Before this programme was screened on 20 July 2022 promotional material from the BBC and in newspaper articles such as this suggested it was going to be extremely biased and inaccurate.
Based on this publicity material we already wrote articles first criticizing the claim that only 8% of the UK adult population was unvaccinated and then highlighting the fact that the publicity material failed to reveal the blatant conflicts of interest of the key ‘experts’ used in the programme to convince the seven unvaccinated participants to get vaccinated.
Our pre-screening articles and tweets about the forthcoming programme were very widely read and one of the participants Nazarin contacted us to express her serious concerns about the way the programme was made – and how it might be edited – and to confirm that the participants were indeed not informed of the experts’ conflicts of interest (this is covered well in this article by threadsirish). (Note: see update below on the thoughts of another participant who contacted us). Her subsequent tweets, such as the following, made clear her extreme concerns about the programme even before it was screened:
The programme turned out to be every bit as bad and biased as feared.
Many of the problems have been highlighted by the especially vocal participants Nazarin and Vicky (see their interviews with Dan Wooton and Sonia Poulton). Below we summarise our key concerns and what was missing.
- Claim of 4 million UK adults unvaccinated: Despite us alerting the BBC to this error (which led them to change their website description) this claim (i.e. that only 8% of adults were unvaccinated) was right up front. It set the context suggesting that this was only a tiny crazed minority. But what was really interesting is that the presenter Hannah Fry stated that, as part of the programme research, they did a survey of 2,500 people about their views on vaccination and she was surprised to discover that 600 were unvaccinated. If the sample was representative of UK adults (and there was no suggestion it was not) then that means 24% of UK adults are unvaccinated, which is even higher than the figure we estimate, and blows apart the BBC’s ludicrous 8% claim. (UPDATE @NakedEmperorUK points out that the survey was indeed representative of the population and that the actual number never vaccinated was 664 out of 2570 - i.e. 26%. This provides further evidence of what we have claimed for a long time: The ONS is massively underestimating the proportion of unvaccinated.)
- Failure to disclose the
Pfizer links of the two key experts (Finn and Khalil) on the programme: As
feared the programme did not inform either the participants or the viewers of
the major conflicts of interest of the key experts. Prof Adam Finn (Bristol University)
was the expert chosen to explained what the vaccines were and why they were
safe; but he is the leader of the Pfizer Centre of Excellence for Epidemiology
of Vaccine-preventable Diseases - set up with an initial £4.6 million
investment in May 2021. He even implied he was independent when he said (about
the US pharma companies Pfizer and Moderna) that he ‘acted as a buffer between
them and the public’. Asma Khalil was
the expert chosen to explain why it was important for pregnant women to get the
vaccination. But Asma Khalil is the PI of the Pfizer covid vaccination in
pregnancy trial. Another expert, psychologist
Clarissa Simas has had many Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) grants.
- Failure to disclose
background to FullFact.org: The CEO Will Moy was brought in to claim
that vaccine hesitancy was all due to online ‘misinformation’. But fullfact have
received massive funding by organisations like Google and Facebook to present
precisely the biased narrative that all the covid ‘misinformation’ is coming
from ‘antivaxxers and conspiracy theorists’ and they have shown no interest in
pointing out the far greater volume of misinformation put out by governments, the
pharma companies and their supporters. They only ‘fact check’ information that counters
the ‘standard narrative’ and avoid checking obvious misinformation claims of vaccine
efficacy and safety. For some background on how bad fullfact are see this article.
- No challenge to the many explicit false claims made: Among the most outrageous and demonstrably false claims that went unchallenged were: 1) Adam Finn claimed that people had stronger immunity from the vaccination than from having been infected; 2) Asma Khalil claimed the vaccination was not only completely safe for pregnant women but actually reduced the risk of miscarriage by 15% (but look at what was in the Pfizer trial with more here).
- The jellybeans game: Hannah
Fry tried to create the impression that only 1 in 33,000 had a serious adverse
reaction by mischievously picking that number as the incidence of myocarditis, which
she claims was by the most common serious adverse reaction. Showing what 33,000 jellybeans looked like –
only one of which was ‘bad’ – was supposed to show how ‘rare’ adverse reactions
to the vaccines were. But the most recent
relevant data (from the German government) actually suggest as many as 1 in 300 serious adverse reactions per dose after
the vaccine. Assuming independence between
doses this means that a triple vaccinated person has an approximate probability
of 1 in a 100 of getting a serious adverse reaction and for a person doubled boosted this rises to 1 in 75. And, as somebody on twitter said “what if
all the bad jelly beans were in one big batch and all the others weren’t ‘good
jelly beans’ – we just didn’t know yet”.
- No mention of the failure of the vaccination to stop infection or transmission of covid
- Failure to humanize any
actual vaccination victims. The programme spoke about actual unvaccinated people
dying from covid, but used the bad jelly beans to represent vaccination victims.
Why didn’t they mention actual victims like the BBC’s own Lisa Shaw? or Vicky Spit's husband Zion?
