Anti-vaxx, Not Anti-vaxx

These have been a dark couple months for me. I sensed a wave forming hundreds of miles away, and sure enough it has drawn near and threatens to wash me away.  I started receiving queries on whether I had gotten the vaccine in March. Some people were surprised to hear me say I hadn’t immediately taken advantage of my eligibility and I didn’t yet have the courage to tell them that I intended not to get the vaccine. I told them I was still figuring out which vaccine I wanted, but I wonder if anyone bought that. In truth, I had been paying close attention to everything happening around the vaccine, and the more research I did, the more frightening the current moment became.

I should be clear; I am not anti-vaccine. If anything, I am pro-vaccine. I am vaccinated against several diseases, and I will be administering (not personally) to my children (who do not exist yet outside of my mind) all the vaccines that are relevant to them. Vaccines are one of the greatest tools we have yet developed to eradicate diseases and protect people from ill effects, and I find the mRNA vaccine technology an exciting development. I also believe that there is a strong argument to be made for forcing people to get vaccines (P.S.). I am not even against the current menu of COVID-19 vaccines, but I am strongly against the exhibited behavior of those who wish to compel people to take them.

I was recently ordered at my workplace to report my vaccination status. I did not feel this was appropriate, but I did not want to risk losing my job. I chose to share my status and my intention to not get vaccinated, along with the reasons that I felt that way. Here are those reasons as well as a few additional reasons that did not feel necessary to share with my organization.

Uncertain apparent vaccine transmission prevention

Early on, the vaccines were advertised to have high efficacy rates, but the type of efficacy was not always carefully specified. It now seems as if the high efficacy rate refers to preventing hospitalization and death rather than the prevention of transmission. As breakthrough infections are recorded in increasing numbers, it is clear the vaccine is not as effective at preventing transmission as a typical person may have been led to expect. It is still not clear what the efficacy of preventing transmission is, and here is the CDC’s messaging on the topic (italicization added by me): “The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant. But they are not 100% effective and some fully vaccinated people will become infected (called a breakthrough infection) and experience illness”. Clarifying that the vaccines are not 100% effective is about as unhelpful as can be imagined, as that describes every medicine ever created.

Early estimates on the actual efficacy are closer to 81%, but an Israeli study (where Delta is the dominant variant) shows transmission prevention as low as 39%. This is after being reported as 64% effective less than a month prior. The uncertainty and the falling estimates do not inspire confidence in the vaccines’ ability to protect against infection.

Underemphasized effects of comorbidities on risk from COVID-19

Comorbidities are being underplayed in the risk/benefit analysis of the COVID-19 vaccines. In a study of 148,494 COVID-19 patients, 78% of hospitalizations and 73% of deaths were of people with a BMI of “overweight” or “obese”. The CDC lists comorbidities, and it would seem the most common among COVID-19 patients are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. A person without comorbidities would benefit much less than is being advertised by taking the vaccine as opposed to a person with comorbidities.

If a group of people are at a restaurant and the server asks if anyone wants to refill their beverage, those who have not drank much of their beverage benefit much less from a refill than those who have finished their beverage. If the refill is free, then it does not make sense to refuse the refill (if your goal is to maximize the amount of beverage you have), but what if the refill costed a dollar? If we were to make a metaphor that maps better to the vaccines (as discussed in the next section), the cost of the refill is unknown and it may only become apparent when you go to pay the bill.

Long-term effects of vaccine are unknown

No citations are needed, nor possible for this section. These vaccines are novel in terms of the vaccines themselves as well as the mRNA mechanism that allows them to function. There exists no data on the impact of such vaccines in the long-term and so the cost of the protection they provide is unknown.

No one can be expected to know whether these vaccines will have negative long-term impacts and the probability that they will, might be low. In the event there are long-term impacts, those who force others to vaccinate will be guilty of mandating people to make a medical decision while being uncertain of the safety.

No party is liable for adverse effects of vaccines

The government has granted blanket immunity for the pharmaceutical companies offering the vaccines which protects them from litigation in the event that people experience negative outcomes caused by the vaccines. The FDA is also not liable for the Emergency Use Authorizations it issued for the vaccines to be used without being subjected to the standard level of testing. It would also seem that workplaces will not be held responsible for mandating the vaccines if something goes wrong. It seems like everyone is making sure they cover their ass, except for the individual.

Suspicious suppression of viable alternatives to vaccines

To quote the FLCCC: “Ivermectin is a well-known, FDA-approved anti-parasite drug that has been used successfully for more than four decades to treat onchocerciasis ‘river blindness’ and other parasitic diseases. It is one of the safest drugs known. It is on the WHO’s list of essential medicines, has been given 3.7 billion times around the globe, and has won the Nobel prize for its global and historic impacts in eradicating endemic parasitic infections in many parts of the world.”

