The ABC released an article on the 28th of February 2021 titled “Your COVID-19 vaccine safety questions, answered by experts”. The article was designed to answer the “questions you asked most” by leading experts in infectious diseases and immunisation. The experts include Professor Kristine Macartney, the director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), Dr Christopher Blyth, the co-director of the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases,
Isn’t it better to risk COVID than take a new vaccine?
Professor Macartney claims that “these vaccines have been so incredibly well studied” and that it is “amazing what we’ve been able to learn because of the mass participation of people in these trials and roll-out”. At least Professor Macartney and Health Minister Greg Hunt are on the same page, after Mr Hunt recently acknowledged that the “world is engaged in the largest clinical trial, the largest global vaccination trial ever”. The Pfizer clinical trial enrolled approximately 44,000 people in the Phase 2/3 study, of which 37,586 participants were followed for a median of just 60 days! Out of the 37,586 participants, only 170 ‘contracted’ COVID-19, which was enough participants to satisfy the criteria of ‘bad outcomes’. That’s right, two months! The Pfizer clinical trial is due for completion in January 2023. The “more than 200 million doses” that Professor Macartney is referring to are people who are unknowingly engaged in the ongoing clinical trials. The Australian Public Assessment Report clearly states that the long-term safety is “unknown”. Politicians, doctors and scientists have been spruiking the effectiveness and safety of these vaccines for months. How can the vaccines be considered safe when the long-term safety is unknown? To be considered safe, we must not only have data on short-term safety, we must also have data on long-term safety as well. How can Professor Macartney say that these vaccines have been “so incredibly well studied” when the follow up period was only two months? Given that the Pfizer vaccine is using new mRNA technology, it would seem even more imperative to conduct long-term studies to adequately assess the long-term effectiveness and safety of this particular vaccine.
Can I wait and see while others take it?
Professor Macartney explains that “we will only succeed in stopping this pandemic if most of the population is vaccinated”. The Australian Public Assessment Report states that “vaccine efficacy against asymptomatic infection and viral transmission” has not yet been addressed, a “correlate of protection has yet to be established”, and the “duration of protection is not yet known”. If the vaccine does not provide protection, and it does not stop transmission, how will it stop the pandemic Professor?
Professor Macartney continues by claiming that “we quite simply need to get a lot of people protected against serious disease through vaccination”. This may be true, if COVID-19 were in fact, a serious disease. At the time of writing, Australia has had 29,075 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths. According to the Department of Health, 58 deaths occurred in people under the age of 70. That equates to 6% of the total deaths. 25,280 cases (87%) occurred in people below the age of 70. In Australia, if you are below the age of 70, your chance of survival is 99.8%. This does not account for those with co-morbidities, or for the fact that the majority of cases are mild or asymptomatic, and therefore, the number of people who would have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2 would be significantly higher. Of the 909 deaths, 685 (75%) occurred in aged care facilities out of a total of 2,051 cases. 33% of people that contracted SARS-CoV-2 in aged care passed away with COVID-19. This trend has occurred in many countries around the world. To put these numbers in perspective, 4,124 people died in Australia from influenza and pneumonia in 2019, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We don’t vaccinate the entire population for influenza, and nor should we for COVID-19, which for the majority of people, is a mild disease.