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Tories sell off vaccine maker as firms make £50,000 a minute

A new vaccine manufacturing centre is for sale to the highest bidder.
Issue 2784
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in September last year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in September last year. (Pic: Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street/Flickr)

A flagship vaccine ­manufacturing centre that has supposedly been at the heart of the ­government’s efforts to prepare for future ­pandemics is now up for sale to private pharma firms.

It previously received more than £200 million of public funding.

Several companies have submitted bids for the Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Centre (Vmic) at Harwell, near Oxford.

The government announced the creation of the Vmic in 2018 to develop and make vaccines as part of efforts to deal with future epidemics.

The centre had been scheduled for completion in

2023 but at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic the date was brought forward to spring 2022.

  • Recent figures from the People’s Vaccine Alliance reveal that companies behind two of the most successful COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna—are making combined profits of £50,000 every minute.

The Alliance estimates that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna will make pre-tax profits of £26 billion this year between them. That works out as nearly £1,000 a second, £50,000 a minute or £71 million a day.

Pfizer last week more than doubled its forecast for Covid-19 vaccine sales this

year compared with its initial estimates and predicted bumper revenues in 2022.

The company said last week that it expected to generate £27.5 billion in sales this year and £22 billion in 2022.

Albert Bourla, the chief executive of Pfizer, described the call to share vaccine technology with poorer countries ­“dangerous nonsense”.

Cop not a racist

A police sergeant accused of making racist comments in a pub has been cleared of misconduct after he explained he was talking about the “All Blacks” rugby side.

PS Paul Robinson was allegedly overheard making racist comments in a pub in 2019.

Freelance journalist Ed Clowes told the panel that Robinson said that “there were so few black football managers because they were lazy and thick”. Clowes claimed Robinson spoke about “shithole Africa” and “the Africans being better off under colonial rule versus independence”.

He earlier told the hearing that Robinson’s repeated use of the term “threes”—a police classification for a black person.

Clowes said Robinson referenced talked about the Grenfell Fire, “He said if it had been Asians they would have left, if it had been whites they would have left.

“He then said that the threes were thick and didn’t think for themselves.”

Giving evidence Robinson said he was “absolutely not’ a racist. When asked if it was possible that he used the term “lazy and thick” Robinson said, “Yes in the All Blacks performance against England.” A disciplinary panel found that he did not make the alleged comments.

…and neither is this forgetful peer.

The conservative peer Michelle Mone stands accused of sending a racist message to a man of Indian heritage who alleged in an official complaint that she told him he was “a waste of a man’s white skin”.

The phrase was allegedly used in a WhatsApp message sent by the Tory member of the House of Lords in June 2019.

The message was part of a series of WhatsApp exchanges, screenshots of which have been sent to the House of Lords commissioner for standards.

It is part of a complaint alleging that Lady Mone sent racist and abusive messages. A representative of the Tory peer initially said, “Baroness Mone is 100 percent not a racist. Baroness Mone and her husband have built over 15 schools in Africa in the past three years.” Her lawyers later provided another statement in which they said Mone had “no access” to the messages and no “detailed memory of them”.

  • Retailers are continuing to put up fuel prices when they should reduce them in line with savings in wholesale oil prices, the RAC motoring services organisation has claimed. In response to concerns about the Omicron variant, oil prices fell by around £7.50 a barrel last week.

But this has not been reflected at the pumps. Retailers added on average another 3.1p to a litre of unleaded petrol and 2.7p to diesel in November.

In particular, the RAC pointed the finger at supermarket chains who are major fuel retailers who had increased prices “unnecessarily”.

  • While vomiting up a column in The Sun defending streets named after slave owners, Rod Liddle digressed to share his views on Labour’s new shadow ministers. He praised Yvette Cooper as a “talented politician” and Wes Streeting as “no fool”. But David Lammy is a “lummox” who knows less about foreign affairs than a pack of Pringles. Trouble Maker wonders what it is about David Lammy that Liddle doesn’t like.

Grenfell survivors call for Hamilton to drop sponsor

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is facing protests from Grenfell survivors over the deal that saw his car emblazoned with Kingspan’s company logo.

This is one of the firms that made combustible insulation used on the tower

Hamilton used the logo at last weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

Kingspan made some of the insulation used on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, which caught fire on 14 June 2017, killing 72 people.

Survivors of the disaster and bereaved relatives demanded the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team drop the sponsorship deal. The survivors’ group Grenfell United said in a letter last week to the team boss, Toto Wolff, “Kingspan played a central role in inflicting the pain and suffering that we feel today, and there must be a degree of public censure for Kingspan’s recklessnes.”

Hamilton has previously supported Grenfell survivors in a message on Instagram.

Don’t judge some by the company they keep

Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett, the judge that will soon decide whether Julian Assange is extradited to the US, is a close personal friend of Sir Alan Duncan.

As foreign minister, Duncan arranged Assange’s eviction from the Ecuadorian embassy.

The two have known each other since their student days at Oxford in the 1970s.

As a minister, Duncan called Assange a “miserable little worm” in parliament in March 2018.

In his diaries, Duncan refers to the “supposed human rights of Julian Assange.”

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, faces life imprisonment in the US for publishing secrets about US imperialism that had been bravely revealed by Chelsea Manning.

Things they say…

‘See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing’

From the manual Ghislaine Maxwell wrote for staff working at Jeffrey Epstein’s Florida home

‘This political drift and lack of leadership is prolonging the pandemic for everyone. There have been wonderful speeches, warm words, but not the actions needed’

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust

‘Frankly in a mess’

What Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said of the programme for booster vaccine jabs for care homes

‘This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives. The truth is the next one could be worse’

Prof Sarah Gilbert, one of the creators of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

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