Matt Hancock Says Contagion ‘Inspired’ Him To Order 100 Million Vaccines
UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said the film Contagion ‘inspired’ him to order more COVID vaccines.
Hancock was initially advised to order 30 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinations, but chose to go with more than double that instead after having previously watched Contagion.
The 2011 movie, starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow, is about the discovery of a deadly virus that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention struggle to deal with.
While Hancock denied that it was a ‘primary source’ for his decision to more than double the country’s order of the vaccine, he admitted that Contagion helped him realise that the highest moment of stress during a health crisis isn’t getting a vaccine, but distributing it and ensuring everyone can access it once it’s made.
He explained to Nick Ferrari on LBC:
In the film, it shows that the moment of highest stress around the vaccine program is not in fact before it’s rolled out, when actually the scientists and manufacturers are working together at pace, it’s afterwards when there is a huge row about the order of priorities.
Hancock continued, ‘So, not only did we ensure that we ordered enough for every adult to have their two doses, but also we asked for that clinical advice on the prioritisation very early and set it out in public […] so that there was no big row about the order of priority, but instead we asked the clinicians and we do it on the basis of how we save the most lives, most quickly.’
Ferrari’s line of questioning came after sources told Sky News that Hancock often referred to Contagion when discussing the pandemic.
A former Department of Health and Social Care said to the news outlet:
[Hancock] was constantly 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.
Another person said to The Guardian, ‘To be clear, he didn’t think there was going to be this competition just because he’d seen Contagion. 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.’
If other world leaders are anything like Hancock, hopefully with the help of things like World War Z and The Walking Dead, we’ll know what to do if a zombie apocalypse happens, too.
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