Indian-origin cardiologist calls for review of COVID vaccine mandates

PTI | London | Updated: 16-08-2022 20:40 IST | Created: 16-08-2022 20:40 IST
Indian-origin cardiologist calls for review of COVID vaccine mandates
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  • United Kingdom

A leading Indian-origin consultant cardiologist based in the UK on Tuesday called for an urgent review into government health authorities mandated COVID-19 vaccination policies and release of raw data from vaccine trials for expert analysis globally.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a National Health Service (NHS) trained cardiologist who has had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, said being pro-vaccination and pro-transparency are not mutually exclusive. Writing in the ‘European Scientist’ journal, the medic warns that vaccine mandates and lack of transparency in public health authorities effectively communicating the reasons behind such policies have had detrimental effects on public trust and vaccine confidence across other serious diseases.

“Global vaccine mandates for COVID-19 must stop until we have the full data on efficacy of all available vaccines,” said Malhotra.

“As newer and thankfully, less lethal, mutated strains became dominant, any protection against infection at the very least became less effective and likely completely ineffective, even if there is some significant (as yet to be fully determined in absolute individual terms) protection against serious illness and death,” he writes in the journal.

Although the principles he covers in his analysis are relevant to all COVID-19 vaccines, the emphasis is more specifically on the BioNTech/Pfizer mRNA vaccine because in Western countries that is the one which has been most widely utilised and continues to be recommended as a booster for the majority of the adult population. Malhotra’s call for an urgent review has been backed by other senior medical professionals worldwide, who also demanded transparent access to data for analysis.

“COVID vaccine mandates passports were instituted on the false thought that the COVID vaccines stop transmission of disease and that COVID recovered people somehow do not possess as strong immunity and protection as vaccinated people,” said Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at the University of Stanford.

“It is particularly malign that public health officials and politicians have encouraged the morally problematic idea that unvaccinated individuals are somehow unclean, which has stigmatised people for private medical choices. Travel bans on the unvaccinated, such as the one keeping [Serbian tennis player] Novak Djokovic from playing in the US Open, add an embrace of xenophobia to the sins of public health,” he said.

Karol Sikora, a British physician and Professor of Medicine at the University of Buckingham, welcomed Malhotra’s intervention which highlights the importance of trust in any vaccination programme.

“As Aseem points out, everything we do in medicine carries a risk of harm. Balancing that risk with benefit is not only up to health professionals but also their patients. Transparency with the data is an absolute necessity. The good, the bad and the ugly all need to be reported. And at over 20 pounds a shot, there's a lot of conflict of interest between pharma, governments and health insurers whether public or private,” he said.

Malhotra cautions that since the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the evidence of its effectiveness and reporting of adverse events have changed. Even though there may be a benefit in it preventing serious illness and death, the case for it preventing infection and transmission is “illegitimate”. He writes that his own enthusiasm of the efficacy of the mRNA jab was reinforced in March 2021, more than two months from receiving the second dose, when he tweeted that both himself and his father tested positive for antibodies.

“But how many doctors are aware that antibodies are an unreliable surrogate for clinical effectiveness? From May 2021, the FDA’s [US Food and Drug Administration] own website has stated that ‘results from currently authorised SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests should not be used to evaluate a person’s level of immunity or protection from Covid-19 at any time, and especially after the person received a COVID-19 vaccination’,” he writes.

His paper also highlights that latest data published in ‘Lancet Infectious diseases’ reveals that once infected there is no significant difference in transmission rates between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Given this evidence, he cautions that it cannot be ruled out that a person denied the chance to pursue their profession – such as Djokovic because they are not allowed access to a country or area due to a requirement to have a minimum level of COVID vaccination – could take legal action against the relevant immigration authority for “unjustified restraint of trade”.

Most countries have a COVID vaccine mandate policy in place as part of measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19, which includes a minimum level of vaccination for ease of travel.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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