The former head of the Covid vaccine taskforce fought back tears as he accused ministers of making ‘incompetent decisions’ that have left the UK ill-prepared for another pandemic.

Dr Clive Dix said the Government ‘destroyed almost everything that was going on’ behind the scenes, despite lauding the scheme.

Choking back tears, Dr Dix, who replaced Kate Bingham in December 2020, stated the current complacency was ‘really scary’.

The taskforce was regarded as one of the major successes in the UK’s response to the pandemic.

In a high stakes gamble, it bought millions of vaccines from pharmaceutical titans who weren’t sure they worked yet. Such deals meant that Britain had access to the jabs as soon as they became available at the end of 2020.

Dr Clive Dix said the Government 'destroyed almost everything that was going on' behind the scenes, despite lauding the scheme

Dr Clive Dix said the Government ‘destroyed almost everything that was going on’ behind the scenes, despite lauding the scheme

Dr Dix, the CEO of drug discovery company, C4X Discovery, also told MPs today that manufacturers had walked away from the UK over how badly they were treated in the wake of the Covid jab rollout. 

He was appearing before the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee as part of its inquiry into emerging diseases and learnings from Covid. 

He said: ‘The team of people, the steering group, were a group of very experienced academics, industrial people and people with good strategic vision and ability to make things happen.

‘What I’ve seen since April 2021 is a complete demise of all the activities that made that thing work, literally gone.

‘It’s very sad, I actually get very passionate about it because what we have seen is a whole list of incompetent decisions being made and given the amount of effort we put in to see that just disappear.’

The Government believe ‘mRNA vaccines are a golden bullet’, he added. ‘There’s a complacency there that really scares me now. Really scares me.’

After committee chair and Tory MP Greg Clark claimed ‘the Government correctly trumpeted the success of the vaccines’, Dr Dix interjected: ‘And then destroyed almost everything that was going on’. 

The 250-strong taskforce was set-up in April 2020 but closed in October 2022 once the threat of the pandemic had died down.

UK Health Security Agency bosses stepped in to take control of vaccine supply.

Dame Kate — who chaired the taskforce between May and December 2020 — was given a damehood in recognition of the success of her program to acquire Covid vaccines, enabling the UK to become the first Western country to begin a jab programme in December 2020. 

But Matt Hancock, then the health secretary, clashed with her over the rollout, including Dame Kate’s refusal to back a plan to buy tens of millions of vaccines from India. 

Dr Dix told MPs today: ‘There was a set of very strong recommendations that myself and Kate Bingham co-authored. They didn’t see the light of day.’

In leaked WhatsApp messages published by The Telegraph last March, the former Health Secretary branded the Government’s vaccine tsar Dame Kate Bingham ‘totally unreliable’ and ‘wacky’ after she said only the vulnerable needed to be vaccinated against Covid. 

Dr Dix became deputy chairman of the vaccine taskforce in June 2020 and took on the role of interim chairman at the end of 2020, when Dame Kate stepped down. 

Dr Dix told MPs today: ‘There were activities already going on which were then just stopped and all I see now is “we’ve got a nice deal with Moderna for 10 years”. 

Dame Kate Bingham ¿ who chaired the taskforce between May and December 2020 ¿ was given a damehood in recognition of the success of her program to acquire Covid vaccines, enabling the UK to become the first Western country to begin a jab programme in December 2020. Dr Dix told MPs today: 'There was a set of very strong recommendations that myself and Kate Bingham co-authored. They didn¿t see the light of day'

Dame Kate Bingham — who chaired the taskforce between May and December 2020 — was given a damehood in recognition of the success of her program to acquire Covid vaccines, enabling the UK to become the first Western country to begin a jab programme in December 2020. Dr Dix told MPs today: ‘There was a set of very strong recommendations that myself and Kate Bingham co-authored. They didn’t see the light of day’

‘That’s just not good enough. That’s really scary.’

In further criticism, he also argued the government’s post-pandemic decision to focus on the mRNA-type Covid vaccines such as those made by Pfizer and Moderna meant the UK’s current stocks ‘aren’t good enough’. 

He said: ‘It’s just not good enough. The mRNA vaccines will only work if we know what the virus is and we know the antigen. 

‘Without that, they’ve got to start from scratch. They’ve probably got to make every antigen in the virus and see whether they do anything in humans.

‘We have less resilience now because a lot of the manufacturers have walked away from the UK over how badly they were treated in the tailend of the vaccine taskforce.’

Pushed by MPs on why the Government reacted this way, Dr Dix argued there was ‘no strategic leadership’.

He added: ‘I’m not saying I’m the great strategic leader but the taskforce had it in it. 

‘The group knew what they were doing, where they were going and they put together a plan for resilience. All of that has been stopped.’

Dame Kate herself has also previously slammed the ‘dumbarse’ decisions that have threatened the country’s ability to deal with a future virus outbreak.

During the same session, Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who was also called to give evidence, slammed the Government for failing to learn from its Covid mistakes. 

He told MPs: ‘In many ways we’re not in a very different position. The question really is anticipating what the next pandemic looks like.

‘Of course the danger here is that we look back at the pandemic we’ve just had and only think about preparing for another one that is exactly the same.

‘It is important to remember that, with the disease we were dealing with, we already knew a lot about coronavirus. We knew how to make vaccines for them. 

‘One of the problems that we have is for most of those other microbes which are out there and could threaten us, we haven’t done that work.

‘If it were to take 10 or 20 years to do the research and development, we are nowhere near even the beginning of that starting gun.’

Work to combat the threat of different families of viruses ‘needs years of investment’, he argued.  

‘If you think about the defense against something unknown — which is clearly an important way to think about pandemics — and then you think about the other types of defence we have, such as military defence, the world feels very unsafe today, he said.

During the same session, Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who was also called to give evidence, slammed the Government for failing to learn from its Covid mistakes

During the same session, Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who was also called to give evidence, slammed the Government for failing to learn from its Covid mistakes

‘The Government has, I think, a £45billion investment per year into defence. We recognise that we need to do stuff.’

He added: ‘But for pandemics we’re putting a tiny fraction of that in preparedness. 

‘For me, we’re really unsafe at this moment for future pandemic threats because we just don’t have that knowledge base that you need to even start the gun as we did in 2020. Even then it took 11 months to have a vaccine.’

It comes as England’s chief medical officer, Sir Professor Chris Whitty also argued in November that the Government would have also paid far more attention to the risks posed by Covid if it was a terrorist or geopolitical threat, rather than a natural threat.

Giving evidence to the Covid inquiry, he said there was an ‘opportunity where we could probably have moved up a gear or two across Government’ in early February 2020 if the system had been ‘electrified’ by the information it already had on Covid. 

Agreeing with inquiry counsel Hugo Keith that there was a ‘systemic failure’, he argued that if MI5 had warned that 100,000 people could die in a terrorist attack, the chance the system would have carried on as it did would have been ‘quite small’.

‘The system is surprisingly bad, in my view, at responding to threats of this kind which are not in the national security system’, he said. 

‘Hard geopolitical threats are treated in a different way’ to natural threats.’  

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