Boris Johnson has declared himself “fit as a butcher’s dog” as he self-isolates, while also raising the prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine being distributed “perhaps before Christmas”.
In a video posted to his Twitter account on Monday, Mr Johnson said he had been “pinged” by the NHS Test and Trace system.
He added: “It doesn’t matter that we were all doing social distancing, it doesn’t matter that I’m fit as a butcher’s dog, feel great – so many people do in my circumstances – and actually it doesn’t matter that I’ve had the disease and I’m bursting with antibodies.
“We’ve got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways we can do that now is by self-isolating for 14 days when you get contacted by NHS Test and Trace.”
The prime minister suggested his case proved NHS Test and Trace is “working well”, despite criticism of the £12bn programme.
He also said the UK now had “two gigantic boxing gloves with which to wallop our foe into submission”, amid the second wave of COVID-10 infections.
Mr Johnson outlined these as mass rapid testing for the disease and a vaccine “which I hope we’ll be able to start distributing to those who really need it perhaps before Christmas”.
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech last week released initial results that suggested their jab was 90% effective at protecting people from COVID-19.
The government has asked the NHS, which will be supported by the Armed Forces, to be ready for the deployment of a vaccine from the start of December.
Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley, Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the roll-out of a vaccine as a “huge administrative challenge”.
“Even if that comes through as fast as it possibly could, the majority of people we’d expect to be vaccinating in the New Year even if we do manage to make progress this year,” he said.
“We are not there yet, we don’t yet have a vaccine signed off.”
But Mr Hancock said the expansion of mass testing “may be able to help” in allowing a Christmas “as normal as possible”.
Tory backbencher Lee Anderson developed COVID-19 systems and tested positive for the disease after meeting with Mr Johnson last Thursday, forcing the prime minister’s self-isolation.
A picture of the pair at the meeting showed neither Mr Anderson nor the prime minister wearing masks.
And Mr Hancock admitted he does not always wear a mask himself while in Number 10 because “the COVID-secure guidelines for that building don’t require it at all times”, adding: “Different workplaces have different rules according to what is appropriate there.”
The health secretary described Mr Johnson as “absolutely full of beans” and said he had “no doubt the prime minister will be able to drive the agenda forward and communicate with the public in the way that he does normally, but just differently because it will be by video conference and not face-to-face”.
Other Conservative MPs present at Thursday’s meeting with the prime minister are now also self-isolating.
The prime minister’s Twitter video was self-filmed without an opportunity for journalists to ask questions.