In the years before our current pandemic, Ivermectin was shown to have anti-viral/anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, clinicians across the world used it to treat COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic. Many clinicians reported successes and the full extent of the data has been pouring in since. Dr. Tess Lawry had a paper published in the American Journal of Therapeutics in July 2021 conducting a meta-analysis on 15 trials testing the results of Ivermectin on COVID-19. The results were overwhelmingly positive, and the drug has an extensive safety record; indicating that the downsides for use are small and well defined.

The FLCCC has developed I-MASK+ protocol, which incorporates Ivermectin, for prevention and early outpatient treatment, yet our public health officials speak of the vaccine and tell us it is the only solution to COVID-19. YouTube has written explicitly in its content guidelines “Don’t post content on YouTube if it includes any of the following… Content that recommends use of Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19”. Dr. Pierre Kory, of the FLCCC, testified about Ivermectin before Congress and the video has been removed from YouTube.

I do not know why the success of Ivermectin in terms of prophylaxis and early treatment of COVID-19 is not being communicated and celebrated widely, though I have some suspicions. One has to do with the fact that the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorizations for the vaccine, were granted with the stipulation that no viable alternative measure exists. If Ivermectin was accepted to be effective, it would invalidate the EUAs (P.P.S.). Why might the FDA be hesitant to withdraw these EUA’s? Well, besides damaging their own reputation, the FDA receives (as reported by the FDA) 45% of its funding, or $2.7 billion from the industry user fees. Specifically related to the topic at hand, “Human Drugs regulatory activities account for 33 percent of FDA’s budget; 65 percent of these activities are paid for by industry user fees” . That could be considered a pretty serious conflict of interest.

Very poor data collection

No citations are needed for this section; instead, I can ask a very simple question. Of the vaccinated people that you know of, how many reported their symptoms (however minor) to a medical professional? I don’t know any, and I would guess you don’t know many, if any. Regardless of what people might try to convince you of, this is an experimental vaccine, and it is an experimental vaccine mechanism. It is fine, in dire situations, to administer medicine to the population that has not been thoroughly tested, but it must be done with extra care. Does the severe lack of data collection sound like extra care is being taken? It seems more like unbelievable negligence to me.

If I may steelman my opposition: Why waste resources collecting data on people who do not have severe symptoms? Obviously if they do not seek medical care the data that would have been gathered from them can be implied. It is true, people who did not seek medical care after the vaccination were probably fine, but we do not know that for sure, and we do not know that they will stay fine. If a scientist conducts an experiment and fails to record results, it would be said that the scientist did a poor job, and the experiment would probably have to be redone. That is all well and good for a typical experiment, but we are experimenting on the full population. This is not an experiment that can or should be run again.  It is gross misconduct by those who have organized the vaccine roll-out. Those who do not wish to take part in an experiment that displays such irresponsibility should not be thought less of.

Underreporting of VAERS database

The FDA created the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in 1990 to catalogue adverse events that may be associated with vaccines. The data is public, and I have looked at it myself. The key thing to understand before speaking about the data as quoted by VAERS itself: “When reporting and evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established.” Here we will only talk about correlation, and I will only speculate that causation may have occurred.

Doctors are encouraged (not required) to report adverse events to the VAERS database and because of this it is safe to assume under-reporting. The degree to which this is under-reported is impossible to know, though I have heard some say it is underreported by at least a magnitude of 5 (we are not going to cover how people substantiate such claims). Even if we assume no under-reporting, the data paints a much different picture than the media/public health officials portray.

There are over 13K deaths in the VAERS database reported after having taken a COVID-19 vaccine. If you look at the data, you see that some of these deaths are unlikely to have resulted from the vaccine. For an example, suicides are recorded, and I have not found much evidence to tie the vaccines to suicides. However, this only eliminates a few dozen. We could go through the list and pick out the cases that likely had nothing to do with the vaccine, but even if we eliminated 12k or 92.3% of reported deaths… that would still leave us with 1,000 deaths that may have been caused by the vaccine.

In April 2021, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was paused because six women developed blood clots after taking it and only one of them died. That was the reaction to one death among six adverse events. Where is the reaction to 1,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of adverse events potentially caused by the vaccines? I am not sure what to make of it, but the deafening silence in the media and among public health officials on the data in VAERS troubles me.

What Opioid Crisis?

Everyone seems to have forgotten about the opioid crisis. The pharma companies pushed drugs like OxyContin that were addictive and harmful to people. The FDA approved those drugs. Medical professionals prescribed those drugs. This caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans over several years. Have these pharma companies been dismantled? Have those responsible been jailed? Have settlements been paid to all the families who suffered? Not yet. Is one of the main culprits, Johnson & Johnson, the same company with an approved COVID-19 vaccine and forecasting $2.5 bn in revenue just from the vaccine in 2021? Yes, yes, they are.

