Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:19 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 3:19 pm, 12th January 2021

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered covid-19.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your courtesy in slightly drawing out your introduction to allow me to take my mask off as I came to the Dispatch Box.

It is less than a year since the coronavirus was first mentioned in a debate in this House, on 22 January 2020. The House has debated this issue, which has affected all aspects of our national life, on many occasions since then. I would say at the outset that, throughout, it is important that we remember that all Members of this House share a common goal. They may have differences of opinion and there may be different perspectives on how best to achieve that goal, but it is important that we are clear that every Member of this House is clear in their determination to see this virus beaten and to see our country recover economically and in every other sense. I pay tribute to all right hon. and hon. Members and to the strength and sincerity of their views on this important topic. Since that first debate, novel SARS-CoV-2, which of course we all now know too well as covid-19, has caused untold disruption to all our lives and our way of life in this country. It is right, at this point, that we remember all those who, sadly, have lost their lives to the disease.

In this first general debate on covid-19 of 2021, it is worth reflecting that despite our painful familiarity with the challenges we face, the situation today is markedly different from many occasions in the past. For a start, and perhaps most importantly, we now see the way out. We have not one but two safe and effective vaccines being injected into people’s arms up and down the country as we speak.