What attracted the biggest TV audiences of 2022? Top of the list was the Queen’s funeral, with 25 million viewers. Then came England’s World Cup quarter final exit with 21.3 million. Some 17.4 million watched the Women’s European Cup victory. We then drop down into the top TV shows. The final of I’m Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here had 11.9 million glued to their TV sets. 10.5 million watched the final of Strictly and 9.1 million tuned in to Eurovision.
It’s unlikely that there’ll be a big royal funeral or wedding in 2023. There’s a Rugby World Cup but not a football one. There are no Olympic Games. So, where can the TV Networks find their big hits for the coming year?
Well, courtesy of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, Dr. Aseem Malhotra may just have provided 2023’s biggest TV moment. As I write this, the seven minute clip of him being interviewed on a BBC news show on January 14th passed 14.8 million views. Now, wouldn’t you think that merited some form of acknowledgement from the BBC? If you were the BBC’s Head of Programmes wouldn’t you think: “Wow, we’ve had 14.8 million views, there’s a programme in this?”
It seems incredible that the BBC and, by association, the Government, think they can just bury the story. As if, so long as it isn’t mentioned, the other 50-odd million people in the country won’t also think, “Hmm, there’s something not quite right about these vaccines”. Surely radio silence only adds to the unease. Since the creation of the ‘Trusted News Initiative’, I’ve lost all trust in the BBC. Its obsessive focus on Net Zero and intersectionality sounds suspiciously like a USSR era Pravda piece about tractor production in Murmansk.
I suspect the reason the Malhotra clip has cut through so far and fast is because it perfectly resonates with people’s ‘lived experience’; everyone knows someone whom they suspect has been harmed by the vaccines.
My own sister-in-law dropped dead of SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) back in August 2022. A fit, size 10, keen cyclist, found dead in her garden one morning. She had been just about to set off on a bike ride. The autopsy could find no specific cause, noted some small clotting in the heart, but nothing that the pathologist seemed to think should have killed her.
She’d had three doses of the vaccine. I’ve no idea whether the vaccines were the cause or contributory to her death, but I did feel that if a more open debate about the safety (or otherwise) of the vaccines had been allowed, at least the pathologist might have been open to considering it, even if only to dismiss it for specific reasons.
But, of course, whether the vaccines were responsible or not, there was absolutely no reason for her to have been vaccinated in the first place. Like everyone else who is not vulnerable, she was never at any risk from Covid. She’d had Covid in 2020: a day in bed, slight headache, backache. It held no fears for her, but she wanted to go on holiday.
It wasn’t only her family that were taken aback by my sister-in-law’s death. In the small Cumbrian town in which she lived, a bloke keeled over in the street with a heart attack. In a nearby village someone else died suddenly, all within a week or so. To everyone it seemed odd – it was the talk of the town. And though the talk was always in hushed voices, word of mouth is a powerful medium.
A friend told her neighbour, a hospital nurse, about my sister-in-law’s death. “Oh,” she replied, “we call it a Covax death,” as if they happen all the time. Another friend, on hearing the tale told me of her nephew, 27 years-old, had a stroke a couple of weeks after his second vaccine. Everyone has a story.
The start of the 2021 football season kicked off a similar round of whispers. Trevor Sinclair, the football pundit, got in trouble for even daring to raise the issue on air. Virtually every game seemed to have either a medical emergency on the pitch or one in the crowd, sometimes more than one. I was at a Mansfield Town game many years ago when they were having an FA cup run. In a game against West Ham, someone in the crowd had a heart attack. It was quite a thing, but in all the hundreds of games I’ve ever watched, that’s the only time I remember a game stopping for such an incident. Then suddenly last year it was happening every week. Related to the vaccines? I don’t know, but I think someone should be looking into it, not gaslighting the millions watching into believing this was normal.
Of course, people are going to speculate. The BBC do themselves no favours by pretending it isn’t a real concern.
But, what’s becoming interesting now are the conspiracy theories. Cock-up or strategy? Could a BBC news producer or editor really be so detached from the biggest story of the past two years to not know that Dr. Aseem Malhotra is a vaccine sceptic? The shock on the face of the interviewer is perhaps more understandable if all she does is read autocues, but for someone who is responsible for a BBC news programme not to be aware is frankly incredible, in the true sense of the word. If it’s ‘incredible’, so the conspiracists argue, then it must have been planned. Does this signify a change in the mood music? The producer should be grateful that the BBC’s Trusted News Initiative’ has yet to fully embrace Pravda’s modus operandi, or else they’d have been taken outside and shot. A fate that might yet, metaphorically, befall both the BBC producer and Dr. Malhotra, courtesy of the GMC.
The Chinese Communist Party didn’t abandon ‘Zero Covid’ because of a few protests, but because it wasn’t working. Infections were taking off regardless of strict lockdown measures. It’s the same with vaccine scepticism. Doubts about vaccination will only continue to grow while deaths exceed normal levels. Dr. Malhotra’s piece may yet push us past the tipping point where these concerns have to be addressed.
My personal view is that vaccines played an important part in breaking us out of the unsustainable lockdown loop. I don’t think vaccines made much difference to lives lost – the emergence of Omicron and prior natural immunity did that – but vaccination gave the elderly the confidence to emerge from behind their locked doors. We’d have been as well off giving everyone a saline shot rather than blowing billions on vaccines. No, the real crime lay in extending vaccines to those who didn’t need them. If we’d stuck with Plan A, articulated by both Kate Bingham and Matt Hancock back in late 2020, and only offered vaccines to the elderly and vulnerable, confidence in all vaccines wouldn’t now be at all-time low.
It’s worth remembering that boosters haven’t been offered to the non-vulnerable under-50s for about 18 months, and since not even the manufacturers claim any ongoing efficacy for vaccines after about six months, then the only possible reason for not offering additional vaccine boosters to the under-50s is because it’s thought they’ll do more harm than good.
So, does the Dr. Malhotra appearance herald a change in tack by the BBC? Are the vaccines about to be thrown under a bus? I doubt it, but I bet there are a few TV production companies lining up a debate somewhere and just looking for a TV broadcaster to commission it. You never know, maybe Twitter could air it live, there’s a record TV audience just waiting to watch it. I’m sure such a debate could ‘educate, entertain and inform’. Something the BBC was once quite good at.