Baroness Betty Boothroyd has been applauded online after she criticised the government’s handling of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine roll-out. Betty served as an MP from 1973 to 2000 and in her final eight years in parliament she served as Speaker of the House of Commons, the only woman to have served as Speaker. She now sits as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords.
On Monday, the Baroness spoke to Sky News’ Mark Austin about the government’s decision to push back second doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. “The government is behaving like a dictatorship. I do not believe spreading vaccine thinly is going to be helpful” and added “the government needs to stop talking so much”.
The UK will give both parts of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines 12 weeks apart, having initially intended to wait 21 days before the second Pfizer dose.
Baroness Boothroyd, who is a Yorkshire native and has lived in South Cambs for more than 30 years, said “There is no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days. That flies in the face of what is being said now. I’ve seen some U-turns in the past few weeks but this is the daddy of them all. The people they are hitting very hard on this are those who haven’t strong voices anymore.
“They are staying at home. They are doing what the government are telling them to do and they are being treated in this way and it simply won’t do. We have now got a new vaccine. Wonderful, I rejoice in the Oxford vaccine. India’s got 50,000 doses, how many have we got? You know what we say in Yorkshire, crack on with it, crack on with it and get the job done. Stop talking so much and let’s see some action”.
The Baroness was trending on Twitter on Monday afternoon, with viewers hailing her straight-talking attitude and passion in taking the government to task over the vaccine strategy.
The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said “The committee advises initially prioritising delivery of the first vaccine dose as this is highly likely to have a greater public health impact in the short term and reduce the number of preventable deaths from COVID-19”.
And what about the medium and longer terms?