Often, after a long and taxing day at work, I let off steam by going running in London’s parks.

On weekends, I enjoy mountain biking in the Welsh hills. It is an exhilarating, but risky, pastime that takes me up the steep, rugged slopes.

In my long career as a biochemist/venture capitalist, I have taken risks.

Dame Kate Bingham is 'deeply worried' about the slowing down of the vaccination programme in the UK

Dame Kate Bingham is “deeply concerned” about the slowing of the UK’s vaccination program 

I have spent the last three decades searching for and investing in drugs to help patients suffering with life-threatening, or debilitating conditions.

Every investment comes with uncertainty and optimism. In other words, I am not fear-averse nor prone to panicking or gloom.

However, I must admit that I am now deeply concerned. This is a situation that I couldn’t have imagined a few months ago.

In May last year, during the first lockdown, I received a life-changing call from the Prime Minister, asking me to lead the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce.

‘We need to start saving lives,’ Boris Johnson told me. ‘And I need you to help.’

He asked me to use my experience to find a vaccine against Covid-19 which could be safely administered to the public in both the UK and worldwide.

More than 50,000 new infections are being recorded every day and Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, warned this week the figure could rise to 100,000

Every day, more than 50,000 new infections are reported. Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned this week that the number could rise to 100,000 

It was a difficult task. Although scientists and laboratories around the world were already racing to develop and test many potential vaccines, most people believed that it would take years before they found a safe and effective jab.

We now know that thanks to an unprecedented international effort, and a heroic army comprising 500,000 citizens who volunteered for clinical trials, we were able to achieve the impossible here in Britain within six months. We have access to more than 350,000,000 doses of vaccines.

They proved to be more successful than we could have ever hoped.

Many flu vaccines are barely 50 per cent effective in protecting against disease and we didn’t know what level of efficacy to expect.

The Eureka moment came in November 2020. We learned that one of the Covid vaccines the Taskforce had invested in — Pfizer/BioNTech — was both safe and 90 per cent effective.

Dame Bingham is disheartened to see the waning enthusiasm at vaccination centres and urges the nation to start queuing up again

Dame Bingham is discouraged by the declining enthusiasm for vaccination centres. She urges the nation not to stop queuing up.

Margaret Keenan, 90 years old, was the first person to get the Pfizer jab as a part of a global mass vaccination program. The UK was able begin the programme earlier than any other country.

It was a beautiful moment. Coronavirus vaccines saved millions of lives around the world and are still our most effective line of defense against the disease. They have a 90% success rate in preventing death. I am so proud to have played a part.

Thanks to frontline workers and volunteers, as well administrators working around the clock, the vaccine rollout was yet another incredible success.

I cheered when I saw people queueing nationwide at centres set up in cathedrals, museums, car parks and football grounds, eager to get the jabs that would protect them and their families — and give them back the freedoms sacrificed to curb Covid’s spread.

Dame Bingham says the more people who remain unvaccinated or unboosted, the greater the number of infections, which in turn can give rise to a greater number of variants and the possibility of even more transmissible strains

Dame Bingham states that the more people who are not vaccinated or boosted, the higher the number of infections. This can lead to more variants and more susceptible strains. 

The almost miraculous achievement of developing safe and effective vaccines so fast — vaccines that not only slashed infection rates but reduced the severity of the illness — would have been meaningless without this heroic effort to get them into people’s arms.

Sadly, those queues of cheerful people waiting to be vaccinated — and their even more cheering effect on infection rates — seem to have largely disappeared.

I am worried about the possibility of losing the tremendous gains we made in the last ten months, which could have serious consequences.

Every day, more than 50,000 new infections are reported. Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned this week that the number could reach 100,000.

The reality is that waning immunity and the highly transmissible Delta virus are not a good combination.

And the vaccination programme — our great British success story — is at risk of stalling.

Too many people have yet to receive their first jab. The booster program offering a third jab is still in its infancy.

This seems to be more of a ‘demand’ issue than one of supply. Yesterday, the PM urged people to come forward and said that there are many vaccines available.

But people simply aren’t getting them in anything like the numbers needed.

The greater the number and severity of infections, the more people who are not vaccinated or boosted. This can lead to more variants and more transmissions.

We know the virus can spread quickly and mutate in those who are not vaccinated. This is a dangerous situation.

To prevent new variants, we must reduce transmission. This means that more people should be vaccinated before it is too late.

Surprisingly, only 4.5 Million of the 8.5 Million eligible for a booster in England have received it.

The remaining four million people who had a second jab six to eight months ago may have lost their immunity. They are at greater risk for contracting Covid or becoming seriously ill.

However, younger people are not getting their first jab. Only 15% of people in England have had their first jab since September 20, when vaccinations began for 12-15-year olds.

