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Vaccine tsar’s travails show why science needs specialist comms

Kate Bingham’s revelations point to better ways to support expert advisers, says Fiona Fox

When, during the pandemic, it emerged that the Admiral communications consultancy was supporting Kate Bingham’s media work as head of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, the headlines were not flattering. The London Evening Standard’s take, “Questions swirl over vaccine czar’s £670,000 PR costs”, was typical: why couldn’t she just use the comms staff at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy?

Well, now we know why. In Bingham’s new book, The Long Shot, published today but already serialised in the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, she argues that she and her team succeeded in spite of some in government rather than because of them. Communications officers get particularly short shrift. “I had no idea that working with government communications teams would be the hardest part of my job,” she writes. “Yet so it proved.”

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