COVID news live – latest updates: two tests positive for coronavirus on fully vaccinated cruise, as SAGE scientist says masks should stay ‘forever’ amidst June 21 storm

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COVID news live – latest updates: two tests positive for coronavirus on fully vaccinated cruise, as SAGE scientist says masks should stay ‘forever’ amidst June 21 storm


Mr Hancock played on the defensive, but testimony could return to hurt him
Analysis by Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor

It might not have been the aggressive, high-level face-to-face that Dominic Cummings organized this session after asking Matt Hancock a series of questions and challenges.

But in many ways, the four and a quarter hours of the Health Secretary in the witness chair was far more interesting than that.

It is striking that about halfway through, Greg Clarke, one of the chairs of the joint committee, told us what lessons he thought the committee was going to learn.

Mr Clarke said they were on the verge of concluding the lockdown had come too late and that in the first half of 2020 they lacked the testing capacity the government needed.

He said they would also likely eventually find it wrong to refer so many people from hospitals to care homes.

Notably, Matt Hancock didn’t really fight these very big, important findings – critics, in fact – against the government.

Rather, he sought to present, explain and justify, and in some cases point the finger of blame elsewhere.

The Health Secretary walked out of the session early enough with the absolutely astounding fact that a model – signed by COBRA – predicted 820,000 deaths.

The Secretary of Health told the committee: “I was determined that this would not happen under my watch. “

It was January 27. The government only closed its doors in March.

The fact that the government was not on a war footing for much of February will be a topic that I suppose will be discussed a lot in the future.

The Health Secretary has made numerous complaints, many of which will be taken up.

He said, for example, that he had not properly challenged the global scientific consensus that the coronavirus could be transmitted if you didn’t show symptoms until early March.

I think this will be the subject of close scrutiny as some articles at the end of January suggested that scientists were concerned about it.

He also sought to portray PPE issues as a local, not a national issue, saying no one would die.

There have been some big, bold claims made today, and I suspect a lot of the evidence will be gathered in time and some could come back to hurt Matt Hancock.

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