ONCE AND FOR ALL – The truth about COVID-19 vaccines
Dr. Joseph M. Pierre (Health Sciences Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA) wrote the following:
“Back in February, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned about an anticipated “infodemic” of COVID-19 misinformation. Unsurprisingly, the “infodemic” has become a reality just three months later, with mundane misinformation and more outlandish conspiracy theories about COVID-19 spreading as fast as, or faster than, SARS-CoV-2 itself.
The growing “infodemic” has allowed us to witness the genesis and evolution of COVID-19 conspiracy theories in real-time. They first sprang up in the form of speculations about the manmade origins of SARS-CoV-2 that have been largely debunked but still not laid to rest, and have quickly become interwoven with other pre-existing conspiracy theory themes related to 5G networks and vaccines.
This is also unsurprising, since research has demonstrated that belief in one conspiracy predicts belief in others, even if they happen to contradict each other. The convergence of COVID-19 and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories seems both natural and predictable, but also particularly dangerous.”
Dr. Pierre then describes the convergence of COVID-19 and anti-vaccine conspiracies as a kind of “perfect storm”. “Our best hope of inoculating ourselves against such misinformation and winning the vaccine information war” he says “is to first be aware and then spread the word that there are hidden forces trying to guide our hands, gain our votes, and get us to take to the streets.”
Sadly, of all the thousands of conspiracy theories related to COVID-19, few are as detrimental to containing the virus as the current anti-vaccine conspiracies. Even though vaccines save millions of lives each year, preventing 2-3 million deaths annually from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles, there are still those who choose to ignore science.
From a scientific perspective, there are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, and work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease. There are currently more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with a number of these in the human trial phase and could be released as early as mid-December 2020.
But not everybody appreciates the development of new vaccines, especially the much-debated and often demonised COVID-19 vaccines.
In the week that Oxford University announced promising results from its coronavirus vaccine trial, a number of videos appeared on social media about the dangers of the respective vaccines, the evil agenda behind the developments of these new vaccines, and a number of misleading statements about their safety.
CARRIE MADEJ VIDEO
One particular video, containing inaccurate claims about coronavirus vaccine trials, was made by osteopath Carrie Madej and has proved especially popular on social media. It was first uploaded to YouTube in June 2020, where it clocked more than 300,000 immediate views, but it has also been popular on Facebook and Instagram since the news was released that a vaccine is now at the point of being distributed.
The website featuring her video, Stop World Control, describes Carrie Madej as follows:
“Dr Carrie Madej directed two large medical clinics in the state of Georgia, USA. Since her twenties, she has been fascinated by vaccines and studied them ever since. Her in-depth research led her to discover what the proposed technologies are for the new COVID-19 vaccines. What she is revealing is alarming.
This video is an in-depth documentary that shows how these new vaccines can alter our DNA, turning us into hybrids. The plans are to connect humans to artificial intelligence and global control networks. This is the start of transhumanism, turning us into HUMANS 2.0.”
Carrie Madej’s well-produced video however makes a number of false and misleading allegations, claiming that the vaccines will change recipients’ DNA (which carries genetic information). She also states that “the Covid-19 vaccines are designed to make us into genetically modified organisms (transhuman)” and that vaccine trials are “not following any sound scientific protocol to make sure this is safe”. One of Madej’s conspiracy claims however is especially popular in Christian circles and relates to the fact that vaccines will “hook us all up to an artificial intelligence interface“.
For a more in-depth discussion on Madej’s claims and debunking the different theories visit: https://respectfulinsolence.com/2020/10/09/madej-covid-19-rna-vaccines-transhumanism/
WHO DO WE LISTEN TO?
So, who do we listen to? Can we trust the experts or should we believe the anti-vax alarmists?
Surprisingly, the anti-vaccination movement is not something that originated with the introduction of COVID-19. It has a long history, beginning in France in 1763 and continued through to today. In the early days of immunization, distrust in vaccines was well-warranted. There was no official quarantine procedure for those who’d already been inoculated and 18th Century doctors didn’t have quite the same standards as us when it came to sanitation and disease prevention. But medical knowledge and standards have progressed greatly since those times and today’s vaccinations are a safe and effective tool in battling global health issues such as polio, measles and rubella.
As with all emotional issues, it’s important to have accurate information and listen to both sides of the story. But the key in evaluating claims and obtaining the right information is to listen to the experts and specialists in the respective fields of discussion.
Regardless of what we believe to be TRUE regarding the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, our first port of call should always be the information provided by those who specialize in the field of virology. We should be wary in accepting the theories of Osteopathic experts like Dr Rashid Buttar or even Carrie Madej. The reason is not based on bias but on expertise
A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is a licensed physician who aims to improve people’s overall health and wellness by treating the whole person, not just a condition or disease they may have. This includes osteopathic manipulative medicine, which involves stretching, massaging, and moving the musculoskeletal system.