- The ludicrous and misleading MMR vaccination anecdote: In response to the 9-page Pfizer report of adverse reactions, Hannah Fry used a bizarre anecdote to downplay its impact. This imagined a Doctor about to give the MMR jab to a child when the phone rings; there is a 50:50 chance he picks up the phone before giving the jab. He picks up the phone and during the call the child has a fit. Saying there was a 50:50 chance the doctor picks up the phone or gives the jab deliberately creates the false impression that there is also a 50:50 chance any adverse reaction after a vaccination is purely coincidental.
- No challenge to the powerful claim that 20 out of 21 ICU patients at St Georges’s hospital in Dec 2021 were unvaccinated: all evidence of national ICU data suggests vaccinated are now disproportionally hospitalized with covid, so this claim was either false/exaggerated or an unbelievable outlier. Much more likely, the ‘unvaccinated’ were defined as ‘not fully boosted’ rather than ‘never vaccinated as was implied.
- Failure to mention reported data on adverse reactions: Systems like VAERS in the US and YellowCard in the UK make it difficult to report adverse reactions and so are widely believed to massively underestimate true numbers. Yet, in VAERS alone (mainly US) as of 8/7/22 there were 1,341,605 covid vaccine adverse reactionsof which 29,460 were deaths. In all 32 years of VAERS reporting a total of only 9,754 deaths (and 878,053 adverse events) were recorded for ALL OTHER vaccines combined. So, in just 18 months, 3 times as many deaths for covid vaccines have been recorded than in 32 years combined for all other vaccines.
- No mention of the true risk of covid based on world wide data: Except for those with multiple comorbidities (who are not given appropriate early treatments) Covid poses very little risk of hospitalization and death. Young people are at essentially zero risk of dying due to Covid.
- No mention of the way covid data are by definition fixed to exaggerate cases numbers, hospitalizations, deaths as well as vaccine efficacy and safety. Specifically: any person admitted to hospital who had a PCR positive within 14 days prior – or who tests PCR positive after hospitalization’ – is classified as a covid hospitalization even if the reason for hospitalization was unrelated to covid; any person who dies within 28 days of PCR positive test is classified as a covid death irrespective of the true cause of death; any person who contracts covid or who suffers adverse reaction inside 14 days of vaccinaion is classified as ‘unvaccinated’.
- No mention of lack of long-term safety data: In particular, the failure of the Pfizer trial to provide this was glossed over suggesting that their people were so dedicated that the worked much faster than for any previous vaccine to ensure a high quality and safe product.
- No mention of all the protocol violations now known in the main Pfizer trial. Even with the violations, Pfizer’s their own data showed more deaths in vaccine arm than placebo arm and the risk of serious adverse event in the vaccinated was greater than risk of covid hospitalization in the unvaccinated.
- No mention of international data showing strong evidence the vaccine is neither effective nor safe: Countries with lowest vaccination rates have lowest covid death rates; spikes in all-cause deaths happen after vaccination dose rollouts; countrieswith highest vaccination rates have highest covid rates and are experiencing non-covid excess death increases; and falling birth rates. There is no reliable evidence anywhere in world that vaccinated people have lower all-cause mortality than unvaccinated.
- What was Hannah Fry’s involvement in the stat/maths modelling: Near the start of the programme Hannah stated that she had been involved in the stats/math modelling that ‘helped get us out of lockdown’. This was a surprising claim. It’s the first we had heard that such modelling was formally used to get us out of lockdown. If she was involved in such modelling, she was presumably also involved in the modelling that took us INTO lockdown (curiously nobody wants to be associated with that any more given we know it was so wrong with disastrous consequences). What exactly was her involvement in this modelling – are there papers describing it other than this one?
Update 25 July 2022: One of the other participants of the documentary, Mark Dabbs, has contacted us wishing to make his views about the experience public. Mark is the person whose allegations he was inappropriately touched by former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher contributed to Boris Johnson's resignation. He told us the following:
"I saw the reviews on the show we did and you know the crux of it was correct. Being one of the seven I agree somewhat with some of the people who said the show was hi-jacked by two of the more outspoken participants – I know because I was there doing it and with them for five days.
The whole time we were there it was like being taken over by a couple of people who seemed to take things so personally.
It was me who participated in eating the dog food from the dog food tin – omitted, ate from the dirty nappy – omitted, when we were asked to take a flo test six of them baulked and I volunteered to do it straight away, as in the hospital I have encountered this sort of lethargy before and that was what we got. None of that was used, so why get us to do it?
I got to thinking why did some of them come if they were not going to participate.
The whole fact checker furore ended up in a big fight and we all stormed off – I went for a run to clear my head and headed to the church across the way when I had finished. Two others had sought sanctuary there too!
After the big fight we were all interviewed separately and after that I swore a lot – they cut that bit too!!
I felt terrible for Hannah and when I saw her cancer journey a month later I was even more sad for what she had to put up with."