Prime Minister Scott Morrison hosted the first meeting of his cabinet women’s taskforce which received zero interest from the Left. That was last week’s excuse to attack him. This week, it’s the vaccine rollout and his opponents are seizing every opportunity to jab him about its slow pace and ask him, ‘Where the bloody hell is it?’
That the European Union has withheld millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Australia and many other countries, even while member states put the vaccine’s distribution on hold, didn’t stop the host of the ABC’s 7:30 program claiming the vaccine rollout was ‘amateur hour’ and a ‘dog’s breakfast’. Oh, how Aunty’s dwindling audience of die-hard lefties roared their approval on Twitter. Nobody rushed however to compare Australia to the Socialist Republic of New Zealand — or Aotearoa as it’s now called — which has only vaccinated a paltry 85,000 people, ten times fewer than the 855,000 in Australia.
Labor’s shadow spokespeople for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong, and for Health, Mark Butler, were hammering out the attack lines that Morrison had said that Australia would be at the front of the queue, but that Australia wasn’t even in the international top 100 and that the economy and our health depend on people getting jabs in their arms. Would that it were so.
For a start, vaccines do far less than people imagine. Pfizer announced with great fanfare that its vaccine had a relative risk reduction of 95 per cent but failed to say that the vaccine provided an absolute risk reduction of only 0.7 per cent, as Ronald Brown of the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and others have pointed out.
This is intuitively obvious. The vaccines only claim to prevent people from getting severe Covid or dying so for the more than 80 per cent of people who will only get asymptomatic or mild to moderate Covid the vaccine will provide limited benefit. Further, less than 2 per cent of people who get Covid-19 will die from it, so for everyone else there is no mortality benefit.
Adding to the opacity of vaccine benefits, as Peter Doshi of the University of Maryland and senior editor of the British Medical Journal pointed out at a recent symposium, for vaccines to be useful, they need to reduce deaths and create herd immunity, yet the trials conducted on the vaccines did not study either outcome. Worse, the pharmaceutical companies are mostly refusing to release the data until the end of the trials in several years.
Anyone who points out the limitations of Covid vaccines is smeared as an anti-vaxxer, the Covid equivalent of ‘climate denialism’. Yet there is a fundamental difference between the Covid vaccines and others. The latter are extremely safe because their development and testing took 10 to 15 years. This is borne out in the data. The UN monitors adverse drug reactions around the world in a centre in Sweden and makes the data publicly available via its Vigiaccess database.
It shows that the number of deaths occurring after most vaccinations is very low. Since 1968, for example, there have only been 35 deaths following measles vaccination. For whooping cough there have been 13 since 1972. For diphtheria, it’s six since 1979. For chicken pox there have been no deaths since 1989. Ditto for meningococcal, no deaths since 1976. Even the most controversial vaccine, that for polio, has only resulted in 632 deaths since 1968.
Yet in the last four months the Vigiaccess database has already registered 2,987 deaths following Covid vaccination. Other databases suggest that the number of deaths following vaccination may be even higher. Of the 145 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US from December to 29 March, 2021, the Vaccine Adverse Even Reporting System has received 2,509 reports of death. According to an analysis of the data collated by the European Medicine Agency (EMA) there have been 113.25 million vaccines administered in the European countries it covers and 6,000 reported deaths.
It must be stressed that correlation is not causation and that as recently as last week it was claimed that there was no evidence that vaccination contributed to any of these deaths. It should also be noted however that establishing cause and effect takes time. This week, Marco Cavaleri, the head of health threats and vaccine strategy at the EMA said that it was ‘becoming more and more difficult to affirm that there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship between AstraZeneca vaccines and the very rare cases of blood clots associated with a low level of platelets’.
It is also obvious that many more people have died following Covid vaccinations than for all other vaccines mentioned combined, even though other vaccines have been administered to millions of people for decades. It seems logical that if 10 to 15 years were spent testing these vaccines, the safety and efficacy would inevitably be improved.
The argument in favour of using Covid-19 vaccines that have been insufficiently tested is that they represent the only way to end the pandemic. Yet that is patently untrue. One only has to compare the experience of South Africa and Israel. Israel is jubilant that having vaccinated more than 60 per cent of its population, Covid-19 deaths have plummeted from a 7-day moving average of 65 on 25 January to only 10. Yet in South Africa, less than half a per cent of people have been vaccinated and the 7-day moving average of Covid-19 deaths has fallen from a high of 575 on 16 January to only 41.
What explains this miraculous turnaround in South Africa’s fortunes, battling the formidable South African variant? Quite simply, the use of ivermectin, which was authorised on 27 January and has been backed up by a court order this week, after doctors prescriptions were blocked, forcing patients to pay exorbitant prices on the black market.
In March, Nobel laureate Satoshi Omura, co-discoverer and developer of ivermectin co-authored an article because he is dismayed by the ‘uneager approach’ to using ivermectin to end the Covid-19 pandemic. When it is, he writes, ivermectin may rival penicillin as a blessing to humanity. Won’t that irritate the Left!
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