MORE than 30million Britons have received the Covid-19 vaccine, the great majority without any immediate ill-effects. Some have suffered side-effects causing a few days, and in some instances weeks, of illness, especially with the Pfizer jab, but according to the manufacturers that means a robust defence has been developed against the virus. Pfizer said last Thursday that after six months, a continuing trial of its product shows it to be highly effective in preventing severe disease, with ‘no serious safety concerns’.
Meanwhile, British regulators have followed agencies elsewhere in reporting rare blood-clot events linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, including seven deaths, while insisting that its benefits in preventing Covid outweigh any risks.
Worries persist, however. One of these is a mechanism known to scientists whereby the vaccine could be contributing to deaths, especially when administered concurrently with the viral infection itself. A so-called ‘spike’ protein which makes SARS-COV-2 especially dangerous, and which the vaccines generate to prepare the body to fight off the virus, may cause the same type of damage as the virus.
The independent Swiss Policy Research (SPR) group has drawn attention to a warning posted by the US Food and Drug Administration in December from US physician Dr Patrick Whelan that vaccines based on the spike protein may themselves trigger symptoms of severe Covid, including blood clots, brain inflammation and damage to the heart, liver and kidneys.
Whelan, a paediatric specialist caring for children suffering from multisystem inflammatory syndrome, urged particular caution over giving the vaccine to children and young adults, who normally fight off the coronavirus infection in its early stages.
Studies in which the full-length protein was injected into mice have shown it to be a potent brain toxin, whereas a truncated form of the protein was much less damaging.
‘While there are pieces to this puzzle that have yet to be worked out, it appears that the viral spike protein that is the target of the major SARS-COV-2 vaccines is also one of the key agents causing the damage to distant organs that may include the brain, heart, lung and kidney,’ Whelan wrote. Before any of the vaccines are approved for widespread use in humans, he said, there should be an assessment of the effects on the heart, perhaps using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and also using skin biopsies to detect distant tissue damage.
‘As important as it is to quickly arrest the spread of the virus by immunising the population, it would be vastly worse if hundreds of millions of people were to suffer long-lasting or even permanent damage to the brain or heart microvasculature as a result of failing to appreciate in the short term an unintended effect of full-length spike protein-based vaccines on these other organs.’
A mechanism of this kind may have been at work in the tragic loss of life experienced by Gibraltar, reported here on March 29. Within the space of a few weeks the Rock suffered 94 deaths, giving it the highest Covid mortality rate in the world proportional to its tightly-knit community of fewer than 34,000 people.
SARS-COV-2 was first reported in Gibraltar in March last year and by November 11 there had been 842 confirmed cases, with only one death. By January 10, when an intense rollout of the Pfizer vaccine began, cases had risen to 3,109. There had been 16 deaths at that point. But three weeks later, with 134,286 jabs administered, the total had soared to 78, out of 4,128 confirmed cases. Most of the victims were among the elderly, who were prioritised for the vaccine.
The death toll rose more gradually after that, reaching 93 by the end of February, when 36,808 doses had been administered. There has been only one other death since.
After nearly a year of strict measures to control viral spread, many on the Rock are grateful for the rollout, which made the British territory the first place in the world to have vaccinated the entire adult population against Covid-19. There are now no Covid patients in hospital, and no new cases reported.
But after our report appeared, some Gibraltarians contacted us to say they regard the achievement as a Pyrrhic victory. They are angry about the hardship brought by nearly a year of lockdown, only to be followed by the record-breaking loss of life; by a lack of transparency within the medical authorities over the circumstances of the deaths, with refusal to acknowledge that the vaccine might have played a part; and by triumphalism surrounding the success of the vaccination campaign, which they see as a distraction from any examination of the circumstances that brought about the grievous loss of life.
A glimpse of the suffering behind the numbers surfaced in an exchange on the Gibraltar government’s Facebook page, in which one person wrote: ‘I have an 85-year-old father who took the jab. I totally agree with you about them having lost the will to live. They just don’t care any more. They are too weak and old to make a difference. Living like they are is insufferable. Taking the jab is a win-win, they think. If it doesn’t kill them, they’ll be able to do more things; if it kills them, they’ll be out of it. Extremely sad. Breaks my heart to see my father like this.’
If Gibraltar were alone in signalling a potential hazard from the vaccine, lack of attention to the tragedy might be understandable.
But that is not the case.
The SPR group has recently noted that data from from vaccine adverse event reporting systems in the US, EU and UK indicate Covid vaccinations have already been associated with about 5,000 deaths, and several thousand non-trivial events including anaphylactic shock, temporary facial paralysis, cardiovascular disorders and miscarriages. The figures may be an underestimate, because vaccine reporting systems typically cover only a fraction of adverse events.
