The venture capitalist behind Britain’s vaccines success is to be rewarded with a damehood, The Telegraph can reveal, as Boris Johnson on Saturday urges a worldwide inoculation drive to end the pandemic “for good” by next year.
Kate Bingham, 55, is to be rewarded with the honour for her unpaid work leading the UK Vaccines Taskforce and obtaining access to millions doses of six different coronavirus jabs.
On Saturday, the 40 millionth patient received their first Covid jab. Her damehood is expected to be among a host of honours for “heroes” of the pandemic response, to be unveiled in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list next weekend.
The disclosure comes as the Prime Minister, who appointed Ms Bingham to the Vaccines Taskforce last May, prepares to use his role as host of this year’s G7 summit, to urge leaders to commit to “vaccinating the world” by the end of next year.
Mr Johnson will seek “concrete commitments” from the US, French, German, Japanese, Italian, and Canadian leaders, which UK officials hope to unveil, along with a major rise in British vaccine donations, during the summit in Cornwall.
While some 1.5 billion Covid vaccine doses have been administered globally, only around 1 per cent of them have been delivered in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation.
Speaking ahead of the summit, Mr Johnson said: “Next week the leaders of the world’s greatest democracies will gather at an historic moment for our countries and for the planet.
“The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era: defeating Covid and leading a global recovery driven by our shared values.
“Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.
“I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end to this terrible pandemic and pledge we will never allow the devastation wreaked by Covid to happen again.”
Ms Bingham, who has spoken of the “classic imposter syndrome” she felt when tasked by Mr Johnson with leading the taskforce, usually develops drugs to help patients with autoimmune disease and cancer, but had no previous experience with vaccines.