James TweedieAll materialsWrite to the authorAustria’s decision to impose a lockdown against coronavirus sparked mass protests across the nation. In Rome, Rotterdam and Paris, the people have staged demonstrations against vaccine passes and new lockdown measures as well.British Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ruled out making COVID-19 vaccines compulsory.He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that “taking a vaccine should be a positive choice” — after a weekend of often violent protests across Europe against lockdowns, vaccine passes and jab mandates.”In terms of requiring mandatory vaccinations for the general public, I don’t think that’s something we would ever look at,” Javid insisted.
“If people are a bit reluctant, we should work with them and encourage them,” the minister said, although “with the exception of what we’ve done with healthcare and social care, which is very different.”Early last month Javid told nurses and care workers to “go and get another job” if they were reluctant to be immunised with shots officially only approved for emergency use — despite calls from healthcare union UNISON for his November 11 ‘no jab, no job’ deadline to be pushed back.
Javid pointed out that “vaccine hesitancy” in the UK was much lower than in parts of Europe. Uptake so far is over 90 per cent in British adults and around 95 per cent in over 65s, the most vulnerable age range.
About 35,000 People Rally Against COVID-19 Restrictions in ViennaYesterday, 17:12 GMTSpeaking on the same programme, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard — director of the Oxford Vaccine Group which produced the AstraZeneca vaccine — predicted there would be no major rise in infection rates, currently running at about 40,000 new cases per day, over the winter.
But Pollard also said supplying vaccines to developing countries should be prioritised over third booster doses for westerners — making the analogy of plugging in a mobile phone with 75% battery charge before one with just five per cent left.
The UK’s booster campaign has yet to show appreciable benefits, with the death rate running steady at around 140 per day despite 14.6 million Britons having the third jab.
Pollard also opposed vaccinating children aged five to 11, saying many already had natural immunity through exposure to the virus since the emergency policy of remote home schooling ended early this year.
Speaking to Sky News’ Trevor Phillips the same day, Javid downplayed talk of a return to lockdown measures saying the government was still firmly sticking to its “Plan A” thanks to its decision to lift restrictions in the summer, earlier than most European Union (EU) nations.