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Fact Check-COVID-19 vaccines approved by UK health regulator are being delivered legally

A video has gone viral showing a woman telling British police officers that COVID-19 vaccines are illegal. However, the UK government approved the vaccines using the highest form of law.

The individual, who presents herself in the footage as a lawyer, tells officers: “We are a common law jurisdiction, they [the vaccines] are causing harm. It’s against the law to cause harm and it’s also a duty to prevent harm from happening.”

She says that the injections breach domestic and international law, adding: “For the public record these [vaccines] are not legal, that’s precisely why we are here. They constitute crimes against humanity, they are bioweapons on the evidence that this is a eugenics programme, it’s genocide.” The clip has been viewed thousands of times (here , here , here and here).

The woman speaking appears to be Anna de Buisseret, who describes herself as an employment lawyer (here , here , here , here and here). She also goes by the name of Anna De Buiscuit on Facebook (here).

Records from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) show that Buisseret qualified as a solicitor but cannot currently practise as one because she was not issued a practising certificate this year. The SRA state this might be because she is doing something else, is on a career break or retired (here).

The SRA confirmed on Twitter that the term ‘lawyer’ is “not a protected title and can be used by anyone providing legal services” (here).

Buisseret challenged criticism on Twitter that she was deceiving people about her legal credentials, writing: “I’ve explained multiple times already that I am not conducting ‘reserved legal activity’ so do not require a practising certificate.” (here)

She reaffirmed her argument in an email to Reuters and encouraged us to determine whether it was “factually incorrect to state that both domestic and international laws are being broken here in the UK”.

VACCINE SAFETY

Buisseret’s argument rests on the assumption that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful. However, dangerous side effects are very rare.

As Reuters has pointed out several times (here , here , here and here), vaccines are rigorously tested, licensed and monitored by the company producing the product and independent government authorities (here). In the UK, this is the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) (here).

Since the roll out began, regulators have recorded some rare side effects of the vaccines. British officials said on May 7 that people under 40 should be offered alternatives to the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to a small risk of blood clots.

June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said at the time that benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine still outweighed the risks for most people, but added that the balance was “more finely balanced for younger people” (here).

Europe’s drug regulator found a possible link between very rare heart inflammation and the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines on July 9, but also stressed that the benefits still outweighed any risks (here).

The European regulator said on July 13 that it was reviewing cases of a rare nerve disorder among recipients of the Janssen one-injection vaccine, produced by a subsidiary of US-based pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. Reuters reported that the MHRA was investigating the issue but had not yet established a connection (here).

So far, two-thirds of Britain’s adult population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus (here) with over 82 million injections administered (here).

The vaccination programme has weakened the link between infections and hospital admissions, which is one of the reasons the British government ended COVID-19 restrictions on July 19 (here).

DOMESTIC LAW

Buisseret’s argument about the legality of Britain’s vaccine roll-out is “seriously misleading”, one legal expert has told Reuters.

The main sources of UK domestic law are statutes, conventions, and common law. As outlined by University College London’s Constitution Unit, statutes are laws passed by Parliament and are generally the highest form of law. Conventions are unwritten practices that developed over time and common law evolves through precedent set by previous court cases (here).

COVID-19 vaccines were made legal by a statutory instrument – a type of secondary legislation that fills out the details of a broader Act of Parliament (statute) (here).

Three of the four vaccines were approved through regulation 174 of the 2012 Human Medicines Regulations (here), which says the MHRA can temporarily approve an unlicensed vaccine in response to public health threats like the COVID-19 pandemic (here , page 29).

Using regulation 174, the MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech (here , Oxford/AstraZeneca (here), and Moderna (here).

The Janssen vaccine was approved using slightly different law.

The MHRA granted this vaccine through a Conditional Marketing Authorisation (CMA), a new scheme for medicinal products introduced due to Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2021 (here).

The process mirrors the EU’s CMA scheme (here), which enables the approval of medicines or vaccines that “fulfil an unmet medical need” like life-threatening diseases (here).

CMAs are enshrined in UK law through the 2019 Human Medicines (Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations (here, see 50I). The legislation is explained in further detail by the law firm Bristows here .

Reuters showed the social media video to Julian Hitchcock, a senior lawyer at Bristows specialising in the regulation of medicines and vaccines (here), who responded: “We do not recognise the speaker as an expert in the field of vaccine regulation and find no basis for her claims, which we regard as false and seriously misleading.”

They said that all vaccines are authorised in accordance with UK law after being approved by the MHRA, which ensures that “the highest standards of safety are met and maintained”.

The firm said the law of vaccines and medicines was “complex” and required “a very high degree of legal specialism”.

“Without clear evidence of such expertise, we urge anyone who comes across such claims to report the post to the social media operator concerned,” they added.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Buisseret is also misguided in her argument that coronavirus vaccines break international law and constitute crimes against humanity or genocide.

This claim is very similar to a debunked conspiracy that spread rapidly in February 2021. It said that staff administering vaccines were war criminals because safety monitoring was ongoing. However, this overlooked the fact that it is completely normal for pharmaceutical companies and governments to monitor vaccines and medicines as they are rolled out en masse (here).

Moreover, Buisseret’s allegations ignore the rigorous testing process vaccines face to ensure they are safe and effective (here). The British Institute of Human Rights, a charity, has also detailed how COVID-19 vaccines interact with international law. The institute says that nobody can make you have the vaccine due to your right to think and believe what you want, but add that the coronavirus vaccines protect our right to life and to be safe from serious harm (here).

VERDICT

False. COVID-19 vaccines approved by Britain’s health regulator are legal according to domestic and international law.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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