In the first part of his account of the Covid vaccine rollout in New Zealand published in TCW Defending Freedom yesterday, scientist Guy Hatchard revealed how proposals for widening treatments were brushed aside in a rush to start a jab programme. Here, he tells how the government compounded its mistakes with assurances that the vaccine was risk-free.
FROM my earlier correspondence with government science advisers and their subsequent public comments, it seemed clear that they remained cautious about the wisdom of lifting lockdowns and should have been able to recognise the limitations of vaccine effectiveness. Business advisers less so, but even they were emphatic that they would defer to science advice.
There was a fundamental mistake in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s perception and use of ‘science’. Science was being treated as a monolithic body of knowledge. In fact, scientific disciplines contain competing ideas, paradigms and theories. Ardern had come to rely on the advice of epidemiologists, whose profession was dominated by a fear of infectious agents and a deep belief in vaccination.
What other factors influenced the change in government policy? Perhaps during this time political decisions began to take precedence over science. Clearly the natives were getting restless in Auckland, which had been under near total lockdown for two long months.
During this period Israel, the other country exclusively using the Pfizer vaccine, was in the middle of a surging third wave of cases and deaths. Therefore Ardern should have known that the vaccine was not effective enough to support her aim of control and elimination.
There was also a mistaken statistical and methodological idea that rolled over from early calculations of herd immunity. If the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine remained at 95 per cent, as was believed early on, herd immunity could have been achieved with 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the population vaccinated. As it became known that the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine waned, this figure was revised up to 95 per cent and even to 99 per cent by some.
This would have been a powerful motivation for vaccine mandates. But the calculation was in most respects inappropriate. Firstly, the vaccine allowed transmission rather easily and secondly, real-world data showed that even countries with 100 per cent vaccination like Gibraltar and Portugal were experiencing waves of covid infection. Also, vaccine effectiveness drops to zero after seven months, completely negating any possibility of herd immunity.
This left the justification for mandates clinging to one last handhold – vaccines reduce hospital admissions. Our overstretched health service might just need this in order to cope. The significance of this pales in the face of a hard truth, that Covid mortality is still primarily related to comorbidities and age. Smokers, diabetics, immune-compromised persons, the elderly and infirm, and the unhealthy are most at risk.
This is compounded by something disturbing hidden in real-world data – figures published by the UK Health Security Agency showed that for individuals over 19, the rate of transmission was almost twice as high among the vaccinated when compared to the unvaccinated.
These calculations should have sounded alarm bells. They didn’t. They were rejected as obviously false, a rejection that had no basis in science.
Some experts in genomics however have taken them very seriously and have begun to research biochemical pathways and mechanisms which would possibly allow vaccination to facilitate susceptibility. This underlines the as yet unknown and the ‘in progress’ research projects.
Any government rigidly enforcing mandates and speaking in absolutely certain terms, as Ardern is, has lost the thread of the science.
Did the government take advice from Medsafe on safety? Did Medsafe’s reluctance to classify reported adverse effects and deaths as related to vaccination convince her that the Pfizer vaccine was safe?
Medsafe is a member of the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA). ICMRA is well connected to the commercial vaccine industry and was known to be writing pro-vaccination Covid policy statements which were distributed to its members via the data-sharing channels ICMRA had established.
If Ardern had consulted other governments, she may well have found they shared similar views about mandates just because the same policy papers of ICMRA had found their way to every government desk – a phenomenon well known in network theory.
ICMRA had since its formation in 2015 cemented a central place in the medical regulatory network (known as a centrality effect). In effect, it had created an unbalanced network, whereby all medicines regulatory bodies around the world were receiving the same information and advising their political decision-makers in the government accordingly.
On October 28, I wrote to all MPs and urged the government to put in place mandatory reporting of adverse events so that their extent could be properly assessed.
At the time, Michael Baker, my gene therapist colleague, myself, and almost everyone else were unaware of the inadequate protocols that had been used to test the novel Covid vaccines. Of course, the trials had to be almost impossibly short because of the sense of urgency, but their other shortcomings have only recently come to light.
Being short trials, there was always going to be uncertainty about the long-term effects, but we presumed that any immediate dangers of vaccination were going to be detected and documented before approval for emergency use. Journal papers had already been published reporting that the vaccines were highly effective and very safe.
