LAST Thursday a group of senior doctors and scientists, alarmed by the Government’s deaf ear to their call for child Covid vaccination to be paused, convened a press conference to set out each and every reason, scientific and ethical, why this is so urgent. That the JCVI went into terrorist lockdown in response to four female doctors delivering yet another letter to its ‘chair’, Professor Wei Shen Lim, prior to a press conference that not one MSM health editor bothered to attend, is a scandal in itself. Far worse is the scandal of ‘guinea pig’ science that ever younger children are being subjected to, risking their health and futures for no need. This is what the press conference presentations, starting today with Dr Ros Jones’s account, make incontrovertibly clear.
Dr Ros Jones
As a retired paediatrician, I signed up for work with the General Medical Council [to assist with the Covid outbreak] back in April 2020; but actually they didn’t need me because what was very obvious early on was that the children’s ward was eerily quiet and they certainly didn’t need retired paediatricians going back to work. So that was a blessing and I went back to retirement. Unfortunately, there have been many other problems for children [arising] from the pandemic management.
It was about a year ago that I first saw advertised, on an evening BBC News, recruitment for a children’s vaccine in Oxford saying they were recruiting children aged five to 15. I was very shocked because at that stage we had no long-term adult safety data at all. I contacted Professor Pollard who was the professor leading the investigation and also, coincidentally, is [joint] chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and immunisation [JCVI].
I emailed him. I’ve known him through work, and he replied within the hour, saying: ‘Ooh, hi Ros, you’re quite right, we don’t know it’s safe, that’s why we’re doing the study’. He assured me it was a small pilot study, and if it was effective, then they would be looking to do a properly powered, full-size study. ‘There’s no way children will be receiving this vaccine within the year.’
I thought, Okay, but it was only two months after that that the Pfizer vaccine got its temporary authorisation in the States, and that’s when I wrote my first letter to the Government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). We had about 60 names on the first letter, I think, and really we got that letter in before the MHRA had authorised [the vaccine for children]. They didn’t reply. They didn’t reply for ten weeks. We got a reply two hours after they had authorised the vaccine for children.
We wrote again, because every time the letters’ replies are just very bland; they don’t answer any of the individual questions that we posed about potential safety for children. They have usually been to say it’s the responsibility of the MHRA. But the MHRA, when they approved temporary authorisation for the 12s to 15s, they only looked at the Pfizer trial data. They did not look at the real world data. They said they haven’t. So they are looking at the data from a drug company that is going to be making all the profits on this.
So I thought I would start today by reminding us of the basics of how drug safety benefit works.
1. When the disease is worse than the cure, that is, when the disease is quite serious and the treatment has minimal side effects, I think we all understand that all drugs and treatments have potential side effects, but as long as the disease is worse than the cure, you’ve got a potentially useful drug.
2. When the disease more or less balances the cure, this is the next level down which is the sort of thing like you might be able to buy over the counter, but the NHS wouldn’t be spending its money on it, but at least it doesn’t do you any harm.
3. When the disease is milder than the cure. Of course, the worst situation is this, the bottom one, and that’s not a situation we want to be in. Now, obviously, [there are] quite a lot of drugs when they’re being developed, that may be discovered during the development phase, and drugs never reach the market. But it’s not uncommon for drugs to get to market where rarer side effects come to light or perhaps delayed side effects that have not been picked up on the original trials. And when that happens, then a drug gets either withdrawn completely or really restricted in its use.
So just a quick example, of course, with the AstraZeneca [vaccine] and the blood clots. At the beginning we were told, ‘Oh no, ten million doses and only ten cases,’ but when you actually looked at it, there was a very strong age stratification and it was then withdrawn for anybody under 40. So that was acting on a signal. But we turn now to Pfizer. And with the Pfizer, what seems to be the problem largely is myocarditis and that is very much age-related. So we’re in a situation where children have the least impact from Covid itself, but they have the most impact from potential side effects, particularly myocarditis.
In the US, 16-to-17-year-olds are the highest group with an incidence of 1 in 9443 for this complication. Israel, they looked a bit more systematically [and] they were the first people to spot this problem. From the moment they noticed it, they sent letters out to all their paediatricians, all their emergency departments, to tell them to look out for this. And they found [it to be] 1 in 6,230. This is young men after their second dose of Pfizer. And it’s interesting because their data – they looked at all age groups, and for the over-30s it was 1 in 72,000. So there’s a tenfold difference in risk if you are over 30 versus under 20. But the Covid risk is tenfold the other way. So your risk-benefit balance has changed by 100-fold by your age. This mantra, ‘safe and effective’, is not fit for purpose.
Hong Kong rolled the vaccine out to children a bit later, by which time they knew about myocarditis and they have just looked systematically from the beginning of the programme, and they, in fact, decided to halt the second dose when they found – for the Hong Kong 12-17s- it was 1 in 2680 getting myocarditis. And that’s just at the stage that here we went from one dose to two doses.
It’s described as mild and it goes away. But there have been child deaths reported in the States. I’ve personally been in Zoom calls with the group of cardiologists from the States who’ve been doing cardiac MRI scans, and they found that 89 per cent of these children, whose symptoms had gone, had significant changes on the scans with swelling and potential scarring of heart muscle. And the JCVI, in the minutes of their meetings last summer, wanted to have six months to follow that up and see what’s happened to those kids over time. But that was overruled, as we know.
You can watch Dr Jones and her colleagues here in a full recording.
The JCVI’s ‘lockdown’ is described here.
Tomorrow we publish Dr Clare Craig’s presentation.