by Will Jones -
On Monday a debate on vaccine safety took place in Parliament. Three of the speeches by MPs are reproduced in full below. The transcript of the complete debate, including the Government Minister’s response, can be read here. Reports on this debate in the mainstream media have been scarce; if readers are aware of any please note them in the comments below or email us here.
Danny Kruger (MP for Devizes, Conservative)
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 U.K. 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 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?
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% 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%.
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 hundred 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 10 times more serious adverse reactions than the yellow card system shows.
Apsana Begum 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.
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 2 million. 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.
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 (Apsana Begum) 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.
Sir Christopher Chope (MP for Christchurch, Conservative)
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I am, as was mentioned, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on COVID-19 vaccine damage. The group is now up and running. We had an enormously well-supported meeting in Portcullis House last Thursday. I agree with the legitimate concerns of the 100,000-plus people who signed the petition, and share their belief that the recent data relating to cardiovascular problems, which is increasing in volume, is of enough concern to warrant an inquiry on safety. As I have said, the big Hallett inquiry on COVID-19 will cover a lot of this ground, but it will not report for many years. In the meantime, people are being encouraged to have more and more boosters, and they understandably want to know the impact of those boosters on their health and the risks and rewards.
As well as being chairman of the APPG, I have taken an interest in the subject for about a year, and produced a private Member’s Bill on the subject, and I hope to produce another, which will have its Second Reading next month. Coroners up and down the country have found in their reports that deaths have been caused directly by COVID-19 vaccines. I have spoken to some of the bereaved; indeed, I spoke to the gentleman referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for North West Durham (Mr Holden) – the gentleman who attended our meeting on Thursday, and whose wife was a journalist in Newcastle. I have seen with my own eyes the suffering of people who are bereaved or still suffering adverse reactions.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn), in introducing the debate, did not have much to say about the people who we know have suffered death or serious injury as a result of the vaccines. My hon. Friend showed himself to be rather the victim of producer capture – the producer in this case being the MHRA. He does not seem to have allowed his researches to go further than the MHRA. Has he, for example, looked at what has been happening in Germany? The Paul Ehrlich Institute is the German regulator responsible for vaccine safety. On July 20th, the institute confirmed that one in 5,000 people was seriously affected after a vaccination. That also reflected a finding that it published earlier in the year, in which the institute tried to raise the alert that one in 5,000 vaccinated people experienced a serious side effect, such as heart muscle inflammation. It said that, statistically, every 10th person must expect a severe consequence from having a course of three or four vaccines. The institute uses the World Health Organisation definition of a “serious adverse event”, meaning one that results in hospitalisation or is life-threatening or life-changing. After a course of four doses, the risk of a report to its system of a serious adverse effect is one in 1,250. That is serious information coming from the regulator of a country that is highly respected for the quality of its healthcare.
Is it not interesting that the number of adverse reports referred to the institute is far fewer than the number of adverse reports that led to the 1976 swine flu vaccine being withdrawn? Some hon. Members may recall that, in 1976, the President of the United States, Gerald Ford, was panicked by swine flu into organising a vaccination campaign. When reports emerged of suspected adverse reactions, including heart attacks and Guillain-Barré syndrome, and there were 53 reported deaths, people began to worry about the safety of the vaccine. The Government halted that mass vaccination programme in December of that year. In that case, the Government acted on far fewer adverse events than we have talked about in this debate and decided that, given the balance of risk and reward, it was too risky to continue with the vaccination programme. Let us look at the facts and not just be beholden to the MHRA. If this were a debate about the MHRA, I would have masses of material on it.
The Government seems to be in denial about the risks of these vaccines. Only this morning, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England was on the radio saying that the boosters were perfectly safe and effective, but they are not perfectly safe, and there is a question about whether they are effective, but that is for another debate. The fact that they are not perfectly safe has now been admitted by the Government. Indeed, the U.K. Health Security Agency has issued “A guide to the COVID-19 autumn booster” – you may have seen a copy of it, Sir Roger. It requests that people get another booster from their GP. Unfortunately, the cover letter from the NHS makes no reference to any risks associated with the vaccine, but if one looks at the document included in the envelope, it talks about serious side effects. It says:
Cases of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis or pericarditis) have been reported very rarely after both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. These cases have been seen mostly in younger men and within several days of vaccination. Most of the people affected have felt better and recovered quickly following rest and simple treatments.
It then states: “You should seek medical advice”.
What it does not state is what happens to those people who do not recover. That is what I will concentrate on in the remainder of my remarks. Those people, if they are disabled to the extent of 60% or more, may be eligible for payments under the vaccine damage payment scheme. They might get £120,000. That scheme, however, is not fit for purpose, because its description of disability does not necessarily apply to autoimmune conditions such as those suffered as a consequence of COVID-19 vaccine damage. And what about all of those people who are only 59% disabled? There is no financial help for them and, even more worryingly for many, no specific medical help.
The Government refuses to provide specialist help for these vaccine victims. Although it has set up Long Covid clinics, vaccine victims are being ignored. I have asked parliamentary questions about this, but I have not been able to get a satisfactory answer as to why there are no clinics for those victims of vaccine damage. As a result of the Government’s behaviour, victims are increasingly telling their loved ones, neighbours and friends about their circumstances, which is leading to a much lower rate of applications for booster vaccines. That is happening because the Government cannot suppress the information that ordinary people are sharing with one another, even though there is very little on this topic in the mainstream media.
