Vaccine

U.S. Navy Refuses to Deploy Warship With Unvaccinated Commanding Officer

An ongoing legal battle over whether the U.S. military can force troops to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has left the navy with a warship its says it can’t deploy because it is commanded by an officer it cannot fire. Navy Times has the story.

It’s a standoff the brass are calling a “manifest national security concern,” according to recent federal court filings.

The issues stem from a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida late last year alleging servicemembers’ rights are being infringed upon by the Covid vaccine mandate because their religious beliefs prevent them from taking the vaccine.

Judge Steven D. Merryday issue an order last month banning the Navy and Marine Corps from taking any disciplinary action against the unnamed Navy warship Commander and a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel for refusing the vaccine.

In the process, the case has raised questions about the lines between military good order and discipline, and the legal rights of servicemembers as American citizens.

Merryday’s injunction is “an extraordinary intrusion upon the inner workings of the military” and has essentially left the Navy short a warship, according to a February 28th filing by the Government.

“With respect to Navy Commander, the Navy has lost confidence in his ability to lead and will not deploy the warship with him in command,” the filing states.

The Navy has 68 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the surface fleet, 24 of which are based in Norfolk.

But while the Government’s filing framed the judge’s order and the commander’s vaccine refusal as impacting the core of American military might, plaintiffs’ attorneys contend the case is ultimately about the rights afforded the plaintiffs under the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That act bans the Government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.

Not deploying a warship because the Commanding Officer won’t get vaccinated? I think they might have their priorities wrong somehow. But don’t worry, it’s not as though there’s a war on…

Worth reading in full.

Europe is Forcing Ukrainian Refugees to Be Vaccinated

According to a speech made by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on March 9th, Ukrainian refugees arriving in Italy will be forced to “either agree to have a swab every 48 hours or agree to be vaccinated“ against the coronavirus. A transcript of the speech has been published by the Italian daily Il Tempo. Some Italians have complained that Italian citizens have not been given the swab option, saying that the country’s citizens either get vaccinated or are suspended from work without a salary.

In Iceland, where all Covid-related restrictions have been abandoned, both internally and at the border, the refugees are still required to be tested for COVID-19 infection, according to the General Manager of the Primary Care of the Capital Area. As other travellers are not subject to this requirement, this is clear discrimination against Ukrainian refugees. While no plans of forced vaccination have yet been confirmed nor denied, according to the General Manager, “an emphasis is put on vaccinating them”.

As it has already become clear the vaccination does not protect against the Omicron variant now prevalent, and that the protection against infection may even be negative, there is no medical justification for forcing refugees to get vaccinated, as in Italy, or for cajoling them into it, as seems to be the intention in Iceland.

Only 35% of the Ukrainian population are vaccinated against COVID-19. Scepticism towards the vaccines is high in Ukraine and in August 2021, 56% of the population said they would not get vaccinated against the disease. Being forced to leave your war-torn homeland is bad enough. Being forced or pushed to accept a useless medication you do not trust when you finally arrive at your destination could hardly be described as kind hospitality, or free consent.

Thorsteinn Siglaugsson is an economist who lives in Iceland. Find him on his blog.

Systemic Adverse Events in 23% of the Vaccinated, 16% of the Vaccine Ends Up in the Liver – Revelations From the Pfizer Trial Documents

Steve Kirsch and Kyle Beattie have been going through the documents from the Pfizer Covid vaccine trial that the company has been compelled to release (150 so far with many more to come). While they warn that their findings are preliminary and need double-checking, here are some of the key points from their analysis so far.

1. Despite recent claims that the vaccines were only ever intended to reduce serious illness, it’s clear in the documents (see excerpts below) that Pfizer’s submission to the FDA was for a vaccine that would provide: “Active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 in individuals 16 years of age and older.” This purpose of the drug is stated repeatedly. That’s what it’s supposed to do, what it was authorised for. This means it has failed on its own terms, and it is unclear why this should not invalidate the authorisation in the eyes of the approving body.

Vaccine Side-Effects Up to 10 Times Higher Than Official Figures, Insurance Company Board Member Reveals

A board member of a large German insurance company has spoken out over the “alarming” data his company has found regarding Covid vaccine side-effects.

Up to the end of 2021, the German Government recorded around 245,000 vaccine side-effects. However, the analysis by health insurance company BKK ProVita suggests the true figure is up to ten times higher.

A search of the databases of all BKK health insurance companies found that, from January to August 2021, around 217,000 of about 11 million BKK policyholders had to be treated for vaccine side-effects. Andreas Schöfbeck, the board member who spoke out, told Die Welt: “According to our calculations, we consider 400,000 doctor visits by our insured persons due to vaccination complications to date to be realistic. Extrapolated to the total population, this figure would be three million.” That comes out as around ten times higher than the official figure from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the Government agency responsible for vaccinations.

Mr. Schöfbeck suggests the shortcomings of the passive reporting system are the main explanation for the massive discrepancy, with doctors often having to report vaccine side-effects in their spare time – a time-consuming and unpaid activity. Doctors may also be reticent to see or report problems with the Covid vaccines, which have been the subject of massive public health campaigns and widely seen as the way out of the pandemic.

