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Virologist makes appeal after DUP councillor Paul Hamill's death from Covid-19

Councillor Paul Hamill died after contracting Covid-19

A virologist has urged vaccine sceptics to "reassess their attitudes" to get jabbed.

Dr Conall McCaughey, who led the team which played a key role in developing Covid testing in the UK, was responding to news of the death of DUP councillor Paul Hamill.

It is understood the 46-year-old former mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey died after contracting Covid-19.

He was married to Ruth and had two daughters.

There have been many tributes paid to the late Mr Hamill, who in 2018 was praised for speaking Irish at an Irish Language Week event in Newtownabbey.

But it has emerged that in the months leading up to his death, the DUP councillor retweeted many articles and posts from vaccine and lockdown sceptics.

It is not known whether Mr Hamill had been vaccinated against coronavirus.

The tweets included posts from associate editor of the Spectator Toby Young, a vaccine and Covid sceptic, and an account highlighting a letter to the head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which claimed to be "providing further evidence that the Covid vaccines are not safe or effective".

It is understood that Mr Hamill was recently asked by the DUP to amend his Twitter bio to state: "A retweet is not an endorsement and views are my own."

Responding to news of Mr Hamill, Co Down-based Dr McCaughey tweeted that the councillor's passing was "very sad to see".

"Condolences to all affected by this loss especially his family," he said.

"I only hope that tragic deaths like this make people reassess their attitudes to vaccines and other interventions."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the roll out of its vaccination programme had been well documented and that it was "encouraging everyone to get vaccinated".

The DUP did not comment.

Leading virologist Dr Conall McCaughey. Picture by Hugh Russell

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