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Covid and the death of medical ethics


FROM our unique perspective in New Zealand there is probably no more twisted tale of the pandemic than the transformation of medical ethics. Due to our closed borders, NZ has so few Covid cases (18,000 at the time of writing) and almost no Covid deaths (53), that our pandemic medical history so far has been largely about isolation, vaccination and testing.

The political history of the pandemic has been about control of our borders, the creation of fear, and public assurances of the absolute safety of mRNA vaccines. In contrast, the official count of adverse effects of Pfizer Covid vaccination stands at 50,000 and the death toll at 130-plus. Both these figures are known to be huge underestimates. The excess all-cause non-Covid deaths during the vaccine rollout has been reliably measured at 2,000-plus. 

Despite this, booster shots are being heavily advertised and mandated. At no point has there been any admission of our lack of knowledge of the long-term effects of mRNA vaccination. Certainly there is increasing evidence of harm from the jab. For example, data from the US military points to massive rises in disease rates including a threefold rise in cancers. There has been a concerted effort to keep this story out of the mainstream media. The cover-up is almost a bigger story than the actual data.

Along with reports of vaccine injury, a steady stream of papers published recently are beginning to elucidate very worrying mechanisms underlying vaccine injury. Initial expectations were that after stimulating spike protein production sufficiently to induce an immune response, mRNA genetic sequences in the vaccines would dissipate rapidly, and therefore safely. A study published in the journal Cell on January 24 shows that the mRNA sequences can persist in lymph node germinal centres for weeks causing greater spike havoc than Covid infection itself. 

The official reports of vaccine adverse effects in NZ are running at 30 times the rate of reported injuries from previous flu vaccines. The fact that this has not rung alarm bells is incomprehensible. The fact that the government has persisted with its saturation advertising announcing the safety and necessity of Covid vaccination is doubly concerning. It is apparent from the failure to investigate alarming data that the practice of medical ethics has transformed to become almost unrecognisable.

A common framework used when analysing medical ethics is the ‘four principles’ approach postulated by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress in their textbook Principles of Biomedical Ethics. It recognises four basic moral principles, which are to be judged and weighed against each other, with attention given to the scope of their application. The four principles are:

Autonomy – the patient has the right to refuse or choose his or her treatment. This is rooted in society’s respect for individuals’ ability to make informed decisions about personal matters with freedom.

Beneficence – a practitioner should act in the best interest of the patient and family. In other words, healing is the aim of medicine.

Non-maleficence – not to be the cause of harm. Many consider this should be the primary consideration, that it is more important not to harm your patient than to do him good, which is part of the Hippocratic oath that doctors take.

Justice – concerns the fair distribution of scarce health resources, and the decision as to who gets what treatment.

In practice, however, many treatments carry some risk of harm. In some circumstances, for example in desperate situations where the outcome without treatment will be grave, risky treatments which stand a high chance of harming the patient could be justified. This is because the risk of not treating is also very likely to do harm. So the principle of non-maleficence (non-harm) is not absolute, and balances against the principle of beneficence (doing good). This has particularly affected debates around the promotion to doctors by drug companies of strong narcotics such as Oxycodone which is highly addictive and whose overuse commonly leads to respiratory failure and death. 

It can readily be appreciated that the debate around how to apply ethics to medical practice has some grey areas and deficiencies. Medical misadventure is now the third-leading cause of death in the USA. Has this led to an acceptance of risk which should in fact be avoided? In large part the rules applied to drug approval are very strict. Double blind trials are required. Lengthy periods of assessment are mandated. Deaths following treatment are investigated and usually trials are suspended when these occur. Generally for vaccinations, assessment takes around ten years and two deaths per million recipients would be the maximum allowed in a finally approved product. 

In contrast, the pre-approval trial periods for Covid-19 vaccines have been of the order of six months. The critical assessments of secondary effects have not been undertaken. These are aimed to check that general health outcomes for trial participants such as cardiac conditions and cancers do not exceed population norms. Note the US military data here. Clearly serious injury and deaths associated with Covid-19 vaccinations have exceeded the traditional limits by a massive margin. Moreover outcomes reported cover a wide range of conditions. Have professional medical bodies raised the alarm? No. Why?

Initially there were reports that Covid-19 was a very serious illness with mortality rates as high as 5 per cent. Figures as high as 180,000 deaths in NZ were predicted.

