Matt Hancock Slated For Saying Pandemic Is Over In UK: 'How Insulting!'

The former health secretary did not mention the thousands of people who died with Covid this week.
Matt Hancock declared the pandemic over in the UK
Matt Hancock declared the pandemic over in the UK
Sky News

Matt Hancock has been ridiculed for alleging that the Covid pandemic is over in the UK, even as the death toll continues to climb.

Sky News’ Beth Rigby asked the former health secretary: “Is the Covid pandemic finally over, do you think?”

He replied: “Yes, in this country. Covid is obviously endemic, meaning that it’s everywhere and lots of people catch it.

“But every week they publish the statistics about how many people have got antibodies that protect you from Covid and it’s now over 99%.”

ONS data does state that 99% of people across the UK now have antibodies, either through Covid infection or vaccination.

“And that’s great,” Hancock continued. “It means we can have what is essentially a free existence here.

“But it’s not over everywhere around the world. I think one of the really shocking things is watching how some of the countries which went for a zero-Covid strategy at the start are now in real trouble negotiating their way to being part of the international community again.”

China is known for its zero-Covid strategy, along with North Korea and Tonga. Other nations, such as New Zealand, have now ditched this policy after finding the strict lockdowns and contact tracing too difficult to maintain.

However, Hancock’s claim that the UK is now out of the pandemic misses the key stats, which show 646 people with Covid were reported to have died on Thursday – the day the Tory MP conducted his interview.

This is also an increase from the 350 deaths reported last Thursday.

Deaths involving Covid-19 in England & Wales.
Deaths involving Covid-19 in England & Wales.
PA GraphicsPress Association Images

More than 161,800 people have tested positive in the last week as well, even though the number of virus tests being conducted has fallen by 23% in the last seven days, according to the government’s official Covid data.

While the death rate is still a long way off the haunting numbers experienced during previous waves, it’s clearly still a pressing issue for the UK – as people pointed out to the former minister on Twitter.

Other people took issue with the way Hancock described Covid as “endemic”, which means it is permanently in circulation although usually confined to a place or population.

This word is usually associated with common illnesses like the flu, where there are recurring outbreaks but at lower levels than we have seen over the course of the Covid pandemic. This is only possible if enough people become immune.

Most experts believe the virus is still far from being endemic especially after Imperial College React’s study found that overall infections in March reached the highest levels recorded throughout the pandemic.

Dame Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “These latest study results are another reminder that the pandemic is not over and there is still a real risk to many of us catching Covid with infection rates so high.”

Hancock’s comments also aired the day before scientists reported that a UK patient with a severely weakened immune system tested positive for Covid for almost a year and a half.

Suspected to be the longest reported infection, the discovery suggests Covid is still affecting the body in ways we do not yet understand.

The Tory MP has just confirmed that he will be releasing a new book, which will share what he learnt during the pandemic when he was at the helm of the NHS.

Hancock resigned from the cabinet back in June 2021 amid a national scandal. He had been caught on camera breaching his own government’s social distancing rules by kissing one of his aides.

Since then, he has mainly been out of the spotlight. There was a brief flurry of interest in his career when he was appointed to be the UN’s special envoy in Africa back in October, but it was withdrawn days later.


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