BBC Scotland shockingly Risk vaccine compliance and lives

On BBC Reporting Scotland, a trade union leader is once more allowed to present his own narrow views as somehow representative of a profession he has not consulted and of other health professions who have not expressed any view at all.

BBC regular Lewis Morrison, above, is always available to find fault with anything the Scottish Government does. The decision to delay the second dose to maximise the vaccination rate is supported by all leading professionals but a jumped-up shop steward is platformed, unchallenged, by BBC Scotland:

Doctors raise concerns that delaying the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine could risk wasting existing supplied. Doctors in Scotland have raised concerns about changes to the first phase of the Covid vaccination plan. The UK will give both parts of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines 12 weeks apart having initially planned to leave 21 days between the Pfizer jags. Today the BMA have raised concerns about that because they could have people left without typical doses. That will damage the confidence and staff who were expecting that second dose.

No doctors other than Morrison are quoted. No scientific survey of opinion has been undertaken. As in other professions offering job satisfaction, few want a role in the union and so people like Morrison are the result.

The vaccine manufacturers have, of course, not backed the move but then they are businesses who must protect their backs against litigation. What else do we expect from them.

Typically, BBC Scotland offer no balance in the form of a statement from a Chief Medical Officer. Here are the key points from the Scottish CMO in his statement on the 1st January 2021:

7. Following a review of the clinical evidence in relation to both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNTech  vaccines, the JCVI has recommended that first doses of vaccine are prioritised for as many people as possible on the Phase 1 JCVI priority list, in advance of second doses to provide more assured longer term protection.

8. This reflects the need to reach as many people in the shortest possible timeframe, within the available vaccine supplies, against a background of immediate disease activity and high population sero-susceptibility (despite the disease burden seen).

9. This is on the basis that the protection of vaccinees after the first in a two-dose schedule is very substantial. This evidence will be published by the JCVI and PHE.

10. This strategy is also strongly supported by the UK Chief Medical Officers and their Deputies.

 You can see the full statement here:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19—vaccine-letter-from-the-chief-medical-officer-updating-on-the-vaccination-programme—1-january-2021/

28 thoughts on “BBC Scotland shockingly Risk vaccine compliance and lives”

  1. In fairness, the WHO has also said there is no evidence that the Moderna/Pfizer vaccine is SAFE to be used with over 12 weeks between doses, no testing history for this type of vaccine exists! However, as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is more like traditional ones, lots of evidence to show that the efficacy is boosted with gaps of similar to 12 weeks. Having heard what he said, not vastly different from the WHO statement.

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      1. BioNTech and Pfizer said there is no evidence that their candidate will continue to protect against Covid-19 if the booster shot is given later than tested in trials.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. With all health related things it should always be a case of
        Is there proof it is safe

        And not
        Is there proof it is not safe

        Always always always assume a drug is not safe until there is proof that it is safe

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  2. Regardless of Morrison, BBC or whomsoever, the Pfizer vaccine was launched only weeks before and the recommended regimen was presented as the way to go.
    Recipients were being told that they must return within 3 weeks for the booster or they would lose the benefit of the vaccine. This message was reinforced by all and sundry.

    This has been, at least, another example of poor presentation.

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    1. The decision making of a politician in government and their public health advisors would be so much easier if they were faced with the following:

      (a) dealing with single or a small number of discrete issues – rather than the reality of multiple, interdependent factors within a complex system;

      (b) dealing with factors that are stable over the short to medium term or at least predictable – rather than the reality of volatile factors and uncertain, externally-imposed change;

      (c) dealing with the public – individuals, local communities and representative bodies of interest groups – all having similar needs and wants – rather than highly diverse ones which also can change over time.

      Then governments could set a steady course of action in advance and stick to it. They would be glad I’m sure to have the luxury of avoiding the need to sense and respond to changing circumstances. They would be glad of certainty: no need then constantly to deploy judgement and timeously, change tack.

