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Matt Hancock's press conference - Summary
Here are the main points from Matt Hancock’s press conference.
Hancock, the health secretary, said an Oxford team working on a coronavirus vaccine would begin trials on humans on Thursday. He said:
I can announce that the vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday. In normal times, reaching this stage would take years and I’m very proud of the work taken so far.
At the same time, we will invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely work, we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanely possible.
Hancock also announced that the Oxford University project will get £20m to fund its trials. Another project based at Imperial College London will get £22.5m to support its phase two clinical trials, he said. He said he was determined to back the researchers “to the hilt”. He went on:
After all, the upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it.
Hancock dismissed a claim from the most senior official at the Foreign Office that the government took a political decision not to participate in an EU-wide ventilator procurement scheme. Asked about Sir Simon McDonald’s comment (see 4.17pm), Hancock said:
I haven’t seen that exchange but I have spoken to the foreign secretary and as far as I’m aware there was no political decision not to participate in that scheme.
We did receive an invitation in the Department of Health and it was put up to me to be asked and we joined so we are now members of that scheme.
However, as far as I know that scheme hasn’t [provided] a single item of PPE [personal protective equipment].
Although Hancock’s comment sounded like a robust denial, it was less than watertight because Hancock just said he was “not aware” of any political decision to boycott the scheme and he then conflated the EU ventilator procurement scheme with a separate one covering PPE (although, as Jennifer Rankin wrote when she first reported on this in March, the original UK decision not to get involved covered all the various EU coronavirus procurement schemes.)
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