As 2020 drew to shut after a tumultuous yr, Boris Johnson was in celebratory temper as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was accepted for use in the UK.
“It is actually implausible information – and a triumph for British science,” the prime minister tweeted on 30 December.
Well being Secretary Matt Hancock was additionally eager to emphasize the UK’s function in the newly-accepted coronavirus vaccine, hailing it as “an enormous British success story”.
Studies weeks earlier claimed Downing Avenue had tried to get doses of the Oxford vaccine labelled with a picture of the union jack – a request that was in the end rejected.
However did the phrases of the PM and well being secretary have some unintended penalties?
Dr Paul Williams, a GP working in Teesside and former Labour MP, believes so.
He advised Sky News he is conscious of greater than 10 individuals who have turned down the coronavirus vaccine after they found it was from US pharmaceutical large Pfizer and its German companion BioNTech.
“I am going to wait for the English one” was a phrase heard by well being employees, he stated.
Dr Williams says it is a “lesson that nationalism has penalties”.
He advised Sky News: “The rhetoric that was coming, notably from the prime minister and the well being secretary, was that they had been actually making an attempt metaphorically – and I feel even actually – to place a union jack on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr Williams stated the improvement of the coronavirus vaccines was “a world effort”.
“To attempt to label it as being the product of 1 nation is nationalism and is not essentially true,” he added.
The GP has now warned of the hazard that susceptible folks might make “dangerous selections round their very own well being” by wanting the Oxford vaccine over others.
“I firmly imagine the greatest vaccine is one you will get first – all of them work,” he added.
“We’re in the midst of an unprecedented disaster in the NHS. To delay vaccines for even per week greater than is vital places the most susceptible folks at a very pointless threat.
“The consequence is there are people who find themselves susceptible… who stay liable to getting COVID and ending up in hospital and dying, for an extended time frame. It is simply pointless.”
International locations, together with the UK, are actually being urged to keep away from “vaccine nationalism” of their rollout of the jabs.
The World Well being Organisation (WHO) has known as on the UK to pause its vaccination programme as soon as susceptible teams have acquired their doses to assist guarantee the world rollout is honest.
The prime minister is aiming to supply all UK adults a primary dose by autumn, however the WHO has stated nations ought to be planning for “two billion doses” to be “pretty distributed” round the world by the finish of 2021.
It follows the ongoing row between AstraZeneca and the European Union over shortfalls in vaccine supply to the bloc.
Final week the EU backed down on its risk to override a part of the Brexit deal on Northern Eire after widespread condemnation of the transfer as a part of its export controls on vaccines.
The UK presently has one in every of the highest ranges of vaccine protection, together with Israel and the UAE, however many poorer nations are but to begin any immunisations.
Worldwide Commerce Secretary Liz Truss advised Sky News that vaccine nationalism should be resisted.
“What we find out about the vaccination programme is this is a worldwide downside and we want a worldwide answer,” she stated.
“We’re solely going to have the ability to cope with this illness if we get all people vaccinated throughout the world.
“It is important we work collectively, it is important we maintain borders open and we resist vaccine nationalism, and we resist protectionism.”
Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the authorities’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), has warned that vaccinating “lots of people in a number of nations, leaving the virus unchecked in massive elements of the world, will result in extra variants rising”.
However Mr Hancock stated on Monday the UK presently has 400 million doses of vaccine on order which is able to permit the authorities to ship doses overseas to poorer nations.
“My angle has at all times been we defend each UK citizen as quick as we are able to and at the identical time we’re beneficiant round the world,” the well being secretary stated.
A Division of Well being and Social Care spokesperson stated: “Vaccines are the greatest technique to defend folks from COVID-19 and can save hundreds of lives.
“Each the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have been authorised by the MHRA as a result of they’re secure and efficient, and we encourage everybody to get their vaccine when it is supplied.”
Over three nights Sky News will host a sequence of particular programmes inspecting the UK’s response to the pandemic.
Watch COVID Disaster: Studying the Classes at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February.