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Covid: The destruction of medical ethics and trust in the medical profession, Part 1

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This is the first of a two-part discussion by a consultant surgeon of the damage done by the government’s irrational Covid policies.  

WHEN it comes to the last three years, there is a lot I do not know. What I do know is that I have many questions. Was the ‘pandemic’ a ‘plandemic’? It certainly felt like it. Did the virus escape from a lab? What exactly is a virus? What precisely was the role of the US Department of Defense, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Dr Anthony Fauci in the origins of SARSCoV2? Why would anyone in their right mind carry out gain of function experiments; isn’t this simply biowarfare by another name? Why did our Government, in lockstep with most other countries, introduce lockdowns, mask mandates and social distancing when there has never been any evidence to show their efficacy? Why were alternative, cheap and easily available therapeutics not considered, instead ridiculed and even banned? Surely in the presence of a lethal pandemic one would explore all options? 

I do not understand why the UK introduced lockdown on March 20, 2020, when one day earlier the government had downgraded SARS-CoV-2 as no longer a high consequence infectious disease. I do not understand why certain billionaires and personalities held so much sway over domestic and international politics especially when it comes to health and in particular Covid policies. I do not understand why our governments would self-inflict such tremendous damage on their already weak economies through their Covid policies. And why did questioning the Covid narrative and government result in censorship and de-platforming on all major social media platforms? Why, if the masks worked, did we have to stand six feet apart? If standing six feet apart worked, why the need to wear masks? If both worked, why the need for lockdowns? If all three worked, why the need for a rushed vaccine? And make no mistake, it was rushed. If the vaccines were safe and effective then why the added ‘no liability’ clause? How, finally, can an experimental novel gene therapy can be called a vaccine? 

What I do know, as a surgeon who qualified 25 years ago, is quite a lot about medical ethics and informed consent. Medical ethics are the moral principles by which doctors must conduct themselves, that govern the practice of medicine. The four pillars of medical ethics are Non-maleficence (to do no harm), Beneficence (doing good), Autonomy (giving the patient the freedom to choose freely, where they are able) and Justice (ensuring fairness). 

Non-maleficence is often described by the Latin phrase Primum non nocere, which means ‘first, do no harm’. Given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. It prompts vigilance as to the possible harm that any intervention might do. That is why alarm bells rang for me in late spring 2020 when there was much discussion about how vaccines would get us out of the pandemic. Never before had we been able to produce a vaccine for a coronavirus (one of the common cold viruses) due to their high rate of mutation. Drug development is a notoriously long drawn-out affair taking roughly a decade to complete multiple key safety steps, each of which must be passed to progress to the next. First, preclinical drug trials when the drugs are tested using computer models and human cells grown in the laboratory. In these studies researchers determine the following information about the drug: its absorption, biodistribution, metabolisation and excretion. Next, animal trials. Finally come the human clinical trials.

The clinical stage usually has three to four phases. Phase I tests the safety of a new treatment. Phase II tests the new treatment against a placebo or other treatments. Phase III trials involve larger numbers of patients, usually in the hundreds and thousands. Finally Phase IV trials come after a drug has been approved to test its ongoing efficacy and safety.

The Covid vaccines were all rushed through the normal process. Questions remain about which steps were skipped. While I identified three early animal studies:  Corbett et al (2020): Evaluation of the mRNA-1273 Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in Nonhuman Primates, New England Journal of Medicine;  Vogel et al (2020): A prefusion SARS-CoV-2 spike RNA vaccine is highly immunogenic and prevents lung infection in non-human primates, bioRxiv; Vogel et al (2021): BNT162b vaccines protect rhesus macaques from SARS-CoV-2, Nature, none looked at the safety and potential adverse effects of the Covid vaccines.

Were any biodistribution studies carried out? Was the safety profile of the lipid nanoparticles, their biodistribution and toxicity levels ever tested? Were animal tests done specifically looking at this? These questions have not been answered, suggesting either that none were or they were never published – both equally reprehensible.

It is safe to say the world had never seen vaccines like these before. Both the use of lipid nanoparticles and mRNA are novel and experimental. Yet at the time the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Pfizer emergency use authorisation, the company ended their trial prematurely. This was when they gave the vaccine to the placebo arm (the trial comparison group), thereby removing the possibility of critical long-term comparative safety and efficacy data. Pfizer claimed it was unethical to withhold the vaccine from the placebo group as it was safe and effective, though it was scientifically impossible to assert this at that early juncture. It was certainly unethical to end the study and deprive us of critical long-term safety data.

It was also unethical to claim, as they did, that their experimental vaccine had 95 per cent efficacy. This piece of statistical conmanship was premised on a deeply misleading relative risk reduction percentage calculation when what actually matters is the absolute risk reduction. Absolute risk reduction gives the actual difference in risk between one group and another. This is important since the absolute risk reduction in this case was less than 1 per cent – information which if known might well have changed people’s opinions as to the vaccine’s value to them, or to society for that matter. It leads us straight to question of informed consent, the critical second pillar of medical ethics. I will discuss this in Part 2.

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Ahmad K Malik
Ahmad K Malik
Ahmad K Malik is a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon.

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