Matt Hancock will deliver a major speech today hailing the success of Britain’s vaccination scheme as he seeks to move on from brutal attacks by Dominic Cummings.
The under-fire Health Secretary is expected to praise the UK’s unprecedented inoculation project, which has already seen 74.8% of the UK’s adult population receive first doses and 48.5% get second jabs.
New figures are expected to be published today showing that three quarters of the UK’s adult population have received first doses.
The address comes after a torrid week for Mr Hancock, when former No10 adviser Dominic Cummings accused him of repeatedly lying during the pandemic.
Mr Cummings alleged that the Health Secretary lied about supplies of personal protective equipment for NHS heroes and promises that patients would be tested for Covid-19 before being discharged from hospitals into care homes.
Mr Hancock denied the claims, insisting: “I’ve been straight with people”.
On Friday, a watchdog ruled he had committed a “minor” breach of the ministerial code over his sister’s firm.
Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministerial interests, said he should have declared an interest in shredding firm Topwood Ltd when it won an NHS framework contract in 2019 – but he wasn’t aware it had happened, so he didn’t do so
A spokesman for the Health Secretary said he was glad Lord Geidt “assesses him to have acted properly and honestly”.
“He agrees that any perceived breach could only be technical in nature and accepts his advice.”
Statistics yesterday showed another 288,649 jabs have been administered – taking first dose totals to 39.4 million and second injections to 25.7m.
Speaking at a Global Vaccine Confidence Summit at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, Mr Hancock will say that while the Government took risks in backing vaccines, “the biggest risk would have been the failure to find a vaccine at all”.
He will add: “We explicitly embraced risk early on, so we backed lots of horses and invested at risk.
“And instead of sitting back and waiting to see which vaccines came off, we were tenacious in helping them to get over the line, drawing on the abundant industry experience in our team.
“We helped to bring together Oxford and AstraZeneca and bring them to the table, a partnership which has been a lifeline, not just here, but in the developing world.
“We offered funding for the early manufacture of the vaccines, before we knew whether they would work and we backed manufacturing plants too.”
Mr Hancock is due to hail the Vaccine Taskforce as the “single greatest asset that we had in this crisis”.
It comes after the UK reported no deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday – for the first time since July 2020.
But scientists continued to warn the Government to delay the June 21 easing of restrictions amid ongoing concern about the spread of the Delta variant – formerly known as the Indian strain.