A family have described their heartache after a 58-year-old man who had been “brainwashed” by anti-vaccine misinformation died from COVID-19.
Leslie Lawrenson died at his home in Bournemouth, South England, on July 2 after insisting that he does not need to take the vaccination to protect himself against the virus.
Lawrenson had posted videos on social media claiming that he would rather get infected with COVID in order to build “natural immunity” rather than take the shot.
His partner Amanda Mitchell, 56, who also became seriously ill with COVID at the same time, told BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday that Lawrenson considered the vaccines too “experimental,” meaning he died “unnecessarily.”
“It was a daily thing that he said to us: ‘You don’t need to have it, you’ll be fine, just be careful,'” Mitchell said.
“He said to me: ‘It’s a gene thing, an experimental thing. You’re putting something in your body that hasn’t been thoroughly tested.’
“Les was highly educated… so if he told me something, I tended to believe it.”
She added: “Les made a terrible mistake and he’s paid the ultimate price for that.”
His stepdaughter Carla Hodges, 35, added: “[Leslie] was so brainwashed by the stuff that he was seeing on YouTube and social media.
“He said: ‘A lot of people will die more from having the vaccine than getting COVID.'”
Lawrenson, who had no underlying health conditions, described his reluctance to take the COVID vaccine in a Facebook video he posted before testing positive, according to The Sun.
He said he wanted to get the antibodies from having COVID in his blood to get natural immunity and to “experience that it’s nothing to be afraid of, no more than a normal cold.”
He added: “So I know it sounds strange and I know some people might get upset by this, but I hope I’ve got it and I hope it is COVID. Because I would rather have antibodies in my blood than take the jabs.”
Speaking to The Guardian in July, Hodges also spoke of how her stepfather did not believe in vaccinations before his death and how it could have also more seriously harmed her mother.
“My mother did not have the vaccine either, although she had underlying health conditions such as diabetes,” Hodges said. “She is very lucky to still be here.
“COVID has ripped the family apart,” Hodges said. “The nurses and doctors said to my mum: ‘With COVID, there is no textbook illness and everyone reacts differently.’
“I know not getting vaccinated is a massive regret of my mother’s. She was embarrassed to tell hospital staff she had not had the jab.”
More than 38.7 million people have received both doses of the vaccine in the U.K., with around 90 percent of all adults having had at least one shot.
The vaccine rollout has been praised for helping to reduce the numbers of deaths and hospitalizations significantly even as the Delta variant sees tens of thousands of new COVID cases recorded daily in the U.K.