Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:28 pm on 11th November 2020.

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Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Conservative, Warrington South 7:28 pm, 11th November 2020

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Mr Holden. He said so many of the things that I wanted to say, so I can cut my speech right down.

I start by paying tribute to those in Warrington South who are playing such a critical part in our battle against covid. Earlier this week, I was really pleased to hear from the Health Secretary that Warrington will receive 10,000 antigen lateral flow devices this week to start the process of mass testing. That allows the director of public health in Warrington to focus her team’s efforts and to start testing priority groups. It means we can start to tackle the challenges of children being sent home from school, and help students, teachers and parents to live their lives in a bit more of a normal fashion.

Having grown that capacity, we can also do regular tests in the NHS to try to tackle some of the transmission in hospitals. It is really important to keep people safe when they go there for regular testing. Over the last two weeks, Warrington Hospital has been piloting testing for all patient-facing staff. It has tested around 3,900 in total. It really surprised me that there were only 50 positive asymptomatic cases—less than 2%. That is a really worthwhile exercise.

The news that Pfizer’s vaccine has achieved a 90% success rate in more than six countries, with 43,500 volunteers, is very welcome, but I want to praise in particular and support the vaccine taskforce and its chair, Kate Bingham. We seem to have a bit of a problem that, when someone in the private sector gives up their time—unpaid—to work for the national interest, Opposition Members and parts of the media seem to go out of their way to bring them down. I was particularly interested in the comment by Sir John Bell, the professor of medicine at Oxford University, who was clear in saying that, if it were not for her, the 30 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine would not be arriving in this country. This lady deserve our grateful appreciation, not smears and division.