Skip to Main Content

The Long Shot

The Inside Story of the Race to Vaccinate Britain

Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster


See More Retailers

About The Book

How Covid-19 vaccines went from the laboratory to people’s arms – the inside story of an extraordinary national campaign against all odds

A Sunday Times bestseller and Financial Times Book of the Year.

The unmissable inside story of the race against the virus.

Catapulted into an international crisis, Kate Bingham knew the odds were heavily stacked against a workable Covid-19 vaccine.

From a remote cottage, Bingham juggled vaccine suppliers, Whitehall, the media circus… as deaths mounted and the world shut down. Political manoeuvring, miscommunications and administrative meddling nearly jeopardised the project. But perseverance and expertise paid off.

Bingham’s eclectic team secured the first vaccine doses administered in the West, saving thousands of lives in the UK as new variants struck. Now, nearly every adult in Britain has had the jab, lockdowns have ended and we can finally live with Covid.

This is the insider view into how the Vaccine Taskforce beat those long odds and delivered a scientific miracle.

About The Authors

Dame Kate Bingham served as the Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, on a seven-month unpaid secondment, steering a team of experts to deliver the world’s fastest Covid-19 vaccination programme. She is Managing Partner at life sciences venture capital firm SV Health Investors where she co-leads SV’s biotech franchise which has a long history of developing transformational new medicines. SV’s investments have led to the launch of twenty drugs for inflammatory and autoimmune disease, blindness and cancer. At SV, Kate co-manages a number of global biotech venture funds which make investments into innovative companies developing novel therapeutics and she helped launch the Dementia Discovery Fund. She is a board member of the Francis Crick Institute and was awarded a DBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services as Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce.The author proceeds will be donated to the new university The New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) and early years education, development and advocacy charity Kindred Squared.

Dr Tim Hames started his career as an academic. He was a lecturer in Politics at Oxford University 1989–96, specialising in American and British Government. He then moved to The Times where he became the chief editorial writer, a weekly columnist and regularly edited the newspaper. He was Director General of the British Venture Capital Association from 2013–19.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (December 5, 2023)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780861545667

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

'Bingham and Hames’s accessible, edge-of-the-seat account of how British innovators vaccinated the UK and much of the rest of the world is also a quiet, compelling, non-partisan argument for dialogue between business and politics.'

– Telegraph

'Fast-paced and very compelling… The Vaccine Taskforce will always be remembered as British science at its very best.'

– Sir Jonathan Symonds, Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline

'The Long Shot is a book about procurement — not normally a subject for a gripping tale. Yet in this case we are dealing with the most successful procurement exercise of our times. And luckily, Bingham delivers on her punchy promise in the prologue to "tell it like it is". As an outsider rooted in business, she offers strong and specific recommendations for transforming government. Most deliciously, she names names.'

– Financial Times

'Written with compelling verve and complete authority, this book describes how Kate Bingham ensured that Covid-19 vaccines would be made available to the UK. But the book does more than that. It also demonstrates how science and the effective application of science are critical to solving the world’s problems, and that these solutions will only be delivered with a razor-sharp focus on outcomes rather than on following procedures.'

– Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Prize laureate

'Frank and fascinating.'

– Nature

'Kate Bingham’s new book, The Long Shot, is a gripping account of the UK Government Vaccine Task Force’s response to the pandemic by a remarkable, determined, thoughtful, and practical individual who was at the heart of the critical decisions that had to be made. I spoke with her frequently through 2020 as we battled logistical headwinds and the media storms in development of the Oxford vaccine and was always better for our chats, absorbing the positive energy that she emanates and benefiting from her wisdom. Her clarity of thought and action in a such a dark and turbulent time is a seam running through the book, and I know for certain that her efforts saved many lives. But I have to disagree with the title, because the book shows that it really wasn’t such a "long shot" with Kate at the helm.'

– Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford

‘A blueprint of how industry, academia and government can work together to address a question of global importance, with lessons for other future crises.’

– John Tregoning, author of Infectious

'An excellent read… Capturing the exceptional pace and energy of everyone involved in discovering and producing effective therapies against Covid-19. All in all, this is a book I will treasure.'

– Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President of AstraZeneca

'Essential reading for anyone seeking to learn the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.’

– Matthew Partridge, Money Week

‘An incisive behind-the-scenes look at the challenges Bingham faced in her role… The authors combine a lucid explanation of the scientific breakthroughs needed to create the first Covid vaccine with an insider look at the politics that hampered the taskforce’s efforts. The result is a valuable addition to the literature documenting the crisis.’

– Publishers Weekly

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images