A LONG-SERVING Brierley Hill councillor has defended himself amid accusations from political opponents that some of his tweets appeared to question the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine dosage interval.

On his Twitter account, Labour councillor Zafar Islam questioned back in January whether the suggested gap of up to 12 weeks between doses of the vaccines was appropriate and he said: "Worrying that only a few brave scientists or doctors but more particularly their professional associations or organisations have pointed out to the government the potential dangers and risks of altering dose regimes which have the regulatory approved protocols."

And in another post he said: "The government has no support on vaccine gap extension to 12 weeks from @TheLancet or @bmj_latest nor @TheBMA nor @IndependentSage @pfizer and several Public Health consultants have made their position very clear. In exceptional circumstances maximum gap in 2 doses is 6 weeks."

Dudley News:

Cllr Islam, deputy chair of Dudley North constituency Labour Party and a retired pharmacist, also added: "Oh people take heed on #COVIDVaccination. Do not be misled into complacency. You are not vaccinated until both doses have been administered."

Dudley News:

Right wing political website Guido Fawkes unearthed the tweets, which also include questions about whether the vaccines were reaching Gaza, and Dudley North Conservative MP Marco Longhi has called for an explanation of the comments from Cllr Islam, saying it is the duty of those in public office to encourage uptake of the vaccines created to help in the fight against coronavirus.

Cllr Islam, a councillor on Dudley Council since 2004 and community campaigner for inclusion, however, has dismissed claims the tweets gave an antivaxxer view and he told the News: "I'm not an anti-vaxxer, I could not be. I'm a pharmacist - all of my life I've spent trying as a professional to reduce suffering, you want to save lives, you don't want to destroy lives."

He said the tweets, some of which date back to last year, were made in the "context of a public health discussion" and he said both he and his wife have had the Covid-19 vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca one, and he added: "I continue to support Covid-19 vaccination and encourage all communities to get protected from Covid-19 virus with the vaccine and to comply with all safety guidance."

Marco Longhi, however, said he would be writing to the monitoring officer at Dudley Council "to insist on a full investigation and call for the Labour Party leadership, Mr Starmer in particular, to discipline Cllr Islam".

Dudley News: Marco Longhi MP shared on Twitter how he's been volunteering at a Covid vaccine centreMarco Longhi MP shared on Twitter how he's been volunteering at a Covid vaccine centre

The MP, who has been volunteering at weekends at Dudley's Black Country Living Museum for the vaccine rollout, said of the tweets: "This dangerous rhetoric can potentially put people’s lives at risk, he is using a very dangerous left-wing agenda and obviously playing politics with the sensitive situation in Gaza.

“One minute he is attacking the vaccine and the next he is pushing for the vaccine in the Gaza.

“After promoting critical material about the lifesaving vaccines, he has now done a u-turn for political purposes – this is politics of the lowest level – playing on people's fears and trying to make political gain.

“I believe this is real hypocrisy and his Labour colleagues must distance themselves from such material.

“This vaccine is a genuine lifesaver and those that hold public office have a duty to encourage the uptake. Spreading wild conspiracies is not in line with the principals of public office."