South Australian Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier published a video recently asking South Australians, “what are you waiting for?”
This question was directed at those who are yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“South Australians have done a great job at keeping our state safe from COVID-19. Now it’s time to get vaccinated, because here are the facts.”
“COVID-19 vaccines have been tested, reviewed and approved in exactly the same way as all other vaccines. They’re close to 90% effective in reducing symptoms and preventing hospitalisation and death. Vaccines do not have late onset side effects and COVID vaccines are no different.”
Let’s fact check the first statement.
“COVID-19 vaccines have been tested, reviewed and approved in exactly the same way as all other vaccines.”
According to the John Hopkins University of Medicine, “a typical vaccine development timeline takes 5 to 10 years, and sometimes longer, to assess whether the vaccine is safe and efficacious in clinical trials, complete the regulatory approval processes, and manufacture sufficient quantity of vaccine doses for widespread distribution”.
It is true that this process has been sped up somewhat by people and organisations investing more money than usual in the development process, which enables more people to do more work and use more resources. The clinical trial phases are occurring at the same time, when the phases normally happen one after the other. It’s also easier for scientists to assess whether the vaccines are working due to the large number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, and more people have been willing to take part in clinical trials. Scientists worked out the virus’s genetic sequence early on in the pandemic, and they shared this information with other scientists. Companies also manufactured the vaccines prior to the clinical trials finishing.
The John Hopkins University of Medicine explains that the “Phase 3 trials may take six to nine months to allow early assessment of safety and efficacy, particularly if conducted in areas with a high risk of infection, but with follow-up continuing for two years or more to assess long-term safety and efficacy”.
According to the Australian Public Assessment Report, “from the perspective of vaccine efficacy, a 2 month median follow up is considered as the shortest follow up period to achieve some confidence that any protection against COVID-19 is likely to be more than short lived. The duration of protection is not yet known and is to be assessed in the ongoing trial”.
The Phase 3 clinical trials were not conducted over 6-9 months, which is considered to be an accelerated time period. They were completed over a 2 month period. Furthermore, the Australian Public Assessment Report clearly states that the longer term safety is “unknown”.
One thing we can’t speed up is time. According to ClinicalTrials.gov, the estimated study completion date for the Pfizer vaccine is May 2023, whilst the estimated study completion date for the AstraZeneca vaccine is February 2023. That’s right. The vaccines are still considered to be in the clinical trial phase.
Professor Spurrier, the COVID-19 vaccines have NOT been “tested, reviewed and approved in exactly” the same way as all other vaccines.
VERDICT – FASLE
Let’s fact check the next statement.
“They’re close to 90% effective in reducing symptoms and preventing hospitalisation and death.”
Pfizer’s clinical trials boasted an efficacy of 95%, whilst Moderna was 94% and AstraZeneca was 67%. However, if we look a little closer, this is measuring relative risk reduction. A more accurate measure is absolute risk reduction.
A study published in the Lancet shows that the actual efficacy is “1·3% for the AstraZeneca-Oxford, 1·2% for the Moderna-NIH… and 0·84% for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines”.
A study conducted in Qatar and published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that “BNT162b2-induced protection against SARS-COV-2 infection appeared to wane rapidly following its peak after the second dose”.
“Estimated BNT162b2 effectiveness against any SARS-CoV-2 infection was negligible in the first 2 weeks after the first dose. It increased to 36.8%... in the third week after the first dose and reached its peak at 77.5%... in the first month after the second dose.”
“Effectiveness declined gradually thereafter, with the decline accelerating after the fourth month to reach approximately 20% in months 5 through 7 after the second dose. Effectiveness against symptomatic infection was higher than effectiveness against asymptomatic infection but waned similarly. Variant-specific effectiveness waned in the same pattern.”
Another study from Israel, also published in the New England Journal of Medicine, stated that “BNT162b2-induced protection against SARS-COV-2 infection appeared to wane rapidly following its peak after the second dose, but protection against hospitalization and death persisted at a robust level for 6 months after the second dose”.
