ritons could start being vaccinated against coronavirus in the next three weeks, Matt Hancock said today, after hopes were raised by Pfizer’s breakthrough announcement. 

The Health Secretary said the military and NHS staff are on standby to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine across the UK from the start of December and will work “seven days a week”. Addressing MPs in the Commons this lunchtime, Mr Hancock said he was confident health workers would rise to the challenge of being ready to “inject hope into millions of arms this winter”.

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1605020549Culmative graph of registered Covid-19 deaths( Culmative graph of registered Covid-19 deaths / PA )1605020176300 more people die with Covid-19 in hospital, NHS England says

A further 300 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 34,963, NHS England said on Tuesday.

Patients were aged between 35 and 100. All except eight, aged between 66 and 99, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between September 28 and November 9.

Seven other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

1605019722How will the Government stop virus from spiralling out of control once lockdown ends?

SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) asked what Matt Hancock planned to change so Covid-19 “doesn’t just get out of control again when restrictions are eased”.

She asked about the risks of false positives or negatives from lateral flow tests, plus the risks, benefits and costs of such mass population testing.

On a vaccine she said: “It’ll take time before it’s widely available and… we don’t yet know if it will reduce transmission, so it doesn’t remove the need to control viral spread using current measures.”

On test and trace, she added: “Five months on, Serco are still struggling to reach even 60 per cent of contacts… People won’t stay off work if it means they can’t feed their family so how will he make access to the Government’s isolation payment easier?”

Mr Hancock responded: “There is a difference in how a successful contact is measured it turns out. In England we are much stricter on requiring a contact to be confirmed contact with somebody, rather than just sending them a message, that doesn’t count as contact in the English system, it does count as contact in some of the devolved and local systems. So it’s just really important that we actually measure the same thing rather than trying to make divisions where divisions don’t exist.”

1605019021Why aren’t BAME people being offered vaccine priority?

Labour MP Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse) asked why people from the BAME community have not been included in the order of priority of groups for vaccination.

She said: “As well as age and underlying conditions, the JCVI notes that early signals have been identified of other potential risk factors including deprivation and ethnicity. But there has been numerous amounts of research and evidence showing that black, Asian and minority groups are at risk of this virus.

“Given the occupations, given the over-crowded households that they disproportionately represent, why have they not been included in the composition and order of priority of groups for vaccination?”

Mr Hancock responded: “The JCVI have looked at this issue and in their earlier iteration of their draft advice they considered the question of the disproportionate impact that this virus has had on BAME communities.

“Their conclusion having looked at it in some detail is that the overwhelming indicator of mortality from coronavirus is age and therefore they’ve based their recommendations around age and of course the occupation groups who directly support the most vulnerable, hence they’ve come up with the classification that they have and I respect their independence and their analysis.”

1605018733Airports should be first in line for rapid testing – Grayling

Conservative former minister Chris Grayling urged the Government to prioritise airport testing.

Mr Grayling said “economically, it is vital to us”, adding: “Can I urge (Mr Hancock) to make sure those 15-minute tests are made available to the aviation sector at the earliest opportunity?”

Matt Hancock replied: “Yes, the expansion of testing capacity obviously opens up the number of different uses that it can be put to.

“And we’re working very closely with the aviation industry.

“The Transport Secretary is leading those discussions but I am heavily involved in them and I hope that we can make some progress soon.”

1605018299Will all Brits have access to vaccine?

Matt Hancock would not disclose when he believes a successful vaccine would be available for everyone in the UK.

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn) asked when a successful vaccine would be available for the UK and if there will be “Government restrictions between those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t been vaccinated”.

Mr Hancock replied: “(Ms Siddiq) tempts me but I will resist the temptation. We do not know when this vaccine will be ready because I will not allow it to be rolled out before it is clinically safe – and anyway, the independent regulator would not license it before it is clinically safe.”

He added: “The problem is that until we know the epidemic modifying effects of any vaccine – that is to say not just how much it protects an individual, but how much it stops transmission – then we won’t, until we can assess that and monitor that, that is the point at which we can make further judgments about the non-pharmaceutical interventions, the social distancing rules that we have in place.

“So we will keep that under review and monitor it extremely carefully.”

1605018122The latest figures for Northern Ireland are in:

Another 514 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the country’s Department of Health said.

Eleven more deaths were reported overnight.

1605018014Care homes are first in line for vaccine – Hancock

Vaccinations for care home residents and staff are the “top priority,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons.

Conservative MP Duncan Baker (North Norfolk) asked for an “absolute reassurance” there will be enough vaccinations for all care home residents and staff.

Responding, Mr Hancock said: “The top priority according to the clinical analysis for this vaccine is the residents of care homes and the staff who work to look after them so well.

“They are in the very first categorisation because they’re the most vulnerable to this disease.”

Former Conservative cabinet minister Damian Green asked whether family members of care home residents could receive Covid tests to help them be reunited with loved ones.

Mr Hancock said the Government was working to tackle this “conundrum,” adding: “We need to keep people in care homes safe but at the same time of course we want to allow as much visiting as can be safe.”

1605017920Brexit won’t impede vaccine roll-out, Hancock insists

Matt Hancock said he has confidence in the UK’s plans to deliver the vaccine “whatever the outcomes” of Brexit negotiations with the EU.

Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said: “Of course the news about the Pfizer vaccine is extremely encouraging and we’re all hopeful that it’s proved safe and effective and approved by regulators.

“If that is indeed the case, given that it’s being manufactured in Belgium and as (Mr Hancock) has noted it has to be kept at minus 70 degrees at all times until shortly before administration, what arrangements is he putting in place to ensure that there is absolutely no delay of the supplies at the borders following the end of the Brexit transition period?

“Because any significant delay could at worst result in precious supplies being damaged and rendered useless which could delay roll-out.”

Mr Hancock responded: “Of course we’ve looked at this risk and I have confidence in our plans to be able to deliver the vaccine whatever the outcomes of the negotiations over our future relationship with Europe.”

( Parliament TV )1605017811Vaccine hasn’t got the green light yet, Hancock reminds MPs

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “we’ve got to await the clinical safety sign-off” before any vaccine can be rolled out.

Conservative MP Mark Pawsey (Rugby) said his constituents wanted to know “when can they safely start to consider families events and holiday?”

Mr Hancock said: “I understand the yearning for this certainty. All I can say to my honourable friend in honesty is that I want us to get back to normal as quickly as possible and yesterday’s news is a big step forward but it isn’t the only step.”

He added: “We will not put safety at risk – that is a lodestar of the programme – and therefore we’ve got to await the clinical safety sign-off before we can take this to the next stage.”

Meg Hillier, Labour chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, asked how long it would take to roll out any vaccine.

Mr Hancock replied: “It depends on the speed of manufacture in the first instance. My goal, and the goal I’ve set the NHS, is to be able to roll this out as quickly as it can be manufactured.”

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