Sir Julian Lewis: Do the Government recognise the danger of a major increase in pressure on the NHS as a result of any new variant of covid that may be imported from China? How quickly would we be able to identify such a variant and prepare a vaccine against it?
[The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Steve Barclay): Let me first congratulate my right hon. Friend – along with the whole House, I am sure – on the knighthood that he received from His Majesty.
According to the analysis we have received, the variant in China is the same as the one in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the data shared by China is often not as clear as we would like. That is why, over the Christmas period, my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Transport announced proportionate measures involving covid tests for travellers and, in particular, sequence variant testing for those coming into the UK, in order to identify any new variant quickly.]