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COVID-19 vaccines when ready should be available for those who want them. Yet it’s possible, nay probable, that the fabricated hysteria over COVID-19 virus will make – indeed already is making – people reject injections. Why?
Because authorities have lost their trust regarding everything to do with the virus. If they can’t trust them over cases and deaths, why trust them over safety and efficacy of vaccines. Indeed, polls show a steady decline in those who said they would immediately receive a coronavirus vaccine, only 58% of Americans in the latest survey.
There are actually several good reasons for trepidation, mind. Modern biotechnology makes super-fast development of a safe and effective vaccine theoretically possible. In the past though, haste has made not just waste but death.
In 1976, after being warned that the death of a single soldier from influenza might portend a new “Spanish flu” – considered the worst pandemic in modern history – then-President Gerald Ford ordered a turbocharged program overseen by the CDC.
This even as the WHO adopted a “wait and see” policy. “Due to the urgency of creating new immunizations for a novel virus, the government used an attenuated ‘live virus’ for the vaccine instead of an inactivated or ‘killed’ form, increasing the probability of adverse side effects among susceptible groups of people receiving the vaccination,” according to Discover magazine.
After 45 million injections the government slammed the brakes when it was realized too many recipients (that is, significantly higher than background rate) developed a rare and often permanent form of paralysis called Guillain-Barré syndrome. Some died. Yet beyond that single soldier there were no flu deaths and even as the vaccine program progressed the CDC was quite aware of that. (Back then ineptitude in the public health sector was punished instead of rewarded, and the CDC director actually got sacked over his ineptitude.)
Just three years ago the Philippines shut down a dengue fever vaccination program after it was associated with “hundreds” of excess deaths. There were accusations of approval with “undue haste” and indeed some dengue experts had warned that the vaccine should only be given to those who had had previously been infected. They were ignored.
But note that while Ford’s science advisors put him on the spot, dengue has been endemic in the Philippines forever and the death rate is much lower than the worst infectious disease in the country, tuberculosis. (Which also happens to be vastly worse there than Covid-19.) Vector-borne diseases at any rate are best controlled through eradication of breeding grounds as it eliminates the root cause and may impact several diseases at once.
Mind, both of these disastrous vaccines still did pass their allocated human clinical trials just as the announced Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, vaccines appear to be doing. The side effects apparently weren’t clear until the general vaccination programs began. Modern technology can’t change that. The Pfizer vaccine so far has been tested on less than 45,000 people, Moderna’s on about 30,000. That can hardly be representative of the 330 million unique individuals that comprise the United States, much less the numerous other countries who have expressed interest in the vaccines. Each person has unique health characteristics; even cloned animals do.
More clinical trials with larger numbers of people can perhaps help mitigate the problem, but that takes time. And money. And still, no amount of clinical trials can reveal particularly rare and perhaps dangerous side effects.
While the coronavirus is highly infectious, the death rate is extremely low (depending on age, country of treatment, and pre-existing conditions) and appears to be falling even lower. For smallpox it was a stunning 30%, and survivors were often left with horrible scars.
This introduces a problem unique to the Covid-19 vaccine, no matter who makes it, the technology behind it, or how long it takes. Many people have lost faith in what governments, non-governmental health officials, and the media have told us about coronavirus in general.
Despite the steady stream of slogans like “We’re all in this together” we are all by now long aware that young people with no pre-existing conditions are at almost no risk of severe illness. This notwithstanding the media’s desperate effort to comb through every obituary and local news story on the planet for possible exceptions.
We’ve heard of desperate efforts to drum up the numbers for both cases and deaths. We know there’s only a loose association between testing positive and actually developing symptoms, whereas with most diseases it is symptoms that define whether you have it. (How many times have you been diagnosed or self-diagnosed with flu and actually had blood drawn to prove it?) We know that many deaths attributed to Covid-19 merely indicate a positive test, even in absurd instances such as homicides or accidents.
We know that, yes, doctors and medical facilities are given a significant bonus under Medicare for labeling a death as Covid-19 even if the deceased had heart disease, diabetes, morbid obesity, and stage IV pancreatic cancer all at once. And it turns out that over 90 percent of the time there are multiple contributors. This notwithstanding that the media gave President Donald Trump absolute hell for saying the bonus exists. Even Bruce Lee beat him up! (Bruce Y, Lee at Forbes.)
But for whatever “gain” the doomsayers have gotten or think they’ve gotten, what they have lost is trust – in all things Covid. Why not the vaccine?
We may have already witnessed that with an incident in South Korea regarding a different vaccine, that for flu. So far this year, about 100 Koreans have died after receiving a flu shot. Out of the many millions who have received it, that’s a normal number. And they’re dying of lots of different every day causes. If the vaccine were the cause, you’d expect a small cluster of symptoms.
Mind that unlike with coronavirus the media have conscientiously relayed that there’s no evidence of cause and effect. But there has been panic nonetheless. In fact, Singapore temporarily halted injections of the two different vaccines it has in common with those used in Korea.
Note that by nation, Korea and Singapore have two of the highest IQ ratings in the world – the existence of K-Pop notwithstanding.
So if governments and health authorities want to gain public trust in a vaccine, they need to win back public trust regarding coronavirus generally. By telling the truth.
And one more thing. There’s no quicker way to scare people off than by trying to make the vaccine mandatory. Denmark announced it would do so and then backed down after nine days of protests. Danes are also very smart people and their experience shows that gaining trust and letting those who choose to line up to be the first recipients (and there will be many) be a bellwether for possible side effects is the way to go.