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Open Thread | Main | Open Thread
September 06, 2021

The COVID Vaccine: A Physician's Perspective
[Cat Ass Trophy]

My name is Dr. CAT, I am a 27 year military veteran of both the Air Force and Army, a board certified emergency physician and employee of a Big Hospital system. I am a graduate of a Big 10 University School of Medicine and completed my residency at a prestigious institution

I am not anti vaccine. I am anti vaccine mandate, particularly in the case of the novel mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. As with all of you, I watched in horror from my position at a big hospital in February 2020 as COVID-19 ravaged Italy. The virus was spreading globally, nothing seemed to stop it, and thousands were dying with no effective treatment to be found. It was truly a nightmare scenario.

Physicians and scientists were collaborating globally using Facebook and Twitter to speed the spread of new information and ideas around the world within minutes. Major scientific journals expedited the release and publication of COVID related articles and made them free to access. It was amazing. This was going to be a global triumph. But then politics joined the fray. And when politics and science mix, science loses. What the government scientists spoke was the truth, everything else was labelled misinformation and banned.

For centuries the scientific method invited questions, invited curiosity. Stupid questions and fringe ideas overturned scientific dogma throughout history. It is how we advance science. We question results, question truth, keep experimenting. But when politics and science mix, science loses. Fringe ideas such as a heliocentric solar system get Copernicus and Galileo thrown out of the church. Offering an alternative treatment to COVID, or questioning the effectiveness of masks gets you banned from Facebook and YouTube.

The family of coronaviruses is fairly common. It along with rhinovirus, adenovirus and enterovirus typically cause symptoms of the common cold. A vaccine which can tackle some or all of these viruses would be a windfall for any pharmaceutical company. Cure for the common cold. But the cure does not exist. Prior to 2020, we have never successfully made a vaccine against the coronavirus. Prior to 2020, we have also never made a vaccine using the mRNA technology. But, within months of isolating SARS COV-2, we not only have a vaccine against a coronavirus, but one using mRNA technology, AND near simultaneous release by several companies globally.

This should warrant cautious optimism from the medical and scientific community. Yes it works, but is it safe? Is it necessary? By the time of release of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in late 2020, we were gaining control of the pandemic. We were finding effective treatment strategies, deaths were down. We identified vulnerable populations. The vaccine was promising, but the urgency was waning. It left time for careful consideration. Be scientists. Ask questions. What are the side effects? How long does immunity last? Is it effective against variants? What are the longer term, unseen effects? We don’t know. Let’s find out.

The majority of COVID-19 deaths are in people over 60 with other significant medical problems. It is reasonable to focus vaccine efforts on this population. There may be some unseen risk to the vaccine, but they stand a significant chance of dying from COVID. The benefit outweighs the risk. That is a decision we make all the time in medicine. The treatment has drawbacks, but the disease is worse. But in the less vulnerable population? Let’s wait a little bit. There are two novel aspects to this vaccine. The mRNA mechanism, and the Coronavirus target. We need careful consideration to find out what the risks of the vaccine really are.

That did not happen. When politics and science mix, science loses. Hurry up! Vaccinate everyone. We will restrict you until you are vaccinated. No 4th of July if we don’t reach vaccination goals! Hurry up!

AstraZeneca was the first to be pulled in Europe because of unanticipated blood clotting issues. The Johnson and Johnson adenovirus vector vaccine faced some early questions here at home. Healthy people were getting ill, suffering long term appetite suppression and cardiomyopathy after the vaccine. Wait. Stop. Slow down. Let’s take time to look at this closer before we forge ahead. No. When politics and science mix, science loses. Just shut up and take the jab. You are banned from Facebook for spreading misinformation about your vaccine side effects.

The vaccine was designed for the original COVID. We are now Delta dominant. Cases are surging. Companies are mandating the vaccine with threat of firing for noncompliance, mandating the vaccine to fly, mandating the vaccine to attend a game. The FDA made a hasty approval of the Pfizer vaccine, and the floodgates have opened. Now, under the thin veneer of FDA approval, more companies, my hospital included, are mandating the vaccine in order to remain employed.

