British Heart Foundation dismisses Tory MP’s Covid ‘cover-up’ vaccine claim

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen (PA Archive)
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen (PA Archive)

The British Heart Foundation has rejected a Tory MP’s claims that a senior member of its team was “covering up” negative data on Covid vaccines.

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, made the claim in a parliamentary debate earlier this month, in which he also called for an “immediate” suspension of the use of mRNA vaccines.

He claimed that a person within a “prominent leadership role” in the British Heart Foundation had sent non-disclosure agreements to researchers to prevent data on potential harms being made public.

In a statement to the Times newspaper, the charity strongly rejected the assertion and called on Mr Bridgen to provide evidence for it.

It said its advice on the safety of the vaccines was “based on rigorous scrutiny of the latest evidence”.

There have been rare cases of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, following Covid vaccinations, but research suggests this is no more likely than following other vaccinations.

Covid itself is also more likely to cause myocarditis than vaccines, researchers say.

In a statement to the Times, a British Heart Foundation spokesperson said: “The scientific consensus is that the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination, including a reduced risk of severe illness or death, far outweigh the very small risk of rare side effects like myocarditis or pericarditis for the vast majority of people, especially as people get older.

“Scientific evidence shows that Covid-19 itself is much more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine is, and people who are vaccinated have a much lower risk of getting other serious complications caused by Covid-19.

“We employ a small leadership team of senior scientists and cardiologists to oversee and administer our research funding programmes, who also continue to undertake some of their own research. We can categorically say that nobody within this leadership team has acted in the way claimed by Mr Bridgen.”

Mr Bridgen also told MPs that “the benefits of the vaccine are close to non-existent” for children, although globally researchers estimate vaccines have saved some 20 million lives.

His claims were slammed by health minister Maria Caulfield, who said he had “derided doctors, scientists and nurses”.

“Many of us worked through the pandemic and saw at first hand the devastation that covid caused,” she said during the same debate.

“There is no doubt in my mind that, despite the personal protective equipment, social distancing and infection control, the thing that made the biggest difference in combating covid was the introduction of the vaccine.”

The Standard has contacted Mr Bridgen’s office for comment.