Campaigners have been reacting to the government decision to flog off the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is being built near Oxford with over £215m of taxpayers’ money, to a US pharmaceutical corporation. Rather like the privatisation of Channel 4 it appears to be the privatisation that nobody really wanted – apart from the new US owners.
VMIC was set up as a not for profit company in which a consortium of public universities – University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – were shareholders.
Experts working with VMIC had opposed any sell-off to a profit-seeking corporation. Sandy Douglas, a vaccine research leader at Oxford University, told the FT it had “accelerated Oxford’s vaccine programme by months” and “saved many lives”.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who developed the AstraZeneca jab, told the FT’s Helen Thomas that a fully-functioning VMIC would have been “game-changing” for the Oxford team in making larger stocks for clinical trials rather than working with multiple manufacturers.
Full story on The Lowdown, 11 April 2022