Speed of vaccine misinformation is a 'deadly threat' says health secretary

The speed of vaccine misinformation is a ‘deadly threat’ says health secretary but adds that confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines has been “sky high” in Britain.

Matt Hanock said the UK countries continues to ‘top the list’ of places where people are willing to, or have had, a Covid jab but adds that vaccine confidence is an ‘international challenge’ which takes ‘international action’.

It comes as official figures show three quarters of adults in the UK are estimated to have received their first jab.

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The Health Secretary told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit that the order of priority was important, not just clinically for saving lives, but for encouraging vaccine uptake.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, London. Picture by PA

He said: “I am aware that this isn’t a vaccine world cup – different nations don’t compete for one prize, we know that when everyone is safe we’re all going to be the winners.”

Mr Hancock added that when vaccine confidence in one country “takes a hit” then “word can spread, fake news travels fast” and called the speed of misinformation a ‘deadly threat’.

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“We’ve made the argument that the jab is our way out of these restrictions, and everyone has a part to play,” he told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit.

“We don’t give anti-vaxxers the oxygen of publicity."

The health secretary said the UK harnessed influential voices from “across the board” to encourage vaccine take-up – with messages from Her Majesty the Queen to Sir David Attenborough normalising the acceptance of the vaccine.

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He also said it was important for the public to know that people couldn’t “buy their way up the queue”.

“Not far from where you’re sitting (at the Science Museum in London), was where I got in the queue to get my jab a month ago, and Prince William, our future king, waited in that same line for his jab a couple of weeks after me – no special treatment, no queue-jumping,” said Mr Hancock.

“And I think that’s one of the things that make people feel that the vaccine is for them, and that the programme is being delivered fairly according to need.”

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