Next week Over Vaccine Group begin human testing for a COVID-19 vaccine with a with a view to marketing by the autumn. The speed of the process may be accelerated by the fact that Professor Pollard who heads the OVG is also advisor to the the UK's licensing body, the MHRA, and chair of the JCVI, the body which recommends vaccines to the British schedule. He very likely also sits on the British government’s mysterious Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. Age of Autism has been higlighting the manifold and apparently contradictory roles of Prof Pollard for more than four years. In 2014 as recently appointed chair of the JCVI he recommended Bexsero meningitis B vaccine of which he was lead developer to the UK infant schedule, leading to a sudden leap in its commercial prospects. Even the package insert discloses serious dangers for Bexsero including a 3 in 1000 risk of Kawasaki Disease for an infant having three doses.
While Pollard and likely the British government's plans rush forward many scientists have questioned either the wisdom of the COVID-19 vaccine or how fast one could be brought to the market. On the present time scale we will know nothing of the long term effects. Tests will be carried on healthy people 18-55 but rolled out for children, the sick and the elderly. It will be trialled against "a control injection" not genuine placebo, (in fact a Men ACWY vaccine). At present we do not even know if the disease itself results in long term immunity or any immunity against all the other mutations which are beginning to proliferate. Meanwhile, the OVG promotes discussion about whether vaccination should be made compulsory. Indeed, if it were it would be Prof Pollard's committee which would decide what every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom would receive, and would not be able to refuse.
This is Pollard’s most recent disclosure in the JCVI minutes:
Professor Pollard receives no personal payments from the manufacturers of vaccinesHe is Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group in the Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford and has current research funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institute for Health Research, the European Commission, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, InnovateUK, Meningitis Research Foundation, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. Hechairs the scientific advisory group on vaccines for the European Medicines Agency and is a memberof WHO’s SAGE.Other investigators in the Department conduct research funded by vaccine manufacturers and theDepartment has received unrestricted educational grant funding for a three-day course on paediatricinfectious disease from Gilead, and GSK in June 2019.
While it is inevitable that any scientist is going to be an enthusiast for is or her own research the long term indifference of the British government to traditional checks and balances is deeply concerning, and no less so at this difficult time.
Professor Andrew Pollard, Vice Master of St Cross College, is the Chief Investigator on a new study developing a possible vaccine for COVID-19. The 'ChAdOx1 nCoV-19' vaccine, as it is called, was developed by a team of University of Oxford researchers based on an adenovirus vaccine vector. A collaborative team from the Jenner Group and the Oxford Vaccine Group is now recruiting over 500 healthy volunteers for clinical trials of the vaccine. While applications for volunteers have closed, those interested in volunteering for future COVID-19 studies can register interest here.
Pollard is one of a team of academics, which includes himself, Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor Teresa Lambe, Dr Sandy Douglas and Professor Adrian Hill, who began the project on Friday 10 January 2020. Pollard said, ‘Starting the clinical trials is the first step in the efforts to find out whether the new vaccine being developed at Oxford University works and could safely play a central role in controlling the pandemic coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.’
You can read more about the study here.
7 April 2020