His claim that ‘greed’ was the driver behind the UK’s vaccine success ignores the huge role of state funding
Boris Johnson has attributed the UK’s vaccine success to “capitalism” and “greed”. Though these were crude remarks, if the prime minister’s words are any indication of his vision for how the UK can recover from the pandemic, there are worrying implications for the country’s policies at home and abroad.
This is not the first time that Johnson has taken the wrong economic lessons from the Covid crisis. A few months ago he said in the same spirit that for “those on the left, who think everything can be funded by uncle sugar the taxpayer … there comes a moment when the state must stand back and let the private sector get on with it”. Nor is Johnson the first person to have viewed the vaccines as a private sector coup. It’s worth remembering that the “AstraZeneca” vaccine was created by scientists at the University of Oxford and developed and distributed by the pharmaceutical giant. Yet the private sector has emerged as the victor in the public celebration of Covid vaccines.
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