A doctor in virology however specialises exclusively in the study of viruses – submicroscopic, parasitic particles of genetic material contained in a protein coat– and virus-like agents. It focuses on the following aspects of viruses: their structure, classification and evolution, their ways to infect and exploit host cells for reproduction, their interaction with host organism physiology and immunity, the diseases they cause, the techniques to isolate and culture them, and their use in research and therapy. Virology is a subfield of microbiology.
To start on your career path to become a clinical or a scientific virologist, you need a bachelor’s degree of Science in Microbiology and you will also need to take Physics and Chemistry at the university level. A clinical virologist then follows the traditional medical school path for four years after completing undergraduate studies. As a scientific virologist, you’ll typically join a Ph.D program for another four to six years, combining coursework, lab rotations and research. After this, you’ll spend three to five years in post-doctoral research training. Now you have earned the right to make videos and speak as an expert.
So how does the virologist approach compare to the statement of anti-vaxers like Carrie Madej
- IS THE VACCINE A LUCIFERASE ENZYME MICROCHIP?
Carrie Madej discusses in her video how this mRNA vaccine is going to be administered, NOT through a conventional injection, but by using a microneedle platform (Quantum Dot Microchip). Not only can it be mass-produced quickly, but it can also be administered by anyone. It’s as simple at attaching an adhesive bandage to your arm.
Madej explains that the adhesive side of the bandage has rows of tiny microneedles and a hydrogel base that contains luciferase enzyme and the vaccine itself. Because of their tiny size, the microneedles are said to be nearly painless when pressed into the skin. The idea is that the microneedles will puncture the skin, delivering the modified synthetic RNA into the nucleus of your cells. RNA is essentially coding material that your body uses. In this case, as mentioned, the instructions are to produce the SARS-CoV-2 viral protein.
The part of Dr. Madej’s video where she describes this couldn’t be more obvious. While explaining the microneedle platform, the video flashes an image of a viper and its long fangs, ready to strike. She’s also conflating technology being developed with the actual Moderna vaccine and other RNA vaccines. Right now, they are not going to be delivered using microneedle bandages. That’s a technology that’s still being tested. Dr. Madej is getting ahead of herself here.
The answer to the question is therefore an unequivocal NO. The current form of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will not use microneedles. It’s a standard vaccine that’s injected, two shots given a month apart.
- DON’T VACCINES TAKE YEARS TO DEVELOP SAFELY? HOW HAVE THESE TWO BEEN DEVELOPED IN JUST 10 MONTHS? (answered By Katie Hunt, CNN)
Most vaccines in use today have taken years and, in some cases, decades to develop, but governments have poured huge amounts of money into companies and institutions developing vaccines, with initiatives like Operation Warp Speed in the United States and the Vaccine Taskforce in the United Kingdom.
The pandemic has galvanized the scientific community all around the world, with groups of researchers in dozens of countries on a fast-paced hunt to understand how the virus works.
Operation Warp Speed has also drawn up protocols to allow trials to proceed more quickly, and industrial-scale manufacturing of the vaccines has taken place before we knew whether they would be effective. This means we have millions of doses ready to be used.
- HOW EFFECTIVE IS THIS VACCINE? (answered By Katie Hunt, CNN)
The vaccine developed by Pfizer, which announced its early successful results in November, and Moderna’s are both more than 90% effective, according to the early data, a higher rate than many vaccines for other diseases. Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective, according to company data.
In Moderna’s trial, 15,000 study participants were given a placebo, which is a shot of saline that has no effect. Over several months, 90 of those people developed Covid-19. Another 15,000 participants were given the vaccine, and ONLY five of them developed Covid-19. Among those receiving a placebo, 11 became severely ill, but none of the participants who received the vaccine became severely ill.
The head of the International Vaccine Institute has hailed biotech company Moderna’s early data on its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, saying it is “proof of concept,” but cautioned that it’s still early days in terms of follow-up efficacy. “I think it’s really great news and in a way confirmation that the RNA vaccines are able to protect against infectious disease and it is also a good example again that Covid vaccines are a possibility,” Dr. Jerome Kim, the institute’s director general, told CNN. “It will be really important to know what efficacy is – not at two months, but at six and twelve,” Kim said.
There are still lots of unknowns about how the new coronavirus vaccines would work in practice. It’s not clear whether they would prevent infection altogether or make severe illness less likely. Doctors also do not know how long their protection will last.
Vaccines have various efficacy rates. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a full round of polio vaccines is 99% to 100% effective; full vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis is 80% to 90% effective, while the efficacy of flu vaccine varies from year to year.
- HOW SAFE ARE THE VACCINES, AND ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Moderna said its vaccine did not have any significant side effects. A small percentage of those who received it experienced symptoms such as body aches and headaches. It’s similar to what people might experience after a flu shot and is a sign the vaccine is working to create an immune defense.