Many people now would not touch a booster with a bargepole, and I include myself among them. I am not anti-vax – I had my first two vaccines – but from all that I have seen and know about this, the increase in boosters is counterproductive for many and dangerous for some. We need to take into account what is happening on the ground. People are becoming increasingly vaccine-hesitant. Large numbers of doctors and health professionals are now calling for a complete halt to the vaccination programme because the risks outweigh the benefits.
Sir John Hayes interjects: The thing to understand is that there is a fundamental difference between these kinds of vaccines and vaccination per se*. Vaccination* per se has saved millions of lives here and elsewhere, but these vaccines are qualitatively different. Science matters, but much matters more.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the United States, they changed the definition of a vaccine. We have always understood a vaccine to mean someone receiving into their system something containing a small element of that which they were being vaccinated against, so that their system could react against it and protect them if they were later exposed to a large amount. But unlike those old vaccines, these vaccines do not use the raw material, so in many senses it is a misnomer to describe them as vaccines at all. That information is not really out there among the public any more than the fact that the booster vaccines have not been tested on humans at all during studies; they were tested only on mice. People are being used as victims for experimentation, and that is why they are getting worried.
Finally, Oracle Films’ film, “Safe and Effective: A Second Opinion”, is available on YouTube – I make no apology for the fact that I participate in that film – and sets out a different view on the safety of these vaccines. I am not saying we should ban all COVID-19 vaccines and have a complete halt. What I am saying is that there is an urgent need for the Government to get to grips with this issue before more people are duped into having vaccines that they probably do not need, that will not do them any good and that will present risks to their health.
Andrew Bridgen (MP for North West Leicestershire, Conservative)
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I will try to curtail my remarks to six minutes.
This is a hugely important debate and it is overdue. Those people who have questioned the efficacy or safety of the vaccines have generally been cut down and cancelled. That is why this is so important. I do not claim to be any sort of expert, but my degree a long time ago was in genetics, behaviour and biochemistry. Science works by challenge, and the science behind the vaccines has not been allowed to be challenged.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included 7,806 children aged five or younger who were followed for an average of 91.4 days after their first Pfizer vaccination. The study showed that one in 500 children under five years of age who received a Pfizer mRNA – messenger ribonucleic acid – Covid vaccine were hospitalised with a vaccine injury, and one in 200 had symptoms ongoing for weeks or months afterwards. Will the Minister outline the Government’s current policy on vaccination and boosters, and our current policy for the vaccination of children?
Half a per cent of the children – 40 out of the 7,806 – had symptoms that were still ongoing and of unknown significance at the end of the trial. That was during a two to four-month follow-up period, so 0.5% of the children had an adverse effect that lasted for weeks or months. In two cases, the symptoms were confirmed to have lasted longer than 90 days. Given that evidence, perhaps the Minister could explain why we are vaccinating healthy children who are at minimal risk from Covid. Surely that is in breach of the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. We are not in a situation where we can ask young people to risk their lives to protect older people. In a civilised society, that cannot be the way it works.
According to the Independent in April, more than 1,200 claims have been made to the vaccine damages payment scheme, which entitles successful applicants to £120,000, as pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope), if a causal link between vaccination and severe reaction culminating in injury or death is proven. Does the Minister recognise those figures? Sarah Moore, a lawyer who represents 95 families seeking claims, said that her clients felt “silenced and ignored”, adding that they cannot speak about vaccine harm or linked injuries without being accused of being anti-vax. What is the Minister’s view on victims being labelled as anti-vaxxers?
The Department of Health and Social Care commissions research through the National Institute for Health and Care Research. There is £1.6 million that has been allocated for a programme to understand the rare condition of blood clotting with low platelets following vaccination for COVID-19. Does the Minister think that is sufficient? Is there a sufficient breadth of investigation considering all the things we are finding out about the vaccines? Where is the cost-benefit analysis by age group for the vaccines, given the risks that they carry, especially as the pharma companies are now admitting that vaccination does not impact on transmission? Did the Government know, when they mandated vaccines for care and NHS workers, that the vaccines had not been tested to find whether they prevented transmission?
The Florida Department of Health conducted an analysis through a self-controlled case series, which is a technique originally developed to evaluate vaccine safety. The analysis found that there is an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males aged 18 to 39 within 28 days following messenger ribonucleic acid vaccination. With a higher level of global immunity to COVID-19, the benefit of vaccination is likely outweighed by that abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death among men in that age group. The recommendation now in Florida is that they do not vaccinate any male under the age of 40.
Florida’s surgeon general, Dr Joseph Ladapo, said: “Studying the safety and efficacy of any medications, including vaccines, is an important component of public health. Far less attention has been paid to safety and the concerns of many individuals have been dismissed – these are important findings that should be communicated to Floridians.”
I suggest that such important findings should be transmitted to everyone who has had a vaccine or is contemplating a booster. I also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Aseem Malhotra at the APPG launch last week. He made a very strong case for the idea that up to 90% of adverse vaccine reactions are not even being reported.
Finally – I wish I had longer to speak – what is the Government’s analysis of the excess deaths that we are suffering in this country, across Europe and in the Americas? Even a casual glance at the data shows a strong correlation between vaccine uptake and the excess deaths in those regions. Surely we must have an investigation. Tens of thousands more people than expected are dying. This is really important, and if we do not get it right, no one will believe us, and trust in politicians, in medicine and in our medical system will be lost.