      So in addition to the challenge of getting decisions right, let’s not underestimate the presentational challenge of imparting information given this complex of realities. And let’s not forget that we exist in a ‘sound bite’ culture that is hardly helpful!. And finally there is the particular challenge facing the Scottish Government’s communications in having to rely to a major extent on oppositional mainstream media.

      This my attempt at finding ‘realism’ not offering an excuse: it does tend to restrain me somewhat from making too easy, negative criticisms.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reservations about the change in vaccination strategy, not withstanding, it is notable that BBC Scotland has decided to give this ‘top billing’.

    The decision about the change was a ‘4 nations decision’ more than a week ago, and had had substantial debate about the ethics and related matters at the time across the UK.

    Today, only BBC Scotland headlines it. On the UK, England, Northern Ireland and Wales pages there is no mention at all.

    This seems part of a media strategy in Scotland.

    I note that the BBC Scotland is also headlining about cancelleation of May’s elections. Seemingly, we in Scotland seem incapable of holding elections at such a time, when, amongst many others the US held Presidential elections in the midst of a far higher level of infection than in Scotland and had the highest turnout in history.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You wrote:
      “”The decision about the change was a ‘4 nations decision’ more than a week ago, and had had substantial debate about the ethics and related matters at the time across the UK.””

      What debate across the UK? News of the decision was released on 30th Dec just when all news outlets were about to go into holiday mode thus curtailing any ‘debate’.

      There is quite a bit of disquiet about this decision among scientists, and doctors, both in the UK and abroad, as well as from the WHO.

      If you read the statement from the JCVI which sets out the ‘evidence’ for the advice they gave it is not exactly robust. Nor does the statement cover any of the possible downsides of this change to the regimen that was licenced. For example, that the extended time between doses may lead to the emerging strains of greater pathogenicity. Nor does it set out any surveillence protocol to ensure that the vaccine works as they say it will under their proposals.

      This is the most recent critique of the new proposals
      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/06/mrna-vaccines-schedule-covid-19

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      1. Apologies for sloppy wording! I had meant that there had been comment (rather than debate) in the media at the time, including on BBC Scotland, and in this case BBC Scotland was resurrecting that previous comment

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  4. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-dose-vaccine.html?utm_source=nwletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily-nwletter

    Interesting read, theory being it may be advantageous to get as many as possible vaccinated in the first instance, first dose. With good guidance and not letting the guard down, (which is always possible given the EngGov shambles), who knows, might be effective to stall further spikes.

    So the media are demanding the Scottish election shouldn’t go ahead, they know it’s curtains for the BritNats, and are panicking.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for this link.

      Because the change in strategy was made during the Christmas/New Year period there was a lack of sources of rigorous information for me to read to be able to form an opinion on the change. This article provides what appears to be a plausible justification for the change.

      As more similar articles become available, we should be able to form stronger views.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Alasdair ,
        Further to my Reply to your earlier post here is the title of the statement issued by the JVCI on 31st December 2020. It is a pdf document so I don’t have a link but I am sure a Google search will find it.

        “Optimising the Covid-19 vaccination programme for maximum short term impact””
        Published 31st Dec 2020.

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    2. Excellent points:

      Doubling the vaccine coverage with a single dose compared with a 2-dose regimen will accelerate pandemic control because even lack of complete protection on an individual level is likely to lower transmission rates enough to stop epidemic growth;
      Providing effective protection for as many people as possible is more ethical because it distributes the scarce commodity more justly;
      A single-dose vaccine approach could mitigate the higher incidence of many vaccine-associated adverse events seen with the second dose;
      And administering a vaccine that is only partly protective may reduce risky behavior such as doffing masks or eliminating social distancing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. More on the change in Covid vaccination strategy:

    This is from the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties issues on 4 January: “Developing Situation Means We Must Vaccinate As Many People As Possible, As Soon As Possible Say Top Doctors”

    “It is essential that the number of people who have been vaccinated with at least one dose of either vaccine is increased as quickly as possible. The Scottish Academy supports the modelling from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has confirmed that both vaccines provide substantial protection after a single dose. Delaying the second dose to 12 weeks will assist with the availability of the vaccines and enable more healthcare workers and those in priority groups to be vaccinated in as short a time as possible.

