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Statement from Professor Ewan McKendrick, Registrar of Oxford University

The BMJ’s article (Oxford vaccine study highlights pick and mix approach to preclinical research, 11 January 2018) and accompanying BBC File on 4 programme (6 June 2017), both by Deborah Cohen, focus on a series of allegations made by a former member of staff, Professor Peter Beverley, against a current member of staff, Professor Helen McShane.

The focus was on the safety of a new human vaccine candidate for tuberculosis – MVA85A – which has been safely tested in more than 2,000 humans without any adverse effects.

The University and Professor McShane have spent nearly two years answering Deborah Cohen’s questions and providing her with requested information regarding this research.

None of the allegations raised in the BMJ article or File on 4 is new to the University. Three separate investigations by Oxford University regarding Professor Peter Beverley’s repeated allegations cleared Professor Helen McShane of any wrong-doing.

The third panel in 2016 not only cleared Professor McShane of any academic misconduct, but went so far as to add that on the basis of the vaccine’s proven safety in humans and positive phase 1 and phase 2A trials, it would have been unethical not to have proceeded with the phase 2 trials in infants.

The time has come to stop the repeated repackaging of criticisms and allegations which independent expert analysis has demonstrated to be without foundation.

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