JCVI Conflicts of Interest

Executive summary

* On February 16th, 2022, the UK Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued a statement to update its advice for 5-11 year olds in relation to COVID-19 jabs.

* The JCVI Code of Practice states that it is an “independent Departmental Expert Committee.” It advises UK health departments on immunisation.

* There is a COVID-19 sub-committee of the JCVI. It has 15 core members (1 lay member). This note reviews the conflicts of interest of those members.

* None of the members of the COVID-19 sub-committee of the JCVI declared conflicts of interests. Five of the 14 non-lay members provided additional information in their ‘non-declaration’ that revealed conflicts of interest. A cursory search on the remaining nine revealed that six had conflicts of interest – from running a COVID-19 vaccine trial to being their organisation’s representative for Pfizer. One member failed to declare that he leads the Pfizer Vaccine Centre of Excellence.

* The members work for organisations, which collectively have received approximately $1,000,000,000 – one billion dollars – from the Gates Foundation.

(The SAGE conflicts can be seen here… )

Introduction

On February 15th, Wales became the first of the UK nations to offer COVID-19 jabs to any 5-11 year old whose parents want them to have one (Ref 1). Wales Health minister Eluned Morgan said she had received final advice from the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on COVID-19 jabs for children aged five to 11 who are not judged to be at clinical risk. On February 16th, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland followed suit.

The statement issued by the JCVI on February 16th opened as follows:

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its vaccination advice for children aged 5 to 11, with a view to increasing protection against potential future waves of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Although this age group is generally at very low risk of serious illness from the virus, a very small number of children who get infected do develop severe disease.

“Latest evidence suggests that offering the vaccine ahead of another potential wave will protect this very small number of children from serious illness and hospitalisation – and will also provide some short-term protection against mild infection across the age group.

“The committee has therefore advised a non-urgent offer to all 5 to 11 year olds of 2 (10mcg) doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech paediatric vaccine. The 2 doses should be given with an interval of at least 12 weeks between doses.

“The recommendation should not displace the delivery of other non-COVID-19 childhood vaccinations, or any other part of the COVID-19 vaccination programme” (Ref 2).

The positioning of this as an “offer” was interesting, although the word “recommendation” appeared soon afterwards. The words “approve”, or “approval”, were absent from the statement.

This note is not about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 jabs. We don’t know much about either in this age group. The trials in children are not due for completion until May 2026 (Ref 3). This note is about the conflicts of interests of the members of the JCVI – those responsible for this statement.

Membership of the JCVI

There are core members of the JCVI and then members of the COVID-19 sub-committee. I have reviewed the conflicts for the latter, as being more relevant to the recent statement. Both sets of members can be seen here (Ref 4).

The overall chair of the JCVI is Professor Andrew Pollard, Chair (University of Oxford). The membership details reported, “In order to prevent any perceived conflict of interest it was agreed that the JCVI Chair (Professor Andrew Pollard), who is involved in the development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine at Oxford, would recuse himself from all JCVI COVID-19 meetings.”

That’s the chair out.

COVID-19 sub-committee (Ref 5)
The members of the sub-committee are:
Professor Lim Wei Shen (Chair) (Nottingham University Hospitals)
Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair (University of Oxford)
Dr Kevin Brown (Public Health England)
Dr Rebecca Cordery (Public Health England)
Dr Maggie Wearmouth (East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust)
Professor Matt Keeling (University of Warwick)
Alison Lawrence (lay member)
Professor Robert Read (Southampton General Hospital)
Professor Anthony Scott (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)
Professor Adam Finn (University of Bristol)
Dr Fiona van der Klis (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Netherlands)
Professor Maarten Postma (University of Groningen)
Professor Simon Kroll (Imperial College London)
Dr Martin Williams (University Hospitals Bristol)
Professor Jeremy Brown (University College London Hospitals)

A number of other people attend the meetings (as the meeting minutes report), but those are the key members. Those are the ones I will focus on, therefore.

Declarations of interest

The web site reported that declarations of interest are reported at the back of meeting minutes. The most recent meeting minutes can be found here (Ref 6). The approach that I have taken is to accept the declarations in the meeting minutes, (even if the person did not see them as conflicts), without digging deeper on that person, and to do a cursory search for other conflicts if none have been declared by a member.

In five cases, the committee members declared that they did not have conflicts but in the “other information” immediately following the zero declaration, conflicts were revealed. A number of members don’t seem to realise what a conflict of interest is. If the organisation you work for receives money directly or indirectly from an organisation with an interest in vaccines (e.g., Pfizer or The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), there is at least a potential conflict of interest.

