Wednesday, May 12, 2021
HomeCOVID-19Vaccine risks versus rewards – what your GP won’t tell you

Vaccine risks versus rewards – what your GP won’t tell you

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STATISTICALLY, you are more than a thousand times likelier to die in a car crash than a plane crash, yet seventy times more people are frightened of flying than driving.

When weighing up the pros and cons of driving and flying, there are multiple factors affecting the perception of risk. If you are the driver of the car, you feel that you have more control over your fate. If the car crashes, you won’t fall 37,000 feet. You don’t have to take off or land, you’re unlikely to hit a mountain and if you do crash, you still have a chance of getting out. You definitely won’t need to eat your passengers to survive.

Commercial flying will always be safer than driving, yet a plethora of films from Alive to Fearless and Passenger 57 tells us otherwise, altering our perceptions of the risks of flight by connecting planes with disaster. It’s a false picture and one that increases the single most irrational element that influences the decision-making process when it comes to risk: fear. Following 9/11 many who would previously have flown chose instead to drive – leading to more fatalities.  

The hardest thing to remember is that your fear does not alter the risk. But it can alter personal outcome – possibly to the person’s own detriment – when the decision about how to react in the face of the perceived risk is determined by fear. It would be like jumping out of the plane mid-flight because you genuinely believed the plane was going to crash. Statistically a crash was highly unlikely but opening the door would significantly increase the risk.

Same with Covid-19 and the vaccines. Politicians and mainstream media have successfully rammed home that Covid-19 is akin to Spanish Flu and that the wonderful vaccines are here to save us. Everyone from Matt Hancock (‘it’s the right thing for them, the right thing for their loved ones and the right thing for the country’) to Lenny Henry (‘when your turn comes, take the jab’) and the PM (‘it is the best thing for you, best thing for your family and for everyone else’) urge us to get the jab – yet none can say beyond a reasonable doubt that the vaccines are safe, sufficiently efficacious to warrant the risks or even that their effects last longer than 90 days. Even if Johnson, Hancock and Henry were epidemiologists, virologists or toxicologists – which they are not – the long-term effects of the vaccines cannot be known as the safety data won’t be in until 2023. By which time, it may be too late.

In the Telegraph this week, Miranda Levy outlined her dilemma about whether to get the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine following the recent blood clot scare: ‘According to a paper published in The Lancet the AstraZeneca jab offers protection of 64 per cent after at least one standard dose. This compares with just over 70 per cent if you have had two full doses.’ That would be a big fat ‘no’, Miranda. It would be pointless to risk a second dose, even assuming the efficacy data is correct – which is unlikely as it’s provided by the drug companies and those with a conflict of interest in promoting the jab – for a paltry 6 percentage points increase in possible efficacy when the chance of developing Covid-19 now is minimal. It is one in 500,000 a week according to Tim Spector of King’s College Zoe Symptom App, who reassures Miranda that the chance of a blood clot from the AstraZeneca jab is only 1 in 250,000. So statistically, she has a greater chance of developing a blood clot than Covid-19. Added to which, the 1:250,000 odds refer only to blood clots. Vaccine risks increase once you factor in anaphylaxis, Bell’s palsy, blindness, Guillain-Barre syndrome, capillary leak syndrome and death.

Between January 4 and April 5 inclusive, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) via yellow card reporting received 129,673 cards containing a total of 492,105 reports of adverse events or ‘suspected reactions’ from the Covid-19 Oxford University/AstraZeneca. This equates to 1,425 yellow card reports and 5,408 suspected reactions per day. While the MHRA somewhat disingenuously points out that ‘the total number and the nature of yellow cards reported so far is not unusual for a new vaccine’ it’s worth pointing out that yellow card reporting represents only 3-6 reports per 1,000 doses (0.3-0.6 per cent), whereas in clinical trials – such as they were – adverse reactions were at 10 per cent while King’s College Zoe App  (from a pool of 700,000) recorded adverse events from the AstraZeneca vaccine at 31.9 per cent increasing to 52.7 per cent for those with prior immunity. To put it another way, the low reporting rates don’t necessarily reflect the safety of the vaccines, just that reporting is less likely when those administering the doses were not the vaccine recipient’s regular GP, but Army medics, retrained nurses and vets, none of whom would be aware of any negative outcome following vaccination. The death toll from both vaccines currently stands at 847. As 521 deaths were recorded following the AstraZeneca vaccine administered since January 4, that’s a daily death rate just below Monday’s ‘deaths for any reason within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test’ as reported by the BBC – seven.

