Somewhere, possibly in the land of big sheds, just off the M1 in Leicestershire, must be a burgeoning NHS surplus store. Its shelves will be groaning with ventilators and testing kits which turned out not to work, surgical gloves, bibs and masks which turned out to be defective – and quite possibly, in months to come, with millions of shots of vaccines which won’t be able to be used.
It was announced yesterday morning that the government has signed up for 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by GSK and Sanofi – although the financial details of the deal were not released however both myself and others had known about this for some time, ever since Dominic Cummings had visited Durham & Barnard Castle which happened to be in close proximity to GSK. GSK says the vaccine will enter clinical trials this autumn and will – possibly – be ready for manufacture in the second half of 2021. This order is in addition to the 100 million shots of Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine, 30 million of a vaccine being developed by BioNtech and Pfizer and 60 million of a vaccine being developed by Valneva. That is a total of 250 million shots of vaccine for a country of 65 million people – Britain is not going to be a safe place in the coming months for anyone with a needle phobia.
It is not necessarily going to end here, either. There are around 140 other Covid-19 vaccines being developed around the world. Given that the government still has no real idea of which will work, if any, it is hard to see at what point ministers and officials draw the line and stop this speculative vaccine shopping spree.
It all comes in spite of warnings by Kate Bingham, the chair of the government's Vaccine Taskforce that ‘the fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.’ The problem we have at the moment is that while several vaccines have shown promise in provoking volunteers’ bodies into producing antibodies, we have no idea yet whether those antibodies will actually succeed in protecting the body against infection. That is the question which will be answered by phase 3 trials currently underway.
So talking about our health….Public Health England*, headed by Alex Sienkiewicz**, exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and well-being and reduce health inequalities; an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care. They also support the UN’s Sustainability Goals*….Who is Alex, I hear you ask? That’s a very good question. His biography is totally blank on the gov.uk website apart from his role as Director of Corporate Affairs from 2013 to 2018. Corporate because it is a corporation, one assumes. Isn’t this truly shocking? The man at the helm of the UK’s ship may have no relevant medical qualifications at all in fact he could be the cleaner. I smell something fishy….
As they say in USA, ‘go figure’!