This alarmist assessment rapidly dissipated. Published studies put mortality rates well under 1 per cent and there was a realisation that serious Covid outcomes and deaths primarily occurred among those who were already seriously ill or physically weak due to other causes including advanced age. During the early months of 2021, it was also apparent that mRNA vaccines waned in effectiveness rapidly and did little to stop transmission. The only principles of medical ethics that seemed still to be appropriate were those of justice and beneficence. Reports suggested that Covid vaccination reduced the severity of illness; might it not be beneficial to the individual and save our over-stretched health service from becoming overwhelmed by unvaccinated Covid patients, thereby helping  patients requiring treatment for other conditions? Despite doubts about the outcome data and mounting evidence of vaccination harm, the answer given to this by the NZ government was a big YES. It decided to mandate vaccination to the extent that the unjabbed would lose their right to employment. It thereby overruled the first principle of medical ethics, autonomy orpatient choice, a degree of coercion which ensured vaccination rates in NZ rose above 90 per cent among those eligible.

The Health Forum NZ is a Facebook, Telegram and MeWe site with 50,000-plus members which has served as a meeting and information place for the vaccine-injured. NZ has a population of 5million so HFNZ members comprise 1 per cent of the population. HFNZ has received reports of 600-plus deaths proximate to vaccination. More than 300 of these have been investigated and confirmed by the voluntary group NZ Doctors Speaking Out on Science.

The most common among the thousands of reports of vaccine injury are chest pain, arrhythmia, shortness of breath and persistent extreme fatigue and debility. Sometimes these develop as cardiac events, clotting, stroke and death. There are many experiences of patients being assured that they were over-anxious and being sent home with an aspirin, only to suffer immediate complications necessitating hospital admission. Sometimes sufferers find that the doctor is uninterested and dismissive when he hears that the injury followed vaccination.

Our government decided early on not to take the reporting of adverse effects following vaccination seriously. It denied repeated requests to make reporting adverse events mandatory with the result that there is no way of knowing the extent of vaccine injury. The health authorities already knew that the voluntary had a history of catching only 5 per cent of adverse events. Their decision flouted the most important principle of medical ethics – do no harm. It also enabled the government and the whole medical establishment to avoid any public discussion of adverse events. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arranged for the hurried deletion of over 30,000 reports of adverse events from her Facebook account. 

Why did our authorities do this? The government opted for a stand-alone vaccination strategy because it believed assurances of safety and efficacy from Pfizer. Almost immediately, and before any decision on mandates, we found out vaccine effectiveness waned rapidly and did little to reduce transmission, directly contradicting Pfizer trial results. The government and the Ministry of Health switched arguments – ‘millions of people have received the vaccine worldwide so it must be safe and effective’, a vacuous argument from a scientific point of view. Almost a hundred thousand people were prescribed thalidomide before it was realised that it was unsafe.

The medical ethics criteria of public good and patient well-being are not usually weighed in the absence of considerations of maleficence and autonomy. Thus the stance of the government, to sweep vaccine injury under the carpet, departed radically from previous ethical practice. This kind of departure has previously been entertained only in times of war when the threat to the nation is judged to be sufficient to mandate military service call-up and tolerate the inevitable heavy casualties of conflict. This condition was of course not met in any way by the Covid pandemic.

The mounting numbers of individuals reporting vaccine injuries should have rung alarm bells to a point that detailed investigation of their extent became a priority. Instead and inexplicably, hiding their occurrence rose to the top of the government’s agenda. Jacinda Ardern lashed out at a journalist asking questions about the death of a 17-year-old girl who had a stroke immediately following vaccination, labelling the journalist as irresponsible and denying any relationship with vaccination before there had been any time to assess causation. A few medical professionals were disciplined for raising similar questions. This was enough to discourage any public consideration of the ethics involved.  

The government decided further to reverse ethical practice. Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director General of Health, has personal responsibility for granting vaccine exemptions to those injured by the first shot. In almost all cases, he refuses exemptions including among those hospitalised and still ill, even when there is supporting documentation from specialists.

Now that extensive research has concluded that the outcomes for Omicron patients are similar for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, there is no longer a valid scientific argument for justice and beneficence.  All ethical arguments for mandates are moot, but why is there still no move to protect individuals from the adverse effects of vaccination? 

As mounting evidence has been ignored, government decisions verge towards the criminal. There are floundering attempts by the media to label mandate protesters as variously Right-wing extremists and uneducated Luddites. The arguments in support of mandated vaccination are still being presented to the public through strident political rhetoric unsupported by science publications. The government must realise that there are serious scientific and ethical failings involved. It must mount an honest attempt to change the debate from politics to science, and adjust public policy accordingly. At this stage, anything less is culpable.

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Guy Hatchard
Guy Hatchard
Guy Hatchard PhD is a former senior manager at Genetic ID, a global food testing and certification company. He lives in New Zealand.

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