Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Boris Johnson defends visit to Livingston vaccine lab hit by coronavirus outbreak

© Wattie Cheung/Daily Mail/PA WirePrime Minister Boris Johnson visiting the lab in Livingston
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting the lab in Livingston

Boris Johnson has defended his visit to a vaccine laboratory hit by a coronavirus outbreak amid claims his behaviour was “reckless” and “irresponsible”.

A number of cases were reported at the Valneva site in Livingston, West Lothian, ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit last Thursday.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said there are “few things more important” than the vaccination programme and recognising the work of the scientists involved.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford had claimed it was an “irresponsible decision to go ahead with what was a PR stunt” and a “shocking error of judgment”.

The visit had already been controversial, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying prior to it that it was not essential during lockdown.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Blackford told the Commons: “Anyone can see that his campaign trip to Scotland was utterly, utterly reckless.”

© Wattie Cheung/Daily Mail/PA Wire
Mr Johnson visited the lab on a controversial visit to Scotland

Referring to a Daily Record report that Number 10 was informed about the outbreak at the site before the visit, Mr Blackford said: “The Prime Minister put politics before public health.”

Mr Johnson said “nobody raised that issue with me before or since” as he explained the reason for the trip, and he insisted “nothing and no-one one is going to stop me” visiting all parts of the UK.

Mr Johnson told Mr Blackford: “I can think few things more important than to see the rollout of the vaccination programme across this country, to encourage the wonderful companies who are doing great work across the whole of Scotland, to see the commitment of those Scottish scientists to helping us all defeat the pandemic, and it was fantastic to talk to them.”

With Ms Sturgeon facing questions about the progress of the vaccine rollout north of the border, Mr Johnson added his administration is “very willing to help Scotland with the rollout of vaccines across the whole of the UK”.

Downing Street confirmed that officials were made aware of the outbreak before the visit, suggesting that no one in No 10 informed the Prime Minister personally.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Valneva made us aware that some Covid cases had previously been reported and that they had implemented control procedures.”

Boris Johnson makes visit to Scotland despite questions over journey being “essential”

Valneva’s chief financial officer David Lawrence told the Daily Record that Downing Street was informed of the outbreak.

In a statement to the PA news agency, the company said: “Valneva is absolutely committed to safeguarding the health of our employees. A number of coronavirus cases were reported among staff at Valneva’s Livingston, Scotland, site in January.

“As Covid-19 control procedures were in place, those staff who may have been affected were identified and, as a precaution and in line with Government regulations, have been self-isolating. In some cases the period of self-isolation is already complete.

“We have established that the origin of the infection was community-acquired. We do not expect any impact on our plans and timelines for the development and production of our Covid-19 vaccine resulting from the reported cases.

“We have been in close dialogue with NHS Lothian, Health Protection Scotland as well as the Health and Safety Executive to assess and manage the situation.

“The Prime Minister’s visit was Covid-compliant. Our team had approved all aspects of his visit from a safety perspective and the site director is comfortable that no risks were taken.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “The Prime Minister routinely visits communities and businesses across all parts of the UK, and this work forms a key part of his role.

“The visit to the Valneva Livingston plant was Covid-compliant. Valneva had approved all aspects of the visit from a safety perspective and the site director is comfortable that no risks were taken.”