The news this week from AstraZeneca about their progress with the Oxford vaccine could hopefully be a real game changer in the fight against Covid-19. It is good news on a number of fronts, not only is the vaccine very affordable in comparison to some of the others, but it can also be stored in a domestic fridge, and does not need sustained freezing from factory to clinic at ultra-low temperatures.
Undoubtedly this news will also bring out those who oppose vaccination, and some have been very quick to question the safety of vaccines developed at such speed. That is why the Prime Minister has been right to be cautious in his welcome of the progress so far, there are still crucial safety checks to be done, although the news from Oxford on that front is good so far, with no serious side effects reported.
This week in Parliament we have had the Comprehensive Spending Review update from the Chancellor, the update from the PM (by zoom) and another week of PMQs via zoom, which worked better than the Covid-19 statement on Monday when the connection went down. That meant my question was asked to Matt Hancock who was standing in just in case of technical difficulties.
There was also a discussion about remote participation which I think is crucial for those MPs who cannot be in Westminster. Legal advice suggests that only allowing clinically extremely vulnerable Members to participate in debates remotely is discriminatory, but there are no quick legal solutions. What matters to me is that the Leader of the House recognises the need to expand the list of Members who can take part safely from home.
Finally, I am writing this ahead of knowing which tier we are going to be in moving forward, that news will not be released until Thursday and my deadline is Wednesday. We do know that we all need to play a part, as we wait for the vaccine, in keeping infection rates low, so as Christmas approaches, and lockdown relaxes, please keep safe.