WE should not understate the naivety of the government, media and scientists during the pandemic. The tabloid-style stories of severe Covid outcomes, the authoritative voice of Dr Anthony Fauci (who has financial conflicts of interest), the allure of the word vaccine, and the exaggerated death toll in foreign lands all combined into a convincing call for immediate and coercive action. Yet behind the stories, the highly profitable pharmaceutical PR system was running at full steam playing on the fear factor. New Zealand fell head over heels in love. Love knows no reason and that was certainly the case here.
New Zealand is a long way from the rest of the world. We have a tradition of proud independence and self-sufficiency, but we rolled over and played Follow the Leader. No one in a position of influence struck a note of caution, especially not our Prime Minister. We instituted the largest public borrowing programme in our history and spent it on a US mega corporation with a poor safety record and a history of punitive malpractice judgments. The government instituted saturation advertising of vaccine safety and efficacy, and then followed up with mandates, sackings and social exclusion. Our media shouted down those few asking questions.
Times, however, have changed. The respected and conservative Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has aired concerns about poor regulatory decisions at the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) over booster shots. It joins a growing international chorus of highly qualified and influential voices.
On April 3, in an opinion piece entitled ‘FDA Shuts Out Its Own Experts in Authorising Another Vaccine Booster’,Dr Marty Makary, a surgeon and public policy researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote: ‘The FDA last week authorised Americans over 50 to get a fourth Covid vaccine dose. Some of the FDA’s own experts disagreed, but the agency simply ignored them.’
Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (arguably the world’s most influential medical journal) and a member of the FDA advisory committee on vaccines told CNN last month: ‘I haven’t seen enough data to determine whether anyone needs a fourth dose.’
Dr Cody Meissner, also a member of the FDA vaccine advisory committee and chief of paediatric infectious diseases at Tufts Children’s Hospital in Boston, agreed: ‘The fourth dose is an unanswered question for people with a normal immune system.’
A third member of the committee, Dr Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, went further. He told the Atlantic magazine that he advised his 20-something son to forgo the first booster.
Two top FDA officials, Marion Gruber, Director of the FDA Office of Vaccine Research and Review and her deputy Paul Krause, quit the FDA in September last year complaining of undue pressure to authorise boosters and a lack of data to support their use.
Unbelievably, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) rubber-stamped the FDA decision to approve a second booster without even convening its panel of external independent vaccine experts.
The WSJ article described the effect of boosters as fleeting, mild and short-lived. It sounded a note of alarm saying that neither the CDC nor the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) had made a priority of studying vaccine complications. Moreover their VAERS data collection and analysis process is incomplete and inadequate. In other words, the safety investigation to date of adverse effects of mRNA vaccination is incomplete and potentially misleading.
The central question raised by the WSJ opinion piece is, why wouldn’t the US regulators wish to undertake accurate and complete investigation of adverse effects of mRNA vaccination? Have pharmaceutical interests been able to influence decision-making at the FDA to their own commercial advantage at the expense of safety considerations?
The British Medical Journal agrees. On March 16 it published an article which said: ‘Evidence-based medicine has been corrupted by corporate interests, failed regulation and commercialisation of academia.’
The lessons are obvious. We have stifled debate and slavishly followed FDA advice. Now there is a need for revaluation and debate. We have travelled a long way down a one-way street, but it appears to be a dead end. The triumphant articles published about a survey of vaccine-resistant people born in Dunedin was a low point in uncritical mainstream media publishing. We have to regain an objective voice.
A paper published on April 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that any measurable protective effect of the fourth inoculation (which in any case, it found, is very small in absolute terms) disappeared after just eight weeks. Moreover a paper in the Lancet on April 8 admitted that boosters carry a risk of additional side-effects. Both these papers, however, skirted the obvious safety questions in favour of weak praise for vaccine orthodoxy.
In contrast the WSJ article asked the important question: ‘Who is actually getting serious about measuring the extent of adverse events, rather than continuing to urge uncritical acceptance of a largely ineffective vaccine?’
So far New Zealand media have steered clear of such questions. Dr Ashley Bloomfield, chief executive of the country’s Health Ministry, has refused to institute mandatory reporting of adverse events following mRNA Covid vaccination and he has excelled at denying vaccine exemptions to those injured by the first shot. Silence is no longer tenable, although in actuality it never was. Questions have to be asked. No ifs or buts. Overseas media outlets of the thinking kind are waking up.
If we can’t face debating rationally with our critics, we are drifting on to the rocks of ignorance and prejudice.
Time for us to wake up.