A very informative and articulate take on the unvaccinated consultant anaesthetist who challenged Sajid Javid in a hospital, and the implications of his views.
First published: January 2022.
I felt uncomfortable watching the Sky News interview with consultant anaesthetist Dr Steve James, and I fear it will set us back. Badly.
Legitimate news source. Legitimate discussion. Legitimate setting. Legitimate doctor. Legitimate outfits. British accent. Regurgitates anti-vaxx sentiments. His opinion holds weight.
It will be recycled and replayed for years, mostly out of context. It is the anti-vaxx wet dream.
Consultant anaesthetists are among the very best of us, and during the past two years, there is no doubt Dr James will have saved and positively impacted countless lives. This should be recognised, and I do not wish to detract from this.
Dr Steve James was asked about vaccine mandates. He is entitled to give his personal opinions. But he didn’t do that: he cast doubt on the efficacy of vaccines.
Dr James conflated his own COVID experience with an entire population’s.
He implies that natural immunity is as effective as vaccines. That is plainly wrong and anti-science.
He asks if we will have a booster vaccination “every month”. That is nonsensical. There are currently no plans for more boosters.
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I know what it is like to speak up against the medical establishment. But I did so through a collectivist, ‘greater good’ ideal.
I have now gone on to spend much of the last year advocating for vaccines and fighting disinformation with Team Halo.
Here is the latest ICNARC (Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre) data to show ICU admissions over the last few months. Overwhelmingly, it is unvaccinated people who are becoming severely unwell and being admitted to ICU. These ICU cases contribute to the NHS backlog. It really does affect everybody’s access to care.
Does the vaccine reduce transmission of COVID? Yes! ✅✅✅
Here is a good summary of recent studies, albeit for Delta. There is no reason to suggest it should not hold up for Omicron too – though we know this new variant is more transmissible.
Dr James implies that he has mainly treated overweight people and few young people. Okay, but n = 1 and that is not in itself an argument against vaccination. I wonder what he would have said if he had been one of the team treating Nurse Mary Agyapong?
The original question Sajid Javid asked was about mandates. Dr James didn’t address that. But he will now be co-opted for the years to come. Expect offers from GB News, Fox News, RT, Joe Rogan, and the usual folk who minimize COVID. (Up to him if he accepts, but I 100% promise those emails are coming).
A consultant anaesthetist who refuses to take a vaccine? 🤔
It is a first for me. And everyone is entitled to their view. But, I fear misleading and incorrect information in this climate is going to dent our pro-vax messaging for a long time.
We must all respect that under the spotlight and rolling cameras, people slip up and say things they didn’t quite mean to say.
Everyone should be allowed some space for reflection and growth – if Dr James would like to clarify his stance he should be given that chance.
If Dr James were to refuse taking the vaccine, and if he were to eventually lose his job over a government mandate, at least he has now got plenty of publicity for his other work, £500 per new consult (He is entitled to make as much as he likes).
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A lot of us have dedicated a huge chunk of the last year to engaging in constructive, non-judgmental discussions about vaccines. Our efforts are unpaid and done for the sole wish of wanting the pandemic to end quicker.
So when I see folk who should know better...
ps. It is quite striking that everyone is wearing FFP2/FFP3 masks except Dr James. It would be interesting to know his views on masks. And by “interesting”, I can predict the answer already...
— AUTHOR —
▫ Dr Meenal Viz, NHS Doctor. Writer. Activist.
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- Text: This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 10 January 2022 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Screenshot Twitter/Sky News.