The hospital’s rationale is that the Delta surge is driven by the unvaccinated. Is this true? The data out of Israel, who is months ahead of our curve with Delta says the opposite. Those who have never had COVID, but did receive the full 2 dose Pfizer regimen are 13 times more likely to get Delta than those with natural immunity, those who contracted the original COVID and recovered. 13 times more likely to contract Delta if you are vaccinated.

And of those who were vaccinated and contracted Delta, how long was it between vaccination and infection with Delta? Four months. Israelis were vaccinated in Jan/Feb and contracted Delta by June.

So we have a twice novel vaccine with known immediate side effects, no long term study , and which only seems to be effective against the current variant for 4-6 months. Will “take the jab or be fired” be a recurring threat from Big Hospital going forward? Every 6 months, get your booster or you are fired?

They reply “But those who are vaccinated and contract Delta don’t get as sick!” Right, but they are still contagious, and now not sick enough to stay home. And if there is a risk of harm from taking a new vaccine, and the only benefit is that I get less sick, that choice should be mine, not forced under threat of unemployment.

And speaking about long term effects, are we seeing any now? Long term effects are just that. They happen months or years later. This is why a new drug takes years to come to market. The FDA graveyard is littered with medications which made it through the approval process, only to be recalled due to an unforeseen long term consequence. Try to buy Zantac, a once popular OTC antacid, at CVS. It was just recalled because an impurity causes cancer. Didn’t see that coming. Vioxx, thalidomide, fen-phen… oops.

What are the long term effects of the mRNA vaccine? Who knows. There is early evidence of decreased numbers of an immune cell called CD-8 T cells immediately following vaccination. These cells are part of the early surveillance team which seeks out and destroys cells infected with viruses or are abnormally growing cancerous cells. Dr. Ryan Cole, a pathologist and immunologist in Idaho has noticed an increase in invasive melanomas, endometrial cancer, and cervical dysplasia as well as common viral infections such as molluscum, HPV and HSV. These are typically conditions a healthy immune system with functioning CD-8 cells would knock out before you even knew about it. But in post vaccinated people, these infections and cancer are quickly becoming more common. Suppressed T cells are not there to stop it. This is anecdote, not a published study, but this is the kind of thing that spurs questions in a healthy scientific community. We consider the issue, study it find the data, prove the hypothesis. But in today’s world, Dr. Cole is labelled a kook, ostracized, videos deleted from YouTube for spreading misinformation. Questioning the dogma.

There is also a study published in the UK which identifies antibody dependent enhancement facilitating infection with Delta. Antibody dependent enhancement is a case where the antibodies the vaccine stimulates you to make actually facilitate the entry of the Delta strain into your cells. Instead of making it less likely you will get sick, it makes you more likely. This may explain the Israeli data. This is actual data, published by the British Infection Association. There are long term consequences out there, we just haven’t taken the time necessary to find them.

The Big Hospital policy cites acceptance of the vaccine by the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG). Give the vaccine to pregnant women. Really? Where is the caution here? Most medications, common medications prescribed frequently to pregnant women, reglan, zofran, phenergran, tylenol, carry the warning on the package insert that they are not well studied in pregnancy, and use is cautioned. We use them because there are decades of use that show them to be probably safe, but still counsel patients before prescribing. The vaccine? Just give it! It is safe! Despite the fact that it is not possible to have a cohort of newborns large enough to show detrimental effect. Disgraceful. What possible reason is there for the rush? When politics and science mix, science loses

It may turn out that the Pfizer vaccine was key in our victory over COVID. This may also be a dark time for science and medicine where we allowed our process to be subverted by politics, and patients lost.

In medicine we talk about informed decision making. The old, paternalistic, directive medicine is in the past. We involve patients in their care, inform them, allow them to make the decisions, right or wrong. Politics mixed with science, science has lost and we have now returned to the paternalistic directive medicine of “vaccinate or else”.

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posted by Open Blogger at 02:10 PM

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