he architect of Britain’s successful vaccination programme has taken a swipe a health officials.
Dame Kate Bingham, who led the vaccine task force, accused them of dismantling a critically important database, set up to aid Covid jab trials, when it could be used for other vital medical research programmes.
She told the Observer: “All this talk about the UK becoming a serious science superpower is b*******.
“These people don’t actually care. If you really want to make our clinical research strong, you don’t start dismantling what’s been put in place.”
Dame Kate’s outburst follows a decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Research to insist volunteers already signed up to a national database of individuals willing to take part in medical research must now go through a complex, three-stage verification process to reapply to stay in the scheme.
She described the move as “ridiculous” and said the database was set up in 2020 so the UK had a pool of people waiting to be enrolled in trials once candidate Covid vaccines had been developed by researchers.
Dame Kate added: “We got 550,000 people signed up, and about 50,000 of them were later used in 18 different vaccine trials for seven different companies. So it was incredibly effective.”
Lord Bethell, a Tory peer who also helped to create the database, said it was “heartbreaking to witness this short-term cutback”.
He added: “We want to attract medical research investment to the UK but our once-great clinical trials offer is in grave decline.”
The NIHR said its aim was to “create a new and better registry to help people with all conditions”, adding: “It is important people are asked to give fresh consent for any new volunteer service.”