Many schools have not yet started their vaccination programs.

Covid is back in full swing at schools and colleges, and into households. Some of these households will include elderly relatives or parents with cancer.

The disruption to normal family life is a new reality.

Many children and teenagers who should be looking forward to half-term are having to isolate after testing positive — including my 15-year-old niece.

As a result, the family’s longed-for holiday to Spain has been cancelled.

It is unbearable to me that young people are now at risk of missing out on education after the hardships of the past 18 month. It is both saddening and maddening because it could be avoided.

Last December, I resigned as a member of the Vaccine Taskforce. I don’t have any behind-the-scenes knowledge of what is happening.

It is alarming, however, that countries which are slower to begin vaccination than the UK are now moving ahead of us with school-based and booster programs.

There are many factors at play: the closing of some vaccine centers, the decision to allow doctors to focus on the Covid backlog instead of offering jabs, as well as the anti-vaxxers movement, which has, in particular alarmated parents of young children.

Even the NHS’s use of texts to inform people they are eligible for boosters has been cited as an issue, as more elderly recipients often don’t know how then to book online.

No matter what the reason, we must work hard to accelerate the vaccine rollout in schools as well as the booster programme.

Yesterday’s news that Government advisers are considering cutting the time between the second and third jab to five months (from six) to increase the numbers eligible for a booster is welcome, but it is vital for people to come forward to get that third jab.

People over 60 have weaker immune systems, so their vaccine efficacy decreases more quickly.

People who had the vaccine earlier because of their vulnerability and age will now have a reduced level of protection without a booster.

This week’s data confirmed that booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine can reduce the incidence of disease by 95% compared to those who have not received them.

Booster shots can increase your immunity. While you might get a headache and sore arms, you will be able to protect yourself, protect others, and protect the health system.

My 81-year old mother received her booster without any side effects.

Today, I want to issue a call to arms to all Mail readers: if any of you know of an elderly person who hasn’t yet got an appointment for a booster jab, then please help them book it, either via the NHS online system or by calling their surgery or local pharmacy on their behalf.

Research shows 91 per cent of people would be ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely’ to have a booster if offered it, so we must ensure they get it.

I believe there is a compelling case for the Government not to be complacent.

Some people may not realise that immunity declines over time, or believe that if they have already had Covid, they don’t need a vaccine. They are wrong.

Unvaccinated people are more likely to get re-infected. Young people are not as immune as they think.

More than two thirds (33%) of young adults in hospital with Covid are not fully vaccinated.

I want to emphasize the importance of young people having access to their friends and being able go to school, university, and work.

My daughter spent her last year at university studying — and graduating — online. She has a job now and can finally meet and form relationships with the people she works with.

If we don’t want life to move back online, with all the consequences for mental and physical health, we must ensure that vaccine uptake is as near-universal as possible.

While I believe it is pointless trying to persuade anti-vaxxers, who will not be convinced by rationality, we must reach out to those who are hesitant because they are worried about the vaccine’s side-effects.

I understand their anxiety. It was the first time we had ever had a mass vaccine programme for adults in this country.

The safety statistics regarding vaccines are excellent. The Covid vaccines were just as rigorously and thoroughly evaluated as any new medicine.

Nearly four billion people have been vaccinated worldwide, with very few serious reactions.

We need to make sure that we are able to communicate to the hesitant and nervous that the vaccine is not a risky. However, the virus can be very serious and could cause death.

Coronavirus causes 11 times more deaths in the unvaccinated people than those who are vaccinated.

If it takes 15 minutes to give people the reassurance that they need without putting pressure on them, it is time well spent.

Because of the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, if we didn’t have the vaccines, we would be in a worse position now than at this time last year, with far more illness and deaths.

Hospitals are concerned about rising infection rates and winter illnesses like flu. This could put an additional strain on already stretched resources.

Four out of ten Covid patients admitted to hospital are not fully vaccinated. This could mean that patients with heart disease, stroke or pneumonia are not allowed to use the intensive care beds.

A national effort has made vaccination so successful. We mustn’t blow it now. The success of vaccine programmes has given us back the freedoms we used to take for granted.

Like everyone else, I don’t want to give them up again, to revert to that anxious existence in which elderly people are prisoners in their own homes, normal family life is curtailed and leisure, entertainment and sporting activities are halted.

I don’t want Christmas on Zoom. And, most of all, I don’t want people becoming seriously ill and dying when it can be avoided.

I am no longer chair of the Vaccine Taskforce — I have returned to my day job. I am not a party to the plans of the NHS or Government.

As an observer (and a lapsed science student), I appeal to anyone who is hesitating.

Please get it as soon you can. The clock is ticking.

We need to have people queueing outside vaccine centres again — and to get those vaccines in their arms now, before it is too late.