“It was greed, my friends. “
Such was Boris Johnsonexplanation to Conservative MPs for the UK vaccine Success.
It was as if we had entered a TARDIS in the heyday of Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s – an assertion that unfettered capitalism has been the UK’s competitive advantage in the development and deployment of these vital elements . Covid-19 vaccinations.
What is striking, however, is that it was not until Wednesday that the Industrial Strategy Board – a high-level panel of experts set up by the government and chaired by the Bank’s chief economist from England Andy Haldane – published a report on the successful development of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in record time, and made no reference to greed or even profit.
Instead, what mattered was for the government to show leadership and take financial risks that were too great and frightening for the private sector.
There was also a team effort – based on public service rather than monetary reward – between scientists, venture capitalists, manufacturing experts, regulators, government officials and volunteers.
Greed was nowhere to be found.
Johnson may have inadvertently revealed more about his own preconceptions than the ingredients needed for the UK to have a prosperous future.
And since he talks about “building back better,” perhaps the Prime Minister’s wiring needs to be recalibrated.