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Antimicrobial Resistance: Vaccines

Volume 657: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2019

The new five-year national action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance contains the commitment to support more research into new and alternative treatments, including vaccines and diagnostic tests, to promote broader access to vaccines for both humans and animals.

Stopping the spread of diseases such as TB by using vaccines will play a key role in tackling AMR worldwide, so what plans does my right hon. Friend have for building on the excellent work of the UK Vaccine Network, with all the funding that goes with that, to ensure continued UK leadership in vaccinology?

My right hon. Friend is right to raise this issue. Of all the challenges facing the world, the risk that antibiotics will fail to work in the future is a huge one that we cannot afford to allow to come to pass. We are putting significant research money into the production of new antibiotics and ensuring that we roll out vaccines so that antibiotics do not have to be used.

The use of antibiotics in the chicken population in the United Kingdom has fallen by more than 70% over the last five years. This is doable: we will provide the money that is necessary to ensure that people can use antibiotics well into the future.

May I beg the Secretary of State to snap out of the trance that he now seems to be in and wake up to the fact that many of the key researchers in this area are going back to their European homes because of the threat of Brexit? We are losing Spanish nurses, for instance, on whom my constituents absolutely depend for healthcare. Up and down the country, our health system is haemorrhaging talent because of the Secretary of State’s lack of action. Wake up, Secretary of State, and smell the coffee!

I am afraid that I profoundly disagree with the hon. Gentleman, who used to be so sensible. Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem and we contribute to global funds, because only by coming together as a whole world will we be able to tackle it— and that is what we are going to do.