A heartbroken son from a family of anti-vaxxers has revealed how his mother, father and brother all died of Covid within the space of a week, after refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine.
Francis Goncalves suffered the devastating triple loss of his brother Shaul, 40, father, Basil, 73, and mother, Charmagne, 65, last month.
The 43-year-old, who lives in Cardiff, says all three refused the Covid jab after falling victim to ‘anti-vaccination propaganda’ and ‘misinformation’.
Now Francis, who believes the virus spread through his family during a meal in Portugal, is pleading with others to avoid ‘falling into the trap’ of Covid conspiracies.
He said: ‘They (my family) got caught up in a lot of the anti-vaccination propaganda that’s going around. It preys on people who are afraid and they fall into the trap.
‘The message I want to get out is why would the government want to hurt you by giving you a vaccine? What is the purpose behind it?
‘I’ve spoken to so many people who are terrified of the vaccine and it costs lives.’
Francis said that, while his mother had underlying health issues and his father had been in hospital with kidney stones, he was particularly shocked by the death of his brother, who he described as the ‘healthiest person’ he knew.
He said he believes the vaccine would have saved his brother’s life, adding: ‘If he wasn’t working out in the gym or running, he was going on walks. He hadn’t drunk in 15 years and ate a whole foods plant-based diet.’
Francis’ tragedy is the latest in a line of anti-vaxxer deaths, including the likes of super-fit rock climbing and bodybuilding enthusiast John Eyers, 42, who died of Covid after refusing the jab.
Cambridge University graduate Leslie Lawrenson, 58, also passed away at his home in Bournemouth on July 2, just nine days after releasing footage to Facebook explaining why Covid was ‘nothing to be afraid of’.
It also comes as the Government continues to ramp up pressure on young people to get the Covid jab, amid fears uptake could slow, despite more than two-thirds of those aged 18 to 29 already having had a first dose.
Francis Goncalves (pictured with his family) suffered the devastating triple loss of his brother Shaul, 40, father, Basil, 73, and mother, Charmagne, 65, last month
The 43-year-old (pictured), who lives in Cardiff, says his family members refused the Covid jab after falling victim to ‘anti-vaccination propaganda’ and ‘misinformation’
Francis said that, while his mother had underlying health issues and his father had been in hospital with kidney stones, he was particularly shocked by the death of his brother, who described as the ‘healthiest person’ he knew. He said he believes the vaccine would have saved his brother’s life, adding: ‘If he wasn’t working out in the gym or running, he was going on walks. He hadn’t drunk in 15 years and ate a whole foods plant-based diet.’
Francis’ family (pictured: His mother Charmagne and father Basil) were all in Portugal at the time of their deaths. He said they all began to feel unwell on the weekend of July 10, a few days after having a meal together
SAGE estimates the R rate — which shows how quickly the virus is spreading — is between 0.8 and 1.1. It means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 11 other people
Nearly 30 areas in England have not fully vaccinated their over-50 populations against Covid, official statistics have revealed as experts warn there are huge pockets of the population still vulnerable to the virus. Graph shows
Harehills South in Leeds has reached the fewest over-50s, with just 813 of the 1,562 living in the area receiving their second dose — 52 per cent of the population. Map shows: The proportion of adults who have had both Covid vaccine doses
Overall, 2.5million over-50s (11 per cent) have not yet got their second jab and 2million haven’t had their first (nine per cent)
Vaccine centres quietly bend the rules as they cut gap from the official two months
Young people can now get their second jab just six weeks after the first to allow them to go abroad on summer holiday, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Vaccine centres are quietly bending the rules and cutting the gap from the official two months.
A Minister told this newspaper that the centres had been encouraged to be ‘more reasonable’ when the public asked to shorten the gap between vaccines in an attempt to boost take-up for the young.
Being double-jabbed means not having to quarantine on return from amber list countries.
One pharmacy in London last week put up a notice saying that anyone who had their jab as recently as the last week of June – a six-week gap – was eligible.
And a surgery in Essex last week invited anyone who had the jab five weeks ago or more to turn up to use up doses before they expired.
