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Covid-19 Vaccines: Distribution

Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 17 November 2020

On top of the positive news this week of two vaccines, a covid vaccine will be deployed only once it has met robust standards on safety, effectiveness and quality through clinical trials and been approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency or an appropriate regulatory body. The Government have asked the NHS to be ready to deploy any safe, effective vaccine as soon as it is available. Distribution arrangements must be flexible and include the make-up of the workforce needed to rapidly deliver a vaccination programme, training requirements, consumables and any supporting infrastructure. The key point, though, is that the Government have been clear they will do everything they need to do to roll out a successful vaccine.

Does the Minister agree that it is going to be a mammoth logistical effort, not only to do a vaccination-style thing as we do every year with flu, but to include everybody? Also, it looks as though, in order for the vaccine to be effective, people might have to have two injections rather than one, which doubles the number. Can she give any view at this stage, given the logistical efforts that are going in, of how long it will take us to safely vaccinate everybody in the country?

First, I would like to place on record my enormous thanks to Liverpool and its local leadership for how it has helped us with repatriating from Wuhan and with the mass testing. I am sure that Liverpool will once again step to the fore with any help we might need with deploying the vaccine. We will deploy it as fast as possible, but there is a process. We have to know that it is safe, through the regulatory framework. We then have to know that as it arrives from the manufacturers, we can distribute it at pace. We are aiming to do that, and every sinew is being strained to ensure that we can deliver as swiftly as possible. The entire population wants to get on with living a normal, or more normal, life.