British Medical Journal Exposes Conflicts Of Interests Among The UK Government's COVID-19 Advisers
The British Medical Journal
is one of the few credible and untainted medical journals left that believes in real scientific facts and data, ethics, transparency and cannot be manipulated by money as in the case of certain other journals that are literally in the hands of pharmaceutical companies or the U.S. or China governments.
Day by day its seems that the monies of the big pharma companies are seeping into governments and also big conglomerates including media groups and even social media platforms like twitter and even search engines etc to dictate health and even social policies and people need to start waking up and retaliating or do the necessary at whatever costs.
Ignorant, controversial and sometimes confusing policy decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic from personal protective equipment to testing kits and vaccine deals have led to calls for greater transparency, writes freelance journalist Paul D Thacker.
Despite Downing Street has become more transparent in disclosing the advice of bodies such as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), "they have, however, kept members' financial conflicts of interest unpublished and show little concern that advisers to the coronavirus Vaccine Taskforce have financial interests in pharmaceutical companies receiving government contracts," he says.
When the British Medical Journal (BMJ) sought further information on these bodies, such as lists of members' interests, the information was denied or requests were unanswered.
Despite months of criticism about SAGE secrecy, the British government only reversed course this summer and began releasing the names of SAGE members, minutes of meetings, and some of their policy papers.
However the British government still has refused to release to the BMJ the financial interest forms signed by SAGE members, leaving the public in the dark.
Dr Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine argues that SAGE is not independent. "It cannot set its own agenda. They can only answer questions the government sends them. They should have more freedom to reshape the questions," he says.
Interestingly other experts contacted by the BMJ also argued that SAGE appears unbalanced, favoring certain types of scientific proficiency over others.
(Thailand Medical News notes that the British government is basically bias and against the use of herbs, supplements, traditional medicine and also repurposing of existing generic drugs to treat COVID-19 but favors expensive unproven drugs and vaccines peddled by the huge pharmaceutical corporation.. Some of the government figures should be investigated for probable collusion and corruption)
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) staff then contacted the Government Office for Science (GOS) to ask whether SAGE members were required to fill out financial disclosure forms and to request copies of any such forms for current members.
A spokesperson for GOS confirmed that SAGE members must declare their financial conflicts of interest and
provided The BMJ with a blank copy of the disclosure form, which The BMJ has made available to the public.
However they declined to provide members' signed disclosures, adding that they are looking at options to make these declarations public while complying with relevant data protection legislation.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) is now seeking the financial disclosure forms of SAGE and Vaccine Taskforce members through freedom of information requests.
Dr Margaret McCartney, a Scottish general practitioner and former columnist for The BMJ who has campaigned for financial transparency said, "Citizens need to be able to trust the advice of professional scientific advisers. We need transparency.”
In numerous incidences, the UK government's lack of financial transparency in tackling COVID-19 has resulted in negative headlines, adds Thacker.
For instance, it was reported that Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser and head of its Vaccine Taskforce, had £600,000 worth of shares in GlaxoSmithKline, after the company signed a coronavirus vaccine deal with the government for an undisclosed sum
Interestingly another member of the Taskforce, John Bell of Oxford University who also headed the National COVID Testing Scientific Advisory Panel and chaired the government's new test approvals group was reported to have £773,000 worth of shares in pharma company Roche, which had sold the government £13.5m of antibody tests
The British government claimed that Vallance "has no input into contractual and commercial decisions on vaccine procurement," while Bell said he had no role in the deal and that he had disclosed to the government "a long list of my interests."
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) asked the British Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which announced the Vaccine Taskforce, to confirm that Bell had reported his "long list" of financial interests and asked to see any forms Bell had filled out as evidence.
However contradicting their own press release which listed Bell as a taskforce member, a BEIS spokesperson told The BMJ, "Sir John Bell is a member of the expert advisory group to the Vaccine Taskforce, rather than a member of the taskforce itself" and added that the expert advisory group is not involved in commercial decision making, and that those involved must declare their conflicts of interest.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) also approached Oxford University, Bell's employer, to ask for documents that confirm he had disclosed his "long list" of financial interests.
Oxford University confirmed that Bell has declared his financial interests and board membership at Roche, in accordance with the university's conflict of interest policy for all staff, but did not respond to The BMJ's repeated request to see evidence of this disclosure.
The British Medical Journal is now seeking the financial disclosure form of John Bell through a freedom of information request to Oxford.
For more on the ‘filth’ and corruption in the British and American governments and the way the huge pharmaceutical companies are manipulating lots of research data and medical and health information online and influencing government policies that affect daily lives of many, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.