PROTESTERS gathered outside a hospital today in protest over a potential COVID-19 vaccination.
Between 25-30 people attended the protest outside Hartlepool Hospital in aid of being pro-choice over whether to receive a Covid-19 vaccination, once the vaccine has been released to the public.
The hospital is believed to have been chosen as the protest site due to the launch of the Novavax vaccine trial, which begins today at the hospital at 9am, and looks to identify treatments for people hospitalised with COVID-19.
The Novavax trial, which has been rolled out across parts of the UK, has already seen tens of thousands of volunteers will take part in the world’s first Phase 3 study to test the effectiveness of the new Novavax coronavirus vaccine.
Attending the protest was Adam Farrow. He said: “We’re all here today to protest the rushed vaccine of the coronavirus.
“The vaccine itself this time hasn’t been tested on animals, which is something we typically always do.
“We’re also concerned if this vaccine is mandated. We can’t vaccinate the globe with a untested vaccine, of which there will be no come back.
“I’m not saying that people who want the vaccine should not be able to have it. I’m pro-choice. I believe people should have the right to make a informed decision of whether they want to have the vaccine, after conducting their own research around the risks and drawbacks, and come to a conclusion on their own. We should be able to individually consent to having the vaccine.
“These trials need to be transparent. People should be aware of the ingredients and any adverse reactions.
“It isn’t one particular vaccine which we are lobbying against, but the concept of any coronavirus vaccine which would be made mandatory to all UK citizens.
“We’ve had no negativity today – the hospital staff have been very polite and some have given us a wave. We’ve been respectful, and been met with nothing but positivity.”
Hartlepool Neighbourhood Policing Team engaged with those attending, and police reported that it was a peaceful protest without incident.
A spokesperson for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust has been at the centre of research into the global response to the unprecedented threat of COVID-19.
“Recently we were commended for our Outstanding Research Contribution from the Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria for our role in the RECOVERY trial, a national clinical trial to identify treatments for people hospitalised with COVID-19.
“The current Novavax vaccine trial, a partnership led by Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance with ourselves, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, is yet one more example of our medical expertise being called upon on a global level.
“We are grateful to our team of highly skilled and respected researchers and to the volunteers from across the North East and North Cumbria who are making this research possible. We cannot underestimate the importance of ongoing clinical frontline research to facilitate a normalisation of life in the future.”
The protest comes as Hartlepool Borough Council accounced it was seeking up to £4 million of additional Government funding following the imposition of strict COVID-19 controls on the town.
The request for support has been made following the announcement last week of restrictions that went much further than what the authority had asked for.
Following the Government’s unexpected decision to ban households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and bars, the Council is asking for £1.6 million to support local businesses – especially those within the night time economy – which it fears might otherwise be forced out of existence.
Councillor Shane Moore, Leader of the Council, said: “Given that statistics show that 80% of new cases are the result of household visits, we asked to have household visits restricted for the time being until we are able to get this situation under control. It was that simple.
“Since the announcement of the much stricter than anticipated restrictions I have been contacted by a number of business owners – some of whom have been in tears – to say that they may have no option but to close. Indeed, some have already announced that they are closing.
“We are calling on the Government to acknowledge the impact of these stricter COVID-19 restrictions and to provide financial support to protect local businesses and safeguard the vital jobs that they support.”
Funding is also being sought by the Council to: increase the capacity of its environmental health and public health teams, introduce COVID Marshalls, provide small grants to businesses to help them become COVID-secure, support managed visits to care homes, including the use of perspex screens and external pods, provide an enhanced Test and Trace capability and provide Cleveland Police with greater resources so that known areas of non-compliance with the restrictions can be proactively targeted.