Preparations for a no-deal Brexit meant vital intensive care drugs were prevented from running out during the pandemic, Matt Hancock has told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.
Crucial medicines were “within hours of running out” in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the former health secretary said while giving evidence to the UK’s official inquiry.
Asked about medical supply chains, Hancock told inquiry lead Baroness Heather Hallett that preparations in case the UK had crashed out of the European Union (EU) without a deal were “extremely useful in saving lives”.
He said: “The work done for a no-deal Brexit on supply chains was the difference between running out of medicines in the peak of the pandemic and not running out.
“We came extremely close within hours of running out of medicines for intensive care during the pandemic, it wasn’t widely reported at the time.”
Pharmaceutical supply chains
The former I’m A Celebrity contestant, whose ministerial career ended when footage emerged of him embracing aide Gina Coladangelo while social distancing measures were in place, added: “I think the only reason we didn’t run out is because of [that] work… which they did during 2019 in preparation for a no-deal Brexit, but became extremely useful in saving lives during the pandemic.
“At the point at which the pandemic struck, because of the no-deal Brexit work, we knew more about the pharmaceutical supply chain in the UK than at any time in history.
“We had relationships with the pharmaceutical suppliers and the data to know exactly who had what available and where and the extent of that information was the difference between running out and not running out of drugs in intensive care in the pandemic.
“Now, that of course, wasn’t the intention of the work, but it was the consequence.”
Hancock’s evidence comes after ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, austerity era Chancellor George Osbourne and current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt appeared at the inquiry last week.