Regardless of what we think about the cause of the peak in April, we are now in December and observing what has every appearance of a normal profile of winter deaths from respiratory infections (covid + flu + rhinovirus etc).
So a number of pharmaceutical companies have spent a lot of money, as little time as possible, and a huge investment in publicity, to develop and sell a vaccine for Covid.
Let us for the moment be trusting and assume that these vaccines will be both “safe” and “effective”.
Do we need to take a vaccine – as in “if there wasn’t one available, would I want one?” ?
If we are over 65, then maybe.
If we are under 45 then the benefit seems hardly worth the trip to the doctor.
Between 45 and 64 your chance of hospitalisation becomes noticeable if you follow the statistics, but if you are in “good health” (no co-morbidities, healthy lifestyle, good nutrition and adequate levels of vitamins D and C) then I suggest that you are unlikely to succumb.
So we are left with the “unhealthy” and the “over-65s”.
We might estimate that 10K people in England die every week from all causes. In the end, it is a fact of life on Earth that we will all die of something at some time, and the risk of dying unsurprisingly rises with advancing years, due to both deteriorating health and declining numbers in your age cohort.
So perhaps we might better frame the questions that we should ask:
- “Is there evidence that a vaccine will safely protect those in failing health?”
- “Is a Covid-specific vaccine likely to effect any real change to our life-expectancy? Or might Covid deaths simply be displaced by Virus-X deaths?”
A recent article in the British Medical Journal reviewed the protocols for these vaccine trials and concluded that:
“none of the vaccine trials are designed to detect a significant reduction in hospital admissions, admission to intensive care, or death”
That might imply that these vaccines may not be not of much use to the healthy, let alone to the unhealthy, but it does leave open the possibility that they might reduce the chances of catching the infection in the first instance, so they may indeed effect a benefit.
Another thing that we do know is that no vaccine program has ever been free from adverse effects (ADRs in the trade).
The vaccine companies have even insisted that they be accorded legal immunity from prosecution in the event that someone’s health is seriously damaged by a vaccine, because they are not prepared to take the risk of legal action.
The UK’s own MHRA has recently purchased a new AI system in order to ensure that it can track such ADRs (let us hope that it succeeds in putting in a working national computer system in record time, despite all precedents).
So who will be taking the risk? (No prizes for answering this question!)
Lastly we can certainly say that in view of the short testing time-frames we cannot possibly know how long the protection offered by vaccination will last, so vaccinating young people cannot really be held to confer likely benefit (although it will confer some risk).
So here are six questions that we might ask:
- In view of the short testing time-frame, how confident can we be that health problems due to vaccination will not appear down the road (remember thalidomide)?
- Why would we want to vaccinate young people against a disease that the vast majority don’t suffer from, when we have no idea that such protection will be life-long and better vaccines may become available in the future?
- Is a Covid vaccination likely to extend our life-expectancy by any measurable amount?
- What is the basis upon which our government has invested millions of taxpayers’ pounds on developing these vaccines, and has reportedly purchased more than 350 million doses in advance of approval by the regulatory authorities?
- Why are they in such a rush that they are even bypassing the normal approvals procedures to mandate immediate vaccine roll-out?
- Why is there talk of issuing “immunity passports” and suchlike, and why does the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care not rule out the possibility that vaccination for such a relatively inconsequential disease will become mandatory?
Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but as I’m only in my young 70s and “healthy”, I may not rush to be first in the queue.