BBC Question Time sees Covid vaccine debate with unvaccinated audience

BBC Question Time viewers react as philosophy graduate faces off against Prof Robin Shattock on vaccines

BBC Question Time saw a fierce debate on Covid-19 vaccines, with renowned scientist Prof Robin Shattock shutting down misconceptions on the jab (PIcture: BBC)

BBC Question Time viewers have shared their thoughts after the show saw an audience of some unvaccinated people give their views on vaccinations.

In January, BBC Question Time put a call out to viewers who had chosen not to get the vaccine to take part in the show.

Host Fiona Bruce told viewers: ‘There are many different reasons why people have chosen not to get the vaccine – we would be interested to explore some of those issues.’

On Friday’s show, one unvaccinated man claimed the jab had ‘horrific side effects’ and the country was ‘operating with incomplete data’.

He claimed that ‘for young healthy people… the potential side effects’ of the vaccine are ‘worse than the potential side effects from Covid’.

The man – who studied Philosophy in university – referred to Professor Robert Malone, a former vaccine scientist turned skeptic, who has appeared on the likes of the Joe Rogan podcast to decry the Covid-19 jab.

On the Question Time panel was Professor Robin Shattock, head of the Mucosal Infection and Immunity at Imperial College London’s Medicine department, who allowed the man to say his piece but insisted he was talking ‘nonsense’.

The debate saw a man who claimed he had done his ‘own research’ on the vaccine face off against an established scientist (PIcture: BBC)

‘We have far more safety data on the current vaccines as they have been in the arms of billions of people’, he said, and encouraged him to check the data on risks and ‘serious adverse events,’ saying they are ‘extremely rare’.

The philosophy graduate insisted he had ‘looked at the data myself’, but was interrupted by presenter Fiona who pointed out that Professor Shattock was a ‘world renowned expert’ while the man was checking his own notes trying to rebuke him.

Prof Shattock said some of what the man was saying was ‘nonsense’ (PIcture: BBC)

Viewers watching from home agreed with Fiona, with one person writing: ‘Put your incorrect notes away and listen to the world-renowned vaccine expert’.

‘A philosophy student arguing with a f***ing scientist,’ another said.

‘The confirmation biased reasoning of the chap who “studied philosophy at university” is being ripped to shreds by an expert yet still he struggles on with his argument,’ one viewer pointed out.

One said he ‘appreciates’ the man has ‘done some research, but studying philosophy at university does not give you comparable medical expertise to Prof Robin Shattock (sic)’.

Another woman appearing on the show shared her belief that she knew her body best, and as a young healthy person didn’t feel like she needed the vaccine, however she had encouraged her vulnerable family members to get the jab.

The woman admitted her friends had advised her not to reveal she was unvaccinated, as ‘when you go back to work people are gonna look at you like you smell.’

Prof Shattock said it wasn’t just about her own health but ‘everybody else’s health’, saying vaccinations ‘only work when everybody contributes to reducing transmission in the community’.

bbc question time

One woman said she was not an ‘anti-vaxxer’ but believed she personally didn’t need the vaccine (BBC Question Time)

While the debate proved controversial online, with some asking why people had been given air-time to spread ‘misinformation’, others said the debate was fairly balanced and was the right thing to do.

Former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan said watching Prof Shattock ‘calmly & respectfully expose the anti-vaxx #bbcqt audience members as painfully ill-informed, and explain why healthcare staff have a moral duty to be vaccinated, was powerful public service television’.

Another viewer said the expert gave a ‘very impressive performance’.

‘Great Poker face, and wonderfully calm and most importantly clear in his comments…’

The show was guaranteed to be controversial, having faced criticism when Question Time first announced they were seeking unvaccinated people to share their views.

Fans gave mixed responses at the time, with many dubbing the move ‘irresponsible’ on social media site Twitter.

One wrote: ‘You want actively to bring unvaccinated together into a room? Aside from the misinformation which will be broadcast this is a huge infection risk. Who takes responsibility for the death?’

The BBC said in a statement at the time: ‘There are still substantial numbers of the British public who are not vaccinated, especially in particular areas and communities.

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‘We think this is an interesting part of the debate which is worthy of discussion.

‘Question Time always strives to discuss each side of every argument.

‘This is about listening to, and understanding, our audience members. The BBC has always made the scientific consensus on vaccination very clear.’

Those who joined the show were still required to maintain a social distance within the audience.

Audience members were also required to keep masks on unless they are posing a question to the panel. 

Metro.co.uk has reached out to reps for the BBC for comment.

Question Time airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

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