'There is a rush to find a vaccine but I doubt I would feel confident to accept a vaccine for me or my family that has been so quickly produced'
In my country, and perhaps in yours, we have had a valuable lesson about science not being an absolute. This cat is out of the bag now and should stay out. Scientific evidence is relative to where the research grants came from, the researcher’s chosen evidence base, who will take on the peer reviews and which journals will accept it for publication. In this there can be elements of fashion, popular trends, herd thinking and government influence. When we are told, ‘Research tells us...’ or ‘The scientific view is...’ we should always remember science carries all of these flavours. It can never be taken as an absolute.
I am not disclosing my own political beliefs or loyalties when I say I have no faith in the leadership the UK’s government is providing. Parliament is not involved in the pandemic planning so there is a serious democratic deficit with a slide into dictatorship. Our prime minister seems almost proud to have the reputation of liar and buffoon. I do not believe in the UK we are in safe hands.
At the beginning of this pandemic some wrong thinking suggested we should all be socially distant. In a major health crisis we all need each other. Social distancing will suit those people who feel they are self-sufficient and happy in their screen-based autism (until there is a power cut and they want to find someone to shout at), but it is not appropriate for those of us who are more human and feel social action is our best response to a pandemic. Social distancing is too cruel a policy for many vulnerable people. The harm it can cause is tremendous. But common sense does suggest physical distancing helps reduce the spread of pathogens.
There is a rush to find a vaccine but I doubt I would feel confident to accept a vaccine for me or my family that has been so quickly produced. As with social distancing, there is a great danger of creating additional problems, illness and deaths. Dr Elizabeth Evans* has responded to the UK government’s consultation on a rushed Covid vaccine and made her misgivings available to TAC Bulletin readers. The following are quotes from her response:
"Covid falls well behind the Spanish Flu (1918) 40-50 million deaths worldwide, CFR >2.5%; Asian Flu (1957-58) 1-4 million deaths worldwide, CFR 0.67%: Hong Kong Flu (1968) 1 million deaths worldwide (many young people), CFR <0.5%....rolling out an experimental and unlicensed vaccine would not be justified, as the risk of vaccine side-effects would now outweigh any benefit.
"All medicines and vaccines will have side effects - even if rare - which can be devastating to those unfortunate enough to be affected. These occur even when vaccines are extensively trialled. In the UK we have a Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme run by the government to compensate people damaged by vaccines - an admission that they are not 100% safe - which has paid out millions of pounds to victims of vaccinations over the last 20 years...a sobering article from the Telegraph outlining incidents when serious vaccine side-effects only became apparent after a vaccine was rolled out to the population, which then had to be hastily withdrawn e.g. Dengvaxia, Pandemrix, RotaShield, RSV vaccine, 1976 Swine Flu Vaccine: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/26/risk-uncertainty-fear-failurewhy-scientists-arent-celebrating/
"Given the proposed immunity from liability for the pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers and healthcare workers administering the Covid vaccine, it appears that the only risk will be shouldered by the public, who are not included as named stakeholders in the consultation...The Government appears more concerned to protect the profits and finances of the pharmaceutical companies than the health of the public. Exempting "key actors in the medicine supply chain" (doctors, nurses, and manufacturers) from liability for injury or death from an unlicensed vaccine does nothing to give the public confidence in the vaccine or to compensate those who will be harmed.
"As a former doctor, I am concerned about the prospect of unqualified people undertaking what is a medical procedure. This would place the public at risk if there were to be immediate, unexpected, serious reactions (e.g. anaphylactic shock) that requires urgent medical intervention...Using vaccinators who are not doctors or nurses would also jeopardise the obtaining of proper, informed consent, which is essential for any medical procedure which carries risk... Doctors are taught that their professional responsibility is to "First, do no Harm". The desire to rush out a vaccine must not be done in a way that cuts corners and puts the public at risk.
"Given that a Covid vaccine would essentially still be an experimental vaccine when released on the population, there should be no pressure put on any member of the public to have the vaccine or any restrictions put on people who choose not to accept the risk of a vaccine who's long term side effects will be completely unknown and untested (infertility, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, cancers etc are all possible and documented long-term effects from vaccines)...I understand that there is no provision in the Coronavirus Act to make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory but I am concerned that there will be an attempt to coerce the public into taking the (unlicensed and inadequately tested) vaccine by imposing restrictions on their ability to live a normal life - travel, schooling, jobs, etc. I find the idea of coercion to take a vaccine deeply disturbing."