Coronavirus: Health secretary doesn’t think future COVID-19 vaccine will need to be made compulsory

The health secretary has said he does not think a future COVID-19 vaccine would need to be made compulsory.

At Downing Street’s daily coronavirus news briefing, Matt Hancock said: “I think the extent of the public’s reaction following the lockdown shows we will be able to achieve very, very high levels of vaccination without taking that step.”

A number of versions of a potential COVID-19 vaccine are being researched worldwide, with more than 600 people taking part in an Oxford University trial.

Mr Hancock said: “We are proceeding on the basis that just such a huge proportion of the population are going to take this up because of the obvious benefits to individuals and their families and their communities and indeed the whole nation, that there will be enormous demand for it as and when the science is safe to proceed.”

He added that ministers were not ruling anything out, but were proceeding on the basis there would be enormous uptake due to the “obvious benefits” of a vaccine.

Speaking at the same briefing, England’s deputy chief medical officer said a vaccine would likely be available to adults before children.

Mr Hancock, meanwhile, also warned there was no guarantee a vaccine would be found.

“We can’t assume there will be a vaccine,” he said. “There is no coronavirus vaccine yet for any of the existing coronaviruses and this is uncertain science.”

Mr Hancock was asked about the prospect of compulsory vaccinations, having previously said – before the coronavirus outbreak – there was a “very strong” case for making it compulsory for children to be vaccinated.

Asked at Monday’s news conference what his message would be to people who are against vaccinations, the health secretary replied: “I think there has been no greater demonstration in modern history that vaccines save lives than the need for a vaccine to save lives and to get the world going again following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“We will only license a vaccine when it is both effective and safe.”

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said children appear to be less affected by the coronavirus.

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