Intensive care doctor tells Sajid Javid: this is why I’m refusing the Covid vaccine

Health Secretary Sajid Javid talking to a consultant, Steve James, who has spoken about his refusal to be vaccinated despite working in intensive care since the start of the pandemic - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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A hospital consultant has told the Health Secretary he refused to be vaccinated because he has immunity from being "antibody" positive after exposure to the virus.

Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist at King's College Hospital in London, who has worked in the ICU since early 2020 treating Covid patients, told Sajid Javid why he did not believe in vaccination.

The Health Secretary politely expressed his disagreement and urged the public to get boosted during his visit.

Mr James told the PA news agency he did not believe Covid-19 was causing "very significant problems" for young people, adding that his patients in the ICU had been "extremely overweight" with multiple other co-morbidities.

He said the Health Secretary did not seem to agree with him but had listened to his opinion.

"I wouldn't say he agreed with me," he said. "I had the feeling he was listening."

A spokesperson for King College Hospital said: "While currently it is not a mandatory requirement for staff to get their Covid-19 vaccination or disclose their vaccine status to patients, we strongly support and encourage all our staff to get their jab, in line with national guidance - and nearly 90per cent of our staff have already done so."

In December, MPs approved mandatory vaccinations for NHS and social care staff by April this year.

During the visit on Friday, the Health Secretary said he wanted to thank NHS workers across the country for "the amazing work they've been doing throughout this pandemic but particularly during these current challenging times".

'Rocky few weeks ahead'

But Mr Javid also warned hospital admissions were rising and that the NHS was facing a "rocky few weeks ahead".

He said: "We are in a stronger position than we were last year thanks to the vaccinations and the testing, we have boosted more people in this country than in any other country in Europe, we've got more antivirals per head than any other country in Europe, we're testing more people per head than any other country in Europe."

He added: "The best thing anyone can do if they haven't already is get boosted or get your first or second jab if you haven't had one."

During the visit he said the intensive care unit for Covid patients had an estimated 70 per cent of patients unvaccinated and that this was a "reminder to us all" of the importance of vaccination.

Asked about his reported opposition to relaxing international travel testing rules, Mr Javid said: "I want to see more travel open up - I want to see it being made as easy as it possibly can be and it should always be a balance of caution and approach", adding the approach announced this week was the "right balance".

On hospitals declaring critical incidents, he said there was a need for health services to "work together" due to the "workforce pressures" hospitals are facing.