Keir Starmer has declared that “we need to pull everybody together” and pledged to “work constructively with the government” to deliver a plan for the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine across the UK.
In an interview this afternoon, he said “the public will be relieved” following recent reports on progress towards securing an effective Covid vaccine and described the news as “light at the end of the tunnel”.
But the Labour leader also stressed the need for organised planning, telling viewers: “Obviously, we’ve got to go from where we are now to rolling it out.
“And that’s why I’ve written to the Prime Minister to say we need a clear strategy, we need to pull everybody together – best of Britain, if you like – very good comms and I want to work constructively with the government on that.
“I think the public want to see all political parties, all politicians, pulling together to make this work as quickly as we can.”
His comments followed reports of a vaccine against the virus that is nearly 94.5% effective, according to early data from US pharmaceutical company Moderna, and promising news last week of a vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.
The Labour leader added: “The government needs to set out a strategy now for rolling this out across the whole of the UK.
“What are the priorities? How are we going to get it to everyone, everywhere in a safe way? I think what the public want here is to see us all pulling together to make that work.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says he wants to "work constructively" with the government on a plan for Covid vaccine roll-out
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) November 16, 2020
Early results for Pfizer-BioNTech suggested that the vaccine for the novel coronavirus, of which the UK government has secured 40 million doses, is 90% effective. But it has not yet been approved as safe by the regulator.
Matt Hancock has said that the length of the vaccine effect and its effectiveness at reducing transmission of the virus is still unknown, but the NHS would be ready to start giving out the vaccine from December 1st if approved.
US biotech firm Moderna became the latest to reveal positive results in the work to secure effective vaccines to the virus with reports emerging this morning that the company is seeking emergency-use authorisation in the coming weeks.
The Moderna vaccine, which is being trialled in more than 30,000 volunteers, is not expected to be available outside the US until next year. The organisation has said it hopes to manufacture between 500 million and one billion doses globally next year.
The vaccine is thought to provide for easier distribution than that of Pfizer-BioNTech as it is stable for up to six months at a temperature of -20°C, or 30 days at standard refrigerator temperatures of two to eight degrees.
The vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech can be transported and stored for up to six months at -70°C. It can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for up to five days.