This irresponsibility is part of the playbook for pharma, and these vaccines stand to make them billions upon billions for many years to come. Trust pharma companies at your own peril. Trust the FDA and the CDC at your own peril. Trust the public health officials at your own peril. Trust medical professionals to make good choices regarding your health at your own peril. Trust the media to highlight the injustices committed by any of these parties at your own peril.

The response I sent to my employer about my vaccination status seems to have fallen on deaf ears. On the Monday after the responses were due, we received an email that they would be mandating vaccines. The email said that we had not reached the vaccination numbers they were hoping to reach, and thus the mandate was required. I smell bullshit, though. They did not communicate the number they were hoping to reach beforehand and did not even communicate it in the email. It was made clear that whoever was making these decisions firmly believes that getting a vaccine is the only way one can fulfill their duty to others. Based on the quickness of the decision and the language in the email, I sense I have run into a wall built with ideology. I will appeal the decision because I do not wish to be vaccinated, but if this decision is based on ideology, science and logic are weapons that will probably fail me.

I have until October 1st to be vaccinated, but I also have a trip to the New York City area in September. New York City is instituting a vaccine mandate. It seems as if the walls have closed in around me and I no longer have the options that I believe I am entitled to. I am disheartened by the amount of people who do not seem to care about the precarious path we are on. I have spoken about it before, but after September 11th we allowed our own government to take our privacy with the Patriot Act. We have yet to get it back. COVID-19 has been a terrible time for all of us, but we are giving away more of our freedoms in the interest of short-term safety. When will people realize: we will not be getting those freedoms back.

P.S. There is a free rider problem when it comes to vaccines. Let’s imagine for a moment that we had a virus more deadly and contagious than coronavirus. Let us say that a vaccine was developed and was honestly approved for use among the population. Let us then say that a typical citizen had a 100% chance of contracting the virus, and only a 0.1% chance of experiencing ill effects from the vaccine. After the first 25% of the population takes the vaccine, the chance that a typical citizen has of contracting the virus has decreased because there are less vectors of infection (thanks to the vaccinated). The chance of experiencing ill effects from the vaccine is constant.

Now let us say that 80% of the population has taken the vaccine. The vaccine has proven effective and the chance of a typical citizen contracting the virus is at 4%. It still makes sense to get the vaccine because your chance of getting the virus is still higher than experiencing ill effects from the vaccine, but people are noticing the rapid decline. Suddenly, people are hanging back so they can be a free rider. They know that if a few more people take the vaccine, the virus will be gone and there will be no need for them to get the vaccine.

This is our free rider problem. 80% of our population took on the risk from the vaccine to help eradicate the virus, but the remaining 20% of the population does not want to take the vaccine anymore because the risks have changed. I don’t really know how to solve this in the confines of American ideas of liberty, and so I see this as a candidate for government force. I think this is a “break glass in case of emergency” type of process, and I would argue that COVID-19, though people have died, is not an occasion to break that glass.

P.P.S. As I was editing this essay’s final draft, the FDA put out a tweet referencing an article I had originally decided not to include in this essay. The tweet reads “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” The article they reference is titled “Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19” and offers the following pseudo-wisdom: “Ivermectin is often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals.  The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses.”

Yes, perhaps that is what Ivermectin is primarily used for in the United States, but that is not what Ivermectin is primarily used for. Ivermectin, as stated above, has been administered in humans in 3.7 billion doses. These patients that the FDA refers to as taking dosages intended for horses were obviously trying something that will often have an ill-effect in humans. Go try eating as many oats as a horse would eat and report back how you feel. Does that mean oats are inappropriate for human consumption? No and that is a stupid question. That means that the amount of oats consumed was harmful for a human. It is the same for Ivermectin which can be safely administered in humans, and has been for decades.

The article continues with actual misinformation coming from the FDA: “Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).” If what you say is true, FDA, that would make it difficult for peer reviewed scientific papers to begin their abstract with the sentence: “Ivermectin is an FDA-approved broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent with demonstrated antiviral activity against a number of DNA and RNA viruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).” Yet that paper exists along with many others that a simple Google search can retrieve for you.

Seriously, fuck the FDA. I don’t typically use that kind of language in my essays, but in this situation, I find it appropriate and necessary. What exactly are they playing at with an article like this? What are they doing tweeting things like “You are not a horse. Stop it”? If they are not being dishonest and deceptive then they are being quite confusing and careless. Either one of these behaviors from an institution that is supposed to be protecting the health of Americans is despicable.

EDIT (8/26/2021): Fixed some spelling and grammatical errors. Added restaurant metaphor to section on comorbidities. Added more information of FDA funding to section on Ivermectin suppression.

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