In attendance: Layla Moran MP (chair), Caroline Lucas MP, Debbie Abrahams MP, Lord Strasburger, Baroness Brinton, Baroness Finlay, Lord Russell, Baroness Masham.
Non-voting attendees: Sam Payne (office of Layla Moran MP), Tom Brufatto (APPG Secretariat), Jennifer Watson (APPG Secretariat), Lizzy Price (APPG Secretariat).
1. The Chair welcomed everyone to the ninth meeting of the APPG.
2. Adoption of Minutes of APPG Meeting of 26 January 2021.
Subject to the agreed changes, the Minutes of the 26 January 2021 Meeting were approved by show of hands.
3. Discussion of the Road Map
It was agreed that the APPG would produce its own set of tests for the road map, having regard to the following issues:
1. The matters raised at the APPG hearing held on 23 February 2021 (International comparisons with public health measures adopted in Australia and New Zealand). 2. The need for increased focus on the fact that step 4 of the UK Government’s tests should be the starting point: namely the assessment of new variants.
3. The need for more reliable and granular data on the vaccine roll out: who is being left out, why and how this can be addressed, including personal data and data interface issues.
4. The inadequacy of the current test and trace system and existing quarantine arrangements.
5. The overreliance on mass testing in schools, potentially giving a false sense of security.
6. The need for better public health messaging on distance aware, mask wearing and ventilation.
7. The strategy outlined by Independent Sage in its publication of 19 February 2021: A Suppression Strategy for Keeping Society Open, which rests on five pillars:
• Vaccination for the entire population (including children once approved) in the expectation of regular boosters in the future as required.
• Widespread testing as part of a test, trace and isolate system rooted in local communities and organised through local public health bodies.
• A comprehensive resource package which enables people from all sections of the community to self-isolate.
• Accreditation as “Covid secure space” of all public spaces through a robust system of guidance, support, regulation and inspection to ensure they meet Covid safety standards.
• Strict control of borders and limits on international travel.
4. Discussion of Future Hearings.
It was agreed that future hearings of the APPG should include the following topics:
• Where did we first go wrong? (e.g. when Covid-19 was first treated as a flu type illness, rather than a Sars/Mers disease).
• Exercise Cygnus: what can we learn for emergency preparedness in the future.
• Border Controls: including issues such as the impact of the limitation of personnel on duty.
• Long Covid Registry as a means to understand variants/record numbers.
• Covid as an immunity issue: the need for expertise in immunology for a better understanding of the virus.
• The need to change the language: this is not comparable to flu.
• Test and Trace
• DNA/CPR: the inequality of treatment.
• Disability/dementia cross-over: is disability / dementia a risk factor or does Covid-19 make the conditions worse.
• Vaccine without suppression will produce new variants.
• International access to the vaccine and equity.
• What are other countries doing for their road map out.
• Vaccination programme: who is being left out and why.
• Whether it is possible or even desirable to assert that the road map is irreversible.