Following its successful trial during the pandemic, the Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) is now merging with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Office for Life Sciences (OLS).
The move means the VTF will now become a permanent fixture embedded within Government infrastructure, with the move intending to retain the lessons learnt, innovations and skillsets acquired during the Covid-19 pandemic response.
The VTF was founded in 2020 as a direct measure to tackle the unprecedented challenges the world faced and proved integral in helping secure the earliest access to the first vaccines, subsequently making the UK the first country to deploy an approved Covid-19 vaccine.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “The VTF has performed exceptionally during the pandemic, securing early access to the most promising Covid-19 vaccines which allowed the UK to be the first country in the world to begin its life-saving vaccination programme.
“The wall of defence built by vaccines is allowing us to live with Covid-19 without restrictions and get back to doing the things we love.
“From autumn, the VTF and UKHSA will work as one unit to ensure we are prepared for all future health threats and they will build on the success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to improve our other life-saving immunisation programmes.”
Contracts are still in place for manufacturers to supply the UK with vaccines for this year and the next, which includes access to reformulated vaccines.
In view of the imminent changes, vaccine supply responsibilities of the VTF will be transferred to the UKHSA from October, ultimately finalising the merger and ensuring a smooth transition.
Responsibility for the VTF’s onshoring programme will then be handed to the OLS – a joint subsidiary of the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Director General of the Vaccine Taskforce, Madelaine McTernan CB, said: “The VTF has demonstrated how working in partnership across government, industry and academia can deliver incredible results. I am very proud of what the VTF has delivered over the last 2 years, both here in the UK and internationally, thanks to the hard work and will to win of a great many people.”
More information about the merger is available here.