Forget Russian hackers: Real danger is the US hoarding UK vaccines, says head of Imperial College study

Imperial College London is one of the many places working on a potential Covid-19 vaccine ©  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

As researchers at Imperial College London begin round 2 of Covid-19 vaccine trials, the project’s head has revealed the UK government urged him to make the jab at home, lest the US attempt to hoard a shot manufactured there.
Professor Robin Shattock, director of Imperial’s coronavirus vaccine project, revealed his researchers had a “deliberate policy” of making their experimental jab in the UK, “something [they] were encouraged to do by the UK government, to make sure there is capacity in the UK for manufacturing.”

In a Friday interview with Sky News, he hinted officials were concerned a vaccine made in the US might be snapped up by the Trump administration, leaving none left even for the shot’s creators.

“One of the things that sounds alarm bells is the nationalism of wanting to buy things out,” he explained, referring to the US scramble to buy up all supplies of Remdesivir, a pricey coronavirus drug made by the US pharma company Gilead that has been heralded as a lifesaver despite lukewarm clinical trials.

Shattock was dismissive of the much-hyped report, released earlier this week by UK intelligence in conjunction with the US and Canada, that “Russian hackers” were infiltrating entities involved in vaccine research. Instead, he urged countries to come together and release a vaccine “as fast as possible at an affordable price” to head off the issue of predatory entities taking advantage of high costs and supply shortages to sell “fake vaccine” jabs to desperate people.

The report, which insisted it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind hack attacks on coronavirus vaccine research, failed to explain why Moscow, whose own vaccine is already in phase 3 clinical trials, would be pawing through research from the UK and US, whose own vaccine projects are in phase 1 or 2 at best.

Imperial College was the source of the now-infamous Covid-19 model that predicted 500,000 deaths in the UK, triggering the disastrous lockdown measures that have thrown many countries into an economic death spiral. The computer code used in the model was later found to be borderline incoherent, while the professor responsible, Neil Ferguson, was caught violating his own lockdown to tryst with his mistress.

Ferguson has a long track record of severely overestimating pandemic death tolls – his wildly overinflated foot-and-mouth disease predictions led to a horrific cull of British livestock from which the industry never really recovered – yet like Anthony Fauci in the US, he somehow retains credibility among government officials who know even less about science.

The institute’s vaccine is based on RNA and is designed to trigger the recipient’s cells to produce segments of coronavirus proteins, which in theory stimulate an immune response that protects against the actual virus. No RNA vaccine has ever made it to market, though Imperial’s is not the only one in development.

The US pharmaceutical company Moderna is working on an RNA vaccine of its own, with preliminary results showing that it stimulates antibodies, but all of the high-dose jab recipients experienced serious side effects. Imperial’s own vaccine has not run into any safety concerns, according to Shattock.
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