UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance is facing questions about potential conflict of interest after revelations that he holds shares in a drug company contracted to develop a coronavirus vaccine for the government
The Telegraph reported that Vallance, who leads the Government’s expert advisory panel on vaccines, holds shares worth £600,000 in global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmith-Kline(GSK), which is in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.
Vallance served as the president of research and development at GSK, Britain’s biggest drug company, between 2012 and 2018, a position he left to head the state scientific apparatus.
On July 29, Sanofi and GSK announced an agreement with the UK government for the supply of up to 60 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vallance did not disclose to either British Prime Minister Boris Johnson or Health Secretary Matt Hancock about his shareholding in GSK.
Health secretary Hancock however dismissed charges of potential conflict of interest saying “any suggestion” that the scientific adviser was “doing anything other than his level best to try and tackle this virus” was “wrong”.
Hannock said “The thing about the vaccine is actually the Oxford vaccine is being developed by AstraZeneca, which is one of GlaxoSmithKline’s biggest competitors, so I think if you know Sir Patrick Vallance as I do, any suggestion that he is doing anything other than his level best to try and tackle this virus is wrong.”
The UK Government has also reserved up to 100 million doses of a separate vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
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