    “This has required a change to the schedule for most of those who have received the current first dose – and the Scottish Academy recognises that this will impact upon workload for those involved in the programme. We understand that both healthcare professionals and the public may have concerns about altering the schedule but this change is based on a review of the evolving clinical evidence from both vaccines. This change will help us to have an immediate impact in our fight against COVID and is the right thing to do.”

    Credentials: http://www.scottishacademy.org.uk/who-we-are

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And on the same topic, this from Independent SAGE:

      See: https://www.independentsage.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/IndependentSAGE-comment-on-proposal-to-reschedule-second-dose.pdf

      “.. the four UK Chief Medical Officers, based on a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), issued clinical advice to prioritise maximum uptake of a single dose of either the Oxford AstraZeneca or the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine ..”

      “While there are sound theoretical and empirical public health reasons to support the decision to delay a second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, including evidence from trial data that a delayed second dose may be more effective, considerable concerns have been raised about a delay in administering a second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.”

      The statement sets out five areas of concern regarding the change in strategy for the Pfizer vaccine.

      “Independent SAGE recognises that the first four points are valid concerns and, in normal circumstances, we would argue for continuation of the earlier plans to administer two doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine 21 days apart. However, these are not normal circumstances and there are other important public health considerations.

      “… there is a strong argument for maximising the coverage of the population with at least one dose of vaccine, even though this requires a change to the dosage schedule. The urgency of concerted and effective action to supress the new variant cannot be overstated. While it is a very difficult and finely balanced decision, Independent SAGE endorses the decision to pursue coverage of as high a proportion of the population as possible, as quickly as possible as part of a comprehensive strategy.”

      On regulatory concerns regarding the Pfizer vaccine: “.. concerns have been raised that a delay would be contrary to the approval granted by MHRA although this is not correct as the Regulation 174 Advice for UK Healthcare Professionals states that the two doses should be given “at least 21 days apart”.’

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The BBC or any other Unionist media source, will trawl any waters that produces the desired Soundbite.

    A News source that decides the story they want to tell and then search for willing stooges to provide the spoon fed statement. It is like their street interviews. Only the desired clips are aired.

    The are supposed to report the News…not manufacture it!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. John, you say.

    “The decision to delay the second dose to maximise the vaccination rate is supported by all leading professionals.”

    Not in the FDA. This is from usnews.com.

    “In the U.K., where England and Scotland have entered a third national lockdown as officials battle a more contagious variant of coronavirus, officials have said they will allow more than 21 days between doses of Pfizer’s vaccines and would consider allowing people to get vaccinated with two different vaccines.

    “But Hahn and Marks rejected those policies for the United States.

    “The available data continue to support the use of two specified doses of each authorized vaccine at specified intervals,” they wrote. It’s understandable that people may want to stretch the vaccine supply, but it’s not safe to do so, they added.

    “If people do not truly know how protective a vaccine is, there is the potential for harm because they may assume that they are fully protected when they are not, and accordingly, alter their behavior to take unnecessary risks,” they explained.” ”

    Also, AZ has published 3 of the 4 documents relating to its vaccine and the MHRA assessment of the vaccine has not been published. MHRA has no legal status and is a part of government.

    This is a tweet from Florian Klammer.

    Florian Krammer is Professor at the Department of Microbiology
    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He says on twitter:

    “Florian Krammer
    @florian_krammer
    · 16h
    1) If we want to generate difficult viral escape mutants in the lab (e.g. for epitope mapping), we subject the virus to low antibody pressure and then slowly move up. A little bit like after one vaccine dose. I think it would be good to give the second dose as soon as possible.