The most damning study of all is a preprint study that was just released, which concluded that “these data demonstrate a substantial waning of antibody responses and T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, at 6 months following the second immunization with the BNT162b2 vaccine. Notably, a significant proportion of vaccinees have neutralizing titers below the detection limit.”
After six months, antibodies were no longer detectable.
Furthermore, a reduction in severe illness, hospitalisation and death was never measured in the initial clinical trials, as highlighted by the Lancet.
“These considerations on efficacy and effectiveness are based on studies measuring prevention of mild to moderate COVID-19 infection; they were not designed to conclude on prevention of hospitalisation, severe disease, or death, or on prevention of infection and transmission potential.”
Pfizer’s Six Month Safety and Efficacy Data highlights something even more disturbing. The clinical trials show a 0.13% reduction in severe illness, a reduction in hospitalisation was never measured, and the reduction in death was 0.002%, which is not statistically significant.
Currently in Singapore, with 84% of the population fully vaccinated, 58% of cases in hospital, 39% on oxygen supplementation, and 41% in ICU are fully vaccinated. The death rate per capita has now surpassed the world average for the first time.
To say that the vaccine is “90% effective in reducing symptoms and preventing hospitalisation and death” is factually incorrect.
VERDICT – FALSE
Finally, let’s fact check the final statement.
“Vaccines do not have late onset side effects and COVID vaccines are no different”.
There were no reports of myocarditis during the initial clinical trials, yet around the world, many people, especially young males, are suffering from myocarditis and pericarditis. According to the TGA’s Weekly Safety Report, “our analysis of Australian data indicates there is a higher-than-expected number of cases of myocarditis in vaccinated compared to unvaccinated individuals for Comirnaty (Pfizer)”.
There have been 1,008 cases of suspected myocarditis or pericarditis so far. The youngest case reported was in a 12 year old, who has absolutely no risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.
The cells of the heart do not regenerate, putting additional stress on the heart over a person’s lifetime, which may have severe or potentially fatal long-term consequences.
Dr J. Bart Classen published a study examining the risk of prion disease from RNA-based vaccines. Wikipedia describes prion disease in the following way. “Prions are misfolded proteins with the ability to transmit their misfolded shape onto normal variants of the same protein. They characterise several fatal and transmissible neurodegenerative diseases in humans and many other animals.”
Dr Classen explains that the “concern is raised that the RNA based COVID vaccines have the potential to cause more disease than the epidemic of COVID-19”.
“This paper focuses on a novel potential adverse event mechanism causing prion disease which could be even more common and debilitating than the viral infection the vaccine is designed to prevent. While this paper focuses on one potential adverse event there are multiple other potential fatal adverse events as discussed below.”
“Autoimmunity and the opposing condition, metabolic syndrome, are well known adverse events caused by vaccines. COVID-19 infections are associated with the induction of autoantibodies and autoimmune disease making it more than plausible a vaccine could do the same.”
“Others working in the field have published additional support that COVID-19 vaccines could potentially induce prion disease. Authors found prion related sequences in the COVID-19 spike protein which were not found in related coronaviruses.”
Prion disease is an often fatal neurodegenerative disease. It is critical that this possibility is ruled out prior to rolling out a vaccine. If this does indeed occur, for many it will simply be too late.
Autoimmune disease can take many years to develop, and there are still question marks on the long term safety during pregnancy and on fertility.
Vaccines have been proven to have late-onset side effects.
VERDICT – FALSE
As we can clearly see, Professor Spurrier has made a number of claims that either require further investigation, or can simply be refuted.
It is reckless, irresponsible and negligent as the South Australian Chief Public Health Officer to make such claims. This type of behaviour needs to cease immediately, along with the roll out of the vaccine.
Professor Spurrier, we demand an immediate retraction of these statements, and recommend that you resign as the South Australian Chief Public Health Officer effective immediately.
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