Andrew Marr: pandemics like Covid will become more common - so why are we 'going backwards' on vaccines?

30 November 2022, 18:22

Andrew Marr
Andrew Marr. Picture: LBC

By Kit Heren

Pandemics like Covid-19 will become more common, according to MPs - so it is "astonishing" that the UK is dismantling its vaccine rollout capabilities, Andrew Marr has said.

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Opening Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC, the presenter pointed out that the UK's Covid vaccine chief Kate Bingham had warned the Commons that the country is being overtaken by other developed nations.

It comes after the news that the construction of the UK's vaccine innovation centre near Oxford has been mothballed.

Andrew said: "I need to remind you of one sentence and introduce those of you who don't know her to one person. The sentence comes from the opening of the conclusion of the report by MPs into the Covid pandemic and it reads simply: "Pandemics like Covid-19 will become more common.'

Andrew Marr reflects on Kate Bingham's comments

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He added: "The person is Kate Bingham - Dame Kate Bingham. She was a big shot in venture capitalism, and very well connected in Tory circles; married to the Tory MP Jesse Norman, a schoolfellow of Boris Johnson's sister, all that - and she ran the government’s Vaccine Task Force from the spring of 2020 throughout that terrible year.

The UK's vaccination programme was among the most successful parts of its response to the virus
The UK's vaccination programme was among the most successful parts of its response to the virus. Picture: Getty

"Now lots of things went very wrong in Britain during the pandemic but this - Bingham’s taskforce - was a raging success in getting vaccines to the British very fast, and attracting the admiration of the world.

Andrew continued: "In last year's Birthday Honours she was given the Freedom of the City of London and made a Dame for “services to the procurement, manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines."

You can also listen to the podcast Tonight with Andrew Marr only on Global Player.

"Covid hasn't gone away - it continues to mutate - but today Kate Bingham told MPs our vaccines aren't good enough and the whole government approach, once world-leading is now going backwards so that we are being overtaken by other countries as we wait for the next pandemic.

Cliveden Literary Festival 2021
Cliveden Literary Festival 2021. Picture: Getty

"In short we haven't learnt the lesson of that brief success and, astonishingly, these days, there's nobody really in charge. Just listen to her words - and listen carefully to the tone of her voice as she spoke to MPs this afternoon.

"There, if I'm not mistaken, is a solemn and passionate warning from a woman who knows what she's talking about – and I refer you once again to the sentence I began with from MPs: “pandemics… will become more common.”

"So what as a country should we be doing about this?"