Debates between Lord Trees and Lord Bethell during the 2019 Parliament

Animal Diseases: Future Pandemics

Debate between Lord Trees and Lord Bethell
Wednesday 21st July 2021

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Bethell) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, zoonotic diseases comprise approximately 75% of all newly identified infectious diseases and 60% of existing ones. The UK has world-leading “one health” expertise already enhancing the detection, investigation and management of zoonotic diseases. We must continue to weave this approach into the fabric of domestic and global architecture. Through our G7 presidency and ambitious initiatives, such as the centre for pandemic preparedness, we will further strengthen our “one health” capability.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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I thank the Minister for his Answer. I shall press him for more specifics. Given the huge cost of zoonotic pandemics—Covid-19 has been estimated to cost the UK £340 billion—what plans have Her Majesty’s Government been considering to improve animal health, public health and environmental health systems which are critical in the prevention of spillover infections from animals to humans in the UK and abroad?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con) [V]
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My Lords, there is a very large number of initiatives. I emphasise our international efforts to reverse the underlying causes of spillover infections from animals to humans, including biodiversity loss and the risk from the illegal wildlife trade. Using the UK’s G7 presidency, we have committed to doing more by establishing the International Zoonoses Community of Experts, by creating the centre for pandemic preparedness and conducting a one health intelligence scoping study to ensure that the systems work better together to identify future threats.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Lord Trees and Lord Bethell
Tuesday 15th June 2021

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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My Lords, I absolutely forgive my noble friend because that is an extremely sensible question. I take it on board completely. The endgame is to end a contagious disease that has exponential growth. As she knows, R is currently between 1.2 and 1.4. If it goes unchecked, this disease will spread pretty much through the whole population. The vaccine is excellent at keeping people out of hospital, but not everyone. It is excellent at preventing deaths, but not for everyone. It is good at stopping the disease, but only half of the disease. We must get enough vaccine out there so that the disease will not run through the entire population and lead to the deaths of thousands, tens of thousands, or more. That is the endgame of this project.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, will the Minister confirm that the Covid cases reported daily in the media are not clinical cases? They are not sick people but positive results of the PCR test. Given that the PCR test is incredibly sensitive and can detect tiny numbers of virus particles, what proportion of positive tests is likely to develop clinical disease?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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My Lords, the PCR test is very sensitive. Most people who take the test are presenting a symptom, so a very high proportion of those positives are people who have the disease when they take it. Of course, there are many who have the disease and do not take a test at all, so there is more disease in the population than accounted for in the positive tests. There is a very small proportion of people who might have shreds of the virus from a previous infection who then test positive, but it is thought that that proportion is very small.

Covid-19: Great Barrington Declaration

Debate between Lord Trees and Lord Bethell
Tuesday 13th October 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a very good point. Although I have not had legal advice on this, I feel sure that he is on the right track. The great protection would condemn anyone with asthma or a learning difficulty, in old age, or with any major disability or immune challenge to be locked up while society turns its back. That is not a decision that this Government are prepared to make.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, an exit from the pandemic will be achieved only when an appropriate level of population immunity is achieved, either by natural infection or vaccination. Given that the Government’s strategy is to rely on vaccination to deliver population immunity, what estimates and advice are Her Majesty’s Government receiving about the realistic timeframe, from now, in which an efficacious vaccine will have been given to sufficient numbers of people to establish that population immunity?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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The noble Lord is entirely right in his analysis. The briefings from the Vaccine Taskforce to the Prime Minister are encouraging. One of the striking things about the updates is not only the promising nature of the Oxford vaccine, which is progressing very well, but the substantial pipeline of a dozen or more other vaccines that are coming through. Six of those have already been contracted by the Vaccine Taskforce on four different vaccine platforms. I am afraid that I cannot provide a firm schedule as such things are not in the gift of Ministers, but I am informed that progress is substantial.