The passages in italics below are verbatim extracts from the declarations of interest in the most recent meeting minutes. I have then started the passage after the verbatim extract with “Comment”, so that you can easily distinguish between the extract and my words.

•      Professor Lim Wei Shen (Chair) (Nottingham University Hospitals)
Professor Lim has no registered conflicts of interest
Other information
Professor Lim’s institution has received unrestricted investigator-initiated research funding from Pfizer for a study in pneumonia in which Professor Lim is the Chief Investigator (non-vaccine related), and from NIHR HTA for clinical trials in which Professor Lim is the Chief Investigator.
Professor Lim is:
Co-investigator of the NIHR-funded (COVID19) RECOVERY Trial.
Co-investigator of the UKRI/NIHR funded PROTECT-CH (PROphylactic TrEatment of COVID in Care Homes) Platform Trial
Expert Panel Member: NICE COVID19RapidGuidelines
Member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Viral Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and occasionally sits on SAGE.
Member of UK-CTAP anti-virals sub-group
Member of UK Specialist Commissioning Group – Remdesivir, Tocilizumab
National Lead, NCEPOD Pneumonia
National Lead, National CQUIN in Community Acquired Pneumonia
National Lead, British Thoracic Society Community Acquired Pneumonia Audit Programme.”

Comment: The chair declared no conflicts, but the “other information” described conflicts. He is the chief-investigator for research, which receives funding from Pfizer. He is involved in trials related to COVID-19 and all of the trials will have funding – I’ve not looked into where from. Nottingham University has received $13,510,155 funding from the Gates Foundation, but Nottingham University Hospitals may not have benefitted from this, so I excluded it from the Gates funding total.

On 4th August 2021, Professor Lim Wei Shen stated categorically that 12-15 year olds would not be offered COVID-19 vaccines (Ref 7). Barely 6 weeks after that statement, 12-15 year olds were offered jabs (Ref 8). Barely 6 months later, 5-11 year olds are being offered them.

•      Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair (University of Oxford)
“Professor Harnden has no registered conflicts of interest.
Other information:
Professor Harnden is a Partner at an Oxfordshire Practice which is a PCN lead practice for COVID- 19 vaccine administration
Professor Harnden is a member of the Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Clinical Review Group
Professor Harnden is a University of Oxford employee but has had no involvement in the development or the clinical trials of the Oxford Astra Zeneca Covid 19 vaccine. He has received NIHR research funding as chief investigator for a programme of work on influenza in at risk children.”

Comment: Harnden declared no conflicts, but the “other information” described conflicts (vaccine administration and deployment). The University of Oxford has received $278,724,831 from the Gates Foundation (Ref 9).

•      Dr Kevin Brown (Public Health England)
Dr Brown has no registered conflicts of interest.”
Comment: As Dr Brown declared no interests, I did a cursory search and found Public Health England (his employer) has received $7,451,295 from the Gates Foundation (Ref 10). Dr Brown co-authored this favourable study on the “real world effectiveness” of the Pfizer & AZ jabs (Ref 11). Should he be examining the evidence or creating it?

•      Dr Rebecca Cordery (Public Health England)
“Dr Cordery has no registered conflicts of interest.”

Comment: Public Health England/Gates Foundation conflicts as above.

•      Dr Maggie Wearmouth (East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust)
“Dr Wearmouth has no registered conflicts of interest.”

Comment: As Dr Wearmouth declared no interests, I did a cursory search and found no conflicts. On 6 April 2021, Dr Wearmouth said “in a personal capacity” that the vaccine roll-out should be slowed “in younger people” to maintain public trust and confidence, after the committee had discussed concerns over a possible link between the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare type of blood clot (Ref 12).

•      Professor Matt Keeling (University of Warwick)
“Professor Matt Keeling has no registered conflicts of interest.”

Comment: As Professor Keeling declared no interests, I did a cursory search and found that he has Wellcome Trust conflicts on his university page (Ref 13). (Jeremy Farrar, the Director of the Wellcome Trust, is to be interviewed under oath by the US Congress over concerns that he was at the centre of a cover-up about the origins of Covid.) (Ref 14). The University of Warwick has received $7,115,915 from the Gates Foundation (Ref 15).

•      Ms Alison Lawrence (lay member)
Ms Alison Lawrence has no registered conflicts of interest.”

Comment: As a lay member, Ms Lawrence will have little or no influence.

