British-made Covid-19 tests, preventing the sale of the UK’s vaccine manufacturing centre and improving ventilation in schools are ideas contained in Labour’s 10-point plan for living with Covid.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the proposals were a way of learning to “live well” with coronavirus as it continues to adapt.
Reports had suggested the Government’s plan for how to live with the virus could include scrapping free lateral flow tests, but Labour has instead suggested expanding the availability of tests, including by having a secure domestic supply.
Other ideas in the plan include retaining volunteer responders to assist with vaccinations next winter in a bid to hit 500,000 daily jabs from day one of any further booster programmes, and doing more to vaccinate less wealthy countries against coronavirus.
Mr Streeting said: “We’re not out of the woods with Covid-19.
“The virus will change and adapt and we need to learn to live well with it.
“For the Government living with Covid is just an empty slogan with no plan.
“For some of the fanatics on the Conservative backbenches, living with Covid means letting the virus rip. Both positions are highly irresponsible.
“If we are to learn to live well with Covid, we need to be prepared.
“Labour’s plan will put Britain on the front foot and secure our lives, livelihoods and liberties.”
According to a report in the FT, a UK vaccine manufacturing centre in Oxford, established to prepare the country for future pandemics and which has received more than £200 million in public investment, has been put up for sale.
But Labour said they would put the brakes on such a move as part of ambitions to “turbo-charge research and innovation” as the country looks to move out of the pandemic.
As well as building testing kits in the UK, the party wants to see the administration of antivirals embedded into the test and trace system in England so vulnerable people who test positive can get medicine quickly.
Statutory sick pay should be raised so workers can afford to self-isolate when required, children’s learning should be prioritised, with a supply of lateral flow tests guaranteed so every pupil can test regularly during term time, Labour has recommended.
The opposition party said its plan would include starting exercises to learn lessons from Covid-19, with so-called “germ games” held as part of regular pandemic planning across government and an annual report presented to Parliament for independent audit.
Sir Keir Starmer’s outfit also pledged to publish a road map for future decision making, including carrying out economic, wellbeing and equality impact assessments on any possible future restrictions.
The announcement comes after the Labour leader set out his vision for reforming the NHS if his party wins power at the next election.
Labour’s 10 point plan for living with Covid
– Retain volunteer responders to assist with vaccination (next winter)
– Prioritise testing and make it fit for the future
– Fix sick pay
– Playing our part in vaccinating the world
– Prioritise children’s learning
– Launch exercises to learn lessons
– Publish a “road map” for future decision-making
– Transform the “front door” of the NHS and use Covid’s legacy to build resilience and bring waiting lists down
– Transform social care
– Turbo-charge research and innovation
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