One year ago today, I wrote this:
What does that mean?
Safe and effective. Effective at doing what?
There is a distinction between vaccines that prevent disease development and vaccines that prevent viral transmission.
A typical vaccine contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to recognize further and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future.
When someone is vaccinated, they are supposed to be very likely protected against a targeted disease. When many people in a community are vaccinated, a pathogen has a hard time circulating because most of the people it encounters are supposed to be immune.
No single vaccine provides 100% protection. But, according to the CDC:
A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease without having to get the disease first. This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.
At this point, we still don't know if the current vaccines prevent COVID-19. It's also unknown if they prevent people from transmitting the virus from an infected person to a healthy one. This wasn't an endpoint nor an outcome measure of the vaccine trials, and they weren't designed to find this out.
There is an early indication that the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine may reduce person-to-person transmission of the virus—a good development.
It is also too early to know how well the COVID-19 vaccines work in different populations. People with certain health conditions, pregnant women, the elderly, children, and racially and ethnically diverse people were not a significant part of or even involved in the clinical trials. Furthermore, we still have no clue how long the immunity developed from the COVID-19 vaccines will last.
What is clear is that these vaccines protect you from getting sicker once you are infected. That's still good, as severe COVID-19 can send people to intensive care. The more infected people who experience milder symptoms and recover at home, the less burden there is on the healthcare system. There will be less exposure healthcare workers will have to the virus, all of which contribute to better control over the pandemic.
We have seen an observed reduction in asymptomatic infections among the vaccine recipients, but it's still not certain to what extent asymptomatic people can transmit the coronavirus. Questions remain about how much of a reduction in person-to-person transmission could be attributed to these new vaccines. Further analysis is needed to confirm this hypothesis.
Researchers are still studying whether vaccinated people and never experience symptoms can even spread the disease to others. However, because the vaccines do not necessarily protect against infection, we won't be abandoning public health measures. Many in the media say it's best to keep up the behaviors that have attempted to impede the spread of COVID-19. Advocates for the new vaccines suggest that everyone — even vaccinated people — will need to think of themselves as possible silent spreaders and continue to wear a mask.
Has anyone, in the history of vaccines, who have been effectively vaccinated against a particular disease, ever been shown to be a subsequent "silent spreader" of that disease? It may be theoretically possible, but has it ever happened? And if so, how common is it?
If a vaccine prevented asymptomatic infections and curbed viral transmission, it could hasten the end of the coronavirus pandemic if enough people get vaccinated. That's great, but shouldn't the research be completed first? Why wasn't the focus from researchers on preventing transmission of the virus and preventing disease development? It appears as if these new vaccines help make people feel better. It's akin to reducing pneumonia symptoms to the common cold instead of ridding the world of this deadly pathogen.
If a vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease, these new drugs being rushed to the public to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic do not qualify. Rather than preventing a person from getting infected, these shots appear to keep people from getting dangerously sick. At this point, efficacy does not refer to these vaccines' ability to prevent infection with the virus but rather to their ability to reduce the disease's symptoms.
I might be better off with a bottle of Robitusson and a nap instead of injecting myself with this new vaccine. Does anyone have a bottle of cough syrup and a jar of Vicks VapoRub lying around? At least I know what those drugs can do for me.
To assess information about the vaccine's efficacy, pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, and scientific researchers will need to coordinate with one another, gather data, and report it once the vaccine is disseminated into the community.
It's real-time disease surveillance and data collection. In other words, the general population is in a large scale experiment. People are being monitored over time, and the data will be collected by comparing those who have and those who haven't been injected.
Moreover, these new vaccines have not been tested on the elderly, the immune-compromised, or kids. There is no data on the impact on the continued spread. We have zero data on the effects on future hospitalizations from the immunized. There is no information on the impact on deaths.
There certainly needs to be a lot more honesty and transparency regarding what is unknown about the vaccine.
There are too many known unknowns. The words of the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century, Donald Rumsfeld, sums it up:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me because, as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult one.
Is this drug useful? From what I'm reading, these COVID vaccines seem to reduce the likelihood a person will develop symptoms if they are infected and the severity of illness.
What was the goal all along? Do people know what these vaccines actually accomplish? The public often views vaccines effectively as cure-alls. That isn’t the case here.
There are good reasons not to jump on the vaccine bandwagon. Here are a few good reasons for most to hold off with the injection:
1. No one knows the long-term consequences (3-year, 5-year, 10-year, etc.) of the vaccines. This in itself is a serious concern and reason to wait.
2. The vaccine's effectiveness might be short-lived because the COVID virus has already been known to mutate.
3. The COVID vaccines are not like the measles or polio vaccine that has been around for decades and has withstood the test of time.
Historically, vaccines have taken years to develop. The mumps vaccine took four years. It was the fastest to be approved for humans. These new vaccines took ten months. It's understandable why people are hesitant to get jabbed in the arm.
Is it all virtue signaling in a hypodermic format?
Speaking of virtue signaling and arm jabbing—was there anything in this needle?
If COVID vaccines start killing people at a prodigious rate, how would we even know? Is the FDA & CDC collecting the data? Will the media report their findings? If deaths from vaccines happen inside nursing homes, will the reporting agencies tell us if people die from the vaccine or COVID? Maybe they will gloss over both facts and say they were just old. Why is a vaccine that was never tested on the elderly being initially widely administered to them?
Maybe not a single death will be attributed to the vaccine. We may have a third and fourth wave. It will all be because of COVID according to the media.
I’m hoping these vaccines will work well enough to end this catastrophic period in human history. But jubilant optimism shouldn’t blind us to the crushing reality of the lingering questions regarding a vaccine produced at Warp Speed.