Thank you to all those who have taken the time to write to me regarding the Prime Minister’s Plan B proposals, which were voted on tonight in the House of Commons.
As many of you will be aware, the actions of the Prime Minister have undermined public trust and distracted from key public health messaging at a critical time. Serious times call for serious leadership and this is the worst possible time for the country to have this Prime Minister.
I share your frustration at the Prime Minister’s actions. However, it must not prevent us from acting in the national interest.
I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy Christmas safely this year, and I also want to make sure we protect our NHS. Throughout this pandemic, I have always judged the scientific advice on its merit, and I will continue to do so.
Many of the emails I have received in the previous days refer to ‘vaccination passports’ as if we will all be required to show that we have been vaccinated. This is not what was proposed tonight. The vote was on ‘Covid passes’ where we will have to show either vaccination status or proof of a negative lateral flow test in order to gain entry to large venues/mass gatherings where there is a greater risk because of the number of people attending.
In other words, the new rules will not require us to show that we have been vaccinated; nor will they mean that people who haven’t been vaccinated cannot enter these events. This is because the alternative will be to show a negative test result. This is the system that has been operating in Wales for quite some time, people travelling abroad have long got used to showing a negative result and many other venues have been asking for proof of a negative test result on a voluntary basis. That’s why Labour called on the Government to include the option of a negative lateral flow test as an alternative to proof of vaccination status and I’m glad that ministers have listened.
On the separate issue of mandatory vaccination of the public, I am opposed to this. As I have stated previously, I am also of the belief that everyone should be able to receive essential services no matter what their vaccination status.
However, vaccination remains our most important defence in our fight against the pandemic. The evidence is now clear that it helps to reduce severe infection and death, and we have an obligation one to another to provide the maximum protection against the virus. The importance of vaccination has only increased in the wake of the Omicron variant, where the evidence indicates that a booster dose substantially increases our levels of protection.
Certain constituents have also stated that being vaccinated does nothing to prevent transmission. This is not what the evidence demonstrates. Several studies show that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are less likely to infect others. The Centre for Disease Control says that these findings, along with the early evidence for reduced levels of viral mRNA and culturable virus in vaccinated people who acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection, suggest that any associated transmission risk is substantially reduced in vaccinated people.
I thank everyone again who has taken the time to write to me regarding the vote tonight. If you are a constituent and wish to get in touch with my office, please do not hesitate to do so.
Rt Hon Kevan Jones MP
Member of Parliament for North Durham