•      Professor Robert Read (Southampton General Hospital)
“Professor Read receives no payments from the manufacturers of vaccines.
“Professor Read has no registered conflicts of interest.”

Comment: As Professor Read declared no interests, I did a cursory search and found that he is Director of Southampton NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, which is doing a COVID-19 vaccine study (in pregnant women) (Ref 16).

•      Professor Anthony Scott (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine).
“Professor Scott receives no payments from the manufacturers of vaccines.
Professor Scott has no registered conflicts of interest
Other information
Professor Scott is Director of the Health Protection Research Unit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He receives research funding from the National Institute for Health Research, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” (My emphasis in bold.)

Comment: Professor Scott declared no conflicts, but the “other information” described conflicts with several organisations invested in vaccines (highlighted in bold). The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is similarly invested with its own COVID-19 vaccine centre (Ref 17). The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has also received $308,640,471 from the Gates Foundation (Ref 18).

•      Professor Adam Finn (University of Bristol)
“Professor Adam Finn receives no personal payments from the manufacturers of vaccines.
Non personal interest: Professor Finn is chief investigator in the Valneva COVID19 vaccine clinical trials programme in the UK and in the Sanofi COVID19 booster vaccine clinical trial in the UK. He is also local Principal or Co-investigator in the Oxford-Astra Zeneca COV001, COV002 and COV006 studies and the National Immunisation Schedule Evaluation Consortium study ComFluCov. “

Comment: Professor Finn doesn’t consider being the chief, principal or co-investigator for several different COVID-19 vaccine trials as a conflict of interest. He says he receives no personal payments from the manufacturers of vaccines, but his research/institution is funded by these companies and presumably he is paid a salary for his research by his institution. The University of Bristol has received $16,870,808 from the Gates Foundation (Ref 19).

Professor Finn also failed to declare that he leads the Pfizer Vaccine Centre of Excellence at the University of Bristol, which was given an initial investment of £4.6 million from Pfizer (Ref 20).

•      Dr Fiona van der Klis (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Netherlands)
“Dr Fiona van der Klis has no registered conflicts of interest.”

Comment: As Dr van der Klis declared no interests, I did a cursory search and found that she works for the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, which approved COVID-19 jabs for 5-11 year olds from mid December 2021 (Ref 21). I have taken this as no conflicts of interest.

•      Professor Maarten Postma (University of Groningen)
“Professor Postma has no registered conflicts of interest.”

Comment: As Professor Postma declared no interests, I did a cursory search and found that his university website lists him as a “Representative of Pfizer” (Ref 22).

•      Professor Simon Kroll (Imperial College London)
“Professor Kroll has no registered conflicts of interest
“Other information
“He is the Honorary Medical Director of Meningitis Now.”

Comment: Professor Kroll is the Honorary Medical Director of Meningitis Now. The charity has Pfizer conflicts (Ref 23). Imperial College London was arguably the single institution responsible for lockdowns with the harmfully inaccurate modelling done by Neil Ferguson. Imperial College London has received $303,875,383 from the Gates Foundation (Ref 24). This included one grant for $79,006,570 in March 2020, which was the month of Ferguson’s report.

•      Dr Martin Williams (University Hospitals Bristol).
“Professor Martin Williams has no registered conflicts of interest.
“Other information
“Professor Williams holds a contract for work with Public Health England.”

Comment: As Dr Williams declared no interests, I did a cursory search and found that he collaborated on a paper with Professor Adam Finn above with Pfizer funding declared (although not directly for Dr Williams) (Ref 25). In this June 2021 paper Finn declared his interests as follows

AF is a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) and chair of the World Health Organization European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (ETAGE) committee. In addition to receiving funding from Pfizer as Chief Investigator of this study, he leads another project investigating transmission of respiratory bacteria in families jointly funded by Pfizer and the Gates Foundation.” (My emphasis in bold).

It’s not ideal for committee members to be co-workers. They are unlikely to challenge each other. There are also the Public Health England/Gates Foundation conflicts again. However, I have counted Dr Williams as having no conflicts.

•      Professor Jeremy Brown (University College London Hospitals)
“Professor Brown has no registered conflicts of interest
Other information
Professor Brown has/is:
MRC and Wellcome research funding not related to COVID-19 vaccines
University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospital (UCLH) BRC and Rosetrees charity funding for work on COVID-19 serological responses and post-COVID lung damage
Local principle investigator for the multicentre PHOSP COVID study phenotyping patients after being hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia
Working on UCL / UCLH clinical studies of the longer-term effects of COVID-19 pneumonia”

Comment: Professor Brown declared no conflicts, but the “other information” suggests otherwise. If you’re funded for research other than vaccines, you’re still not going to bite the hand that feeds you if that funder also makes vaccines. University college London has also received $68,284,599 from the Gates Foundation (Ref 26).