    Anthony Costello. “Anthony Costello
    @globalhlthtwit
    · 3 Jan
    Modellers believe that spreading out our limited supply of vaccine as single doses for 3 months will save up to 6000 lives. One concern though is whether single doses might lead to ‘vaccine resistance’ through virus mutation. (1)
    Show this thread

    We already know how badly wrong some of the modelling done by UK government scientist/s has been.

    It is only speculation on your part that it is concern about potential litigation that motivates Pfizer/partner to wish to stick to the terms of its clinical trial and MHRA approval. It might be concerns about safety.

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    1. For completeness, Florian Kramer also wrote in the same twitter thread: “2) I don’t know if 12 weeks is going to be a huge issue, but that time frame should be minimized as much as possible.”

      O/T The C4 News coverage of what’s happening in and around the Congress building in Washington DC is truly astonishing. What has Trump sown?

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  8. Pays your money and take your chance.

    There is no evidence of Pfizer vaccine efficacy beyond 28 days. Modelling suggests lives might be saved by delaying the second dose. We have no information about any additional data that the CMOs might have seen. Take it on trust and run the risk, a real risk it seems, of a viral mutation that might, we can’t know, adversely affect the efficacy of vaccines in use.

    I don’t know what to do. By the way, many years ago I did consultancy work for a trade union, the Association of University Teachers. My clear impression was this Union at any rate had clear, accurate ideas about the concerns of Scottish members. On the other hand, my little contact with BMA did not lead to me forming a favourable inpression. They are represented by doctors who, even with training, have limited knowledge of employment law and industrial relations. i would make some allowance for that.

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  9. I don’t think it can yet be known with certainty how much more transmissible is the new covid19 variant.

    Looking at today’s 2039 new cases all but 290 of them occur in people below the age of 64. The greatest number, 681, is in the 25-44 age group.

    Might this raise the possibility that the increase in cases has something to do with a failure to follow guidance to reduce transmission?

    There is some scientific work which concludes that:”In summary, our results do not point to any candidate recurrent mutation significantly increasing transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 at this stage and confirm that the genomic diversity of the global SARS-CoV-2 population is currently still very limited. It is to be expected that SARS-CoV-2 will diverge into phenotypically different lineages as it establishes itself as an endemic human pathogen. However, there is no a priori reason to believe that this process will lead to the emergence of any lineage with increased transmission ability in its human host.”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-19818-2

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  10. Thanks to all for these references and for the discourse. It has been much more informative than anything the mainstream media have come up with.

    I think that the decision will be vindicated or proved wrong with the benefit of hindsight, but, at present I think we are trying to make a decision on the ‘balance of probabilities’. If were on a jury in Scotland, I would be tempted to avoid my responsibilities by scuttling for ‘not proven’, but, I think that, on balance, the decision taken by the CMOs has plausibility. I hope they are right!

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  11. Dr Margaret Harris of WHO said on C4 News last night that WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts decided that they could not recommend the Pfizer 2nd dose for longer than 21-28 days because “that’s the only data we have”. This sums up why I am opposed to delaying the 2nd Pfizer dose. Mathematical modelling from JCVI is NOT equivalent to rigorously conducted trials on human volunteers. Pfizer’s results come from such trials based on 2nd dose by 21 days. Pfizer has NOT done such trials with a 2nd dose between 3 and 12 weeks.

    As a non-scientist I trust Pfizer’s trial results. Going outside its parameters is a “gamble” (the word used by Professor Robin Shattock of Imperial College London on Channel 4 News recently). Could a delay beyond 21 days cause the virus to mutate in such a way that efficacy of ALL vaccines could be harmed? Could a delay beyond 21 days dilute the effectiveness of the 1st dose? Could a delay beyond 21 days do more harm than the short-term benefit of give more people their 1st dose earlier? There is simply no information to answer these questions.

    I will go for vaccination when I am offered it, even if my 2nd dose is delayed beyond 21 days. But I would prefer my dosage to be based on scientific results from human trials, and not speculation from SOME scientists.

    Vaccination is devolved to Scotland, and Scotgov does not have to follow JCVI’s change of policy to the 2nd dose by 12 weeks..

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