Tuesday, January 11, 2022

COVID-19: British Health Secretary directly challenged on mandatory coronavirus jabs by unvaccinated NHS doctor

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been directly challenged by an unvaccinated hospital consultant over the government's policy of compulsory COVID jabs for NHS staff.

During a visit to King's College Hospital in south London, Mr Javid asked staff members on the intensive care unit about their thoughts on new rules requiring vaccination for NHS workers.

And Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist who has been treating coronavirus patients since the start of the pandemic, told the health secretary about his displeasure.

"I'm not happy about that," he said. "I had COVID at some point, I've got antibodies, and I've been working on COVID ICU since the beginning.

"I have not had a vaccination, I do not want to have a vaccination. The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks for 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."

Mr James also revealed another of his colleagues held the same position.

Mr Javid replied: "I respect that, but there's also many different views. I understand it, and obviously we have to weigh all that up for both health and social care, and there will always be a debate about it."

The consultant suggested the health secretary could use the "changing picture" of the COVID pandemic during the Omicron wave to "reconsider" the rule.

Alternatively, Mr James suggested, the government could "nuance" the rules to allow those who have antibodies - but acquired from infection and not vaccination - to not be required to have a jab.

He told the health secretary that it "didn't make sense" to dismiss doctors who already had COVID antibodies, but who did not want to be vaccinated. "The protection that I've got from transmission is probably the equivalent to someone who is vaccinated," Mr James said.

But Mr Javid told him "at some point that will wane as well". He added that the government takes the "very best advice" from vaccine experts.

"I respect your views and more than that I respect everything you're doing here and the lives you're saving," the health secretary told Mr James.

A King's College Hospital spokesperson said: "While currently it is not a mandatory requirement for staff to get their COVID-19 vaccination or disclose vaccine status to patients, we strongly support and encourage all our staff to get their jab, in line with national guidance - and nearly 90% of our staff have already done so."

When does the requirement come in?

MPs last month voted to make vaccinations mandatory for NHS workers who have direct, face-to-face contact with patients, unless they are exempt.

The legal requirement for NHS staff to be fully vaccinated as a condition of their deployment to work is set to come into force from 1 April.

It means those health and care workers who have not yet had a first dose are likely to have to do so by early February.


UK Politics: Boris Johnson warned by top Tory MP to ditch Covid restrictions or face leadership challenge

An influential Conservative MP has warned Boris Johnson that he faces a challenge to his leadership unless he scraps all remaining coronavirus restrictions at the end of this month and vows they will not return.

Former chief whip Mark Harper, the chair of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group of Tory backbenchers, warned that “prime ministers are on a performance-related contract” and that MPs are asking themselves whether Mr Johnson is the best-placed leader to help them retain their seats at the next election.

He told the Financial Times that the prime minister would be in trouble after May’s local elections unless he has shown that he can change his approach.

Mr Harper said it was time to accept that Covid-19 will become endemic in the UK and to focus on treatments, the vaccination of hesitant people and the creation of special wards in hospitals, while ruling out any further controls on social and economic life.

“At some point you’ve got to say, whatever happens, whatever variants turn up, we’re not going to respond by shutting down parts of the country,” he told the FT. “That’s not a sustainable position.”

Mr Harper - who stood against Johnson for the leadership in 2019 - said that if the PM attempts to extend Plan B restrictions beyond the scheduled review date of 26 January, he will face a rebellion larger than the one seen in December when 99 Tories opposed Covid passes.

“The problem is he sort of wants to agree with us, then he says he wants to keep restrictions in reserve or won’t rule them out,” Harper said. “That’s becoming an unsustainable position.

“If I was running a hospitality business I would be very nervous about investing, growing my business, taking any risks because I literally have no idea about what’s going to happen.”

If Tories do badly in the May elections and continue to trail Labour in the polls, Conservative MPs will ask themselves which potential leader is best able to help them keep their seats, said Mr Harper.

And he added: “Conservative MPs have asked themselves that question in the past and decided they need to do something about it. Prime ministers are on a performance-related contract.”


Biden administration guidance prioritizes race in administering COVID drugs

Guidance issued by the Biden administration states certain individuals may be considered "high risk" and more quickly qualify for monoclonal antibodies and oral antivirals used to treat COVID-19 based on their "race or ethnicity."

In a fact sheet issued for healthcare providers by the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency approved emergency use authorizations of sotrovimab – a monoclonal antibody proven to be effective against the Omicron variant – only to patients considered "high risk."

The guidance, updated in December 2021, says "medical conditions or factors" such as "race or ethnicity" have the potential to "place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19," adding that the "authorization of sotrovimab under the EUA is not limited to" other factors outlined by the agency.

Older age, obesity, pregnancy, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are among the multiple medical conditions and factors associated with what are considered "high risk" individuals by the FDA.

Some states, including New York and Utah, have made it clear they will prioritize certain racial minorities over other high-risk patients when it comes to the distribution of particular COVID treatments.

Last week, New York’s Department of Health released a document detailing its plan to distribute treatments such as monoclonal antibody treatment and antiviral pills.

The plan includes a section on eligibility for the scarce antiviral pills that people must meet to receive the treatment, including a line stating a person needs to have "a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness."

One such "risk factor" is being a race or ethnicity that is not White due to "longstanding systemic health and social inequities."

"Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19," the memo reads.

In guidelines issued by the state of Utah for the distribution of monoclonal antibodies in the state, residents who are "non-white race or Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity" receive 2 additional points when calculating their "COVID-19 risk score."

"Race/ethnicity continues to be a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease, and the Utah COVID Risk Score is one approach to address equitable access to hard hit communities," the Utah guidance stated, adding a reminder that national guidance from the FDA "specifically states that race and ethnicity may be considered when identifying patients most likely to benefit from this lifesaving treatment."

Similarly, the framework issued by the state of Minnesota advises clinicians and health systems to "consider heightened risk of progression to severe COVID-19 associated with race and ethnicity when determining eligibility" for the allocation for monoclonal antibody therapies.

"FDA’s acknowledgment means that race and ethnicity alone, apart from other underlying health conditions, may be considered in determining eligibility for mAbs," the framework states. "It is ethically appropriate to consider race and ethnicity in mAb eligibility decisions when data show elevated risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes for Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC populations), and that this risk cannot be adequately addressed by determining eligibility based on underlying health conditions (perhaps due to underdiagnosis of health conditions that elevate risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes in these populations)."


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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