Report finds UK Vaccine Taskforce worked “decisively” in fight against COVID-19

An independent review has outlined the achievements of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, finding it worked “at great pace” to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to patients.

COVID-19 vaccine

The UK Government has published a report highlighting the work and achievements of its Vaccines Taskforce (VTF), six months after it was established to help in the fight against COVID-19

The independent review by Sir Richard Sykes, chair of the Royal Institution and former chair Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, found the VTF acted decisively and at great pace in the face of the pandemic, to secure access to 357 million doses of promising COVID-19 vaccines for the UK.

The report found the successes of the VTF have been achieved through the expertise of its members, who worked to put the UK at the forefront of global efforts to tackle COVID-19. The report highlights that its key successes include the creation of the world’s first citizen registry of over 360,000 volunteers able to rapidly join vaccine trials, the pioneering of human challenge studies to accelerate future vaccine development and strategic investment to enhance the UK’s vaccine research and manufacturing infrastructure, including flexible manufacturing capability at sites at Harwell, Braintree and Livingston.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I am hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of the VTF, under Kate Bingham’s leadership, which has brought us to this point in challenging circumstances, representing the best the government and civil service can do – working with businesses, experts and the public to tackle a common problem at incredible pace. The country owes them a debt of gratitude.”

In addition to securing access to vaccines, the VTF set out to establish a long-term vaccine strategy to prepare the UK for future pandemics and work with partners to support equitable access to vaccines for people worldwide. 

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma said: “Our VTF has undoubtedly risen to the challenge to build a diverse portfolio of promising vaccine candidates to give the UK the greatest chance of finding one that works. Thanks to Kate Bingham and her team, we were the first country to sign a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech, have secured more doses per head of population than almost any other country and built a vaccine manufacturing base from scratch to strengthen our resilience to respond to COVID-19 and to future pandemics.”

The outgoing chair of the Vaccines Taskforce, Kate Bingham said: “Thanks to the mandate we were given by the Prime Minister, the Taskforce was able to rapidly strike deals for promising vaccines. Our aim was to ensure that the search for COVID-19 vaccines yielded positive results for the UK and the world. In doing so, we have cemented the UK’s global leadership in vaccine research, established much stronger manufacturing capability and clinical development capacity, ensuring we are much better prepared if and when future pandemics arise.”

Kate Bingham’s tenure as chair of the VTF is due to conclude this month, as agreed when she was appointed earlier this year. Clive Dix, current deputy chair, will step into the role of interim chair of the VTF following her departure.