As fact-checking sites are constantly reminding us, association does not mean causation. Some of the events may be coincidental, and unrelated to the vaccination. However, the circumstances are often such as to make it reasonable to infer a cause-and-effect relationship, which is why doctors and others have taken the trouble to report them.
In the US, 47 per cent of the deaths occurred in people who became ill within 48 hours of being vaccinated, and 31 per cent within 48 hours of the vaccination itself. The average age was 78, and the youngest case was aged 23. In addition, the group says, in the US and Europe combined, several hundred cases of blindness, deafness, and spontaneous abortion have been reported shortly after Covid vaccinations.
Compared with the hundreds of millions of shots administered, and also the Covid death toll, the numbers are small. SPR says: ‘But compared to the standards for safe medical products, these numbers are certainly significant. Moreover, little is known about the long-term safety profile of Covid vaccines.’
SPR also notes that Israel, which like Gibraltar has boasted record levels of vaccination with the Pfizer jab, is reporting an unexplained rise in deaths from all causes. By early March, about 90 per cent of Israel’s population aged 65-plus, and about half of its entire population, had been inoculated. Covid deaths started falling from the end of January, although not any faster than in some countries with a very low vaccination rate.
But since mid-February, deaths from all causes have been rising. That contrasts with many European countries (including the UK) where fewer deaths than normal for the time of year are being reported, following the winter increase caused by the coronavirus.
‘The cause behind this renewed increase in Israeli all-cause mortality appears to be unclear,’ the group says. ‘According to Israeli newspaper YNet, the director of an Israeli clinic explained that they are currently seeing “a murky wave of heart attacks”. The director believes that this might be due to the “persistent stressful situation” and the “neglect of preventive medical care”.
‘Although quite a few cases of post-vaccination heart muscle inflammation, heart failure and heart attacks have been reported in Israel since December, the hospital director argues that “a connection to heart damage from it has not yet been proven to be significant”.
‘Nevertheless, given the paramount global importance of this question, Israeli and international public health authorities may want to answer it as fast as possible.’
SPR, founded in 2016, describes itself as a nonpartisan and nonprofit research group, composed of independent academics, investigating geopolitical propaganda. It has no external funding, other than reader donations.
A London doctor’s complaint in the British Medical Journal last week of ‘unprecedented’ levels of sickness among health service staff who have had the jab further strengthens the possibility that the vaccine is causing damage of the same type it is designed to prevent.
Under the heading, ‘Do doctors have to have the Covid-19 vaccine?’, consultant K Polyakova writes: ‘I have had more vaccines in my life than most people and come from a place of significant personal and professional experience in relation to this pandemic, having managed a service during the first two waves and all the contingencies that go with that.
‘Nevertheless, what I am currently struggling with is the failure to report the reality of the morbidity caused by our current vaccination program within the health service and staff population. The levels of sickness after vaccination are unprecedented and staff are getting very sick and some with neurological symptoms which is having a huge impact on the health service function. Even the young and healthy are off for days, some for weeks, and some requiring medical treatment. Whole teams are being taken out as they went to get vaccinated together.’
The letter was a response to reports that the Government is considering making it mandatory for NHS workers to have the Covid jab because a high proportion of front-line health-care workers – often those at highest risk of exposure to Covid-19 – are refusing it. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said NHS and care-home staff have a ‘professional responsibility’ to get vaccinated.
Dr Polyakova writes: ‘Mandatory vaccination in this instance is stupid, unethical and irresponsible when it comes to protecting our staff and public health. Coercion and mandating medical treatments on our staff, or members of the public especially, when treatments are still in the experimental phase, are firmly in the realms of a totalitarian Nazi dystopia and fall far outside of our ethical values as the guardians of health.
‘I and my entire family have had Covid. This as well as most of my friends, relatives and colleagues. I have recently lost a relatively young family member with comorbidities to heart failure, resulting from the pneumonia caused by Covid.
‘Despite this, I would never debase myself and agree that we should abandon our liberal principles and the international stance on bodily sovereignty, free informed choice and human rights and support unprecedented coercion of professionals, patients and people to have experimental treatments with limited safety data. This and the policies that go with this are more of a danger to our society than anything else we have faced over the last year.
‘What has happened to “my body, my choice?” What has happened to scientific and open debate? If I don’t prescribe an antibiotic to a patient who doesn’t need it as they are healthy, am I anti-antibiotics? Or an antibiotic-denier? Is it not time that people truly thought about what is happening to us and where all of this is taking us?’