The Chair of the Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, has placed the UK at the leading edge of the international effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic through the development of clinically safe and effective vaccines.
An article published this week in the Sunday Times has made a series of allegations and insinuations about Kate Bingham and her role. Inaccuracies are being addressed with The Sunday Times.
A presentation she gave to a women’s conference in the United States was the focus of the article. The fact of her appearance and the content of her presentation received approval from officials at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in line with the process governing such engagements. Kate Bingham focused on publicly available information and said little that expert delegates at the conference could not deduce themselves.
Kate Bingham is uniquely qualified for the role of Chair, having worked in the biotech and life sciences sectors for 30 years. While not specifically a vaccines expert, she is a proven drugs discovery expert with superb deal-making skills and an excellent global reputation, recently appearing alongside Bill Gates at the Gates Grand Challenge Conference. She is well known and highly rated by multinational pharmaceutical and vaccine companies. She has a first class degree in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford, an MBA from Harvard Business School (Baker Scholar) and is a board member of the Francis Crick Institute. Her investments have led to the launch of six drugs for the treatment of patients with inflammatory and autoimmune disease and cancer.
Kate stepped back from her full-time role as Managing Partner at SV Health Investors to take on this role as Chair of the Taskforce, for which she is unpaid.
Under her leadership of the Vaccine Taskforce, in the past six months:
- Britain has struck agreements to buy 350m doses of vaccine: these involve the six leading candidates under development including the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.
- The VTF has reached in principle agreement with AstraZeneca to supply a neutralising antibody cocktail as a prophylactic treatment once clinical trials are completed and it is approved by regulators.
- 300,000 people have enrolled in a national registry expressing their interest to take part in clinical trials to accelerate the development of a successful vaccine.
- The UK is pioneering controlled human challenge studies, dependent on ethics and regulatory approvals, to assess and accelerate the development of effective vaccines more quickly and with far fewer participants than a standard phase 3 trial.
- The Vaccine Taskforce has provided funding in several UK sites to manufacture vaccine to cover the UK population.
- The UK has committed to ensuring that everyone at risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, anywhere in the world, has access to a safe and effective vaccine, and has donated £500m to the Covax international vaccine-sharing initiative to enable this.
- The VTF has launched a series of podcasts on Amazon and Spotify with experts discussing all key aspects of vaccine development to help inform the public about what to expect from COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to extensive media interviews and conference appearances.
- An article detailing the achievements of the Vaccine Taskforce was published in The Lancet last week.