Sketch: If the Queen won’t do it, it’ll just have to be Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock says he would be willing to get vaccinated on live TV, so now the only real question is what we vaccinate him against.
Some have suggested the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should do it, while others have suggested the Queen should, because those are the two institutional figures we all relate to.
In fact, according to reports in the Express, the Royals are concerned they will be being pushed into a public vaccination, with palace officials clear they won’t be “bullied” into the spectacle.
So there you have it. The Queen or Matt Hancock, those are your options, and there are clear pros and cons to both.
Now the advantage with Hancock of course is that he does something truly weird live on TV, as he does every time a camera is pointed at him, whereas the Queen, though far more reliable, would allow us to treat it like an occasion of state.
You could have a helicopter tracking the syringe’s journey to the Palace – it would sit on an expensive cushion – with Huw Edwards forced to provide live commentary on each tiny detail.
Though it’s hard to escape the feeling Prince Charles might turn out to be an anti-vaxxer, which would be really awkward.
So who knows. But in some ways it’s nice just to be talking about practicalities in the journey out of the coronavirus crisis, regardless of what we decide to inject the health secretary with.
Things, it seems, are turning a corner. The virus may still be a very real threat, but with news of a solution it appears that we at least have an end in sight.
And so Scotland bought some really big fridges. Really, really big ones. Scientists around the world worked frantically to try and find a solution to one of the biggest health crises in decades, and the Scottish Government, in turn, spent an afternoon in Curries.
As Nicola Sturgeon explained to parliament, in talking MSPs through the logistics of the operation: “We have purchased around 20 of these very large fridges that are capable of storing the vaccine at those very, very low temperatures. They will be situated in strategic locations across the country.”
Some opposition figures looked slightly underwhelmed by that answer, to be honest. They probably didn’t realise just how large these fridges are.
So the First Minister, somewhat ambitiously, tried again. “There are logistical issues in terms of getting the vaccines from the cold storage to where they need to be, and there are different temperatures that apply for short periods of time in that journey to the person being vaccinated, but all of these things are under deployment right now, including, I am pleased to say, the procurement of big fridges.”
Really big fridges. It was excellent news. You go to the nearest “big fridge” – or to use a more technical term, a “very large fridge” – you grab some vaccine and you go off on your merry way.
Or so you might think. But it’s actually far more complicated than that, because as Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman explained, these fridges are a matter for the secret service. Like if James Bond had shown a greater interest in white goods.
“Twenty-three commercial freezers have been purchased”, she boasted, with the air of an ambitious local ice cream entrepreneur, “and they are located across all our health board areas.”
“I would like to advise members on where they are, but I have to say that national security, which is part of MI5, is very unsure about the wisdom of making public where our storage is of what is a very precious vaccine.”
You need the fridge to get vaccinated, but we can’t tell you where it is, because they have become a matter of national security. MI5 is keeping them secret, while presumably doing its best to find out where other countries are keeping their fridges in turn. It’s the cold war all over again.
The long term plan, of course, is to hide the vaccine in each of our bodies, so the Russians can’t get it. But where can we store it in the meantime? The obvious answer, again, lies with Matt Hancock.
He could guard the fridges until everyone is treated. If it helped build confidence he could do it live on TV, 24 hours a day, like a really lonely Big Brother.
We could watch him patrolling, checking any suspicious noises, adding increasingly eccentric magnates to the doors.
But still, it seems people won’t trust the vaccine until they see someone famous take it first.
As renowned virologist Sir Desmond Swayne suggested: “The way to persuade people to have a vaccine is to line up the entire government and its ministers and their loved ones and let them take it first, and then get all the luvvies, the icons of popular culture, out on the airwaves singing its praises.”
It sounded like terrible TV. But in fairness to Swayne, this sort of approach has worked in the past. In fact Elvis once got a polio shot in a studio, to encourage teenagers to follow suit.
So maybe the calls are right after all. We need a bit of star power. A bit of glamour. And if the Queen won’t do it, it’ll just have to be Hancock.