Rutland Times Op-Ed 16th June

Over the last week, we have reached several considerable milestones in our national battle against COVID-19.

It was wonderful to see some of our local ‘non-essential’ shops re-open on Monday, and Oakham filled with bunting and sunshine. I am most grateful to all Rutland residents who have been patient with and supported, our local retailers as they adjust to a new operating model.

I recognise that our cautious and gradual return to a more normal way of life is frustrating and that we all long to be fully reunited with those we love. As I have said before – it will take time to beat this virus but there is hope.

This week, human trials of a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by researchers at Imperial College London commenced backed with over £40 million of central government funding. Thanks to the ingenuity of our British researchers, this represents one of the world’s foremost efforts to beat COVID-19 for good.

If these trials are successful, a vaccine will not just help us end the ongoing pandemic but will better equip us to tackle future viruses.

On top of this, the Government this week confirmed that researchers at the University of Oxford have found a treatment for COVID-19 that reduces mortality by between 1/6 and 1/3; dexamethasone.

This is a truly monumental step forward and I welcome that the Government has been stockpiling dexamethasone since March. We now have 200,000 courses of this drug ready to go and this game-changing treatment is now included as standard for COVID-19 by the NHS.

I am extremely grateful to the scientists at Oxford University, the NHS and the 6,000 patients who took part in the clinical trial for their outstanding contribution to our fight against COVID-19.

It is right that the Government has also sought to safeguard residents’ livelihoods with substantial measures throughout the pandemic whilst our leading scientists and researchers worked to find the key to defeat the virus. This week it was confirmed that over 20% of all jobs in Rutland and Melton were protected by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – that’s 12,400 jobs across our area.

As we look to the future with cautious optimism, reassured by the substantial progress we have made in recent weeks, I am confident that the residents of Rutland will continue to act with the same sense of civic duty and communal pride that has allowed us to come this far.