The BBC has published another of its questionable ‘reality checks‘, this one by the aptly-titled “disinformation reporter” Rachel Schraer. Her target is doctor Steve James, who directly challenged Health Secretary Sajid Javid on the science behind the impending vaccination mandate when Mr. Javid visited the hospital where he works last week. Schraer, whose medical and scientific credentials are unclear, has taken it upon herself to assess Dr. James’s claims in a piece entitled “Fact-checking the doctor who challenged the health secretary“, saying the claims are “not exactly what the evidence shows”. However, the evidence she picks for this ‘fact check’ is very selective, and she overlooks several studies that do indeed back up what the brave doctor was saying.
Dr. James told Mr. Javid: “The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks with Delta. For Omicron, it’s probably less.”
‘Disinformation reporter’ Schraer responds:
While vaccines remain very good at protecting against becoming severely ill with Covid, the protection they give against catching it and passing it on does wane more quickly.
Dr. James was referring to a study that found a vaccinated person with Covid was just 2% less likely than an unvaccinated person to pass it on, 12 weeks after a second Oxford-AstraZeneca jab – he acknowledges his reference to “eight weeks” was an error.
But the same study found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which NHS staff are likely to have had, endured better. Vaccinated people had a 25% lower risk of infecting others than unvaccinated people after 12 weeks.
Well, 25% is not very much, and this is not the only study which looks at this, with others finding even smaller effect. A study in the Lancet found no difference in household secondary attack rate depending on whether the index case was vaccinated, and correspondingly no difference in viral load.