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How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy

It is hard to destroy your own cause and feel righteous while doing so, yet the American left has done it. After more than two centuries at the vanguard of the struggle for freedom, the American left, broadly defined, executed a volte face and embraced anti-working-class policies marketed as purely technical public health measures.
 
by Christian Parenti
 
Part 7 - Vaccine efficacy and adverse effects
 
The organized left still endorses a vaccine centric policy with religious fervor. Some of its members do so still assuming that vaccines prevent Covid transmission and can thus end the pandemic. They thus follow the discredited pronouncements of Anthony Fauci, who explained in the early months of the vaccine roll out, for those vaccinated “the risk is extremely low of getting infected, of getting sick, or of transmitting it to anybody else, full stop.” This was about when progressives started purchasing votive candles bearing Fauci’s likeness.

In reality, these are very “leaky” “non-sterilizing” vaccines; they do not block transmission. Furthermore, as CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admitted in an August 6th 2021 interview with Wolf Blitzer the vaccines do not stop or reduce transmission. Thus, we cannot vaccinate our way out of this crisis. 

The vaccines do however lower the probability of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, but if overused, they might not even do that. And it should be noted that, as of this publication, the CDC still refuses to release – as a February 20th 2022 New York Times headline put it – “Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects” on hospitalization rate by vaccination status for fear the data could be misinterpreted. Leaving that aside, because the vaccines do not function perfectly and are not without risks, the logic of their use differs according to one’s demographic profile. Thus, when my mother who is in her mid-80s got the vaccine, I felt a sense of relief. But when younger women in my extended family did not want the vaccine because its effects on the menstrual cycle had not been studied, that also made perfect sense. In the eyes of the panicked and stampeding herd that is the left-wing consensus, this would make me an anti-vaxxer. Amidst this pandemic it has become clear that the left is not only incapable of intellectual nuance, it is openly hostile to it and rallies vigilante-style to stamp it out.

After pitching the mRNA vaccine as capable of stopping the Covid-19 virus in its tracks, by November 2020 pundits had already started talking up the need for boosters. Most studies indicate that vaccine efficacy against Covid, as measured by antibody levels in the blood, drops by about 50% within six months. The Lancet found “vaccine effectiveness against infections of the delta variant… declined to 53%… after 4 months.” An Israeli study from July 2021 found that the Pfizer vaccine dropped to a mere 39% efficacy within six months. Now Israel is demanding boosters at three months; and exploring a fourth booster even as some government science advisors warn “that the plan could backfire, because too many shots might cause a sort of immune system fatigue, compromising the body’s ability to fight the coronavirus.” European Union regulators have also warned that “frequent Covid-19 booster shots could adversely affect the immune response.” 

The left, however, has categorically dismissed skepticism about vaccine safety and in so doing alienated people who held valid concerns, or who experienced real and debilitating injuries as a result of the Covid shot. That includes large elements of the working class – that class the left purports to champion. Even if the vaccines do not cause injuries or adverse effects most cases, they – like almost any medical intervention, even aspirin – can also involve some risk. Thus, four Scandinavian countries have prohibited use of the Moderna shot for men under the age of 25 because the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis is higher from the vaccine than from the disease. The growing list of warnings about blood clots, menstrual disruption, heart problems, that accompany the vaccines show that even when helpful, the vaccines can involve risks. 

For most of the vaccination campaign these vaccines had not undergone the typical process of review before hitting the market. Instead, they have had “emergency use authorization” under authority of the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREPA). This law gives the manufacturers total legal protection against liability for any harm their vaccines might cause.

Though you would never learn it from most press outlets, one of the main stumbling blocks to providing the Global South with vaccines is that pharmaceutical companies have insisted on total protection from vaccine related lawsuits. As The Financial Times explained: “Before deals could be agreed, Pfizer demanded countries change national laws to protect vaccine makers from lawsuits, which many western jurisdictions already had. From Lebanon to the Philippines, national governments changed laws to guarantee their supply of vaccines.” In South Africa Pfizer insisted “on indemnity against civil claims and required the government to provide finance for an indemnity fund.” 

Why have left-wing pundits not noted this? Because it suggests that there is a genuine cost-benefit analysis involved in the use of vaccines. It suggests that vaccines involve risks even as they provide benefits. Alas, that sort of intellectual nuance is beyond the capacity of progressive Pfizer fetishists.

