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Boris Johnson visited Scots vaccine firm despite Covid outbreak

Boris Johnson at Valneva by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson visited a Scots vaccine production firm despite a recent Covid outbreak happening there.

The Prime Minister toured around the Valneva site in Livingston last Thursday on his controversial trip to Scotland.

However, the Daily Record revealed that this visit came just 24 hours after a public health probe there – which uncovered 14 Covid cases – about one in eight of the workforce.

Mr Johnson met the site director and also held equipment while waving for the TV cameras and was interviewed on-site.

NHS Lothian confirmed an incident management team (IMT) intervention was held last Wednesday after a suspected outbreak at Valneva.

Boris at Valneva. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

14 positive cases were identified, daying back to January 16.

Valneva’s chief financial officer, David Lawrence, told the Daily Record that Downing Street had been informed ahead of the trip of the virus outbreak at the factory.

He said: “They were made aware we’d had some reported cases and had implemented our control procedures.”

Lawrence confirmed there were some “reported cases” in mid-January and said staff was sent home to self-isolate.

Asked if there was any concern about Johnson coming to the site, he said: “Our team had approved all the aspects of his visit from a safety perspective and his visit was Covid-compliant.”

Boris at Valneva Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

He said Valneva had been in touch with No10 staff and told them about the cases. He added: “They were comfortable. We wouldn’t have let him on-site if we weren’t comfortable.”

Lawrence said more than 100 staff are based at the site but not all work there at the same time.

He added: “If we felt there was any risk either to visitors or to the site, we wouldn’t have gone ahead [with the visit].”

Asked if NHS Lothian’s figure of 14 positive cases was correct, he said: “That’s about right.”

Valneva is producing a new Covid vaccine which has not been approved yet but 100million doses have been put on order for the UK Government.

Everything you need to know about Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine candidate

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised the PM’s trip to Scotland as she questioned whether it was “essential travel.”

Johnson visited locations in Glasgow and West Lothian.

A UK Government spokesman said: “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”.

It is understood no officials are self-isolating as a result of the trip.

Neil Findlay, Labour MSP for Lothian, blasted the trip, saying that it represents a “flagrant disregard” of public health advice.

Neil Findlay MSP. Picture by Fraser Bremner

He said: “This is beyond reckless and verges on being criminally irresponsible.

“What credibility does Johnson now have in lecturing others to stay at home while he flagrantly disregards public health advice?”

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