An awkward exchange from an unvaccinated doctor about waning vaccinesIf you are in the UK, you may have already seen this video but for everyone who isn’t or hasn’t seen the clip, it is an awkward exchange.
The UK’s Health Secretary (Sajid Javid) was on a photo-op around King’s College Hospital in London, which was being filmed by Sky News. He asked a group of nurses how they felt about the mandatory vaccinations for health care workers but after a few awkward glances and a lot of silence, a doctor approached, from out of shot and started to give his views.
The doctor in question was Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist at the hospital. He is a consultant in critical care and exercise testing and has also treated Covid patients in the ITU since early on in the pandemic. Steve trained at Cambridge University and then Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry before qualifying in 1999. Another highly qualified individual with a lot of experience, especially with Covid and severe disease from COVID-19, telling it like it is.
Dr. James proceeded to tell the Health Secretary that he was unvaccinated, had no intention of getting vaccinated but was going to lose his job shortly due to the upcoming mandatory vaccination policies.
He explained that he already had Covid, so had just as good antibody protection as if he had been given the vaccine. The Health Secretary challenged him on this saying that his protection would wane. However, Dr. James responded by explaining how quickly the vaccine protection waned and in order to keep everybody with the adequate protection, the whole of the health service would needed boosting EVERY MONTH!
Later on King’s College Hospital issued a statement saying:
“While currently it is not a mandatory requirement for staff to get their COVID-19 vaccination or disclose vaccination status to patients, we strongly support and encourage all out staff to get their jab, in line with national guidance – and nearly 90% of our staff have already done so.”
Another brave individual, challenging the group think bureaucracy and in the process putting his career and reputation on the line (but in this case, I suppose he was left with nothing to lose, with his job already on the line).
I have transcribed the conversation below.
Health Secretary (HS) to a group of nurses – What do you think of the new rule to require vaccination of all NHS staff?
Steve James (SJ) from out of shot – I’m not happy about that.
HS – You’re not happy about that?
SJ – So I’ve had Covid at some point, I’ve got antibodies, I’ve been working on Covid ITU since the beginning. I have not had a vaccination, I do not want to have a vaccination. The vaccine is reducing transmission only for about eight weeks with Delta, with Omicron it’s probably less and for that I would be dismissed if I don’t have a vaccine – the science isn’t strong enough.
HS – That’s your view and your views? (looking back at the group of nurses) Do you have any view on that?
HS – I respect that but there’s also many different views.
SJ – Yep, there are other views but I have another colleague who’s in the same position.
HS – Yeah, no I understand that and obviously we had to weigh all that up for both health and social care and there will always be a debate about it but…
SJ – Maybe there’s an opportunity to reconsider with Omicron and the changing picture or at least to nuance it which allows doctors who’ve had antibody exposure, who’ve got antibodies, who haven’t had the vaccination to not have it because the protection I’ve got from transmission is probably equivalent to someone who’s vaccinated.
HS – Yeah but at some point that will wane as well.
SJ – But if you want to provide protection with the booster you’d have to inject everybody every month. If it’s worn off by two months, if the protection’s worn off for transmission after two months then after a month you’ve still got a bit of protection but if you want to maintain protection, you’re going to need to boost all staff members every single month, which you’re not going to do.
HS – We take advice on how much you may…
SJ – But it’s not going to achieve a practical benefit.
HS – Well we take the very best advice that we can, from the people that are vaccine experts