Other jab centres told the MoS that they would allow a six-week gap, or even shorter, if someone had an email from their GP saying they were about to go on holiday and needed the second jab sooner.
A GP said there were three main reasons to speed up a second dose – to undergo chemotherapy, have an operation or to go on holiday.
The Minister said: ‘GPs will bend over backwards for young people to get the jab. So if an 18-year-old comes and says, I booked a holiday to France, I won’t have the same experience if I’m not double-jabbed, they will try and help them out.’ It comes as:
While some have benefited from the more flexible approach to a second jab, others have criticised the lack of transparency because some centres are turning away people who have not waited eight weeks. ‘It’s a lottery,’ said a source.
The Minister said that the chance to take foreign holidays was the best way to encourage young people to get vaccinated.
The Government was trying to reach a point where in every group of friends there was only one odd one out who hadn’t been jabbed, so they succumbed to ‘peer pressure’, the Minister added.
The Health Secretary is the latest senior figure to criticise the cost of PCR tests. Mr Javid, writing to the CMA, said: ‘For too many people the cost of PCR testing can act as a barrier, especially for families who want to travel together. We have all experienced enormous disruption to our lives over this pandemic but it is not right if some families experience yet further disruption unnecessarily because of potentially unfair practices in the market for private travel tests.
‘It is important that the sensible measures we have introduced at the borders are fair and transparent and don’t involve unnecessary costs or low-quality provision to people who have made so many sacrifices.’
Francis’ family were all in Portugal at the time of their deaths. They began to feel unwell on the weekend of July 10, a few days after having a meal together.
He said he believed his father picked up Covid while in hospital receiving treatment for kidney stones days before.
Francis said: ‘On Thursday, July 8, my parents had dinner at my brother’s apartment he shares with his girlfriend and they started to feel very ill that weekend. On the Monday, my brother’s girlfriend said Shaul could feel something was wrong.
‘He said he’d never felt anything like it, that he felt like he was filled with weight and that he was tired. He decided to get a test for Covid and they tested positive.
‘My parents were really ill at the time as well. They went through to the hospital and I had a text from my father that afternoon saying they’ve been admitted into the hospital because they have both tested positive. That was on July 12.’
With Francis being so far away in Cardiff, he said it became difficult to get hold of his parents.
But on Wednesday, July 14 he discovered his father – who has underlying health issues – had been moved to the intensive care unit (ICU).
From that point on each family member started to deteriorate, so Francis made plans to fly over to be with them in Portugal.
He said: ‘I spoke to my brother every day and we couldn’t get hold of my father. He had a little bit of battery life available on his phone on the Tuesday morning and I managed to ask him how he was doing, but then he didn’t have a charger.
‘It was very difficult for me to get hold of him in a country I couldn’t speak the language.
‘My brother was finding it frustrating to get in touch with my parents as well, but he managed to get through to my mother on the Wednesday, which was when my father was put into an induced coma and moved to ICU.
‘Meanwhile [my brother’s] mucus had changed from green to brown and I told him to be very careful because that could be a sign of pneumonia.
‘From then, he deteriorated and when I managed to speak to him, I could tell there was definitely something wrong with him. I started pushing my plans to get up there faster.’
But heartbreakingly, as Francis waited for the Covid test results he needed to be able to fly out to Portugal, he received a text saying his brother had been rushed to hospital.
‘On the Saturday (July 17) I had a message at 8.08pm to say Shaul had been rushed off to hospital in an ambulance,’ he said. ‘I spoke to his girlfriend and she was really worried. Then, at about 1am I received a call from her saying she had been told he had passed away that evening.’
With his brother being Francis’ only means of contacting his parents, he had to get hold of a law firm in Portugal to help him out. The firm contacted the hospital on his behalf and passed on his contact details.
Devastatingly, on Tuesday, July 20 the hospital called Francis to say his father had also died.
The next day, Francis finally managed to get a flight up to Portugal to see his mother and to make arrangements for his dad and brother.
When he arrived, he discovered his mother – who had a number of underlying health issues, including an autoimmune disease – was struggling to cope with the virus.
