News of recently developed covid-19 vaccines and the national rollout of a vaccine programme have provided hope for 2021. The new vaccines are a testament to the efforts of scientists, clinicians and researchers across the world.
While the vaccine is positive news, the mishandling of the covid crisis means we’re not out of the woods yet – repeatedly, we’ve seen that the government has been reactive and slow to act on implementing public health measures and a working track and trace system; that the Prime Minister has ignored the advice of the country’s top experts; and that the restrictions that have been put in place are often piecemeal, with far too little support available to ensure that everyone is able to implement and adhere to the rules. Often, changes to public health restrictions have been accompanied by confused messaging and contradictory guidance.
That’s why, to ensure the successful rollout of the vaccine programme, it’s more important than ever that the government is scrutinised and held to account. We need to have a clear outline and targets for delivery, clarity over who will be prioritised, unambiguous guidance to those administering the jab, transparency in the levels of vaccine supply and supply chain, and a robust plan to tackle the rumour and misinformation that are sadly being spread about the vaccine.
On Monday, during a session of the Public Accounts Committee, I put questions to senior civil servants to scrutinise delivery of the vaccine programme. You can watch the whole session here or read a transcript here.