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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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Rapid Response:

Why do we need a vaccine for Covid-19?

Dear Editor

Fiona Godlee says "Few can doubt that we need a vaccine for covid-19 as soon as possible..."[1]

But why? Why do we need a vaccine for covid-19? Is it feasible to seek a vaccine for every ailment?

Consider the death statistics attributed to covid-19 in England and Wales over the past eight months - according to the ONS, a total of 52,026[2] in a population of 59.5 million people.[3]

Subtracting the deaths of people aged 85 years and over, i.e. 21,984, leaves 30,040 deaths.

Further subtract the deaths of people aged 75 to 84 years, i.e 16,820, leaves 13,220 deaths.

And further subtracting the deaths of people aged 65 to 74 years, i.e. 7,683, leaves 5,537 deaths in people aged under 65 years, over the past eight months.

There were six deaths in children 14 years and under; 562 deaths in the age group 15 to 44 years; and 4971 deaths in the age group 45 to 64 years. (Possible comorbidities unknown.)

Looking at those figures in the context of 59.5 million people, and seeing that most deaths are in people aged over 75 years, likely with comorbidities, and with negligible deaths in children and young people, how can mass vaccination be justified?

This is especially serious to consider when so much remains unknown about immunity, and about the experimental vaccine products which are currently being rushed through trials.

It's more especially serious to consider given that it's been suggested a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2/covid19 may not work well in older people, and that children will be vaccinated to supposedly protect the elderly.[4]

How can it be justifiable to risk the apparently natural defences of most of the population, particularly children and young people, with what is likely to be annual coronavirus vaccination, i.e. coronavirus vaccination throughout life? This is replacing natural immunity with purported vaccine immunity, with unknown long-term consequences. Is it ethical to risk the natural defences of the young? Should not more consideration be given to other preventative measures and treatments?

It really is astonishing that ethical consideration hasn't been given to this matter, instead rushing off to develop vaccine products for the entire global population at Bill Gates’ behest[5], without properly thinking this through.

People need to think about

1. Fiona Godlee. Covid-19: Less haste, more safety. 20 August 2020:
2. 52,026 - broken down as: Under 1 year: 2(m) 0(f); 1 to 14 years: 2(m) 2(f); 15 to 44 years: 342(m) 220(f); 45 to 64 years: 3,262(m) 1,709(f); 65 to 74 years: 4,964(m) 2,719(f); 75 to 84 years: 9,973(m) 6,847(f); 85 years and over: 10,079(m) 11,905(f)
Deaths registered by age group. Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 14 August 2020.
3. Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2019:
4. Is it ethical to vaccinate children to protect the elderly? Elizabeth Hart rapid response on The BMJ, 5 August 2020:
5. According to Bill Gates: "Humankind has never had a more urgent task than creating broad immunity for coronavirus. Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible." What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine. 30 April 2020: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is currently the top donor of the World Health Organisation, with the BMGF founded-Gavi Alliance in fourth place, behind the United States and the UK. World Health Organization Contributors - updated until Q2-2020:

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 September 2020
Elizabeth M Hart
Independent citizen investigating the over-use of vaccine products and conflicts of interest in vaccination policy
Adelaide, Australia