LAST week 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 every reason, scientific and ethical, why this is so urgent. On Tuesday we published Dr Ros Jones’s presentation in which she examined the unacceptable level of risk of myocarditis the vaccine poses for children. Today we publish those of Dr Elizabeth Evans and Dr Clare Craig.
Dr Elizabeth Evans: The ethics of giving Covid vaccines to children
It was a year ago almost to the day, in February 2021, the UKMFA [UK Medical Freedom Alliance] https://www.ukmedfreedom.org/ wrote our first of several open letters to the JCVI and MHRA, raising serious ethical concerns over any future use of Covid-19 vaccines in healthy children. I would like to highlight these ethical issues over the next few minutes.
When we are considering the use of any medical intervention for an individual it must be proportionate, necessary, and given under strict ethical principles. There is important wisdom in the Hippocratic Oath, upheld by doctors all over the world for over two millennia, which states ‘First, do no harm’. As all medical interventions carry a risk of harm, we have a professional duty always to act with caution and proportionality.
In addition, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is a dangerous and unethical way to practise medicine. At the heart of the practice of safe and ethical medicine is the doctor-patient relationship, where the patient’s unique medical history, their individual risk profile and their personal philosophy/wishes should always be the prime concern of the doctor administering a treatment.
When it comes to children, it is now clear that the risk v benefit calculation does not support administering Covid vaccines to healthy children, who are at no risk (statistically) from Covid-19 and who have, in any case, mostly acquired robust and durable natural immunity by now. It is important to remember that these vaccines are not traditional vaccines but use a completely novel, gene-based technology and are still in Phase 3 trials.
Without long-term safety data (on either the mRNA technology or the specific Covid-19 vaccines) we cannot know yet what, if any, long-term effects on health or fertility may become apparent over the next five to ten years. The vaccines have not been inside any adult for more than 21 months, and for far less time in children, who were excluded from the original clinical trials in 2020. We also now have emerging safety signals and acknowledged side-effects, some serious eg myocarditis, clotting/bleeding disorders and neurological conditions, many of which appear to affect younger people disproportionately.
The possibility of detrimental health effects coming to light after a few years was raised by a spokesperson for AstraZeneca in August 2020, when they were granted full immunity from liability for any harms from the vaccines, and I quote: ‘This is a unique situation where we as a company simply cannot take the risk if in . . . four years the vaccine is showing side-effects’. If this risk is too high for the manufacturers, surely we cannot allow our children to take the same level of risk with their long-term health, especially for a disease that is of negligible risk to them.
Medical history is littered with drugs and vaccines that were once considered safe and effective that were subsequently withdrawn from the market, months or years after their use was started as unforeseen harms were identified. For example, the Swine Flu vaccine, Pandemrix, that was rushed to market in the 2009 pandemic, was withdrawn two years later, after millions of doses had been given, when over a thousand children across Europe developed the serious brain injury narcolepsy that had not been picked up in the trials. It is essential in the safe practice of medicine to adapt and adjust to new data and safety signals.
It is unprecedented that the administration of a pharmaceutical product to children is being recommended on such a mass scale whilst still in the clinical trial phase. That this is being done without full transparency and disclosure of the known and more importantly unknown risks to children and young people, and with aggressive marketing, seriously undermines the ability of parents and teenagers to give full, voluntary, and informed consent – a legal and ethical requirement for all medical treatments under UK and international law and professional guidelines.
It is vital we return to the ethical principles that underpin any civilised society and put the safety of children as our top priority. There is no scientific or ethical justification to support any further rollout of Covid vaccines to children, therefore we must urgently pause the programme.
Dr Clare Craig: The flawed ‘societal’ case for vaccinating children:
We’ve now got people in public health positions who are openly saying that the rationale for vaccinating children is a societal one: they’re trying to reduce harm to others, not to the children, which is problematic, especially when we know that these vaccines have very limited impact, if any, on infections and transmission.
When you’ve got a vaccine where the benefit is not to the person you’re giving it to, you need to be absolutely certain you’re not causing harm. And we know that there are the problems of myocarditis and we know that there are several other problems as well – myocarditis is just one of the problems that we’ve been alerted to. So, when looking at the whole, I think, well, [we have to] just take a step back and see if we can see anything in the mortality data.
Obviously this is an emotional subject and people can easily be getting . . . you know, there could be exaggeration about how bad the risks are. And [taking] the mortality data as a whole, most people who’ve taken the vaccine have not died. It’s not dramatic.
But, when we look at the younger age groups, we do see something. And what we see is that there has been an increase in deaths, cumulatively, from the spring of 2021, and every week we’re seeing more deaths than we should be in the male 15 to 19 category. What’s particularly interesting about this category is that we’re not seeing this increase in the females. The [number of] female deaths is higher than they were last year, but they’re still within the range.
You expect a certain amount of variation year to year, but [the increases in] male 15- to 19-year-old deaths are beyond that range. You can’t just say this is a bad year, they’re beyond that. And we’ve been calling this out for, really, many months now and requesting that there be an investigation. When we’ve got an alarm signal like this, in a situation where the children themselves are not going to be benefiting, there should be a pause and an investigation. And that’s what we’re asking for.
And just a quick word to talk about what’s happened in the past with swine flu. In 2009, WHO declared a swine flu pandemic, and the systems went into place to ratchet up drug production of Tamiflu and vaccination. Our country bought 132million doses of Pandemrix and started vaccinating people who were willing to be vaccinated, including children. That was in 2009. And in 2010, Finland and Sweden mentioned they had a problem with narcolepsy in young people. In 2011, WHO were dismissing that as some funny Scandinavian problem. In 2013, Public Health England, for the first time, said ‘We also have this problem’ and it’s about 1 in 55,000 of those vaccinated. In 2014, the drug was withdrawn. In 2020, Public Health England said, ‘Actually, in retrospect, it’s more like 1 in 34,000.’
So you can see that these problems take time to get through the system and we shouldn’t be in this crazy rush for children. It is absolutely nonsense and there needs to be a pause and an investigation.