About the Covid-19 vaccine. Neither conspiracy nor blind belief

In Belgium, as in all European countries that have adopted containment measures that are difficult for everyone to live with, the end of the tunnel is announced for the very near future thanks to the Covid vaccines. Several vaccines will be available in a few weeks; their announced efficiency would be of the order of 95%… according to the producers. All that remains is to obtain marketing authorizations from the European Medicines Agency: a formality if we consider the very short deadlines provided. 

The spokesperson of the Security Council, Dr. Yves Van Laethem, has been hammering it home: herd immunity can only be ensured by vaccines, provided that a vaccination coverage of at least 70% is achieved.

But for that, it will be necessary to reassure and convince the reluctant not only of their effectiveness but especially of their harmlessness. Anyone who challenges this discourse or points out the long-term risks or side effects of hastily manufactured and licensed vaccines is classified at best as an anti-vaccine ideologue, at worst as a conspiracy theorist. The most well-founded objections and reticence in the face of uncertainties have been swept aside, and the proven facts that challenge Mr. Van Laethem’s vaccine doxa have been ignored.

However, facts are facts; they can be ignored but cannot be denied: they are more valuable than beliefs. 

I submit them here for critical examination:

  1. It is generally accepted that it takes an average of 10 years to develop a new vaccine, and this is confirmed by both the scientific literature and World Health Organization (WHO) data. We can also note, by consulting the same data from the WHO(1) that no vaccine is operational to combat some of the most devastating viruses that have emerged in recent decades; no vaccine is cited as available (available vaccine) for deadly diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, severe dengue or Chikungunya. With Covid-19, we will have in less than a year vaccines that have been shown to be effective through a fast-track process and following clinical trials conducted by the manufacturers who are asked to be trusted. It is difficult to believe that the same safety guarantees can be obtained from clinical trials conducted at a few sites over a few months as from trials conducted at many different sites over several years. We recall the episode of the vaccine developed in emergency by GlaxoSmithKline during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009. After two years of widespread use of this vaccine in Finland, the Vaccine Vigilance System had identified a risk of narcolepsy in children and adolescents within 6 months of injection. A study published by the British Medical Journal in 2013 confirmed these findings for the United Kingdom. There are a total of 1500 cases of narcolepsy in Europe and 80% of the victims are children.(2) As a reminder, narcolepsy is a chronic and incurable neurological disease that manifests itself in the form of sudden and acute sleepiness appearing at any time during the day and anywhere. It damages mental function and memory and can only be cured with expensive drug treatments.
  2. The vaccines that will be available in the near future, produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, respectively, plus Curevac, are of a new type. They use biotechnology to inject the RNA coding for the viral protein to produce the infectious virus antigen in the cells of the person vaccinated. This is a first for which risks of a specific nature are to be feared. As the molecular geneticist Christian Velot points out in a recent report as president of the Scientific Council of CRIIGEN, the risks of recombinant viruses and insertional mutagenesis are real. But he insists that anti-viral vector immunity can also directly interfere with the desired vaccine efficacy.He concludes that current vaccine candidates require a thorough health and environmental assessment incompatible with urgency.(3) This evaluation has not taken place and will not take place if nothing changes. In order to accelerate the marketing of this type of vaccine, the Council of Ministers of the European Union and the European Parliament(4) adopted on July 15, under an emergency procedure, without debate or amendments, a regulation allowing producers of vaccines against Covid-19 to escape the requirement to conduct a prior environmental impact assessment and biosafety study. This derogation from the GMO legislation totally violates the precautionary principle, a basic principle of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union*. Only a small minority of MEPs dared to oppose this decision. In addition to the risk of not taking into account the side effects as a consequence of the lack of hindsight, there is also the ecological risk and ultimately the health risk linked to the possible propagation of recombinant viruses that are potentially more dangerous than the virus that we claim to be fighting. Six associations (CNMSE, Terra SOS Tenible, LNPLV, EFVV, AIMSIB and Children’s Health Defense Europe) have lodged an appeal with the European Court of First Instance for the annulment of this new European regulation.
  3. The negotiations conducted by the European Commission with the pharmaceutical companies have been conducted in total secrecy, which has been denounced on several occasions by the European deputy Michèle Rivasi: neither the pre-purchase agreements negotiated in secret, nor the raw data from the clinical trials, nor the efficacy criteria used, are available. What seems to have been taken for granted, at least, is the clause according to which the responsibility for defective products will be incumbent on the producers, but not the damages resulting from undesirable side effects, which will be the responsibility of the States! It is quite obvious that the big winners in this agreement are in any case the vaccine producers who are guaranteed a captive market without financial risks.
  4. The basic assumption, when negotiations are initiated between two parties, is that of the good faith of the interlocutors. In this regard, one has to wonder about the confidence that should be placed in the statements of the pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines. With respect to Pfizer specifically, it is a fact that there have been multiple convictions against this company over the past 15 years(5). Pfizer pleaded guilty to misleading advertising of several drugs in the US in 2009 and paid a fine of 2.3 billion dollars to avoid a trial. It is fair to say that Pfizer is not the black sheep of the pharmaceutical industry; most of its competitors have a record that is not much better. We are looking for a white sheep.
  5. We must be wary of the effects of announcements. This is the conclusion that can be drawn from the long list of dashed hopes following premature claims of efficacy of vaccines on the way to market. Two particularly dramatic episodes have taken place recently. They reveal the intrinsically dangerous character of a race to vaccines that has come to forget the fundamental ethical principles of medical research.

