Matt Hancock’s obsession with Matt Damon film Contagion – where the world battles for limited vaccine supplies to head off a deadly pandemic – ‘helped him inspire civil servants to create UK’s successful jabs rollout’
- Former DHSC adviser said Matt Hancock would ‘keep referring to end of the film’
- Movie depicted vaccines being handed out using a lottery based on birth dates
- The Health Secretary is said to have used the scene as an ‘illustrative example’
- Comments follow UK passing the landmark of 10million vaccine doses last night
Matt Hancock’s obsession with the film Contagion – where the world battles for limited vaccine supplies to head off a deadly pandemic – ‘helped him inspire civil servants to create the UK’s successful Covid jabs rollout’.
In the 2011 thriller starring Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, a fast-moving mystery virus kills tens of millions worldwide as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tries in vain to stop the outbreak.
Now a former Department of Health and Social Care adviser has revealed that the film’s depiction of the vaccine rollout, in which jabs are handed out using a lottery based on birth dates, stood out in particular to the Health Secretary.
The comments follow the UK passing the landmark of 10million vaccine doses last night, sparking hopes that the whole population could be covered by early summer – months ahead of the September target.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock pictured taking a coronavirus test at a new Covid-19 testing facility for staff who have to travel to their offices in the Houses of Parliament in London
The ex-adviser told Sky News: ‘He would keep referring to the end of the film.
‘He was always really aware from the very start, first that the vaccine was really important, second that when a vaccine was developed we would see an almighty global scramble for this thing.’
But a source told The Guardian that Mr Hancock used the scene as an ‘illustrative example’ – and not as a method for the UK to copy in its vaccine programme.
The source said: ‘The UK vaccine effort was in no way built on the epidemiological model of watching a film – it was an illustrative example.
‘He would say: “We’ve all seen Contagion, right?” It was helpful.’
Referring to the film, Ian Lipkin, the chief scientific consultant for Contagion, added: ‘The whole idea was to try to inform people about what they needed to anticipate.’
Gwyneth Paltrow starring in 2011 movie Contagion, in which doctors and medical researchers scramble to track a highly contagious, lethal virus as it moves from Hong Kong to the US
A still from the 2011 film Contagion. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure
Fans of the film have previously pointed out eerie parallels with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A flashback in the movie shows just how the fictional virus emerged – with a bat in China infecting a pig that was later handled by a chef who came in contact with Paltrow’s character, who became Patient Zero.
The movie, directed by Steven Soderbergh, was generally praised by the scientific community for accurately depicting how a doomsday epidemic scenario might play out.
The film is said to have been modelled on the 2003 SARS outbreak, depicting what might happen if that virus had been even more deadly and contagious.
Meanwhile, the Government has revealed another 352,935 jabs were administered in 24 hours as the huge push continues, taking the total into eight figures.
Kate Winslet pictured in the film Contagion. Fans of the movie have previously pointed out eerie parallels with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
Around three million people aged between 65 and 69 will start to be sent letters, meaning that some areas may be able to offer vaccines to those below the age of 70 before February 15 – when the four most vulnerable groups should have been covered.
The news suggests that the UK is on track to surpass its goal of offering jabs to all over-70s by mid-February. Some in Whitehall are reportedly hopeful that the whole adult population will be provided with doses by the beginning of May.
However, other government sources said that could be too optimistic, telling MailOnline that supply constraints alone are likely to rule it out.
It would require an average of around 500,000 doses to be administered every day for the next 12 weeks.
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