Matt Hancock has refused to commit to the government revealing how many doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been wasted.
The health secretary was twice asked at Monday’s Downing Street press conference if the government will publish detailed figures showing wastage rates.
The government’s latest vaccination data shows 6,573,570 people had received their first dose as of Sunday. And, according to the Our World in Data website, Britain has so far administered the third most vaccines per 100 people in the world.
Hancock, however, wouldn’t commit to publishing wastage rates. Here is what he said the first time round.
“Well, obviously reducing the wastage rate is incredibly important and we exchange best practice, and part of the standard operating procedure is constantly kept under review to see how we can reduce the amount of wastage.”
When it was pointed out he hadn’t answered the question, Hancock would only say the government will “look into further publications”.
“On the wastage rates I set out where we are up to in terms of wastage rates. I am very happy to look into further publications.”
On 13 January, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said NHS England had forecast vaccine wastage to be around 10%, but that it was “way below that, which is really good”.
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At the same briefing, meanwhile, Dr Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said there was an expectation the current vaccines being rolled out would afford some protection against the new COVID-19 variants.
She told a Downing Street press conference: “It is important that we realise that it is quite normal for viruses to mutate and we will have numerous mutations as we go forward and not all of them, in fact the vast majority of them, will not be of concern.
“And I think importantly, even though the work is ongoing to ensure we understand exactly how the vaccines work with these different mutations we’ve identified, it is quite unlikely in clinical terms that vaccines would not have some degree of effectiveness, even for new virus mutations that we identify.”
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