London – (BBC)
A video clip of an unvaccinated doctor defying the British health minister over the government’s plan to vaccinate NHS employees with the Corona vaccine or lose their jobs has gained more than a million views on social media.
The pre-employment vaccination requirement already applies to health care workers, and as of April 1, it will be extended to health insurance workers, about 90 percent of whom have already received the vaccine.
“The science is not strong enough” to support the plan, Steve James, an ICU consultant who chose not to vaccinate, told Health Minister Sajid Javid during his visit to Kings College Hospital.
He added, “Vaccines reduce transmission only for about eight weeks in the case of a delta mutation.”
“The situation is probably even lower in the case of the omicron mutant,” he said.
But that’s not exactly what the evidence shows.
What is the opinion of science?
Although vaccines are very effective in providing protection against severe COVID-19 symptoms, the protection they provide against infection and transmission is diminishing more rapidly.
James had referred to a study that concluded that a person who received a Covid vaccine is only 2% less likely to transmit infection with it than an unvaccinated person, after 12 weeks of a second dose of the “Oxfort-AstraZeneca” vaccine, acknowledging that his reference to “ Eight weeks” was wrong.
However, the same study concluded that the “Pfizer-Biontech” vaccine, which staff members of the British Health Insurance Authority may have obtained, have better resistance, and the possibility of transmitting infection from people who received the vaccine to others who are not vaccinated, after 12 weeks, 25 percent less.
And this study doesn’t tell the whole picture. Vaccines also reduce the risk of contracting the virus in the first place.
A study concluded that those who received the Pfizer vaccine were 85% less likely to contract Covid, compared to others who were not vaccinated after two weeks, and 75% less likely after 12 weeks.
It also appears that people who get the vaccine recover from the virus faster and have less presence in their bodies, which reduces the chances of passing it on to others.
All these studies dealt with the delta mutant, which first appeared in India.
Two doses of the vaccine appear to be less effective against omicron infection and transmission, although they are still good at providing protection against severe symptoms, but a third booster dose again pays off.
What else did the doctor say?
The second aspect of James’s argument is that he may have contracted Covid, which gave him some protection without a vaccine.
“I have antibodies,” he said.
He added, “I have been working from the beginning in the (intensive care unit) for Covid patients.”
Natural immunity, that is, the availability of immune cells such as antibodies and helper T cells in the immune system that recognize and fight the virus in case of infection instead of a vaccine, can provide effective protection, despite the risk of severe symptoms or the development of long-term “Covid”.
But what the doctor did not mention is that, as with his view of vaccines, this protection is also diminished and may be ineffective against infection with a different mutation.
A study conducted by Imperial College London indicates that protection against infection with the omicron mutant, which was first discovered in South Africa, “may be as high as 19 percent”.
Many studies have concluded that the best protection against infection with Covid comes from getting an infection and getting a vaccine as well.
Dominic Wilkinson, Professor of Medical Ethics at Oxford University, said doctors had a moral responsibility to get them vaccinated, but misleading someone else, with the fact that a recent infection with Covid might offer similar protection, was unjustified.
What is the online reaction?
James says he is not against all Covid vaccines, but he believes the case has been fabricated in this way on the Internet, after opposing compulsory vaccination.
He describes himself as a “pro-choice and pro-vaccine”, saying that his view was precisely the scientific arguments on which they are based and not the vaccine itself.
However, Minal Fays, another doctor at NHS Hospital who spends her spare time online to correct misinformation, told the BBC she feared James’s clip would be scammed by those who wanted to point out that vaccine science in general had not been strong. Enough, despite the sheer weight of evidence published by hundreds of independent institutions and millions of people, confirming zero disease and death.
This is entirely consistent with what we often see on the Internet, where short clips, individual statistics, or lines of scientific studies taken out of context are “too common” to cause more confusion than direct lies.
“People on the Internet, through which things spread quickly, tend to choose what they want,” said Vis, which likely left the impression on people that the intensive care unit doctor questioned the science of vaccines, rather than dwelling on the complex issue that James raises.
Her concerns were not misplaced, as those who oppose the vaccine eagerly deceive James’ comments, promoting false theories including that the virus is a hoax.
But James sticks to his comments: “If people want to polarize, they will,” he says.
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