Jonathan Ashworth: Coronavirus vaccine should be priority

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said “big questions” remain over which country has best approached the coronavirus outbreak but that developing a vaccine should be the “priority” of everyone.

He told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “There is no escape from this unless we get vaccinated.

“Some are speculating we could go through cycles of lockdown - with lockdown for a couple of months or so, come out, then lockdown again - until a vaccine emerges.

“So when a vaccine is available we’ve got to make sure that that is distributed across the world.”

The Labour MP praised investment in testing by South Korea to tackle Covid-19, saying: “they’ve been very good at suppressing this virus and they’ve had very low death rates compared to many of the countries in Europe.”

And he quashed ideas that the South Korea statistics could not be trusted, after similar allegations began to surface against China’s reporting of its death toll.

“There’s a lot of suspicion and mistrust of China and we will have to see what happens in the next couple of days with their numbers, but I think people can generally trust South Korea - they’re a liberal, democratic country.

China has faced criticism for its handling of the outbreak after the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Asked if he thought the country should face sanctions over its handling of the pandemic, Mr Ashworth said: “I don’t know about that, obviously if we think it began in China we’ve got to have questions about how it began and what went on there.”

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