Early in November, the British Medical Journal blew the whistle on shortcomings at one trial location for the Pfizer vaccine – some data had been falsified. Alarming though this sounded, we hoped the errors were minor and resulted from the logistics involved in the short time-frames and from the sloppy quality control of one contractor.
Brianne Dressen was a participant in the AstraZeneca (AZD1222) trial. She suffered a severe adverse reaction after the first injection and became disabled. She was ‘unblinded’ from the trial, her smartphone app was disabled, she was advised not to have the second injection, and crucially the reports of her adverse event were never recorded in the final publication of the trial in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
As participants suffering serious adverse events like Ms Dressen were withdrawn, it is no wonder that whilst the occurrences of mild adverse events were reported as significant, occurrence of serious events was reported as insignificant.
Moreover, the AstraZeneca protocol had excluded adverse events resulting in death for the five weeks immediately after the first inoculation – a fatal safety-testing flaw.
What is the lesson from this? Drug side-effects are known to be the third leading cause of death. In 2009, Pfizer paid out $2.3billion in damages for criminally misbranding drugs.
The NZ Ministry of Health should have been more suspicious. Knowing that the safety trials were short, it should have alerted GPs and hospital staff to expect the unexpected, report all adverse events, and send accurate and complete reports to Medsafe promptly. This didn’t happen.
More importantly, the number of adverse events and deaths that Medsafe did receive was large, many times greater (possibly around 50 times greater) than any previous vaccine programme.
There should have been a vigorous effort on the part of Medsafe to find out what sort of people were at greatest risk. Ignoring this was not just an oversight, it is possibly criminal. It may have affected the health of a very large number of recipients.
Moreover, the Ministry of Health largely refused to issue vaccine exemptions to people who had already had an adverse reaction to the first Covid dose or to a past vaccination. This was without doubt an imposition of personal medical risk by the government in contravention of the Bill of Rights.
The failure to alert the public that there was a significant risk to vaccination was compounded by false government assurances that there was no risk.
Jacinda Ardern’s rejection of safety concerns and possible long-term risks can only be described as an inexcusable failure to inform herself, or could it possibly have been fuelled by a deliberate attempt on the part of Medsafe to hide or downplay the significance of adverse event data?
The safety reassurances also mitigated against adverse-effect reporting. I know of a number of people who did not suspect that their cardiac events subsequent to vaccination could be related.
Medsafe has maintained that the very high level of adverse events is not necessarily related to vaccination, because it knew of no proven mechanism which would cause them. With the recent publication of a number of scientific papers suggestive of risk, this position cannot be realistically maintained.
But, and it’s a big but, the main ignorance here concerns the possible long-term effects of Covid vaccination with an mRNA vaccine or a viral vector vaccine. It cannot be emphasised enough that these risks are unquantified and in a completely new field of biotechnology unknowable within a short time-frame.
Certainly there are some very highly-qualified and respected leaders in the field who have struck a very cautious note when airing their views publicly. Did anyone ever have an honest conversation with Ardern about this? Should mandates be enforced when they are in essence a gamble with uncertain and unknowable odds?
In summary, Ardern set the preconditions for vaccine mandates as ‘safe, effective, and tested’. We have seen that none of these are reasonably satisfied. Yet she went ahead and ‘bet the farm’ on vaccine mandates.
The watchword of my early dialogue with advisors was ‘caution’. At the beginning, they recognised the limitations of current knowledge. They ‘knew’ we had to explore all the options.
This sensible approach has seemingly been replaced by a misplaced professional stamp of vaccine approval along with the exercise of political Jacinda power.
In the First World War, trench warfare was a failed strategy, but its continued use was promoted by the establishment despite the horrendous loss of life. As we now face new variants, possibly impervious to vaccination, do we continue to maintain the fiction that universal mandated vaccination is a stand-alone strategy?
The decision to not only keep the public in the dark, but promote an entirely exaggerated and in some aspects false narrative, appears as a misguided crusade.
The scapegoating of the unvaccinated, despite the fact that the vaccinated can and do transmit Covid easily, appears as a Machiavellian political plot. The wilful suppression of the large scientific uncertainty surrounding many Covid ‘facts’, through selective editing or blocking of information, comes straight out of the playbook of tyrants.