Vaccines and treatments mean Covid-19 could become a disease we live with “like we do with flu” by the end of the year, Matt Hancock has said.
The health secretary said new drugs designed to tackle the virus could arrive in 2021, helping to make Covid a “treatable” disease.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Hancock said he hoped every adult in the UK will be offered a vaccine “a bit before” September as the jab rollout continues as pace.
The comments suggest ministers expect Britain to live with Covid-19 in the long term, rather than trying to eliminate it completely.
The government will today announce that innovative new treatments for the virus will be fast-tracked through the NHS’s clinical trial system, according to the report.
This could mean treatments become available to patients in months rather than years.
“I hope that Covid-19 will become a treatable disease by the end of the year,” Hancock today the newspaper.
He added that treatments will be key to “turning Covid from a pandemic that affects all of our lives into another illness that we have to live with, like we do flu. That’s where we need to get Covid to over the months to come.”
It comes as the UK gears up for a busy weekend of jabs ahead of the government’s Monday deadline to give vaccines to all care home residents and staff, NHS frontline workers, everyone over 70 and those who were told to shield.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night said 14m Brits had received their first dose of the vaccine, adding that the UK was on track to meet its target.
But he urged the remaining eligible people to come forward to get their jabs.