“They report no safety concerns – the main side effects are injection site pain, fatigue, muscle or joint aches and pains and headache which seemed to occur more frequently after the second injection,” Dr. Penny Ward, a visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, told the SMC.
“Clearly we still need to see the complete scientific details in a publication to be able to judge the outcomes independently.”
- HOW DO THESE VACCINES WORK? ISN’T IT EXPERIMENTAL?
Vaccines typically mimic part of the virus they protect against, prompting a response from your immune system. The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer both use a new approach that hasn’t resulted in an approved vaccine before — although they have been studied in clinical trials for other viruses.
The two vaccines use genetic code rather than any part of the virus itself, with a technique called messenger RNA, or mRNA. The vaccines deliver mRNA, which is a genetic recipe. In this case, the genetic recipe directs cells to make pieces of the spikes that sit atop the coronavirus. Once it’s injected, the body’s immune system makes antibodies that recognize these spikes. If a vaccinated person is later exposed to the coronavirus, those antibodies should stand at the ready to attack the virus.
The fact that Moderna and Pfizer have independently produced very similar results using the same technique is a vote of confidence in the genetic technology, experts said, and their results could make it much easier and quicker to produce other vaccines.
Other companies are developing vaccines using other techniques — the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is made from a harmless modified chimpanzee virus, while the traditional route is to use the inactivated virus.
- WILL THE VACCINES BE COMPULSORY? WHAT HAPPENS IF I DECIDE NOT TO GET VACCINATED?
Being forced into something is probably the key component of every conspiracy theory and is evident in the name of the website that promotes anti vaccines: STOP WORLD CONTROL. Most conspiracy theories are based on the notion that humans will be forced into an undesirable situation. These theories can only succeed once a certain level of fear and victim mentality are provoked. Once we understand that the vaccine will not be compulsory and that every human on earth will make this decision at their own discretion, there is nothing more to fear and theories of this nature become obsolete.
A key member of the White House coronavirus task force assured it won’t happen. Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would “definitely not” support a nationwide mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“You don’t want to mandate and try and force anyone to take the vaccine. We’ve never done that. You can mandate for certain groups of people like health workers, but for the general population you cannot,” Fauci said in August. “We don’t want to be mandating from the federal government to the general population. It would be unenforceable and not appropriate.”
The UK has ALSO said it won’t make it compulsory and in Australia the National Immunisation Program Schedule provides free vaccination for all citizens but it is not compulsory. At this stage no other nation has indicated that it will make the vaccine compulsory even though certain sectors of societies will be affected, like health-care workers and international travellers.
However, for those who decide against getting a vaccination, it does have wider implications. Not only will they not have protection against Covid-19, but it could potentially make it harder to achieve community, or herd, immunity. This protects high-risk groups that might not be able to get the vaccination.
- WHAT IMPLICATIONS ARE THERE FOR NOT TAKING THE VACCINE?
Now that we know that the safety risks are low in taking the vaccine, it is equally important to understand the risks of not taking the vaccine
Conspiracy theories and disinformation pose a major threat to controlling COVID-19, researchers warn. It is estimated that a Covid-19 vaccine will need to be accepted by at least 55% of the population to provide community immunity, according to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and some scientists anticipate even higher numbers will be needed. Those who refuse to take the vaccine and continue to manipulate others to do the same will therefore not only put their own health at risk but will impact the safety of others as well.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge analysed survey data from 5,000 respondents across the UK, US, Ireland, Mexico and Spain. People were asked to rate the reliability of several statements, including myths about COVID-19. Researchers found that certain conspiracy theories were accepted by a significant proportion of respondents. In the UK, one in five respondents (22 per cent) viewed the claim that COVID-19 was engineered in a lab in Wuhan, China, as “reliable”, while 13 per cent thought the pandemic was a part of a plot to enforce global vaccination. And eight per cent blamed 5G mobile phone signals for the spread of the virus.
People who believe conspiracy theories are much less likely to say they will get vaccinated, according to the study, which was published in the Royal Society Open Science journal last week. It warned that “susceptibility to misinformation can be a significant factor in influencing people’s behaviour”.
It may not only make people less likely to get vaccinated, but also “decrease people’s willingness to comply with public health guidance measures”. The findings “highlight the critical importance of limiting the spread of misinformation about the virus”.
Dr. Joseph M. Pierre concludes as follows:
“By definition, people who believe in conspiracy theories are convinced that would-be conspirators are people in political power or other influential targets of mistrust. But while that may be true on occasion, “conspiracist ideation” often leaves a blind spot in our fields of vision so that the real conspiracists—the opportunists that swoop in to capitalize on our mistrust—are unseen or even revered.
With the anti-vaccination movement using COVID-19 as an opportunity to exploit our collective vulnerabilities, and with lives on the line, the stakes of that blindness are immense.”
For more articles related to the vaccine visit:
Dr.Joseph M Pierre is the Health Sciences Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Acting Chief of Mental Health Community Care Systems at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System