At Monday’s Westminster Hall debate on vaccine safety, Danny Kruger was the first of four Conservative MPs to speak. Notably, the member for Devizes took issue with fellow Tory Elliot Colburn’s smearing of vaccine programme opponents and expressed his shame at Parliament not bothering about this critical matter of public concern and his own regrets over his vote to dismiss unvaccinated care workers. He closed his speech with four questions for the Minister of Health, Caroline Johnson MP (a consultant paediatrician): One, will she review the vaccination of children? Two, will she make representations in Government, and to Baroness Hallett*, on broadening the terms of reference for her inquiry, so that they explicitly include the efficacy and safety of the vaccines? Three, will she do more for the injured and bereaved as previously set out by Sir Christoper Chope? Four, will the Minister request that Dame June Raine of the MHRA meet the vaccine-injured and bereaved rather than ignoring their letters for months? Here are his words.
DANNY KRUGER: I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington [Elliot Colburn] who gave a very good defence of the vaccine programme and of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. I respect that, but I regret his response to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch [Sir Christopher Chope], who raised the point about medical expertise that casts some doubt on the vaccines. My hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington chose to smear all opponents of the vaccine programme. Of course there are lunatics out there who make absurd and outrageous claims, but there are many reasonable and respectable people who have anxieties about the vaccine programme, particularly people who have suffered as a result of the programme and their families.
I am a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Covid-19 vaccine damage, which my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch chairs. The APPG looks at vaccine injuries, and we had what I think was our first meeting last week in a committee room in Portcullis House. I am afraid there were only a tiny handful of colleagues there, but well over a hundred members of the public attended, which is not the usual story for an APPG. I felt somewhat ashamed, on behalf of Parliament, that that was the first time that those members of the public – including families of the bereaved, who are themselves injured citizens – had had the opportunity to be in a room with members of this House, but I am very pleased that we are having this debate, and particularly pleased that there is an opportunity for members of the public to hear from the Minister on this topic.
I should say to members of the public who are watching that we have in Westminster Hall today a very good Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham [Dr Johnson], who is genuinely committed to health, including public health, and she showed a real interest in this topic and in the effect of Covid policies when she was a back-bench MP.
Although many questions about our Covid response need to be answered, the UK is by no means the worst offender. We are not Canada, New Zealand or China – places where Governments think they can exterminate Covid by depriving their population of the most basic civil liberties. However, I am afraid that we still have many questions to ask ourselves, and even much to be ashamed of. I put on record that in hindsight I am particularly ashamed of my vote to dismiss care workers who did not want to receive the vaccine. I very much hope that the 40,000 care workers who lost their jobs can be reinstated, and indeed compensated. A group of us – including, I think, the Minister – held out against compulsory vaccination of health workers when that was proposed by the Government last winter. I think that resistance turned the tide, to a degree, on Government policy, and we emerged from the lockdowns more quickly than we might otherwise have done, yet we still have a policy of mass vaccination, which I want to query on behalf of constituents who have written to me about it.
My query starts with a simple point. In October 2020, when preparations were being made for the vaccine roll-out, Kate Bingham, the head of the vaccines agency, said: ‘There’s going to be no vaccination of people under 18. It’s an adult-only vaccine, for people over 50, focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable.’
Why was vaccination extended to the whole population? I do not think we have ever had a completely satisfactory answer to that question. I ask it again, because my concern is that extending the vaccination programme became an operation in public persuasion – an operation in which dissent was unhelpful or even immoral, and an operation that justified the suppression and even vilification of those who raised concerns.
ANDREW BRIDGEN, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, interjects: I thank my hon Friend for giving way. Unlike any other vaccine, the Covid vaccine was given to people who had natural immunity because they had provably contracted the virus. Why were those people vaccinated?
DANNY KRUGER: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The best vaccine against Covid is Covid, and many people were naturally immune. There are questions to be asked about the effects of vaccination on the immune system.
My hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington made an understandable point about the importance of resisting misinformation. As I mentioned, there are certainly many crazy theories out there to which we need not give credence. If we are talking about a programme of vaccinating the population, it is important that the public are persuaded to do what the Government want them to do, so I understand why the Government should have a public health information campaign. However, it is an essential principle of medical ethics that people must be able to give informed consent before any treatment, and I worry about whether we can say that consent was fully informed in all cases.
Throughout, there has been misinformation in favour of the vaccine. I would not say that was deliberate; it was possibly accidental. We can tell that with hindsight. Perhaps the most egregious example was the claim that the vaccine is 95 per cent effective; as was mentioned earlier, Dr Malhotra presented on this to the APPG last week. That figure refers simply to the relative risk, instead of the actual or absolute reduction in risk to an individual. The absolute risk reduction is really less than 1 per cent.
