The UK’s regulatory approval for a Covid-19 vaccine is very good news

News Letter editorial on Thursday December 3:

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 7:46 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

On the opposite page, Northern Ireland’s chief scientific advisor and chief medical officer cite the huge benefits of vaccines over the last century.

You only need to consider one of the diseases listed by Professor Ian Young and Dr Michael McBride, polio, to understand the way in which vaccinations have saved lives or improved them.

There are still people alive today in Northern Ireland, by no means very old and perhaps as young as early 70s, who are paralysed due to that disease.

In Africa, where it has taken decades longer to roll out the polio vaccine, young people can be seen across the continent on crutches, due to falling victim to a highly preventable disease.

Now in Northern Ireland we can celebrate the news that the UK has given regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine. Everyone will be hoping that this is the beginning of the end of a long and anxious 12 months of pandemic.

There are risks to untested vaccines, but they are greatly outweighed by the benefits of taking the jab. In some older age groups, such as over 80, getting infected with Covid-19 runs a roughly one in ten chance of a fatal outcome.

Some concerns about vaccines are well thought out. We report today on the Rev Malcom Duncan of Dundonald Elim Pentecostal Church who has some ethical reservations, but who will nonetheless take this vaccine.

But some concerns about vaccines are nonsense.

The disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register due to his central role in the fraudulent liking of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine to autism. There have been rises in measles and mumps as a result of this scaremongering lie, yet still he has devoted followers over the world.

Northern Ireland was traditionally Ireland’s centre of science. This is not a time for us to revert to superstition.

The authorisation of this vaccine is very good news.

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Alistair Bushe