Public Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:53 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party, The Prime Minister 12:53 pm, 1st December 2020

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will really think carefully about what he just said. We are trying to look after pubs, restaurants and businesses across this entire country, and no one feels the anguish of those businesses more than this Government.

I do think it is extraordinary that in spite of the barrage of criticism that we have, we have no credible plan from the Labour party. Indeed, we have no view on the way ahead. It is a quite extraordinary thing that, to the best of my knowledge, the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras, who said that he would always act in the national interest, has told his party to sit on its hands and to abstain in the vote tonight. The Government have made their decision, we have taken some tough decisions, and the Labour Opposition have decided tonight, heroically, to abstain. I think that when the history of this pandemic comes to be written, the people of this country will observe that instead of having politicians of all parties coming together in the national interest, they had one party taking the decisions and another party heroically deciding to abstain.

In the story of 2020, there are two great feats from which we can take a great deal of comfort. First, our country has come together in an extraordinary effort that has so far succeeded in protecting our NHS and in saving many lives, while our scientists have been zeroing in on the weaknesses of covid, telescoping 10 years of work into 10 months, and now their endeavours are about to deliver the means, as I say, to rout the virus. That is clear.

The Government are backing not one potential vaccine but seven. We have ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, which is now seeking regulatory approval; we have ordered 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has almost 95% effectiveness in trials; and we have ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which, if approved by the regulator, could start being administered before Christmas.