Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee, Hancock said community testing was reduced early in the pandemic over concerns about false negatives and a lack of available tests.
Hancock's evidence follows allegations made to the committee by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former aide Dominic Cummings including claims Hancock had repeatedly lied in government meetings on COVID-19, and called for him to be sacked. Hancock has denied the allegations made by Cummings.
In his evidence, Cummings also said decisions being made often hid behind the line the government was "following the science" to avoid total culpability.
Asked to respond to that allegation, Hancock told lawmakers the government was guided by the science but that he tries not to say "we follow the science".
He said he took full responsibility for all decisions made by him and on his behalf as health minister.