Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:47 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 6:47 pm, 12th January 2021

I feel safe in saying that that is the ultimate wish of everybody who is involved in fighting this virus. As Liz Kendall said, most of us want a hug. We have been here long enough. The rules mean missing out on moments with loved ones and businesses having to shutter their doors once again. I am sure we have all had conversations with those businesses. Members from across the House spoke of the Chancellor’s unprecedented support, which he outlined again in this place yesterday. He will have been listening to my hon. Friends the Members for Bury North (James Daly) and for Bury South (Christian Wakeford) and others who made that strong case for hospitality and the self-employed.

However, we have to keep going. Our response is improving every day. We are expanding our test capacity. We have distributed massive amounts of PPE—6.7 billion items—to the system, 70% of which was made in this country, so I do not recognise the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston’s dire PPE forecast. It has turned, and we now have everybody on the frontline protected as they need to be. We are making the most of scientific advances, such as the two new treatments that passed rigorous clinical trials last week. I will not attempt the names like my hon. Friend the Minister for Health did; they appear to be tongue-twisters. As we fight this virus, we will support those impacted by the measures through our furlough scheme and support for the self-employed.

As well as support in the short term, we now have a way out in the long term thanks to the vaccines that we are rolling out: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which we were the first country in the world to clinically authorise; the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, developed right here in the UK; and the Moderna vaccine, authorised on Friday, which we can soon add to our growing arsenal of vaccines. We now have a plan to get them far and wide, and I recommend to anybody who has not read the vaccine delivery strategy outlined yesterday that they do so. To date, we have vaccinated more than 2.4 million of the most vulnerable people, and 412,000 have had their second vaccine. That is amazing. From north, south, east and west, we have heard people praise this, and we are going from strength to strength. The work set out in the vaccine strategy will help us to return to normal life.

Today’s debate has been engaging, and I thank everybody who has taken part. We have a difficult few weeks ahead as we enter this final stage of our response. We are called upon to sacrifice some of the things that we love to get this virus under control, but as we do so we can take comfort from the fact that help is on the way. The incredible advances will see us through. We will get through this together.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered covid-19.