Day: 19 September 2021

News Round-Up

Advice for Parents Concerned About the Vaccination of Their Healthy Children

The Covid vaccine roll-out for healthy 12-15 year-olds is due to begin this week, but scientists remain concerned about the likely side effects. Some teachers tell me their schools still aren’t fully aware of the role they are supposed to play – “I can see it becoming a minefield”, said one teacher at a school in Yorkshire – and there seems to be some confusion among parents about the power they hold. Can they withhold their consent for the vaccination of their children or not?

Parents will be sent consent forms but only, it seems, as a formality since children who are deemed ‘competent’ (the assessment of which contains no set of defined questions) will be able to overrule the decisions of their parents anyway. This is of a piece with the Government’s decision to push ahead with its roll-out despite being told by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that “there is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of the potential harms” of Covid vaccination in healthy teenagers and that – given the small risk Covid poses to healthy 12-15 year-olds – the “margin of benefit… is considered too small”.

The JCVI is “generous” in its assessment, according to an executive at a pharmaceutical company writing for the Daily Sceptic. (He, by the way, believes vaccines are among the “three greatest medical innovations”, so could hardly be labelled “anti-vax”!) Responding to the data, he says there is a “serious enough” risk of children developing myocarditis after vaccination (inflammation of the heart muscle, the long-term consequences of which aren’t fully understood) whereas the benefits of vaccination are “not well quantified” by the JCVI. The body also fails to properly consider the risk of other conditions following vaccination.

Professor Adam Finn sums up the situation by saying the vaccination of children would not – in normal times – have been approved because of the possible risks. He believes that parents are justified in waiting to allow their children to get ‘jabbed’ until these risks are better understood. But therein lies the problem. What – if anything – can parents do to delay the vaccination of their children?

U.K. Orchestra Provokes Outrage by Dropping Nearly Half Its Performers To “Prioritise Increased Diversity”

The English Touring Opera has unceremoniously sacked 14 of its white members, some of whom had worked there for decades, after its recently-appointed Musical Director held auditions “prioritising diversity”. The move has proved sufficiently extreme to anger even the Musician’s Union, which has hitherto been an advocate for such policies. The Daily Mail reports:

The musicians, aged 40 to 66, have been told they will not be offered contracts with the company in Spring 2022 citing diversity guidance from the Arts Council England, the Sunday Times reported. 

The musicians, who officially work as freelancers, can be dropped from the opera season-on-season but many have played with the company for up to 20 years and consider it a permanent job. 

The Arts Council England has hit back at the ETO, which it funds to the tune of £1.78 million a year, saying it never encouraged the company to sack musicians.

“We did not instruct the English Touring Opera to send this letter,” the Council said. “We are now in conversation with ETO to ensure no funding criteria have been breached.”  

The unfortunate artists received the following from the orchestra’s director:

Booster Jab Invitations to Be Sent to 1.5 Million People in England This Week

The booster vaccine roll-out is well underway in England, despite warnings that this could help to cause a permanent state of lockdown. 1.5 million invitations are being sent to people – starting with those aged 50 and over, as well as to the clinically vulnerable and healthcare workers – this week to book their third dose. Sky News has the story.

Texts will be sent out on Monday, while letters will be posted to those who are eligible for a third coronavirus vaccine dose later in the week, NHS England said.

Around 1.5 million people will be contacted and encouraged to use the National Booking Service.

Those eligible for booster jabs include those aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly and frontline health and social care workers.

Booster shots will also be available to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and anyone aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group for Covid.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said this week that people should receive their booster dose at least six months after they received their second Covid jab.

The JCVI also said half doses of the Moderna jab could be used as an alternative.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said boosters will “strengthen the wall of defence” created by the vaccines.

Ministers say the success of the booster vaccine roll-out (and of the roll-out of vaccines for children) will determine whether further restrictions – including mask mandates, vaccine passports and possibly another lockdown – should be imposed this winter.

The Sky News report is worth reading in full.

The Lancet Changes Mind on Lab Leak Theory – Calls for “Objective, Open and Transparent Debate”

The Lancet appears to have had a change of heart on the lab leak theory, having published an article calling for an “objective, open and transparent debate” on Covid’s origins – a whole 19 months after writers “strongly condemn[ed] conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid does not have a natural origin“. The idea that the evidence points away from the lab leak theory and towards a natural origin “could [now] literally be reversed”, say the authors of the new article. “There is no direct support for the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2, and a laboratory-related accident is plausible.” The Mail on Sunday has more.

It was revealed earlier this year that Peter Daszak – a British scientist with long-standing links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – had secretly orchestrated a landmark statement in the Lancet in February 2020 which attacked “conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid does not have a natural origin”.

The now-infamous letter, signed by 27 leading public health experts, said they stood together to “strongly condemn” the theories which they said “do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice”.

They also lavished praise on Chinese scientists who they said had “worked diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak… and share their results transparently with the global health community”.

Now, the Lancet has agreed to publish an alternative commentary which discusses the possibility that laboratory research might have played a role in the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It also directly confronts the efforts of science journals to stifle debate by labelling such theories as “misinformation”. …

[The authors say] the February 2020 statement “imparted a silencing effect on the wider scientific debate”.

And they say scientists, “need to evaluate all hypotheses on a rational basis, and to weigh their likelihood based on facts and evidence, devoid of speculation concerning possible political impacts”.

Science itself, they go on, should “embrace alternative hypotheses, contradictory arguments, verification, refutability, and controversy” and rather than congratulating China on its supposed “transparency”, they call on the secretive superpower to open up.

Worth reading in full.

News Round-Up