Francis said: ‘On the Wednesday, I travelled through to Portugal after getting my PCR test results and I managed to find out more about my mother. She was also in an induced coma.
Francis (pictured with his family) said he believed his father picked up Covid while in hospital receiving treatment for kidney stones days before
With Francis being so far away in Cardiff, he said it became difficult to get hold of his parents (pictured left: His mother Charmagne). But on Wednesday, July 14 he discovered his father (pictured right) – who has underlying health issues – had been moved to the intensive care unit (ICU). From that point on each family member started to deteriorate, so Francis made plans to fly over to be with them in Portugal.
Covid cases are rising among adults in their early twenties and the oldest teenagers in England, and are static among adults in their late twenties. Experts said this could be due to Freedom Day easings and the long daylight hours encouraging more socialising. Younger age groups tend to do more socialising than older age groups
The rate is lowest in the North East and Yorkshire, as well as the North West, with both areas having a rate of around 0.7 to 1
Covid cases increase for third day in row: Infections rise 12% to 27,429 as deaths drop 40% from 65 to 39
Hospital admissions fell to 742 as of Tuesday, a 18.6 per cent decrease from the 912 people hospitalised in the previous week.
Britain’s total infections have now risen up to 6,069,362, while 130,320 people who have tested positive have lost their life to the virus since the start of the pandemic.
‘They allowed me to go and see her which was already a sign that things weren’t going well and I had to dress up in full PPE.
‘Then on the Saturday, JuIy 24, I received a phone call from the doctor saying they were in a situation where they had tried everything and the next couple of hours would be critical. Later that evening, I received a call to say she had passed away.’
A week later, on Sunday, August 1, all three members of the family were buried next to each other at a cemetery in Lisbon called Sao Joao, where a section is dedicated to Covid-related deaths.
Francis said: ‘[They were buried] where all the Covid bodies are buried. It’s allocated and marked off. They said the entire time during Covid they’d never had three bodies brought in together from the same family.
‘I asked about exhuming the bodies at a later date and moving them somewhere outside a dedicated Covid zone, as it didn’t represent my family.
‘But they said that unfortunately not knowing enough about Covid there is no intention of moving them ever. It was really terrible.’
Francis, who returned home from Portugal on Friday, said his experience had been incredibly painful. He said his family was ‘small and close’ but that his mum, dad and brother had all positively impacted the lives of many others around them.
Francis said he grew up in South Africa and that his brother helped the family to move to Cardiff in 2015 to escape violence in the region.
A year later, his parents and brother moved to Portugal, where his father was originally from. Describing his family, he said: ‘My father gave everything. He would wear broken shoes so we could have the best they could get.
Francis, who returned home from Portugal on Friday, said his experience had been incredibly painful. He said his family (pictured: Francis with his brother and father) was ‘small and close’ but that his mum, dad and brother had all positively impacted the lives of many others around them
Francis described his brother (pictured left with his mother) as his ‘best friend’ and said he ran a YouTube channel called Animation Deconstructed. He said his mother Charmagne (pictured right) was a ‘mother hen’ who would ‘do anything for us’
The Covid Symptom Study estimated cases fell by almost a quarter last week, after saying they had plateaued. It estimated 46,905 people are now catching Covid every day, down from almost 60,000 previously
Covid cases are still dropping week-on-week in all age groups, but the rate of decrease has slowed considerably among adults in their early twenties. It could switch to a rise in cases in the coming days
Young people are warned they could be banned from clubs and ‘miss out’ on travelling if they avoid getting Covid jab in new Government campaign
Young people will ‘miss out’ on clubbing and travelling if they do not get the coronavirus vaccine, the Government will warn in a campaign launching today.
Social media channels will be used to plug the ‘Don’t Miss Out’ and ‘Get Your Shot’ message, while Heaven nightclub in London will host a pop-up vaccine centre this Sunday.
Ministers are increasing pressure on young adults to have the jab amid fears uptake could slow, despite more than two-thirds of those aged 18 to 29 already having had a first dose.
