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Complaint letter sent to The Guardian newspaper regarding inaccurate public health information

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you to submit a formal complaint regarding an article published in The Guardian newspaper on 28th September 2022, entitled ‘Millions urged to get flu and Covid jabs amid fears of Winter ‘twindemic’ in the UK’. Here is a link to the article:

This article is in breach of the Editor’s Code regarding accuracy, for including a quote attributed to Professor Peter Openshaw (also a recipient of this letter), stating that: “We know that giving both the flu vaccine and the Covid vaccine simultaneously is safe, and they do not interfere with one another.”

This is manifestly false, since the new and reformulated Covid booster being offered to patients at the current time has not been tested on any human beings. To be clear, there is no data of any sort demonstrating that this injection is safe to administer to human beings, and as such, many eminent authorities, including member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee Dr. Paul Offit, have cautioned against it.

Dr. Offit said: “When you are asking people to get a vaccine, I think there has to be clear evidence of benefit,' he said, adding that it's unrealistic to have clinical trials of the latest dose. 'You'd like to have, at least, human data,' he said. So far, the only tests on the new shots have been done on lab mice.

'Right now they're saying we should trust mouse data,' he said, 'and I don't think that should ever be true.' (1)

As we have no evidence determining that the latest Covid booster is safe for human beings, then, as an obvious corollary, we do not have any evidence showing it is safe to give in concert with other injections. Such evidence would take years to collate, requiring extensive animal and human trials, to test not just for immediate reactions, but medium and long-term safety as well. None of these studies have been done or even attempted.

As such, Professor Openshaw’s statement that “we know it is safe” to give these injections simultaneously is both inaccurate and misleading, therefore putting The Guardian in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy), section i) of the Editor’s Code, which states: “The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.“

This is an extremely grave example of misleading and inaccurate journalism, given the subject is people’s health, and when we already know from myriad studies and pharmacovigilance reports that the first generation of Covid injections have a very wide range of deleterious side effects, including – as cautioned by the UK government (2) on their website – the serious cardiac disorders myocarditis and pericarditis. As a member of government entity, UK Vaccine Network, I am sure Professor Openshaw is abundantly aware of this fact.

It is a matter of imperative legal and ethical importance that accurate, unbiased, and comprehensive information regarding vaccines is given to the UK public, in order that patients are able to make an informed choice – a legal requirement in medicine, as per the tenets of the Montgomery ruling (3), something else I am sure Professor Openshaw will also be abundantly familiar with.

To tell the UK public that “we know it is safe” to give the Covid booster and flu vaccine simultaneously is a false statement, and therefore it is incumbent on The Guardian to correct this assertion as a matter of urgency, as per the terms of the Editor’s Code, Clause 1 (Accuracy), section ii), which states: “A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.“

Please note that I had originally intended to send this complaint to IPSO, the highly respected regulatory body responsible for ensuring ethical and accurate journalism in the UK, only to discover that The Guardian chooses not to be a member of IPSO, one of just three national newspapers in the UK that makes this choice.

I look forward to your prompt and urgent response.

Yours sincerely,

Miriam Finch


Informed Consent Matters



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