Jonathan Van Tam slams Guardian for 'misleading & sensationalist' claims Brits may get 'inferior' vaccines

JONATHAN Van Tam has blasted the Guardian newspaper for "misleading and sensationalist" claims Brits may get "inferior" jabs.

In a crucifying attack of the paper's story on the race for a Covid vaccine, the deputy chief medical officer accused them of a "lack of understanding" in a letter published today.

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Last week The Guardian wrote a story claiming the Government had admitted "millions may miss out on the most effective vaccine" after Professor Van Tam said when it comes to jabs "perfect must not become the enemy of the good."

And they said Brits would be given less effective vaccines "in the interests of speed" rather than waiting for a "better" jab.

Professor Van Tam, who has become known for his frankness, condemned the story, saying: "I was concerned about the tone and accuracy of your story.

"This headline, which I view as both misleading and sensationalist, occurred due to a lack of understanding."

His letter gave a damning judgement on the Guardian's suggestion Brits could wind up with second-class jabs, saying the priority was to protect people's public health.

Giving people some protection via vaccine with lower efficacy will "always" be the better option than having no vaccine at all, he said.

People will die if the UK waits for the "very best" vaccine, Professor Van Tam stormed.

He accused the paper of "oversimplifying" the vaccine program, adding: "It is oversimplistic to imply that any vaccines are 'superior' or 'inferior'.

"The results we will have initially for any vaccine will pertain to efficacy determined over a relatively short timeframe."

He said a vaccine with slightly lower efficacy in trials could in fact wind up offering "more durable protection" than others.

Pfizer has now said their jab has 94 per cent efficacy, putting it almost exactly on par with the Moderna one, with 94.5 per cent efficacy."

Professor Van Tam continued: "Comparing vaccines based on a single interim estimate of effectiveness is therefore a mistake."

Government ministers and the top scientists have all stressed repeatedly no vaccine will be rolled out for use unless it passes the usual rigorous safety checks.

Professor Van Tam said earlier this week: "Everyone knows that this is a public health emergency. We are in a much more difficult position."

But he added: "The standards are no lower just because this is a public health emergency".

He has previously said he would be first in line to get a jab, if he was eligible, and would tell his elderly mum to get vaccinated.

Chief exec of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said last week: "A Covid-19 vaccine will only be approved once it has met robust standards of effectiveness, safety and quality."


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