Since the launch and roll-out of Covid-19 Vaccinations in the UK, much debate and controversy has arisen at all levels around its impact, safety, efficacy and issues relating to liberty, faith and conscience.
On 2 December 2020, the Pfizer vaccine was approved and was the first to be rolled out. This was followed by the Oxford University Vaccine – AstraZeneca on 30 December 2020 approved for use in the UK with the first doses delivered on 4 January 2021. Subsequently, the Moderna Vaccine was approved for use on January 2021. *1
With the ongoing discussions, questions, concerns and speculations around these vaccines, a series of information sessions, presentations and programmes, have been undertaken on various platforms to address the mounting issues.
On Sunday 28 March, the BUC hosted its first COVID Vaccines webinar. Co-hosting the event was Pastor Ian Sweeny, BUC President. and Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Director for Health, Women’s Ministries and Adventist Community Services.
In his introduction, Pastor Sweeney setting the scene for the proceedings, read the General Conference Statement on Vaccines which can be found at: Immunization | Adventist.org
Clarifying the parameters of the forum, Pastor Sweeney stated:
"So then I am not going against my faith community in co-hosting and promoting this afternoon’s webinar, and in line with our church statement, we are not here to say you must or must not take the covid vaccine."
The webinar, organised to address the breadth of questions prevalent amongst individuals within our church and community, covered questions under the various headings:
- Vaccine efficacy
- Vaccine impact
- Vaccine safety
- Vaccine reactions
- Vaccine content
- Ethics of vaccine rollout
- Vaccines and faith
- Vaccines and liberty
Addressing the above segments were a team of health professionals who each delivered brief presentations followed by questions on what they had presented. In the second half of the session, they were then invited to answer the general questions that were fielded.
On the panel were the following individuals who delivered on a specific aspect relating to the Covid Vaccine:
- Professor Edward Kunonga – Public Health Consultant, Epidemiologist & Population health Advisor. Presentation title: B-R-A-I-N: Benefits. Risks. Alternatives. Intuition.
- Dr Beatrice Kastrati – NEC Director for Health and Possibility Ministries. Presentation title: The 5 Gs: God’s Gift of Grace – Gossip vs Guidance
- Dr Adwoa Danso – GP & Board member of the Ghanaian Doctors and Dentists Association UK. Presentation title: 'COVID-19 Vaccines: Finally, the beginning of the end.'
- Dr Abdul Zubairu – GP (Southport Merseyside) & Health Champion. Presentation title: ‘COVID Vaccine-Common Questions’.
From the 100+ questions that came in from the membership, following the poster advert for the event, and the numerous comments, questions and statements voiced via the Zoom chat and YouTube platform, it was a race against time to address them all in the allotted 2 hours.
Each panel members addressed questions from their area of expertise and experience.
Watch the webinar here.
The majority of questions related to the safety of the vaccines, their efficacy and content.
Amongst the most controversial questions were those relating to the AstraZeneca’s vaccine content. Quoting from the government website: Information for UK recipients on COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), Sharon Platt-McDonald highlighted the following contents listed in section 6 of the information document:
- *Recombinant, replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus vector encoding the SARS CoV 2 Spike glycoprotein.
- Produced in genetically modified human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells.
- This product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Addressing the above, panel members were challenged to answer the issues relating to ethics, moral beliefs and eco-health that were causing a lot of concern and hesitancy amongst our SDA community.
Additional questions on the safety of the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccine were also voiced, along with numerous questions around the long term unknown effects of the various vaccines. Concerns were also raised in relation to religious liberty, human rights and the possibility of vaccine passports and it’s ethics.
For a sample of the range of questions raised, the accompanying PowerPoint gives a snapshot of some of the most common questions from our members. A selection from each section were raised and addressed during the webinar.
Drawing together the salient points of the webinar, the summation was delivered by Dr Sheryl Anny Perry, who has spent 15 years working in clinical drug development. She currently works as a Principal Regulatory Consultation providing scientific and strategic support to pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
It was recognised that this event featured a heavily weighted medical panel, nevertheless, subsequent webinars are planned to include a variety of diverse health specialists.
To view the webinar, please visit the BUC YouTube for a recording of the event. The PowerPoint presentation is also available for your perusal. (see file below)
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