Head of UK vaccine taskforce to leave under a cloud
Kate Bingham’s employer’s investment in companies involved in developing Covid-19 treatments has come under scrutiny
London — Kate Bingham, the head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, will step down from the role at the end of the year, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
Bingham, who is a managing partner at SV Health Investors, will leave her post at the end of her six-month contract, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision isn’t public. A spokesperson for the UK department for business declined to comment.
News of her departure comes after she was accused of sharing sensitive government information at a finance conference and amid criticism over the amount she paid a communications firm for advice. Her employer’s investment in companies involved in developing Covid-19 treatments has also come under scrutiny.
Bingham was appointed to chair the vaccine taskforce in May by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and has overseen the advance-purchase of about 350-million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from six different developers.
She told a parliamentary committee last week that the UK will have more vaccine than it’s able to deploy, despite revealing only 4-million doses of a shot from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca will be available by year-end, far fewer than the 30-million doses the government said would be ready in September.
Bingham also defended herself against accusations of impropriety at the hearing, after the Sunday Times raised questions over information she gave to an audience at a private equity event for women. As part of her presentation, she disclosed the names of vaccine developers the UK was considering deals with.
Following the article, the department for business issued a lengthy statement claiming the story had inaccuracies and listing her achievements.
Writing in The Lancet medical journal last month, Bingham warned the first generation of vaccines may not be as effective as desired and might only reduce symptoms rather than prevent infection.
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