Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:29 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Conservative, North West Durham 6:29 pm, 12th January 2021

Covid has hammered the towns and villages of North West Durham, in terms of deaths—so many people have gone too soon—and of life-changing issues such as permanent lung scarring. Additionally, the measures necessary to control the virus have had a huge impact locally—on local businesses, which are really suffering, on local job losses and on the broader local economy. That has particularly been the case in our hospitality sector, our local gyms and our personal care sector. It is estimated that across the country these restrictions are costing the UK about £1 billion a day.

As the Minister knows, vaccines are our way out, and one in every 250 or so people vaccinated is a life saved; that means that for around 250,000 vaccines a day going out, we are saving 1,000 lives a day. The Public Accounts Committee yesterday questioned the chair of the Vaccine Taskforce, and she made it clear that we were several months ahead of other countries in our roll-out plans.

I hugely praise the efforts of my local NHS in North West Durham. I recently visited Shotley Bridge Hospital and Weardale Community Hospital and have regular calls with our CCG and NHS trust. All the staff are at the moment working on an enormous task and achieving at putting the north-east at the forefront of the vaccine programme. We seem to be getting communities really onside, and people are getting vaccinated. I encourage everybody who is eligible to take that up as quickly as possible.

I quickly want to ask the Minister one thing. It is great news about the dashboard—I have been on it myself today—but when will we see the regional and local breakdowns, because that will help give people even more confidence that the vaccines are coming to them?

Finally, we are all desperate for an end to lockdown and for a return to normality so that our businesses can thrive once more, and I urge the Minister to ensure that the restrictions are lifted at the earliest safe opportunity for our constituents.