Editor’s Letter

The return of the former vaccine chief is a sign of trouble

The slow pace of vaccinations is distracting from the rest of the government’s agenda, writes John Rentoul

Sunday 24 October 2021 00:01
<p>Boris Johnson on the threshold of No 10 when he became prime minister in 2019 </p>

Boris Johnson on the threshold of No 10 when he became prime minister in 2019

The news that Emily Lawson is returning from 10 Downing Street to run the government’s vaccination programme ought to be doubly worrying for Boris Johnson. She is the civil servant who won praise for her management of the successful vaccine rollout this year, and who was appointed to head the new No 10 delivery unit – responsible for chasing up the delivery of the government’s manifesto promises.

It is worrying because it suggests that the campaign to get third, booster, doses to people is not going as quickly as it should – and that plans to vaccinate the 12-15 age group are falling behind expectations.

But it is also worrying because it means that Lawson’s drive and organisation has been diverted from what the prime minister wants to focus on between now and the next election, namely delivering the targets he set himself at the last election.

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