Until 2022, only Pfizer’s “legally distinct” and rarely available Comirnaty vaccine was not covered by PREPA invoked Emergency Use Authorization indemnification. In February Moderna’s Spikevax was also approved, and it is also “legally distinct” from Moderna’s more available, legally indemnified, EUA vaccine.   

Comirnaty went through a secrecy-shrouded, expedited approval process in which a test group of 22,000 people got the vaccine and 22,000 people in the control group received a placebo. Pfizer refuses to release the raw data from the study, though the company did publish a 90-page report on it, while the FDA published a few other tables and comments. 

Unable to access the approval data, a group of more than 30 professors and scientists “from universities including Yale, Harvard, UCLA and Brown” sued the federal government to force it to share its licensing data for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. In response, the FDA requested a delay of 55 years. The Plaintiffs suggested 108-days to process the document release— the amount of time it took the FDA to review the same documents “for the far more intricate task of licensing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.” When a Judge ordered the FDA to accelerate its release of the documents, Pfizer entered the lawsuit arguing that it wanted to help the FDA avoid releasing “confidential business and trade secret information of Pfizer, such as its proprietary manufacturing processes.

Professor Peter Doshi, a senior editor at the BMJ (formally known as the British Medical Journal) and an associate professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland, has analyzed all available data from the Pfizer approval study. Doshi concludes that “on preventing death from Covid-19, there are too few data to draw conclusions— a total of three Covid-19 related deaths (one on vaccine, two on placebo). There were 29 total deaths during blinded follow-up (15 in the vaccine arm; 14 in placebo).” Note that the trial group had a slightly higher overall mortality rate than the placebo group.

These very small numbers become more concerning when we learn of, as Doshi put it, “an unexplained detail found in a table of FDA’s review of Pfizer’s vaccine: 371 individuals excluded from the efficacy analysis for ‘important protocol deviations on or prior to 7 days after Dose 2.’ What is concerning is the imbalance between randomized groups in the number of these excluded individuals: 311 from the vaccine group vs 60 on placebo.

Most outrageous of all, Doshi found that in gross violation of normal protocol after about two months, Pfizer unblinded its study. “Pfizer allowed all trial participants to be formally unblinded, and placebo recipients to get vaccinated.” The trial started on July 27, 2020, and by November 13, 2020 the vast majority of the placebo arm of the study had received the experimental vaccine. It would seem that the real blinded trial lasted at most about two months. 

Pfizer still refuses to release the raw data. In the meantime, the US government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) – a global surveillance system mandated by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, a law that also indemnifies pharmaceutical companies against all legal liability for the children’s vaccines they produce – captures only a tiny fraction of documented adverse events from vaccination, yet it has reported over 20,000 deaths from COVID-19 vaccinations. Keep in mind, some 5 billion vaccine shots have been administered globally.

To be fair, these are just reports, only a fraction of them have been investigated, and the population with the highest rate of vaccine uptake skews towards older people. So discount the VAERS data as you see fit. But a 2010 government-commissioned study on the effectiveness of VAERS at capturing adverse events found the following: 

Adverse events from drugs and vaccines are common, but underreported. Although 25% of ambulatory patients experience an adverse drug event, less than 0.3% of all adverse drug events and 1-13% of serious events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported.

The point is that VAERS, despite its limits, sends signals that are deserving of further investigation rather than immediate and pejorative dismissal.

If the idea of a viral infection being hyped and exaggerated by profiteering pharmaceutical corporations and captured government agencies seems far-fetched, consider the story of the 1976 Swine Flu. Fully 20 percent of the US public including President Ford had been vaccinated before it became clear that the Swine Flu was actually not very dangerous

In fact, as Mike Wallace reported in a devastating 60 Minutes report, the Swine Flu virus (H1NI) might not have killed anyone at all. Midway through the vaccination campaign it became clear that the vaccine was causing the paralyzing autoimmune disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome. An estimated 300 may have died from it, about 450 others were confirmed as having acquired Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and about 4,000 people sued the government for swine flu vaccine related injury. The vaccination campaign was stopped and the vaccine was pulled from the market. Similarly, in 2015, the first dengue vaccine was deployed in the Philippines and pulled about two years later when it was found to be dangerous and ineffective.

As for the common lefty concern about long term effects from Covid, it does seem to happen. The first time I had Covid, the fatigue and brain fog lasted for months. That said, any speculation about the long-term effects of the disease can also be leveled against the vaccines. The truth is: we know very little about the long-term effects of either the disease or the vaccines.

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