Borough MP calls for ‘fair access’ to new Covid-19 vaccines
A borough MP has ramped up the pressure for any Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out to areas, including Wigan, which have endured lockdown the longest.
Leigh’s James Grundy made the calls in a meeting with health secretary Matt Hancock, saying that Wigan and Greater Manchester are “keen to see a return to normality”.
He went on to call for the borough to get “fair access” to any vaccine.
Mr Hancock promised that any vaccine would be distributed fairly right across the country, according to clinical need and protecting the most vulnerable first.
He also said he was “really glad” that the Government are able to roll out mass testing to Wigan, one of 66 local authorities in England to benefit from this.
The pair met after the NHS was told to prepare for mass Covid vaccinations from December 1.
The roll-out plan comes after the vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNtech was found to be 90 per cent effective, following a trial of more than 43,000 people.
The government has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine – enough for 20 million people, as two doses are needed.
In a video posted on Facebook, Mr Grundy asked Mr Hancock: “In terms of a vaccine are we going to get fair access to it because obviously people in Wigan borough, and Greater Manchester as a whole, have been under lockdown for a very long time, so we’re very keen to see a return to normality?”
Mr Hancock replied: “Well aren’t we, absolutely, and I get the fact that people in Wigan and across large parts of the north west have been in measures for a long time and this lockdown is then in addition to that.
“The more that people can follow these lockdown rules, the more we’ll get it under control. We use the testing to get it under control.
“Then the news about the effectiveness of the first vaccine I thought was really positive, but we’ve still got some steps to go and make sure it’s safe.
“We won’t approve anything that isn’t safe and then when we do roll it out, ‘if and when’ I should say, we will ensure it’s fair right across the country and according to clinical the need, protecting the most vulnerable first. That’s the assurance I can give you and everyone in Wigan.”
He added: “I’m really glad that we’re able to roll out mass testing to Wigan and the first dispatch of 10,000 tests for people in Wigan to try and find those positive cases, that’s happening straight away.”
Mr Hancock said he wrote to every director of public health in England on November 9, to make the new rapid turnaround lateral flow tests available, which can deliver results within an hour.
Lateral flow tests are currently being used in the Liverpool mass testing pilot. Anyone living or working in the city can now be tested regularly for coronavirus, even if they have no symptoms, with follow-up tests every couple of weeks.