Skip to main content

The Long Shot

The Inside Story of the Race to Vaccinate Britain

Kate Bingham Tim Hames

The Times bestseller

FT Book of the Year

On 3 April 2020, Kate Bingham was told that the likelihood of any Covid-19 vaccine working was 15% at best. But on 8 December 2020, the first NHS patient received a vaccine. Now nearly every adult in Britain has had a jab, lockdowns have ended and we can finally live with Covid. What lies behind this staggering success story?

From a cottage miles away from Westminster, Bingham juggled vaccine suppliers, Whitehall, the media circus – and her daughter’s exams. Political manoeuvring, miscommunications and administrative meddling nearly jeopardised the project. But perseverance paid off.

Catapulted into a national crisis, Bingham’s eclectic team secured the first vaccine doses administered in the West and saved thousands of lives in the UK as new variants struck. This is an unmissable insider view into how the Vaccine Taskforce beat the odds and delivered the scientific miracle we all waited for.

  • Publication date: October 5, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780861545667
  • RRP: £10.99
  • Pages: 352
  • Publication date: October 20, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861545643
  • RRP: £18.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication date: October 20, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861545650
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 352


'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.'


'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.'

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.'


'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

Kate Bingham

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.

Author page

Tim Hames

Author page

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletters to find out more about our latest books and offers, straight to your inbox.

Select mailing lists