to MPs, in which he accused the health secretary of lying to the prime minister – he denies this, and says he has “no idea” why the former PM’s aide appears to have so much animosity towards him
He says the government has “operated much better in the past six months” since Cummings left Downing Street