The UK Health Secretary has said people should look forward to a “great British summer” during a visit to Glasgow.

Matt Hancock said that the rollout of vaccination against Covid-19 meant that there was hope travel restrictions could be lifted across the UK, allowing people to take holidays inside the country. 

During a visit to the Glasgow University Lighthouse lab, Mr Hancock said: “I very much hope that as we are able to lift restrictions, then we are all able to travel across the UK.

“I’m confident because of the vaccine we will be able to make that progress and then be able to, all of us, to travel freely wherever we are within these islands

“One of the factors that we have to be vigilant about in that road map is the emergence of new variants, in case the current vaccines are not as effective."

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He added: “I’ve said before that I’m optimistic for a great British summer and I’m now more optimistic about having a great British summer than I have been at any time, thanks to the speed and the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.

“By great British summer, I absolutely mean people being able to enjoy travel across the whole of the UK.”

HeraldScotland:

Matt Hancock in Glasgow

Mr Hancock also discussed how the  UK could become one of the fastest countries in the world to approve new Covid-19 vaccines to tackle variants, with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) overseeing a fast-track approach to approving new jabs, after studies suggested variants may make vaccines less effective.

The Minister said: “We will have a fast-track approach to safely approving future vaccines that work against a variant of Covid-19.

“The vaccine programme has clearly been a huge UK success story, and part of the reason that we have been able to develop the vaccines so far, so quickly, is because of the MHRA’s rigorous yet flexible approach, which has been based entirely on looking as quickly as possible at the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

“I’m delighted that they’re taking that same principled approach to the approval process for vaccines that may work against variants.”

Scientists have become concerned about several variants, including one first identified in the Brazilian city of Manaus.

HeraldScotland:

Meeting staff at the Lighthouse lab

A study this week suggested that between 25% and 61% of people in the city who had previously had Covid were susceptible to reinfection with the worrying P1 variant found there.

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Six cases of P1 have been found in the UK to date – three in England and three in Scotland.

Vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer and AstraZeneca are already working on new jabs to tackle variants in case they are needed.