By John Stone
By now Age of Autism readers will be familiar with the story of Prof Andrew Pollard who was appointed to the chairmanship of the British body which makes recommendations for the UK vaccine schedule (the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) and soon afterwards chaired a discussion which recommended the infant use of the Meningitis B vaccine (Bexsero) for which he has been named lead developer in official documents as Director of Oxford Vaccine Group. It will be no surprise (since this has become routinely the case) that the minutes of the latest JCVI meeting are published without disclosures of interest. Rather more unusual is the fact that instead of being held at a Department of Health building in London the most recent meeting was held at the lavishly funded Oxford research institution Oxford Martin School, at which Prof Pollard is listed as Senior Fellow and lead researcher.
Equally noteworthy is mention of a substantially unminuted event the previous day referred to as a “retreat” in which the committee were entertained at Prof Pollard’s college St. Cross (which sounds like something out of one of the more fanciful episodes of Inspector Morse). While nothing in the JCVI Code of Practice would seem to preclude this departure – perhaps no one ever anticipated it - in practice it might seem cavalier and unwise. Among the roles of the chairman of JCVI is also his job of appraising other members and senior officials every year (Code of Practice clause 21) so presumably everyone was on their best behaviour.
John Stone is UK Editor of Age of Autism.