‘Experts’ Are Fueling Distrust in Vaccines
I got an artificial hip 2 years ago. My surgeon explained the risks (plenty of published data on it). I went in with my eyes open and well-informed. If the vaccine manufs had done the same, they would have sold less vaccine but their brand might be trusted now?
‘Experts’ Are Fueling Distrust in Vaccines
They opt for derision in place of persuasion and deny or ignore what people see with their own eyes.
By Allysia Finley, WSJ
Updated Jan. 9, 2023 8:24 am ET
Nearly half of Americans believe Covid vaccines have probably caused a significant number of unexplained deaths, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey last week. In December, Rasmussen reported that a near equal proportion worry that Covid vaccines may have major side effects (57%) as believe they are effective (56%).
People can hold both views at the same time. But the self-professed expert class and many who call themselves journalists dismiss anyone who questions their Covid vaccine orthodoxy as an “anti-vaxxer”—a label as sneering as “climate denier.”
But surveys show that most Americans, including those who didn’t get Covid shots, don’t distrust vaccines in general. Public views on Covid vaccines are more complicated because they are new and haven’t been thoroughly studied. The experts are responsible for vaccine skepticism because they aren’t honest about the potential risks.
The mRNA vaccines use a novel technology to combat a novel virus that is evolving. They were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on an emergency basis after only 10 months of testing. Vaccine trials usually take about 10 years.
With thousands dying each day, the FDA in December 2020 decided it couldn’t wait for an exhaustive study and authorized the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after two large randomized controlled trials showed they were nearly 95% effective against symptomatic infection. But patients had been tracked for only a few months. The trials included too few participants to identify relatively rare adverse effects, especially among those of different age groups or with particular medical conditions. Public-health officials couldn’t conclude with any certainty whether the vaccines cause, for example, neurological symptoms in 1 of every 100,000 recipients or cardiac problems in 1 of every 10,000 young men.
While the FDA later granted both vaccines full approval, boosters were never tested in large clinical trials. Nor has the government’s recommended vaccine regimen, which for seniors has been five doses in less than two years. Booster recommendations were made on the fly on the assumption that the benefits outweighed the vaccine risks. Last fall two senior FDA vaccine officials resigned, reportedly because political appointees were pre-empting agency scientists and rushing boosters for all adults without enough evidence that they were necessary or safe.
“Since the boosters have potential side effects, however rare, it’s important to direct them to the people who will gain a clear benefit,” they wrote in the Washington Post in November 2021. “A healthy young person with two mRNA vaccine doses is extremely unlikely to be hospitalized with covid, so the case for risking any side effects—such as myocarditis—diminishes substantially.”
They also raised the concern that boosters could lead to immunological imprinting, in which “repeatedly ‘training’ the immune system to fight the original virus could reduce the effectiveness of a variant-specific booster.”
Scientists continue to study and make new discoveries about the virus; the same goes for vaccines. An article in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation last week found a link between myocarditis in teens and higher circulating levels of vaccine spike proteins in the blood. The authors found no correlation with vaccine antibody or T-cell responses, suspected by many as the cause of myocarditis.
A Dec. 22 study in Science Immunology found that repeated mRNA vaccines increased production of a specific class of antibodies known as IgG4, which is associated with immune tolerance. That’s when the immune system continually encounters a foreign agent, learns it isn’t lethal, and stops targeting it. In the case of the vaccine spike protein, IgG4 could make people more susceptible to future Covid infection.
All this deserves more study. To say the human organism and its systems are complicated is an understatement. A little more humility by those who purport to be experts is in order. It’s usually impossible to prove a death or adverse event is caused by a vaccine. But when a friend dies unexpectedly soon after getting inoculated, it isn’t irrational to wonder if a vaccine has contributed.
Stanford health-policy professor Michelle Mello—a vocal critic of vaccine misinformation—described her personal angst in the San Francisco Chronicle when her healthy 45-year-old husband suffered a stroke a few days after his second Covid dose. “Even after what one doctor called ‘a million-dollar workup,’ no one can figure out what happened,” she wrote in July 2021.
When she suggested reporting the stroke to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a self-reporting database that tracks events possibly related to vaccines, “the hospital care team shifted uncomfortably,” apparently worried that “anti-vaccination groups are combing those reports looking for tidbits to support their claims that the vaccines are unsafe.”
The internet is full of stories of unexplained deaths that follow vaccines, many of which may be coincidence but some of which may not. The more the experts deny or ignore what people see with their own eyes, or what new evidence and experience show, the more people will ignore their counsel and be open to charlatans who undermine all vaccination.