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The U.K. has announced that it has formally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 and will begin administering the vaccine next week.

A government announcement published this morning stated: 

The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use. This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) will shortly publish its final advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, described the news as “fantastic” and that “It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”

Reports suggest that hospitals in the north west of England will be among the first to begin administering the vaccine, which needs to be stored at -70°C. Last week it was announced that the U.K. army was taking over a section of a sports stadium in the west of England in order to carry out a mass vaccination programme, with as many as 110,000 people expected to receive a vaccine at the venue every week.

Will those who refuse a vaccine face penalties?

U.K. Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that it was not part currently part of the government’s plan to introduce “vaccine passports” in order to allow individuals who have received the vaccine the ability to access places such as pubs, restaurants and places of worship.

Rather than commenting on the impact such a move might have on individual freedoms, Hancock said that the reason it was not part of the government’s plans is that “while we know that this vaccine protects you from getting ill with Covid, we don’t yet know how much it stops you transmitting Covid until we’ve rolled it out broadly.”

On Monday Nadhim Zahawi, the recently appointed health minister overseeing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in England, said that the government was “looking at” vaccine passport technology and that he expected that restaurants, bars, cinemas, sports venues and other venues would want individuals to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated.

While Zahawi said that he thought it was right that the vaccine should be voluntary, he also stressed that the government would support businesses in implementing technology to verify proof of vaccination.

“People have to be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to be vaccinated or otherwise,” he told the BBC.

“But, I think the very strong message that you will see, this is the way we return the whole country, and so it’s good for your family, it’s good for your community, it’s good for your country to be vaccinated. And, ultimately people will have to make a decision,” he continued. 

“I think that in many ways, the pressure will come from both ways, from service providers who'll say, 'Look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated'. But, also, we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible.”

In July, Boris Johnson referred to opponents of vaccines as “nuts.” Matt Hancock has called on politicians to “stand shoulder to shoulder” against those who “are threatening lives” by opposing vaccines. Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, recently described “anti-vaxxers” as “nutters.”

Speaking yesterday in the House of Commons, Steve Baker, vice chair of the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative party rebels who opposed new government coronavirus regulations, drew attention to the threat of implicit coercion of those who refuse a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s not enough merely to refrain from coercing people, the government’s also got to pay attention to implicit coercion – that is, if the government turns a blind eye to allowing businesses like airlines and restaurants to refuse to let people in unless they’ve had the vaccination. The government’s got to decide whether it’s willing to allow people to discriminate on that basis,” he said.

Baker made the comments while interjecting a speech by Sir Desmond Swayne MP, who comically remarked that use of such implicit coercion would be “vaccinationism.”

Ethical and safety concerns

Dr. Michael Yeadon, who “spent over 30 years leading new [allergy and respiratory] medicines research in some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies,” and retired from Pfizer with “the most senior research position in this field,” wrote in an October article: 

There is absolutely no need for vaccines to extinguish the pandemic. I’ve never heard such nonsense talked about vaccines. You do not vaccinate people who aren’t at risk from a disease. You also don’t set about planning to vaccinate millions of fit and healthy people with a vaccine that hasn’t been extensively tested on human subjects.

Yeadon said that “the drive for a universal vaccine has 'the whiff of evil' which he 'will oppose … vigorously.’”

Mere days after Pfizer announced its new “90% effective” coronavirus vaccine, reports emerged about “severe” side effects volunteers for the vaccine trial experienced, including fevers and headaches.

Dr. Helen Watt of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, England, last month  told the Catholic Herald that the Pfizer vaccine “makes no use of a foetal cell-line in the production process itself, and no use in the design,” but that “[o]ne of the confirmatory lab tests on the vaccine did sadly involve an old foetal cell-line.” The Children of God for Life organization says that the Pfizer vaccine is tested using the HEK 293 cell line, which is derived from kidney tissue taken from a healthy baby who was aborted in the Netherlands in the 1970s.

Infectious diseases specialist and professor of medicine at the University of Toronto Dr. Andrew Morris told the National Post that there are a number of questions still to be answered about the Pfizer vaccine.

In October American pediatric doctor and infectious disease specialist Dr. Cody Meissner, who serves on a U.S. Federal government committee, raised concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccines for children, saying that since the virus’ effect on children is so “mild” the government had better be “very sure about safety of a vaccine.”

In a July debate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., nephew of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy and an American environmental attorney and author, singled out Pfizer as one of several vaccine producers with a record of incurring criminal penalties for their products.

Kennedy noted that four of the leading developers of coronavirus vaccines, Glaxo, Sanofi, Pfizer, Merck, are “convicted serial felon[s].”

“In the past 10 years, just in the last decade, those companies have paid 35 billion dollars in criminal penalties, damages, fines, for lying to doctors, for defrauding science, for falsifying science, for killing hundreds of thousands of Americans knowingly,” Kennedy said during the debate.

“It requires a cognitive dissonance for people who understand the criminal corporate cultures of these four companies to believe that they’re doing this in every other product that they have, but they’re not doing it with vaccines.”

Kennedy has been outspoken in outlining reasons for concern about various vaccine projects, including those that receive funding from Gates. Kennedy has been raising awareness about children injured by vaccines since before the coronavirus outbreak.

Kennedy’s organisation, Children’s Health Defense, reported last month:

…the New York Times pointed out that Pfizer’s data — delivered in a news release, not a peer-reviewed medical journal — “is not conclusive evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective, and the initial finding of more than 90 percent efficacy could change as the trial goes on.”

…Fast Company reported on the development by reminding readers that the Pfizer vaccine, if approved, will be the first to use “an as-yet-unproven technology platform that relies on something called messenger RNA, usually shortened to mRNA.”

Moderna is also working on an mRNA COVID vaccine. In May, Children’s Health Defense reported that clinical trials for Moderna’s vaccine had a 20% “serious injury rate” in its high-dose group.

In September, Bill Gates told CNBC that Pfizer was leading the race among the coronavirus vaccine developers to gain an emergency use license. Pfizer is one of 15 companies that has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “to accelerate the development, manufacture, and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for COVID-19.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also provides funding for Pfizer for its injectable contraceptive product “Sayana.”

In an April 9, 2020 article, Kennedy wrote: “Vaccines, for Bill Gates, are a strategic philanthropy that feed his many vaccine-related businesses (including Microsoft’s ambition to control a global vaccination ID enterprise) and give him dictatorial control of global health policy.”

A December 2019 article in Scientific American described the vision of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers for embedding vaccine records “directly into the skin” of children.

“Along with the vaccine, a child would be injected with a bit of dye that is invisible to the naked eye but easily seen with a special cell-phone filter, combined with an app that shines near-infrared light onto the skin. The dye would be expected to last up to five years, according to tests on pig and rat skin and human skin in a dish.”

The development of this idea, which the article proudly noted avoids using “iris scans” that might violate privacy, was “funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” It “came about because of a direct request from Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates himself, who has been supporting efforts to wipe out diseases such as polio and measles across the world.”

In April 2020, Gates speculated, “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.”

In the same month Gates told the Financial Times that “normalcy only returns when we’ve largely vaccinated the entire global population.” During the interview Gates interrupted his own reflections on the wide-ranging impacts of the coronavirus crisis, saying “you don’t have a choice,” although it is unclear exactly what he meant by the comment.


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