Mr. Schöfbeck says he sent his company’s analysis to a range of bodies, including the German Medical Association, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (StiKo) and the Paul Ehrlich Institute. He reports he told them the figures were a “strong alarm signal” that “absolutely must be taken into account in the further use of vaccines”. He suggested his figures could be validated by the usual data analyses of health insurance companies, adding it is “ethically wrong not to talk about it” as “danger to human life cannot be ruled out”. When none of the bodies appeared to show interest in the findings he went public with his concerns.

Evidence has been emerging in recent weeks that Government vaccine adverse event reporting systems are systematically under-reporting side-effects. An Israeli survey asking vaccine recipients about side-effects found rates hundreds or even thousands of times higher than official figures. The U.K. MHRA has previously estimated that only around 10% of serious vaccine side-effects are reported, a figure that fits with the German insurance company data. The claims of health authorities that these events are almost all coincidental are beginning to look very shaky indeed.

What the Mail’s Take-Down of Natural Immunity Gets Wrong

Dr. Michael Mosley in the Daily Mail has written a piece criticising those like Novak Djokovic who say they regard themselves as in no need of vaccination as they have protection from a previous Covid infection. In the article Dr. Mosley – who is medically qualified but no longer a registered doctor and has worked as a BBC journalist for the past 37 years – makes a series of claims about the vaccines and natural immunity that don’t withstand scrutiny.

The first is that previous infection provides much less protection against Omicron infection than does vaccination.

Just because you have antibodies against a previous strain of Covid, that does not mean you are protected against catching, or spreading it to more vulnerable people such as patients with cancer or pregnant women. A study published in December, by researchers from Imperial College London, concluded that the protection against Omicron, if you have had a prior Covid infection “may be as low as 19%”. A course of vaccines – the double dose plus the booster – on the other hand, offers something like 75% protection.

What Dr. Mosley doesn’t mention is that the December study from Imperial was a preliminary study that also found no evidence of Omicron “having lower severity than Delta”. Omicron is now known to be considerably less severe than Delta, suggesting the study should not be taken as the final word on Omicron and natural immunity. A more recent study puts the protection provided by natural immunity against Omicron infection at 56%. This is higher than the level of protection reported for the boosters by the UKHSA, which finds just 40-50% protection at 10 weeks. The protection provided by previous infection is also more resilient.

Dr. Mosley’s explanation of why the protection from vaccines is supposedly superior to that from previous infection also makes no sense. He writes:

Why the difference? It appears that our immune systems are very good at learning from experience. The more often your immune system is challenged by a virus (or a vaccine, which is mimicking that virus), the better it gets at defending itself against it.

The first time your immune system encounters a virus it isn’t quite sure how to react and it takes time to start building an effective response. While that is happening, the virus is busy replicating, spreading and doing damage.

If you’re lucky, your immune system will spring into action and you will recover after a trivial illness. If you are unlucky, you end up in hospital, perhaps in intensive care. The idea of a vaccine is that your immune system gets the nudge to start working long before you are exposed to the real thing.

The reason for a second, and even third jab, is this amplifies and refines your immune response to protect you, and others, in the future.

This of course fails to explain why encountering the virus should provide less effective immune protection than a vaccine. Just because while your body is working out how to counter the virus the virus can make you unwell tells you nothing about how strong your subsequent immunity to re-infection will be. It is true that a vaccine mimics a virus to prime your immune system, and the idea of multiple shots is to improve that response. However, there is plenty of evidence that the vaccines are weaker and less resilient against infection than natural immunity. For example, see the chart below from a large Danish study, where the orange line for the previously infected (but not vaccinated) is higher and stays much higher than the green line for the vaccinated (but not previously infected).

The Demolition of the Principles of Good Clinical Practice

I was fortunate enough to have studied at Leeds University Dental Institute. For me, the most important lessons were in the ethics and principles of clinical practice. These foundations exist to protect the public and ensure that they can trust us to provide any necessary care.

So what in particular did I learn and what would have prevented me from being allowed to qualify and have a licence to practice?

I had to study physiology, anatomy and pathology in great detail and be continually tested on these subjects before moving on to practical surgical and technical skills. One of the key considerations I had to have in mind when making the transition from theory and applying this to practice was to understand that not all specifically diagnosed cases are the same and that the health status of a patient is never fixed. It can be ever-changing and dynamic, so a clinician needs to be reactive to this.

We were also taught about perspective when assessing a patient. I was once pulled up by the Professor in Radiology for dwelling too long on one particular area of a radiograph in my determination to reach a diagnosis. The valuable lesson was that by doing this, I risked finding artefacts and missing the bigger picture. When it comes to safety, airline pilots, sea vessel captains and motorists should know the perils of focusing too much in one area, especially in an emergency. For Covid the bigger picture includes the latest data that shows  99.9987% of the under 20s and 97.1% of the elderly survive Covid.

Examination questions were very often designed to see how well we could accommodate these variables in order to tailor-make individual treatment plans. The complete antithesis of providing safe, effective healthcare would have been to rush in and provide a blanket ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment plan for every patient.

