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Covid-19: Less haste, more safety

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 20 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3258

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Less haste, more safety, certainly, but we could do with an end to the vaccine rescue narrative as well

Dear Editor

Who could argue with ‘less haste, more safety’ as a proposition [1], particularly with children who as a target population are not generally at risk from the COVID-19. But even a little less haste might not solve the problem and a licensing schedule of two or three years for a vaccine of novel design would still be unprecedented.

The fact that we are also now rather optimistically talking about 50% efficacy from any of these new COVID-19 products is also a cause for bewilderement. If the purpose is the resumption of normal civil life then 50% surely cannot do it, and we might do better to look for hope in the sharp decline in hospitilisations and deaths (even though we may be able to generate an idenfinite number of new cases as an artefact of testing) [2-4]. To limp along like this in the hope that we will all be rescued by a vaccine (supposing we any longer need rescuing) is not realistic, and not the basis on which policy should be directed - quite apart from the harm that it is doing to every other aspect of civil life and of health policy itself.

[1] Fiona Godlee, ' Covid-19: Less haste, more safety', BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 20 August 2020)

[2] Tom Jefferson, Carl Heneghan, Elizabeth Spencer, Jon Brassey, 'Are you infectious if you have a positive PCR test result for COVID-19?', CEBM 5 August 2020,

[3] Carl Heneghan, Jason Oke, 'Why Oldham sshouldn't be going into lockdown', CEBM 19 August 2020,

[4] Daniel Howdon, Carl Heneghan, 'The Declining Case Fatality Ratio in England', CEBM 19 August 2020,

Competing interests:, an on-line daily journal, concerns itself with the potential environmental sources for the proliferation of autism, neurological impairment, immune dysfunction and chronic disease. I receive no payment as UK Editor

25 August 2020
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22