A vaccine could be available in 2021, like the MMR jab
Speaking to the Daily Express as the Conservative party’s virtual conference, he said a vaccine is “on the horizon”. Mr Hancock said the military as well as the NHS will be involved in distributing medication. The UK has bought up six vaccines but trials in Oxford and widely credited as being the most advanced. “Most likely the roll out will be in the first part of next year, but none of this is certain,” he said.
“We know how important it is for people to get vaccinated and we know we have got six irons in the fire.”
A further 28 people who tested positive for coronavirus died in hospital in England between October 1 and October 3, according to the latest official figures.
Mr Hancock said spring next year could mark a turning point in the battle against the virus.
“I hope that 2021 is the year of renewal,” he added.
The Cabinet minister said there is an end in sight and insisted the government will “not be blown off course” on delivering on its election promises.
“We will get through Covid and we will prosper and we will deliver on the agenda we were elected on,” he added.
Concerns have been raised about the impact of coronavirus rules on Christmas celebrations, particularly the impact of the rule of six on gatherings.
Mr Hancock warned the country faces a difficult few months after the rise in cases.
But he suggested there could be changes made to allow festivities to take place.
“We want Christmas to be as normal as possible,” he said.
“I know that people are starting to plan for Christmas now and I know how difficult the uncertainty is but we are doing everything we can to make Christmas as normal as possible for people.
“I understand the yearning people have, especially after a year like this, to see their family at Christmas and have the warmth of being surrounded by their loved ones.”
It came as Boris Johnson told party members tuning into the online party conference the crisis must be seen as a chance to change the country.
He said: “We have a massive opportunity now to use this unquestionable crisis, I mean it’s been a huge thing for our country, to build back better.”
Boris Johnson arrives at BBC Broadcasting House in London to appear on the Andrew Marr show
The Prime Minister also defended the decision to end the furlough scheme at the end of the month, a move which has prompted concerns about a sharp rise in unemployment.
“On the Left, there are forces saying we must keep furlough going forever, we must keep paying people, the state must get bigger and bigger,” he said.
“And it will be up to us to say it is not for the state to pre-empt virtually half the wealth and spend it on behalf of people because that is not the government’s job.”
During a television interview, the PM warned of “bumpy” months ahead but said he hopes the picture will be “radically different” by spring.
He urged the public to behave “fearlessly” but with common sense as the UK struggles to both contain the virus and keep the economy going.
More than a third of people in the UK currently live under some form of extra restriction following an increase in coronavirus cases.
He said: “If you ask me ‘do I think things can be significantly different by Christmas?’ Yes I do, and we’re working flat-out to achieve that,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
“But be in no doubt that it is still very possible that there are bumpy, bumpy months ahead.
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“This could be a very tough winter for all of us – we’ve got to face that fact.”
The Prime Minister said new treatments are now available, adding: “We will find all sorts of ways, I’m absolutely sure, particularly through mass testing programmes, of changing the way that we tackle this virus.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged that people are “furious” with him and his Government over the handling of the pandemic.
He said: “I appreciate the fatigue that people are experiencing… but we have to work together, follow the guidance and get the virus down whilst keeping the economy moving.”
Mr Johnson defended the 10pm curfew, which has seen crowded scenes as drinkers and diners leave bars and restaurants at the same time.
“Obviously it makes no sense if, having followed the guidance for all the time in the pub they then pour out into the street and hobnob in such a way as to spread the virus.”