Thank you for contacting me about vaccinations for Covid-19.
The ongoing national response to the Covid-19 emergency is a testament to the hard work of our NHS staff, care workers, key workers, scientific researchers and all members of the public following Government guidance to keep each other safe. It has also highlighted that UK-based scientific research is at the forefront of global development. This is exemplified in particular by the development of a vaccine at Oxford University. At present, that vaccine is in Phase III of its trial into the vaccine, with 8,000 volunteers participating, and reports have indicated that it is producing the right sort of immune response.
Pfizer and BioNTech's announcement on 9 November that the vaccine they have been developing appears to be 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants was most welcome news, and I congratulate the researchers who have been involved in this process so far. However, I agree with the Prime Minister that while one important hurdle has been cleared, there are more to go before we know that the vaccine can be used. I know that the UK Government has ordered 40 million doses of this vaccine, as well as 300 million doses from 5 other vaccine candidates.
It is absolutely not the case that pharmaceutical companies created COVID-19 for their own profit, and it is extremely irresponsible for people to promote these lies. Scientists have worked extremely hard to establish the origin of the virus in order to help to defeat it, and through that work they were able to learn that COVID-19 evolved from a Coronavirus in the bat population. Furthermore, researchers have stated, had COVID-19 been human made, that would have been identifiable in the virus' genome. No such evidence has been found.
Pharmaceutical companies have been working hard to establish treatments and vaccines for this virus; in fact, Astra Zeneca, who have been working with Oxford University on one of the frontrunner vaccines, have pledged not to profit from the vaccine during the pandemic.
I am committed to ending the current pandemic in the safest possible manner, and I support the measures under the Coronavirus Act 2020 which reinforce and expediate this process. It is important to note that the powers granted to the Government under the Coronavirus Act 2020 are made under and subject to the restrictions of the Control of Disease Act 1984. Under the 1984 Act, Ministers have the power to make regulations which prevent danger to public health and prevent the spread of infection, but these regulations do not include mandatory treatment or vaccination.
Instead, the Coronavirus Act 2020, a time limited, emergency act, is designed to significantly enhance our ability to respond effectively. The Act will increase the available health and social care workforce, ease the burden on frontline staff, contain and slow the spread of Covid-19 by reducing unnecessary social contact, help manage the deceased with dignity and respect, and support individuals financially.
Before use, vaccinations are extensively trialled under a variety of conditions, before undergoing a robust and independent analysis process. The benefits associated with vaccinations are overwhelming and, as such, I strongly disagree with any group or individual seeking to discourage people from protecting themselves and others from potentially fatal illnesses, including Coronavirus. I believe that there is more than adequate information about contents of vaccines, including in patient information leaflets, and I fundamentally disagree that any organisation involved with the UK's vaccination programme is anything other than transparent.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this very important topic.
Sally-Ann Hart MP