Wednesday 12 January 2022
Health and Social Care
Covid-19: PANORAMIC National Study
On 20 October 2021, the Government announced the procurement of two ground-breaking novel oral antivirals to treat UK covid-19 patients, supplemented by the announcement of additional volumes of these drugs on 22 December. I am writing to inform the House of the progress made on the platform adaptive trial of novel antivirals for early treatment of covid-19 in the community (PANORAMIC) national study and issue a call to action.
On 8 December, the PANORAMIC national study was launched by the University of Oxford. This study was set up so that comprehensive data can be collected on how well these antiviral treatments work in a highly vaccinated population before making these treatments more widely available in the NHS to patients in the most effective way possible.
This will ensure that both patients and clinicians have clear evidence and full confidence in taking and prescribing these treatments respectively across the UK. This has become even more important since the emergence of the omicron variant, as all research previously has been completed with non-omicron variants.
The first antiviral being studied is molnupiravir, which was granted conditional marketing authorisation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on 4 November 2021. The study has recruited 3,176 participants as of noon on 12 January 2022. This is excellent progress for a community-based trial in its first month, but it is crucial that recruitment ramps up significantly to generate results as quickly as possible.
We are encouraging people who receive a positive test for covid-19, are experiencing covid-19 symptoms beginning in the last five days, and are aged over 50, or are over 18 with certain underlying health conditions, to sign up to the study straight away.
The study is available to people in this cohort across the UK and it is possible to sign up from anywhere, with the treatment delivered to a participant’s house directly. To ensure eligibility for the study, those who wish to participate must sign up as soon as possible after getting a positive covid-19 test result as antivirals are expected to be most effective when taken at the earliest stages of disease.
Members of both Houses are requested to encourage constituents and others who may contact them to consider enrolling in the study online at www.panoramictrial.org or by calling the freephone number 0808 156 0017.
The Antivirals Taskforce is working across the health and care system in the UK, including NHS England and NHS Improvement, the UK Health Security Agency and our partners in the devolved Administrations to plan the wider deployment of antiviral treatments as data from the national study becomes available.
The Department of Health and Social Care will publish a further update in due course.
Prime Minister's Trade Envoy Programme
The Prime Minister has made two new appointments to his trade envoy programme.
The new appointments will extend the total number of trade envoys to 34 parliamentarians, covering 72 markets. The Prime Minister’s trade envoy programme is an unpaid and voluntary role with cross-party membership from both Houses. The role supports the UK’s ambitious trade and investment agenda by championing Global Britain and promoting the UK as a destination of choice for inward investment. Trade envoys will help to make the most of our new trade deals and support the UK’s economic recovery through the levelling-up agenda, by helping business take advantage of the opportunities arising in export markets.
The new appointments are:
The hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart MP, has been appointed as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Lord Sarfraz of Kensington has been appointed as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Singapore.
Since becoming Transport Secretary, I have worked consistently to raise the bar on motorway safety and I am determined to make sure people using our motorways continue to benefit from one of the safest and best performing road networks in the world.
To this end, one of my first actions as Transport Secretary was to order a stocktake of smart motorways. I also welcome the Transport Committee’s report published on 2 November 2021, following their inquiry into the roll-out and safety of smart motorways.
The stocktake and action plan, which I published in March 2020, focused efforts on further upgrading the safety of smart motorways. I am pleased that these efforts have been recognised by the Committee, which agreed that the Government were right to focus on upgrading the safety of all lane running (ALR) smart motorways, rather than reinstating the hard shoulder—which the Committee recognised could cause more deaths or serious injuries on our roads.
Having carefully considered the Committee’s report, I will be taking forward all of its recommendations. This includes the recommendation to pause the roll-out of future ALR smart motorway schemes until a full five years’ worth of safety data is available.
During the pause, we will continue to make sure all existing ALR smart motorways are equipped with best-in-class technology and resources and are as safe as they can possibly be.
I will also follow the recommendations to pause the conversion of dynamic hard shoulder smart motorways to ALR until the next road investment strategy; retrofit more emergency areas across existing ALR schemes; conduct an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of stopped vehicle detection technology; explore the introduction of the emergency corridor manoeuvre into the highway code; and investigate the benefits of health and safety assessments being undertaken by the Office of Rail and Road.
Taken together and building on my initial stocktake these measures will ensure that our roads continue to be among the safest in the world—helping drivers not just to be safe, but crucially, to feel safe and confident when driving.
I am grateful for the Transport Committee’s scrutiny and to all those that provided evidence for their work. I will be instructing National Highways to take immediate steps to implement the actions as set out in the response and will update the Committee on progress over the coming year.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: UK Delegation
The hon. Member for Broadland (Jerome Mayhew) has been appointed as a full member of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell) has been appointed as a full member in place of the hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers).
The right hon. Lord Keen of Elie QC has been appointed as a full member in place of Baroness Eccles of Moulton.
The hon. Member for Jarrow (Kate Osborne) has been appointed as a substitute member of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Jane Stevenson) has been appointed as a substitute member in place of the hon. Member for Kensington (Felicity Buchan).
The hon. Member for North West Durham (Richard Holden) has been appointed as a substitute member in place of the hon. Member for St. Austell and Newquay (Steve Double).
Baroness Foster of Oxton has been appointed as a substitute member in place of Lord Balfe.
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
My right hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) has been appointed as a full representative of the United Kingdom delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in place of my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson).
My right hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) has been appointed as a full representative in place of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood).
Lord Smith of Hindhead has been appointed as a full representative in place of Lord Bowness.
John Whittingdale has been appointed as leader of the delegation.