The proposed new powers would cut across not only the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They would signal a new watershed in our understanding of cornerstone human rights: an express amendment to the IHR deletes language currently reading “[t]he implementation of these Regulations shall be with full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons” to replace it with a nebulous confirmation that “[t]he implementation of these Regulations shall be based on the principles of equity, inclusivity, coherence…”.
This case, and the apparent impunity that companies such as Pfizer appear to enjoy, serve as evidence that the system of oversight for Pharma in the UK is hopelessly outdated and that the regulatory authorities are risibly ill-equipped to keep powerful, hugely well-resourced corporate groups in check. The regulatory system for Big Pharma is not fit for purpose; so it is time for a rethink.
One does not have to agree with all of the points made by the MPs, and one does not have to dispute the fact that the vaccine rollout saved lives, to understand that questions raised by elected politicians in this debate – around the scale of adverse events, potential breaches of medical ethics and regulatory capture – are serious.
It is dangerously naive to dismiss this spike in vaccine hesitancy as the deluded actions of an indoctrinated minority of crackpots who must be brought to their senses. Denouncing parents who raise reasonable questions and challenges about risk/benefit for their children as heretic anti-vaxxers, as the public health machine in the US and UK has done repeatedly, is proving equally self-defeating.