BRITAIN'S vaccines roll-out has saved 6,600 lives since it launched, new data has found – as Matt Hancock says he can see an "end" to the country's Covid crisis.
The Health Secretary said coronavirus will be managed "more like the flu" in the future as scientists adapt jabs to fight new variants.
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He spoke as Europe backed away from threats of a vaccine war with the UK after emergency talks between Boris Johnson and EU leaders – and said Brits have the "law on their side" in the row.
Asked if he could see an end point to the pandemic, Mr Hancock told the Financial Times: “It depends what you mean by ‘end’.
"I see an end where Covid is managed more like flu: we repeatedly vaccinate, we update the vaccines according to mutations and we manage the challenges, especially around transmissions over winter.
“I’m confident that’s where we can get to.
It comes as:
- The PM warned Brussels not to push ahead with a vaccine blockade of Britain
- Boris hinted pubs could ban punters who haven't had a vaccine
- India dealt the UK's vaccine drive a blow by bringing in an export ban
- Over-50s have been urged to book their jabs now
- Boris Johnson has warned 'things are looking difficult on the continent' in a holiday blow for Brits
"I want to get to a position where we can have an updated vaccine in weeks or months, not a year."
New analysis by scientists at Warwick University suggests around 6,600 lives have been saved by the vaccinations programme, Mr Hancock said.
But he admitted the risk of new variants emerging was “a worry” and that it was “too early to say” whether summer holidays abroad this year will be possible.
"If the data shows that all vaccines work against all new variants, that makes it easier for everyone,” he said.
A “global travel task force” set up by the Government will report on April 5 about whether foreign holidays might be possible.
Meanwhile, despite an upcoming vaccine shortfall in April and ongoing fears the EU could block exports of AstraZeneca, Mr Hancock said he's "highly confident" that all Brits will get their second doses on time.
He also defended the pharma giant – and said the company has been "absolutely brilliant" in the face of international controversy.
"They have been thrust into a geopolitical position. That's difficult for any business," he said.
And he hailed the success of the jabs roll-out – saying that since Christmas, “half of my life has been spent on one of the best projects this country has ever done”.
And the Health Secretary says he believes people who work with elderly and vulnerable people in care homes should be required to have the jab.
“We will get to the point where it’s reasonable to ask people to get vaccinated," he said.
It was revealed yesterday that pubs will be allowed to ban drinkers who have not had a Covid vaccination.
Punters may have to show proof of a jab or a recent negative test to get a pint.
Boris Johnson told MPs yesterday it “may be up to the landlord” — adding: “The concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us.”
But last night Tory MPs slammed the idea of showing “papers for the pub".
Government sources told The Sun that allowing pubs, bars and restaurants to set their own rules was within the scope of a review being led by Michael Gove and due to report back next month.
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