Sir Julian Lewis: How would a future pandemic be different from the previous ones in terms of strategic stocks of protective equipment, and vaccine research, manufacture and distribution, should we be visited with such a disaster by a Chinese wet market or even a laboratory?
[The Deputy Prime Minister (Oliver Dowden): My right hon. Friend tempts me to talk about the origins of covid. I will simply highlight that the World Health Organisation continues its investigation, and we are very much supportive of that.
As for what we are doing differently, the key thing is to move from the establishment of the disease to the vaccine with the 100-day taskforce. We have also overhauled our governance structures. For example, we have split the long-term risks and the short-term risks by creating a totally separate unit that deals with long-term risks, which is headed by a head of resilience. That will enable the Government to deal with the long-term risks but also focus on the short-term challenges. When I was at Porton Down last week, I saw the kind of investment that the UK Health Security Agency is making in precisely this area, whether in capacity to test vaccines’ effectiveness or to test the testing equipment. I am confident that while there is more to do, as I set out in my statement, we continue to improve our performance.]