The campaign will encourage clubgoers, university students and all young adults to get both doses so they can return to the things they enjoy doing. A Q&A film has also been released featuring Bodalia – a doctor who live streams his own NHSessions DJ sets – talking about the importance of taking the jab.
He has gained a massive following by performing from his kitchen in his scrubs on social media after finishing his hospital shifts.
Last month Boris Johnson made the controversial announcement that proof of double vaccination would be a ‘condition of entry’ to nightclubs and other busy venues from September.
Cabinet ministers have privately questioned whether the policy is only being floated to drive vaccine take-up, but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted yesterday it was ‘not a bluff’.
More than 40 Tory MPs have vowed to oppose a change in the law to bring in vaccine passports – and nightclub owners have hammered the plan.
But Lohan Presencer, of the Ministry of Sound nightclub, said yesterday: ‘People just need to get both their vaccines so we can all keep dancing together safely.’
Bodalia said: ‘I want everyone to enjoy themselves as safely as possible now that clubs and music events are back.
‘If you haven’t got round to getting the vaccine yet, now really is the time to come forward and book in for your first and second dose. If you’ve questions or concerns, seek answers from the NHS or your GP.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Vaccines are saving lives, protecting people, and allowing us to regain some of the freedoms we’ve missed over the last 18 months.
‘It’s remarkable to see different sectors step up to help get the country vaccinated, and my thanks go to the Ministry of Sound, Heaven, and Bodalia, among many others. Having a vaccine is one of the most important things you will ever be asked to do.’
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi added: ‘Getting both doses of a vaccine will be vital come September for students and people wanting to enjoy the country’s nightlife.’
‘I found a bible he carried around with him when I was in Lisbon and I opened it up and saw a bookmark and it was a picture of my mum when she was in her 20s.
‘I could see that he loved her and she loved him. He never knew his father, but he always tried to be something more.
‘My mother was a mother hen and she’d do anything for us. I remember my brother started a little printing company and couldn’t get much work so my mother started selling things of hers so she could help him out.
‘My brother was my best friend. He started a YouTube channel called Animation Deconstructed where he would talk people through animation and it was picking up slowly, but the greatest and worst part about it is it’s now gone crazy.
‘This was his thing and the career he wanted and he never got to see it.
‘He always looked out for the best interests of people around him and he wanted to teach people. He spend time helping people and wouldn’t ask for anything in return.
‘That was the same with my father, he would go to people’s places and help fixed things for them. I was and am still proud of my family.’
Francis said as he has grieved for his three closest family members over the last few weeks, his time has been spent dealing with attorneys, funeral homes and hospitals.
He said it had been been a ‘rollercoaster’ going from one thing to the next.
He said: ‘I went over to Portugal with the intention of looking after our parents after hearing my brother was ill. It’s literally been a push from one day to the next to get things done, but you just have to sort it out and get it done.
‘You’re just gritting your teeth and pushing through and if you manage to get a pause, it becomes a flood of emotion.
‘I’m very lucky that my friends have offered their time to chat, the support has definitely helped me. My wife and my extended family on both sides also supported me.
‘I’m at home now and I know everything is going to sink in a lot faster because I don’t need to rush through things so much. I’m going to have time to focus on what’s happened so I expect to be quite overwhelmed.’
Francis’ tragedy comes after the death of rock climbing and body building enthusiast John Eyers, 42, to Covid
After his death, his twin sister tragically revealed he had refused the vaccine because he thought he would be OK if he caught the virus.
Mr Eyers, a construction expert from Southport, Merseyside, had been climbing the Welsh mountains and wild camping one month before his death last week, which came exactly four weeks after he tested positive.
His twin sister Jenny McCann from London said he was the ‘fittest, healthiest person I know’ and had thought he would only have a ‘mild illness’ if he contracted coronavirus, adding that he had a ‘belief in his own immortality’. Mrs McCann said that Mr Eyers had ‘no underlying health conditions’ but did also state that he had asthma.
Before going onto a ventilator in hospital, Mr Eyers told his consultant that he wished he had been vaccinated – and died in intensive care after suffering from an infection and organ failure, leaving behind a daughter aged 19.
