WTH, Part 2

This is the second in a series involving the Covid-19 vaccines:

Before they were released for public use the following trials were conducted with the following results for the three versions of the vaccines: Pfizer: A total of 43,548 participants underwent randomization, of whom 43,448 received injections: 21,720 with BNT162b2 and 21,728 with placebo. A two-dose regimen of BNT162b2 conferred 95% protection against Covid-19 in persons 16 years of age or older.
Moderna: The trial enrolled 30,420 volunteers who were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either vaccine or placebo (15,210 participants in each group). The mRNA-1273 vaccine showed 94.1% efficacy at preventing Covid-19 illness, including severe disease.
Johnson & Johnson: The per-protocol population included 19,630 SARS-CoV-2–negative participants who received Ad26.COV2.S and 19,691 who received placebo. A single dose of Ad26.COV2.S protected against symptomatic Covid-19 and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and was effective against severe–critical disease, including hospitalization and death.

The present state of testing for these is called Phase 4. Data is now being gathered through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to evaluate how these drugs interact in a much larger population.

All of these vaccines have adverse events being reported. An “adverse event” does not automatically mean cause-and-effect. For example, Hank Aaron received a much-publicized injection of the vaccine and died two weeks later. The Fulton County Medical Examiner attributed his death to a stroke, and therefore natural causes unrelated to the vaccine. Locally, this week a healthy 17-year-old high school basketball player received a vaccine shot and then began developing blood clots. He has been hospitalized and his case has received national attention in some media outlets.

In Wisconsin a 16-year-old girl received the vaccine and died shortly after receiving the second injection. This was reported on VAERS, but like Hank Aaron and the Draper basketball player, how and if there is a cause-and-effect will have to be investigated. It is possible all these and many more reported adverse events are unrelated to the vaccines they received.

Numerous drugs have passed clinical trials and entered into public distribution. Over time reports of adverse events accumulate, are investigated, and cause-and-effect is established. Then the drug is recalled, and oftentimes litigation follows. Fen-Phen, a weight loss drug, was on the market for 24 years before its danger was adequately proven. It was shown to cause potentially fatal pulmonary hypertension and heart valve problems.

Seldane was sold for 13 years before being removed from the US market. It caused potentially fatal disruption in heart rhythms.

Vioxx was an arthritis treatment marketed for 5 years. But it was linked to thousands of fatal heart-attacks and recalled.

Acutane is now known to cause birth defects. Zantac has been linked to cancer.

Perhaps the most notorious recall is Thalidomide. It was the only non-barbiturate sedative known at the time, and this gave the drug massive appeal. When it was discovered to help with morning sickness for pregnant women, many women took it for that purpose. The drug caused numerous horrific birth defects. These deformed children were so numerous and tragic in America that Thalidomide is mentioned in Billy Joel’s lyrics in his song We Didn’t Start the Fire. The lyrics survey significant historic events from the time of Billy Joel’s birth in 1949 until the year the song was written in 1989.

All of these drugs were “safe and effective” until enough data was gathered to show a cause-and-adverse-effect. Then they were dangerous. There are many other similarly recalled drugs, whose adverse effects could not be established until widely distributed and used.

Right now it is possible the three vaccines being administered are indeed safe and effective. But there are obviously those who fear otherwise. Eventually, the VAERS reports will be investigated, and perhaps there will be a cause-and-effect established that leads to a revised opinion from the health community. Or, it may prove that some or all of these vaccines are indeed altogether safe and effective. How any given individual evaluates the risks of receiving or refusing the offered vaccine should be their health choice. An intelligent person could very much want to get the vaccine, and should not be condemned or called foolish for that choice. But an equally intelligent person could decide to delay or refuse the vaccine, and they should also not be condemned or called foolish for the opposite choice.

Why has this choice become a charged, divisive issue today? Think about that, and in the next post I’ll suggest some reasons to consider.