Challenging delays to the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine

by Joan Bakewell

Challenging delays to the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine

by Joan Bakewell
Joan Bakewell
Case Owner
I was the government-appointed Voice of Older People 2008-2011. I have been isolating since March and working, via Zoom, as a journalist, President of Birkbeck University and House of Lords member.
Funded
on 12th January 2021
£18,840
pledged of £20,000 stretch target from 751 pledges
Joan Bakewell
Case Owner
I was the government-appointed Voice of Older People 2008-2011. I have been isolating since March and working, via Zoom, as a journalist, President of Birkbeck University and House of Lords member.

Who am I?

I am Joan Bakewell, now 87 years old and for over 50 years a journalist and broadcaster: I am currently President of Birkbeck, London University, and since 2011 a member of the House of Lords.

Between 2008 and 2011 I was the government-appointed Voice of Older People. I have been isolating since March of last year, working and voting from home via Zoom. 

What's at stake?

Since the Pfizer vaccine was rolled out on Dec 8th 2020, around 1 million have received the first injection: they were told they would need a second injection 3 weeks after the first. That was then changed – on the advice of the UK’s Chief Medical Officers – to 12 weeks.

The intention was, quite properly, to spread the number of people given at least some protection against the virus. But serious issues remain. People need clarity about medical considerations: they are getting contradictory messages. 

The World Health Organisation does not recommend following the UK decision. Pfizer says it has tested the vaccines efficacy only when the two doses are given 21 days apart. There is widespread confusion and concern. 

Why am I taking legal action?

My intent is to establish whether the proposed delay to the administration of the second dose of Pfizer Vaccine is lawful and safe. I myself have been fortunate to have a second jab: but I am doing this on behalf of those waiting to have a second Pfizer Vaccine.

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Concerns about the dosing schedule

- Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal have expressed significant concerns about the lack of evidence to support waiting 12 weeks for a second jab. Read here.

- The British Medical Association Cymru Wales have also expressed concern about the length of time between doses. Read here.

- Dr Fauci has opposed the USA proposal to delay the second jab: “Optimal is one dose of Pfizer, followed in 21 days by the boost” calling the second dose “absolutely critical”. Read here.

What is happening with the legal case?

On Friday 8 January my lawyers sent a letter to the Secretary of State asking him to explain the basis for the decision. We have asked for a response by Tuesday 12 January.

The letter outlines three potential grounds for a judicial review into the vaccination policy:

  • Breach of the conditions of authorisation: the NHS Letter instructed health care professionals to act in a manner that appears to be contrary to the instructions for use that had been agreed between the MHRA and Pfizer.
  • Unlawful to depart from MHRA’s assessment: the evidence in granting temporary approval to the vaccine was sufficient in establishing effectiveness for 21 days (or at most 28 days). The MHRA is the body designated by law to determine such issues and it does not appear there was a proper or lawful basis for the government to depart from its assessment.  
  • Breach of legitimate expectations: it was clear from published documents and publicly made statements that the second dose would be administered 21 days after the first dose. Patients consented to a course of medical treatment on that understanding. The instruction contained in the NHS Letter breached these expectations and undermined their informed consent to the first dose.

This current legal action is being undertaken by Leigh Day solicitors – Legal 500’s "Public Sector Firm of the year" for 2020. The Counsel team are Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, a leading authority on public, constitutional and administrative law, Tom Hickman QC and Tom Lowenthal of Blackstone Chambers.

How much are we raising and why?

Both Leigh Day and Counsel have agreed to act under a heavily Discounted Fee Agreement because of this case's importance in the public interest. We have an initial target of £5,000 to proceed with the initial steps in the case.

 If the case needs to go to Court then we will need more money to pay for Court fees, legal fees, and for any losses or liabilities which may arise from this case. 

Thank you for reading this – and please consider helping with a donation.


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