Summary

No member of the COVID-19 JCVI sub-committee declared conflicts of interest. Leaving the lay member aside, 5 of the 14 members reported information in their ‘non-declaration’ that could be seen as a conflict of interest. I did a cursory search on those who declared nothing – even in additional information. Of these 9 members, 6 had something that could be seen as a conflict of interest, while 3 didn’t.

The majority of the COVID-19 JCVI sub-committee members have conflicts of interest. These members don’t seem to realise that their research or institution receiving huge sums of money from pharmaceutical companies and/or the Gates Foundation is a conflict of interest.

The main information page about the JCVI on the UK government web site describes the JCVI as the body that “advises UK health departments on immunisation” (Ref 27). It does not report the body as independent. The Code of Practice does, however (Ref 28). “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI, the Committee) is an independent Departmental Expert Committee and a statutory body.”

Independent from what? The government, maybe, but not from industry. Members of the COVID-19 JCVI sub-committee work for organisations that receive approximately $1,000,000,000 – one billion dollars – from the Gates Foundation. Has this committee truly been able to provide an independent assessment of the risk and reward of the main products of interest of the Gates Foundation?

References

Ref 1: https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-wales-becomes-first-uk-nation-to-offer-coronavirus-vaccines-to-all-five-to-11-year-olds-12542897
Ref 2: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-updates-advice-on-vaccinations-for-5-to-11-age-group
Ref 3: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04816643
Ref 4: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation#conflict-of-interests
Ref 5: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation#conflict-of-interests
Ref 6: https://app.box.com/s/iddfb4ppwkmtjusir2tcThe two files that I reviewed for declarations were the most recent minutes for the COVID-19 sub-committee and for the main JCVI. For the COVID-19 sub-committee, the minutes in “box” were dated 16th December 2021; they were for a meeting on 11th May 2021. For the main committee, the minutes in “box” were dated 31st December 2021; they were for a meeting on 19th August 2021.
Ref 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RS1v7jN94w
Ref 8: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2021/09/nhs-rolls-out-covid-19-jab-to-children-aged-12-to-15/
Ref 9: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/search?q=university%20of%20oxford
Ref 10: Public Health England (as was before the troubling name change to UK Health Security Agency) has Gates Foundation conflicts
https://www.gatesfoundation.org/search?q=public%20health%20england
Ref 11: https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1088
Ref 12: Roberts, Knapton and Riley-Smith (6 April 2021). “Halt rollout for younger people until safety of AstraZeneca vaccine ‘certain’, says adviser”. The Telegraph.
Reported here – scroll down to the Covid jabs section https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Committee_on_Vaccination_and_Immunisation
Ref 13: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/maths/people/staff/matt_keeling/
Ref 14: https://republicans-oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Letter-to-Dr-Farrar.pdf
Ref 15: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/search?q=university%20of%20warwick
Ref 16: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/medicine/about/staff/rcr1d11.page
Ref 17: https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/research/centres/vaccine-centre/covid-19
Ref 18: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/search?q=london%20school%20of%20hygiene%20and%20tropical%20medicine
Ref 19: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/search?q=university%20of%20bristol
Ref 20: https://www.pfizer.co.uk/news-and-featured-stories/pfizer%E2%80%99s-vaccine-centre-excellence-launches-university-bristol
Ref 21: https://www.rivm.nl/en/covid-19-vaccination/questions-and-background-information/vaccination-children-5-11
Ref 22: https://research.rug.nl/en/activities/representatives-of-pfizer
Ref 23: https://www.meningitisnow.org/support-us/corporate-fundraising/corporate-partners/pfizer/
Ref 24: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/search?q=Imperial%20College%20London
Ref 25: Williams and Finn have collaborated on at least one article together ( https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/280983495/Streptococcus_pneumoniae_Septic_Arthritis_in_adults_in_Bristol_and_Bath_United_Kingdom_2006_2018_a_13_year_retrospective_observational_cohort_study_1_.pdf )
Ref 26: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/search?q=University%20College%20London
Ref 27: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation#conflict-of-interests
Ref 28: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/224864/JCVI_Code_of_Practice_revision_2013_-_final.pdf

Link to original article

Leave a Reply