Mr Eyers, who died on July 27 at Southport & Ormskirk Hospital, was described by Mrs McCann last month when he was still alive as a ‘staunch anti-vaxxer’. She added that the family had ‘all fallen out with him over his stance’.
The mother-of-two posted a series of tweets about Mr Eyers this week, saying: ‘My 42-year-old old twin brother died in ITU (intensive treatment unit) of Covid-19 last week. He died exactly four weeks after testing positive.
‘He was the fittest, healthiest person I know. He was climbing Welsh mountains and wild camping four weeks before his death. The only pre-existing health condition he had was the belief in his own immortality.
John Eyers, 42, had been climbing the Welsh mountains and wild camping one month before his death from Covid last week
Before going onto a ventilator in hospital, Mr Eyers told his consultant that he wished he had been vaccinated, his sister said
In May, his sister Jenny McCann had tweeted a selfie after getting her first jab, saying: ‘Full on tears after getting Covid jab’
Construction expert Mr Eyers was described by his sister Jenny McCann as the ‘fittest, healthiest person I know’
Mr Eyers, of Southport, Merseyside, leaves behind his parents and a daughter aged 19 as well as his twin sister Jenny
‘He thought if he contracted Covid-19 he would be OK. He thought he would have a mild illness. He didn’t want to put a vaccine on his body. His was pumped full of every drug in the hospital. They threw everything at him.
‘But eventually the bedfellow of Covid-19, infection and organ failure, claimed his life. Before he was ventilated he told his consultant that he wished he had been vaccinated. That he wished he had listened. His death is a tragedy.
‘It shouldn’t have happened. He leaves a mum and dad, a sister (me), and a 19-year-old daughter. My two children have lost their fun uncle. The Uncle who would always play with them.
‘The uncle that dressed up as Father Christmas on Christmas Day. My mum has lost her baby boy. My niece, her much loved and needed Dad.
‘This shouldn’t have happened. My mum wants people to know about John. For his story to save someone’s life. For pain and loss to drive people to get a vaccine.’
It also comes after an anti-vaxxer nightclub boss died of Covid-19 after mocking people for getting the ‘experimental’ vaccine and warning of a ‘big pharma’ conspiracy in hundreds of Facebook messages.
David Parker, 56, passed away at Darlington Memorial Hospital in County Durham earlier this month despite having no underlying health conditions.
He had contracted the virus just weeks after condemning the vaccine and pharmaceutical companies in social media posts.
The family of Mr Parker, who spent a decade working as the manager of Club Louis in North Yorkshire, are said to now be urging everyone to get the jab.
His close friend Steve Wignall, 59, told The Sun: ‘His family are devastated, they were very close and loved each other dearly.
‘But despite their terrible loss they would like it to be known that they’re encouraging everyone to please get vaccinated because they don’t want others to suffer as they are now.’
David Parker (pictured above), 56, contracted the virus and died at Darlington Memorial Hospital in County Durham on Monday, despite having no underlying health conditions
Mr Parker, above, spent a decade working as the manager of Club Louis in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire. The nightclub paid tribute to him online, saying he will be ‘sorely missed’
In one post on Facebook, Mr Parker shared an image of an anti-lockdown protest in London, writing ‘brilliant’ with a clapping hands emoji.
Other posts included a meme deriding people who post pictures of their vaccine card, and an image of a man wearing a tin foil hat with text written across it reading: ‘When you realise your tin foil hat has less aluminium than a vaccine’.
Mr Parker once wrote: ‘I feel the need to post information on here for people that aren’t receiving another side to the story due to media not being impartial.
‘When research is done into who finances the media it leads to the pharmaceutical companies. Who knows who is right or wrong. If I’m wrong I’ll hold my hand up but I will not stay silent.’
He also shared a link to a Facebook group called ‘The Unvaccinated Arms’, which tells its 22,220 members not to use the words ‘Covid’ or ‘vaccine’ due to ‘restrictions and posts being suppressed’ by the social media platform.
It is unclear whether Mr Parker was a member of the group.
Following his death, relatives have commented on some of the posts, with one person writing: ‘So sad to see this. RIP Uncle David, it could have saved you!’
