An anti-vaxxer's claims in a viral video that coronavirus vaccines are illegal for under-18s because of an unrelated court case about puberty-blocking treatment have been dismissed as "errant nonsense".
The woman in the video has been identified online as anti-vaxxer Anna de Buisseret, who appeared in a previous viral video claiming COVID-19 vaccines are illegal.
The latest clip has been shared by celebrities including former TV personality Gillian McKeith and ex-footballer Matt le Tissier. The clips in their posts alone had been viewed 231,000 times as of 5.15pm on Tuesday.
In the video, the woman claims "children under 18 cannot give their informed consent to experimental medical treatment" – something which she suggests includes COVID vaccines. She also says children are being murdered.
Legal expert Adam Wagner branded the claims in the video "errant nonsense" and told this website: "People should listen to doctors, not Matt le Tissier or people waving copies of legal cases outside hospitals."
Here, Yahoo News UK breaks down her claims.
First of all, who can currently receive coronavirus vaccines?
This month, 16 and 17-year-olds started receiving invitations to get the Pfizer vaccine. They do not need parental consent if they want a jab.
Children aged between 12 and 15 are only eligible if they have certain medical conditions that put them at risk from serious COVID illness.
According to point number five of these NHS vaccine guidelines, children in this age group can choose to have a vaccine without parental knowledge if they are "assessed as competent to consent to vaccination". This is known in medical law as "Gillick competence".
Why have the claims been dismissed as 'nonsense'?
In the video, the woman is seen protesting outside an unspecified NHS centre, demanding to speak to its manager.
In front of police officers, she tells a staff member: “You’re not upholding the law. Here is the law, you can read it for yourself.”
Holding up legal papers, she then says: “This is Bell v Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
“It specifically says that children under 18 cannot give their informed consent to experimental medical treatment and you need to go to the court to get a declaration.
“It says it here, come and read it!”
The Bell v Tavistock judgement on 1 December last year ruled that children under 16 who wish to undergo gender reassignment can only consent to having puberty blockers if they are able to understand the nature of the treatment.
It was completely unrelated to coronavirus vaccines.
Watch: Young COVID-19 patients share stories of the long-terms effects of the disease
The protester actually highlights this point herself when she reads out the opening sentence of the conclusion of the judgement: "A child under 16 may only consent to the use of medication intended to suppress puberty..."
The word "coronavirus" is mentioned only once in the entire judgement, and this was only a passing reference to an academic who had been unable to respond to a study on puberty blockers due to the pandemic.
Furthermore, she is incorrect when she states the ruling "specifically says that children under 18 cannot give their informed consent to experimental medical treatment". This was actually the claimant's case, as opposed to the judgement.
Point seven of the papers read: "The claimants’ case is that children and young persons under 18 are not competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blocking drugs."
What else does she claim in the video?
She says: "You’re still injecting children. That’s against the law! It’s illegal, it’s unlawful, it’s immoral and it’s unethical and you will be held responsible… for the death and the injury you cause.
"You don’t care, do you? You’re just going to kill children. You get £12.50 per jab, that’s all you care about. You’re murdering other people’s children and you’re [police officers] defending them. Shame on you. This is murder."
In terms of vaccine legality and safety, the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the Pfizer jab for over-12s following “rigorously reviewed” trials in children and young people.
Severe side effects are rare, with "mild to moderate" reactions such as a temperature, sore arm and a headache possible.
However, all medicines come with the risk of reactions. This was highlighted by England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam in March when he read out a long list of potential paracetamol side-effects on live TV.
MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine said on 4 August "our advice remains that the benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks for the majority of people, and the vaccine benefits in children and young people aged 12 to 15.”
Meanwhile, the £12.50 comment appears to reference the £12.58 which GPs and pharmacies receive per dose administered. This is to offset costs of delivering the programme.
A legal expert's view on the claims...
Barrister Adam Wagner, an expert on coronavirus law, told Yahoo News UK: "She's just wrong.
"Firstly, as long as a parent consents to their child having the vaccine, they can have it, as long as it’s allowed by the NHS – which it is [currently for people with medical conditions in the 12 to 15 group, and all over-16s].
“Second, if a child wants to consent themselves without their parents’ consent, or without their parents knowing – for example if their parents are vaccine deniers – they have just got to have an adequate understanding of the pros and cons, known as Gillick competence.
“Bell and Tavistock was about a very different scenario to the vaccine. Waving a copy of a legal case and very inaccurately describing it does not count as the law."
Wagner added: “Celebrities shouldn’t be retweeting this. People should listen to doctors, not Matt le Tissier or people waving copies of legal cases outside hospitals."
Watch: How the world could be better after COVID