To be pro-vaccine means appreciating a scientific intervention which has saved many lives in the past 200 years. It also means acknowledging complexities, being open to asking questions, exploring evidence and considering possible bias.
Questioning, exploring and reviewing evidence is how public health works. Vaccination programs always review epidemiological factors, such as which risk groups a vaccine might be recommended for and those for whom it may be contraindicated, what are the vaccine risks and do they outweigh benefits. Risks don’t solely relate to the act of vaccinating, but also to the way epidemiology may change. As one example, if we vaccinate everyone against Chicken Pox, do we alter the risk profile of Shingles epidemiology?
Public health experts and clinicians have a role in examining evidence and considering all aspects of vaccination including risk. There are many examples. Rotashield, an oral vaccine designed to protect infants against Rotavirus disease (a severe viral diarrhoea), was suspended nine months after its introduction to the childhood schedule in the USA in 1999. It had been associated with increased incidence of bowel obstruction in infants. A lot changes in 20 years as today clinicians reporting and speaking about their observations of possible risk are threatened with losing their livelihoods, their licences and their reputations. This is surely proof that politicians should never again have control over public health.
New Zealand doctors are speaking out with some humour, despite the threats. There is not only one source of truth and “it” is not government.
In Nick Hudson’s most recent public health presentation, Covid and the clash of ideologies, he discusses the complex array of events which have unfolded over the past year. This includes the role that Panda, who I volunteer with as a writer, have taken. At around the 54 minute mark he shows with some amusement, a study conducted by researchers at MIT, into the attitudes behind what they call “Coronavirus Skepticism”. Their findings concluded that “unorthodox scientists”, which appear to specifically include those at Panda, believe science is a process and not an institution; and value critical thinking over intellectual subservience. This was written as an apparent criticism!
In Fide is a 16 minute video combining poetry and music with science and rationality to present valid questions, cogent arguments and rational suggestions.
- Did the COVID-19 vaccines complete their trials?
- Has a vaccine administered worldwide potentially to billions ever been licensed ‘for emergency use only’?
- Have vaccine manufacturers ever lobbied for and been granted total legal immunity for all damages?
- The vaccines are described as gene therapy. Are they safe?
- Why are various scientists raising concerns?
- Because now we are going to vaccinate children.
- Were the trials designed to test whether the vaccines could prevent transmission?
- Have the vaccines been proven to reduce infection or transmission?
- How can a vaccine passport for the vaccinated help prevent transmission?
- Are the vaccines preventing transmission?
- How are they performing safety-wise?
- Is there an alternative to vaccination?
Silencing questions and concerns, assassinating characters and destroying lives?