Mr Wignall, who works as the director at Club Louis, fell ill with Covid on the same day as his colleague. He was fully vaccinated while Mr Parker had not received one dose of the vaccine.
He said: ‘He [Mr Parker] didn’t believe in it and he didn’t want it, it was out of distrust of the elite, frankly, and we couldn’t change his mind.’
‘I thought it was just the elderly who got sick’: Vaccine sceptic, 46, dies of Covid a month after sharing Facebook posts from his ICU bed warning ‘anyone with similar thoughts’ to go and get jab
A vaccine sceptic who warned others from his intensive care bed not to delay getting the jab like him has died from coronavirus.
Brian Lynch, who wanted to wait for more data before getting the vaccine, pictured before he fell ill with Covid-19
Removal firm boss Brian Lynch, 46, said he was not an anti-vaxxer, but wanted more long-term scientific data before getting the jab.
He was admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital on July 7 and spent weeks in intensive care, during which he vowed to friends he would get the vaccine if he recovered.
In a Facebook post from his ICU bed Mr Lynch said he felt ‘the most frightened he had ever been’ and admitted he ‘thought it was the vulnerable and the elderly who got hospitalised’.
But Mr Lynch, of Blackburn, Lancashire, was later placed in a medically-induced coma and died with his family and wife Gina by his side on July 31.
Mr Lynch’s death is the latest in a series of vaccine sceptics and anti-vaxxers who have died after refusing to receive the jab this year.
Close family friend Nicky Ashton had organised a pub fundraiser prior to the tragedy to support Mr Lynch ahead of his return home, and the event went ahead as planned on August 1.
Devastated Nicky said: ‘Brian would have wanted the day to go ahead.
‘We filled the pub inside and out – the day turned into a celebration full of love, tears and lots of talk and fond memories of Brian.
‘Most of Blackburn followed his story over the three weeks that Brian was in a coma and almost everyone you spoke to knew of his fight.
‘He really was one of the best people who would help anyone out and he will be missed so much .’
In a Facebook post on July 7, Mr Lynch explained how he ‘wasn’t feeling well’ so decided to take a PCR test, ‘despite what I think about testing and Covid vaccines.’
His wife, Gina Lynch, also contracted Covid-19 at the same time and was able to recover from her mild illness at home.
He wrote: ‘I sent off for a PCR test more in the interests of my family, friends and business customers. It came back positive.
‘I’ll be honest, I thought it was the vulnerable and the elderly who got hospitalised.
Mr Lynch was admitted to The Royal Blackburn Hospital, Lancashire and died after weeks of being treated on the intensive care unit
Mr Lynch said he felt ‘the most frightened he had ever been’ and admitted he ‘thought it was the vulnerable and the elderly who got hospitalised’
‘Well, as I found out the hard way, my oxygen levels went down to 52 per cent and I could not get my breath.
‘It’s the most frightened I’ve ever been and I felt like I was being suffocated in my own body.
‘I’m now on ICU in Blackburn and been on a ventilator since I arrived trying to strengthen my lungs up and get my oxygen levels back up.
‘To anyone that may have similar sort of thoughts to this (as) I had, I just have to say this – I hope it doesn’t get you.’
Mr Lynch went on to say that he had been put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit, and took a selfie from his hospital bed.
He said he was determined to strengthen his lungs before saying ‘hopefully I’ll be out soon’.
A few days later on July 12 he wrote: ‘Well been awake since 4.45am, woke up coughing fit again, just managed to calm down after nearly an hour.
‘This Covid cough really is brutal can’t wait for it to dissipate. Can’t catch ya breath with it, just takes all your energy.’
Mr Lynch’s funeral will now be held at Pleasington Crematorium on August 13 at 1.30pm, but Covid-19 restrictions mean seats are limited.
However, the service can be listened to from outside the crematorium and it will be live streamed at the Havelock marquee.
The procession will pass the Havelock Inn pub, where everyone will be given the opportunity to pay their respects.
People will also be encouraged to wear the colour green and let off green smoke flares, a colour synonymous with Mr Lynch.