The government’s “decision to leave 12 weeks between the two doses has saved around 12,000 lives”, Matt Hancock said.
What Hancock seems to be actually referring to here is the difference in number of deaths had there been no vaccine available at all, not if vaccines had been offered with only a three week gap.
The data he is relying on is from Public Health England. It showed that, had there been no vaccines available, the death toll would have been 11,700 people higher between December and the end of April. But the analysis can’t tell us what would have happened if the government had opted for a shorter “dosing interval” between jabs.
These figures didn’t consider the number of lives that would have been saved if the first and second doses had been delivered three weeks apart – as was the initial plan – or eight weeks, as is now happening for some groups.
Some of the 11,700 lives saved under the 12-week dosing regimen would also have been saved had the government opted for shorter intervals – not least because some of the most vulnerable would have got the added protection of the second jab earlier in the year when the second wave was more ferocious.
So we can’t attribute all of those 11,700 saved lives to the 12-week strategy specifically, despite Mr Hancock’s claim.
Matt Hancock’s claim is open to question.
When we asked Matt Hancock to respond to the claims laid out in this website, a spokesperson said: “This list is false, wildly inaccurate, and in some cases possibly even defamatory. For example claiming that some of Matt's claims in the Commons were in defiance of the ministerial code, when they were in fact accurate. The priority throughout this unprecedented pandemic has been saving lives.”