The case of dengue hemorrhagic fever: botched clinical trials

In 2015, a vaccine developed by Sanofi promised to be a miracle of global proportions. It was a world first, after twenty years of research and 1.5 billion euros of investment. As soon as the announcement was made, the scientific community began to warn of the inconclusive results of the first clinical trials. The government of the Philippines, enthusiastic, launched a vaccination campaign that turned out to be disastrous: 500 children died and several thousand suffered severe hemorrhages. The risk of severe dengue was found to be 7 times higher in vaccinated children under 5 years of age than in unvaccinated children. The Phase 3 clinical trials after re-analysis showed that dengue history was not taken into account. The program was eventually discontinued. 

Malaria vaccine being tested in Africa(6)

In January 2020, an article published in the British Medical(7) and signed by several experienced epidemiologists familiar with the African context, revealed the adverse effects of GSK’s vaccine, Mosquirix, which has been undergoing trials in Africa for several years. 

After a relentless search for adverse effects in the reports exchanged between the industry and the health authorities (WHO and European Medicines Agency), the authors concluded as follows:  » the toxicity data are catastrophic: more meningitis, more cerebral malaria and a doubling of female mortality among those vaccinated.

It would have been logical to stop the experiment immediately, given these disastrous results. But the decision was made to launch a new study to see if the vaccine really did increase the risk of cerebral malaria (often fatal) and mortality in vaccinated baby girls.

Worse, this new study was scheduled without the informed consent of the parents, with the fallacious argument that entrusting one’s baby to caregivers constituted implied consent. This clear violation of medical ethics was denounced in a new BMJ article on February 24, 2020(8).

In conclusion

All the facts mentioned above concur to raise legitimate questions about the relevance of a vaccination campaign in a context where information about the efficacy of vaccines is strictly advertising and not very explicit and where the possible risks for the vaccinated persons are ignored. Even more serious is the leap into the unknown that is the large-scale use of RNA vaccines.

Strengthening the immune system of all is a choice that does not involve any risk: reducing pollution that weakens immunity, ensuring access to a healthy and balanced diet for all, encouraging the use of useful supplements, vitamin (vitamin D) and trace elements (zinc), encouraging a healthy lifestyle (regular physical exercise, and going out in the fresh air) constitute a plan for immunity where everyone wins … except for the drug multinationals and polluters of all categories

Remember that vaccination is a medical act. In this respect, it requires rigorous and objective information on the possible risks that each patient runs in relation to the expected benefits. In addition, it is a preventive medical procedure. In the absence of reliable data on the efficacy of the vaccine for each individual person, it should at least be possible to justify its benefits for society as a whole, given the high cost of the operation and the lack of reliable forecasts available. We are asked to believe in the rightness of a choice while remaining blind and deaf to all the signals that warn us. 

However, another prevention policy is within our reach. Strengthening the immune system of all is a choice that does not involve any risk: reducing pollution that weakens immunity, ensuring that everyone has access to a healthy and balanced diet, encouraging the use of useful supplements, vitamin (vitamin D) and trace elements (zinc), encouraging a healthy lifestyle (regular physical exercise and outings in the fresh air) constitute a plan for immunity where everyone wins.(9) … except for the multinational drug companies and polluters of all kinds. Curiously enough, all this is absent from the discourse of politicians and experts. 

A final note: the seasonal flu vaccine has been available and widely recommended for decades. It has never eradicated the virus or prevented the thousands of annual deaths from the flu.

Paul Lannoye, Member of the Board of the Grappe ASBL. Former President of the Green Group in the European Parliament. Article originally published on the GRAPPE website, grappebelgique.be

Notes et références
  1. Organisation mondiale de la Santé: «available vaccine»; https://www.who.int/fr/home
  2. Miller E et al.: Risk of narcolepsy in children and young people receiving AS03 adjuvanted pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza vaccine: retrospective analysis; BMJ 2013; 346-f794.
  3. Christian Velot: Note d’expertise grand public sur les vaccins ayant recours aux technologies OGM; CRIIGEN; septembre 2020
  4. Règlement (UE )2020/1043 du Parlement Européen et du Conseil du 15 juillet 2020 relatif à la conduite d’essais cliniques avec des médicaments à usage humain contenant des organismes génétiquement modifiés ou consistant en de tels organismes et destinés à traiter ou prévenir la maladie à coronavirus ( COVID-19), ainsi qu’à la fourniture de ces médicaments.
  5. Dr Vincent Reliquet: Vaccinsanti-Covid en 2020: folie sanitaire, politique, médiatique et financière: AIMSIB; 22/11/2020.
  6. Le texte qui suit est largement inspiré du dossier publié par l’AIMSIB: Paludisme, Covid ‑19 et miracle vaccinal; 19 avril 2020.
  7. P.Aaby et al.: WHO’s rollout of Malaria vaccine in Africa: can safety questions be answered after only 24 months? , janvier 2020.
  8. P.Doshi, WHO’s malaria vaccine study represents a «serious breach of international ethical standards», février 2020.
  9. https://www.kairospresse.be/article/stimuler-notre-systeme-immunitaire-un-imperatif-sanitaire-urgent

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