According to the MHRA some of the adverse events reported following a vaccination could have happened anyway and might have nothing to do with having been vaccinated. So if on the day or days following vaccination you experience a sore arm, flu-like illness, headache, chills, fatigue, nausea, fever, dizziness, weakness, aching muscles, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest or persistent abdominal pain, leg swelling, blurred vision, confusion, seizures or bruising beyond the injection site – don’t worry – it could just be a ‘coincidence’.

Factoring in the yellow card underreporting and mainstream misinterpretation of ONS mortality data, not only do the known risks from the vaccine outweigh the still under review ‘rewards’ (vaccines are possibly effective for only 90 days and not effective during the first 3 weeks) but statistically the vaccines themselves present a far higher risk to the young than a virus in retreat.

ONS data shows that deaths in the healthy under-65s ‘due’ to Covid-19 in 2020 numbered 1,549. Across all age groups (not including babies) this would mean for a healthy child under ten, the chance of dying of Covid-19 is 1 in 4million (or 1 in 1.3million for a child with co-morbidities). For healthy ten-to-19-year-olds the chance of dying from Covid-19 is 1 in 2.5million; 20-20 year-olds 1 in 576,000; 30-39-year-olds 1 in 164,000; 40-49-year-olds 1 in 46,242 and for 50-59-year-olds 1 in 16,277. Factoring in the chances of even developing Covid-19 at this stage in the game (as mentioned above, 1 in 500,000 according to Tim Spector who runs King’s College Zoe App) suggests that jabs for the healthy under-65s are statistically nonsensical.

Of course we live in a democracy (maybe) so those wishing to take up the vaccine in spite of concerning data and a receding virus have the right to do so. But as the MHRA’s emergency approval of the vaccines was in part influenced by the government’s success (helped by a non-inquisitive mainstream media and the dubious psychological chicanery of the ‘Nudge Unit’) in persuading a terrified public that they were in the grip of a deadly pandemic – one that not even the ONS can back up with any clarity – and as emergency approval can be given only when there are no alternatives to treat the virus, which there always have been, why is the government continuing with the vaccine rollout when it knows  the vaccines present a real risk and statistically it makes no sense for a healthy young person to take them?

None of the negative vaccine data will prevent the MHRA from hammering home that ‘vaccination is the single most effective way to reduce deaths and severe illness from Covid-19’ or London’s Regional Director for Public Health England, Professor Kevin Fenton, telling us ‘we can all play a role’ in encouraging friends and family to take up the vaccine and point others ‘towards information and advice from trusted sources’ and not to ‘pass on myths and misinformation’. You said it, Kev.

I hope Miranda Levy doesn’t get her second injection and that healthy under-65s look beyond the government, mainstream media and Facebook to make an informed decision in regard to risk vs. reward. It would have been helpful if GPs had delayed their apparent vow of silence and been on hand to advise. That said, the GPs’ unwillingness to take the jab themselves should be advice enough. With ‘do no harm’ and ‘informed consent’ in the bin of medical ethics, it is up to us to do our own research. Not easy when fear is indelible or if numbers leave you cold.  Statistically at least, for healthy under 65-year-olds with no comorbidities, avoiding the jab would appear to be the safest option.

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Suzie Halewood
Suzie Halewood is a filmmaker with a degree in mathematics.

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