There was also the widespread claim that the vaccine stops transmission, so people should take the jab to protect other people. We were all told that; we all believed that for many months. Last month, we heard from Pfizer that its vaccine was never tested to see whether it would stop transmission. Despite that, we had the notorious claim by Professor Chris Whitty that even though the vaccine brought no benefit to children, children should be vaccinated to protect wider society. I am all for thinking about society, not the individual, but that again feels like a profound break with medical ethics. A lot of people are asking what the vaccine does to children and young people, and Professor Whitty is right that the benefit to healthy children seems to be essentially nil.
There are genuine questions to be asked. I have not verified these questions; I merely ask them on behalf of my constituents. How do we explain the increase in the rates of myocarditis, heart attacks and excess deaths among young people? Indeed, across the general population, it is plausible, though not definitive, that the vaccine is responsible for more harms than we know about. As I said in my intervention, we know from the Yellow Card scheme that up to one in 200 people vaccinated report an adverse reaction. That is bad enough in itself, but we also know that adverse effects are significantly under-reported through the Yellow Card scheme. Based on the MHRA’s research, there may be as many as ten times more serious adverse reactions than the Yellow Card system shows.
APSANA BEGUM, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, interjects: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is important for the Minister to explain how people who say they have experienced damage from the vaccine can ensure that they are heard? There is the Yellow Card scheme, the module in the public inquiry, and people can apply for vaccine damage compensation, but there need to be more meaningful ways through which people can be engaged with on their experiences of damage.
DANNY KRUGER: I am grateful to the hon. Lady – I absolutely agree. This is a very important moment in which the Minister can hear from Members speaking on behalf of their constituents. I encourage far greater engagement with citizens who have suffered from vaccine damage, or even lost loved ones to it.
There may be innocent explanations for the rather terrifying facts I have mentioned; I very much hope there are. If these are conspiracy theories, we need them to be comprehensively and courteously debunked.
To close, I have four questions for the Minister. First, will she review the vaccination of children? Children have strong naturally acquired immunity, and the chance of death from Covid for a healthy child is one in 2million. I believe we should follow other countries, such as Denmark, and stop vaccinating children altogether. I invite the Minister to review that aspect of the policy.
Secondly, will the Minister make representations in Government, and to Baroness Hallett, on broadening the terms of reference for her inquiry, so that they explicitly include the efficacy and safety of the vaccines? I hear what my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington says, and he is absolutely right: the inquiry terms of reference include mention of the vaccination programme and its effects. He may well be right that that is sufficient, and that the review will properly consider the topics that we are discussing. I hope so, but that needs to be made more explicit; I invite the Minister to comment on that.
SIR CHRISTOPHER CHOPE interjects: I wrote to Baroness Hallett, asking her to ensure that the terms of reference specifically covered the safety and impact of vaccines. As a result of representations, not just from me but from others, the terms of reference were amended to make it quite clear that vaccines, their impact and the potential damage done by them are included.
DANNY KRUGER: I am grateful for that clarification. It causes me concern to hear that it took my hon. Friend’s representations to ensure that the inquiry will consider the effect of the vaccines. We need to go further and talk about efficacy and safety, not just impact. We need to be explicit about what questions we want answers to. These issues need to be covered directly. We need the public inquiry to consider these matters, because of the compromised nature of medical regulation in our country. I mentioned that the MHRA is funded by the pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs and vaccines that it regulates. There might be some universe in which that makes sense, but this is not it. I do not think that is right.
Thirdly, we need to do a lot more for the injured and bereaved, as the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse said. I agree with all the recommendations of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, and we will hear from him shortly on what needs to be done to raise the threshold for compensation for the injured, and the speed of payouts. I agree with him that we need clinics for people with adverse reactions, just as we do for people with Long Covid.
Finally, we need to change the power imbalance. I am sorry, on behalf of Parliament, that this is the first proper debate that we have had on this subject. I regret that victims and families have had to struggle so hard to get engagement of the system. I hope that the Minister agrees to meet some of the people here, and other representatives of families affected by the vaccines, for a proper exchange of information and ideas, and I hope that she will request that Dame June Raine of the MHRA meets them, rather than ignoring letters for months.
A new Government takes over this week. I hope that the Minister, who was appointed only recently, will stay in post, and that we can start a new chapter in the story of Covid. No more remote power telling people what to do. Let us put truth and justice back into public life, and restore trust in the experts on whom we rely.
*Danny Kruger published this positive response from the Health Minister to his first question.
You can watch the final part of Danny Kruger’s speech here.