SHOULD you take the Covid-19 vaccine? The answer would be ‘yes’ if you trust the guidance of the government, medical establishment and the World Health Organisation, but people should not roll up their sleeves in a hurry. For such a rushed medical product they should err on the side of caution, striving first to learn more about the vaccine and the disease that it is supposed to ameliorate.
My field of expertise is mental health, not immunology, but I write from an ethical perspective, having sat on a NHS ethics committee for 11 years. I believe that much of the existing vaccination programme for children (e.g. polio, measles) is justifiable, and that informed consent from parents should always be sought rather than compulsion. Indeed, the Nuremberg Code, following the horrific experiments by the Nazis, prevents forced medical intervention.
Every year, tens of thousands of older people succumb to influenza or pneumonia. Since the 1930s drug companies have been developing flu vaccines, but effectiveness is often lower than 30% due to the unpredictability of multiple strains and mutations. The frail elderly also die from the common cold, another type of coronavirus. No successful vaccine has ever been made for coronaviruses, at least until now.
Hasty production of a Covid-19 jab is a response to a pandemic that has caused over a million deaths, while lockdowns have destroyed livelihoods. But the virus is not as deadly as initially feared. The average age of Covid fatalities in the UK is 82 – a year over life expectancy. Younger adults are rarely debilitated; most are asymptomatic. Children have statistically more chance of dying from a stroke of lightning. Arguably, the ‘second wave’ is a false epidemic based on flawed PCR testing, with the apparently high death toll due to the normal increase in upper respiratory tract infections in the cold, damp weather of late autumn.
Yet all eggs have been placed in one basket. Tony Blair suggested that due diligence should be relaxed in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine. Health secretary Matt Hancock ordered a massive consignment from Pfizer before the results were in. Seemingly, adverse reactions are acceptable collateral damage, as proper safety testing (normally taking two years) will not be conducted before mass administration. When the authorities state that the vaccine is safe, they simply do not know this.
My hesitation is shared by possibly half of the population. Although a University College London survey of 70 thousand found that merely a fifth would refuse the jab, resistance appears to be growing on social media. London Assembly member David Kurten found strong opposition in his Twitter poll (although the sample was unlikely to be representative).
Professor Roger Watson of the University of Hull, who generally regards vaccination as an evidence-based benefit, told me: ‘I’m not convinced the vaccine is bad per se but I’m convinced it’s being rushed into use and the technique of RNA vaccines is entirely new – experimental even’.
The government, however, is avoiding any debate or critique. Mainstream media, under instruction by Ofcom, have pushed the official narrative on Covid-19. When it became apparent that the viral outbreak would prolong into the winter, people began to accept that life could not return to normal until a vaccine arrived.
The media have played their part in softening the populace for the prospect of mandatory vaccination. On 14th October, the Times published two letters on vaccine sceptics. Dr John Orchard asserted: –
‘Access to public spaces, events and transport, etc should be made conditional on proof of vaccination. Anyone without such proof should be refused admission. Vaccine deniers will then be free to vent their misguided opinions in glorious perpetual isolation.’
The second letter was by Anthony Berry, emeritus professor of management, who opined that ‘people who refuse to be vaccinated could have to pay an additional element of income tax as an insurance premium against their needs for further treatment’. Selection of these letters, without an opposing view, indicated that the ‘paper of record’ supported their stance.
Last week Tory MP Tom Tugendhat argued that vaccine-dodgers should be barred from jobs, bars, restaurants and other public settings. Tugendhat is a staunch critic of China’ human rights abuses, yet he would have British citizens injected against their will.
A concerted campaign to denounce ‘anti-vaxxers’ has progressed from propaganda and social media bans to the threat of criminal prosecution. A survey reported in the Mail of Sunday suggested that four-fifths of Britons support the legislative proposal of the British Academy and Royal Society to arrest and imprison anyone who spreads false information about vaccines. Anyone who criticises the Covid vaccine is smeared as an ‘anti-vaxxer’ (this is absurd: I don’t like cheese, but I’m not anti-food). .
The medical establishment characterises opponents as ‘conspiracy theorists’. There is certainly much of this on social media. Covid-19 is regarded by cynics as a Trojan horse for a totalitarian New World Order, with health surveillance extending to all aspects of behaviour. Bill Gates is their bête noire. In its mission to reduce global population, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation moved from promoting contraception into vaccines, with the rationale that healthier people produce fewer offspring. A major funder of the World Health Organisation, Gates is striving for a biometric identity for every child. Allegedly, vaccination will be the means of inserting a microchip implant, which will eventually be used for sterilisation purposes.
Meanwhile microbiologist Judy Mikowits warns that mass administration of the Covid-19 vaccine will cause 50 million deaths in the USA alone. Most Covid sceptics would regard such ideas as far-fetched. But there are serious scientific and ethical questions to ask before whole populations become guinea pigs for an untested and vaccine that is likely to cause side-effects and unlikely to eradicate an endemic virus. Why inoculate healthy people, many of whom may have antibodies from natural exposure, to a disease of negligible risk to them?