Health Secretary Matt Hancock should take the Covid vaccine – and then all MPs – before it is rolled out to the general public to restore trust in politicians, a commentator has said.
Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of Money Week, challenged the Cabinet minister to be first in line to take pharmaceutical firm Pfizer’s vaccine candidate, which has proved 90 per cent effective in trials.
During a slightly adapted version of BBC’s Question Time on Thursday, panelists and 16 virtual audience members were allowed to ask Mr Hancock quick fire questions.
Several people in the audience – this week from Dover – voiced concerns about taking any vaccine, which has been developed in a matter of months.
When asked by host Fiona Bruce, the majority raised their hand to agree with Ms Webb that the Health Secretary should be used as a Guinea pig.
Ms Bruce jokingly asked the Money Week editor: “So, you want to wait to see, basically, if Matt doesn’t drop to the floor frothing at the mouth – that kind of thing – before you take it, Merryn?”
Fellow panelist Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy said: “Love it!”
Mr Hancock said he would “happily” take the vaccine “as soon as I am able to”.
“I would be happy to do that, the problem is that would be putting me ahead of the queue in terms of clinical need.
“Now, because I work in the Department of Health I count as a healthcare worker so if my taking it when healthcare workers are allowed to take it – so not jumping the queue – if that would persuade a single other person to take it and give confidence to others then I’d be absolutely happy to.”
Ms Webb, who appeared on the show via video link, had said up to 25 percent of people – according to recent surveys – have a “big trust issue around vaccines” and called for “some kind of campaign around the safety”.
“There’s probably a very simple way to make the general population believe in the vaccine and trust in the vaccine and perhaps at the same time to increase a little trust in our politicians which has fallen off quite substantially over the last nine months,” she continued.
“I would suggest that Matt, you have the vaccine first and then every other MP has it and then we can trot it out to a couple of top civil servants as well, so once you’ve all had it there’s an element of trust in that.
“We wait two weeks, every thing is fine, then you can start rolling it out to everyone else.”
Audience member, Kay, had said she was concerned “because I don’t believe there’s been adequate time to put the vaccine through the vigorous testing that we would expect”.
While Ellie added: “Are we fully aware of the side effects that could come along with the vaccine?”
Panelist Professor Robin Shattock, an immunologist at Imperial College London, assured once a vaccine has been signed off by independent medical scrutiny bodies, it is safe to be rolled out to the general public.
He said during trials it will have been given to 10s of thousands of people, though reiterated it is unclear how effective the vaccine is long term.
He also emphasised the vaccine stops people getting sick with the virus rather than it preventing people from contracting it.