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Alastair Campbell apologises for ‘helping the anti-vaxxer cause’

Alastair Campbell has apologised for ‘helping the anti-vaxxer cause’ after sharing a Danish story that suggested the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab can cause blood clots.

The former Downing Street spin doctor shared the story on Twitter on Thursday morning to his 650,000 followers and also accused the government of hubris.

‘Not fully fluent in Danish, but this story seems to be saying Denmark is pausing use of AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of serious cases of blood clots. I had a feeling the No 10 “beacon of hope” movie would be hubristic,’ Campbell wrote.

But the former Downing Street Director of Communications and Strategy under Tony Blair‘s government deleted the tweet 15 minutes later after people reacted angrily, accusing him of helping people opposed to coronavirus the vaccine rollout. 

‘Apols for posting a Danish report that could have helped anti-vaxxer cause,’ he wrote. ‘Point taken from those who pointed that out. Deleted.’

A host of European countries including Demark, Norway and Iceland have halted the use of AstraZeneca jabs amid fears they cause blood clots, while Italy has suspended a batch following the death of a naval officer.

However, Europe’s own medical regulator has said there is no clear link between the vaccine and the officer’s death.

Alastair Campbell has apologised for ‘helping the anti-vaxxer cause’ after sharing a Danish story that claimed the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab can cause blood clots. Pictured: Campbell’s tweet on Thursday morning, before he deleted it and apologised

Alastair Campbell (pictured), the former Downing Street spin doctor shared the story on Twitter Thursday to his 650,000 followers, and also accused the government of hubris

Alastair Campbell (pictured), the former Downing Street spin doctor shared the story on Twitter Thursday to his 650,000 followers, and also accused the government of hubris

Anti-vaccine activists – a loose collection of people who make a variety of unproven claims about vaccinations – have been emboldened in recent months as jabs have been rolled out to the public to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

Harnessing social media to spread their claims, many anti-vaxers suggest that jabs are dangerous, can harm children, or are a form of state control.

On Thursday, the UK’s vaccine minister said focus groups and polling had shown much of the wariness toward the jabs centered around ‘issues of fertility’.

But the former Downing Street Director of Communications and Strategy under Tony Blair's government deleted the tweet 15 minutes later after people reacted angrily, accusing him of helping people opposed to the vaccine rollout

But the former Downing Street Director of Communications and Strategy under Tony Blair’s government deleted the tweet 15 minutes later after people reacted angrily, accusing him of helping people opposed to the vaccine rollout

Speaking to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, he added the problem was ‘proving to be sadly quite potent’ among both men and women.

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch told MPs the misinformation was coming from within the family, rather than social media, which made it more difficult to target. 

More than 22million people have already had at least one dose of the vaccines so far and, overall, uptake is thought to be around 90 per cent. 

Refusal rates are disproportionately higher among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. Language barriers and a mistrust of Government are thought to make minorities more susceptible to misinformation about the jabs.

According to the BBC, 2021 has seen an explosion of anti-vax content on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.

Data looking at the number of page likes or followers on the first day of each year of selected anti-vax accounts, the BBC showed that such pages in 2021 had more than any previous year, with over five million on Facebook and four million on Instagram.

The number of Instagram followers of major anti-vaccination accounts increased nearly five-fold in 2020, while on Facebook the number increased by 19 percent.    

European countries are lagging behind the UK in vaccination numbers after fuelling fears over the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca jab

European countries are lagging behind the UK in vaccination numbers after fuelling fears over the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca jab

A nurse in Austria, 49, died from a clot on Monday shortly after taking the Oxford vaccine amid reports of a few similar cases across the continent, despite millions of doses being administered safely.

Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have suspended the use of the same batch given to the nurse, ABV5300, which was sent to 17 European countries and consisted of one million jabs.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland on Thursday went further, suspending the total use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Italy’s medicine regulator banned a different batch of the jabs, ABV2856, after non-commissioned naval officer Stefano Paternò died of a cardiac arrest 24 hours after receiving a dose. 

A police officer also died within 12 days of a vaccination, sparking an investigation by health authorities into any potential links to the jabs. 

The moves come despite Europe’s own medical regulator saying there is no clear link between the nurse’s death and the jab, and UK regulators saying data shows those with the jab are no more likely to suffer clots than the general population.

Italy's medicine regulator banned a different batch of the jabs, ABV2856, after non-commissioned naval officer Stefano Paternò (pictured with his wife) died of a cardiac arrest 24 hours after receiving a dose

Italy’s medicine regulator banned a different batch of the jabs, ABV2856, after non-commissioned naval officer Stefano Paternò (pictured with his wife) died of a cardiac arrest 24 hours after receiving a dose

Denmark's health minister Magnus Heunicke

Principal Pharmacist Davinder Manku (right) receives an injection of the Oxford/Astrazeneca coronavirus vaccine at The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley

Denmark’s health minister Magnus Heunicke said authorities were probing whether there was a link between having the jab and blood clotting, after several cases and one death

The European Medicines Agency said in a statement: ‘The position of EMA’s safety committee… is that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.’

Many European leaders have frequently doubted the effectiveness of the Oxford vaccine which has subsequently seen a low uptake compared to other jabs.

But that did not stop the EU from blocking a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia using controversial export laws last week.

Authorities in Italy refused to grant a licence for 250,000 doses manufactured in the country to be exported, meaning the shipment could not leave as planned. 

It comes after a host of countries including Germany and France restricted the AstraZeneca jab’s use to over-65s, claiming it was ineffective in the elderly – despite Europe’s medical regulator saying otherwise.

Those restrictions were largely dropped after data showed the jab works in all ages. 

A host of countries including Germany and France restricted the AstraZeneca jab's use to over-65s

A host of countries including Germany and France restricted the AstraZeneca jab’s use to over-65s

Scaremongering around the jab has led some Europeans to refuse to take it, with authorities in Germany forced to resort to threatening people who balk at it.

That has hampered Europe’s already-slow vaccine drive which has been plagued by supply issues and has seen just 10 per cent of people given at least one dose, compared to 36 per cent in the UK.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the EU had gone cap in hand to Washington to beg them to provide some of their surplus AstraZeneca.

It’s a humiliating U-turn for Brussels whose leaders had wildly claimed that the AstraZeneca vaccine was ineffective earlier this year.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron was accused of anti-vax propaganda when he claimed the jab was only ‘quasi-effective’ for elderly patients.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has since endorsed the vaccine, saying it is just as effective as any other approved in the EU.

BAME communities are being put at risk by UK’s ‘colour-blind’ Covid vaccine strategy, experts warn 

Black and ethnic minority people are being put at risk by the UK’s ‘colour-blind’ Covid vaccination strategy, experts warned today.

The mammoth operation has prioritised Brits by age after mountains of research and data showed those who are older are more at risk of dying from the virus.

But a group of top medics, including a top NHS race official, claims ministers should have focused on ethnic minorities after the over-70s got their first dose. 

Studies show Covid death rates are highest in BAME communities, which experts say is because ethnic minorities are more likely to get infected in the first place because they live in deprived areas, use public transport, work public-facing jobs and live in overcrowded and multi-generational homes. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), which designed the jabs priority list, said, however, that age was the single-biggest risk factor.

But Professor Azeem Majeed, a primary care expert from Imperial College London, warned the move had ‘disregarded’ BAME communities. 

‘In the first phase of the Covid vaccination programme, large numbers of low-risk people were vaccinated such as NHS and university staff who were not working in patient-facing roles’, he told MailOnline.

‘These vaccine recipients would have been at much lower risk of severe disease and death than some other groups but were vaccinated ahead of them.’


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