Not understanding and applying these principles would likely prevent you from qualifying as a dentist or a doctor. 

Apart from individualising treatment and monitoring for beneficial and adverse effects, further prescribing principles focused on the following: patient safety, identifying the most vulnerable, informed consent and prescribing within the limitations of your knowledge, skill and experience.

So, in the context of Covid, how well – how correctly and ethically – have we applied these basic principles in tackling the disease?

No Need for Fourth Vaccine Dose, Says JCVI

Fourth Covid vaccines doses are not currently needed, Government scientific advisers have said, as protection against severe disease from three doses is holding up. The Telegraph has more.

On Friday night, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that booster jabs continue to provide high levels of protection against severe disease from omicron in older adults, including the most vulnerable.

The committee’s analysis found that, three months after receiving a third jab, protection against hospitalisation among those aged 65 and over remains at around 90%.

Ministers have been exploring the possibility of a fourth jab for several weeks after Israel, considered a global pioneer in Covid vaccination, launched such a programme last month.  

But Prof Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s Chairman of Covid immunisation, said: “The current data show the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups. For this reason, the committee has concluded there is no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, though this will continue to be reviewed.”

No mention of effectiveness against infection or transmission. Yet it is the vaccines’ supposed efficacy against transmission that is the basis of the vaccine mandates that will see many shortly lose their jobs. If the JCVI no longer thinks the vaccines are effective against transmission it should say so and advise the Government to end its hounding and harassment of the unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Times abandons liberalism in a recent leading article which backs vaccine passports (no tests allowed) for sports events, theatres and indoor restaurants, saying it’s “time to get tough on the antivaxers”.

Vaccine Effectiveness Plummets to as Low as Minus-151% as Omicron Cancels Out Boost From Third Doses

Omicron bites hard in the UKHSA Vaccine Surveillance report this week, as unadjusted vaccine effectiveness against infection (calculated from the raw data) plummets across all age groups in the month ending January 2nd 2022. The revival in some age groups from the third doses has now been almost completely cancelled out, as all age groups above 18 years go negative again. Those in their 40s hit a new low of minus-151% (negative vaccine effectiveness means the vaccinated are more likely to be infected than the unvaccinated; a vaccine effectiveness of minus-100% means the vaccinated are twice as likely to be infected as the unvaccinated). There is a sharp drop for under-18s for the first time as well, with unadjusted vaccine effectiveness more than halving in a fortnight, collapsing from 79% to 38% (there was no report last week due to the Christmas holiday).

To underline the pointlessness of vaccine passports and mandates for preventing spread, I have plotted in the chart below the proportions of infections in the unvaccinated and vaccinated for the month ending January 2nd (in this chart ‘vaccinated’ includes all who have received at least one dose; in the other charts in this post ‘vaccinated’ means at least 14 days after a second dose). It shows that 72% or nearly three quarters of infections in that four-week period were in the vaccinated (65% in the double or triple vaccinated) and only 22% in the unvaccinated. That is certainly not an epidemic of the unvaccinated; almost the opposite, in fact.

Omicron has also had an impact on unadjusted vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation, with sharp declines occurring particularly in the younger age groups with lower booster coverage. The decline in 18-29 year-olds is particularly steep, dropping to just 50%, meaning double vaccination is only halving the risk of hospitalisation (though keep in mind this is unadjusted vaccine effectiveness based on raw data, not taking into account any potential confounders in either direction).

Scottish Fertility Clinic Bans Unvaccinated Women From Using Services as Italy Announces Mandatory Vaccination for Over-50s

A top Scottish fertility clinic has withdrawn its services for unvaccinated women, leaving many people upset and leading to calls for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to address the fact that it may not be limited to just one clinic. EuroWeekly News has more.

Glasgow Royal Fertility Clinic said that “it has been nationally agreed that fertility treatment for unvaccinated women will be deferred with immediate effect.”

Citing Dr Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer for the Scottish Government, the update published just before Christmas said that “pregnant women should now be considered as a clinical risk group and part of priority group six within the vaccination programme”.

According to data published in the Scottish Intensive Care Society Report on October 13th, of 89 Covid positive pregnant women who were admitted to critical care between December 2020 and the end of September 2021; 88 were unvaccinated, one was partially vaccinated, and none were fully vaccinated.

The clinic said that said data, from unknown dates, also showed that “98% of pregnant women in ICU with COVID-19 were unvaccinated” and that “all the women who have died during pregnancy or up to six weeks after birth, 88% of them were unvaccinated.”

This has led the clinic, which is located in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, to withdraw its services to unvaccinated women and the “clinic will review this decision during February 2022 or earlier if appropriate.”

“Older women who have their treatment deferred will have the deferral time added back on to their fertility journey to ensure that they do not lose out on eligibility for treatment due to their age,” the clinic said.

Note that the ICU data above doesn’t take into account the proportion of pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant who were vaccinated at the time.

What happened to liberal societies not coercing experimental medical treatment?

The news comes as Italy announces that Covid vaccination will become mandatory for all over-50s from next month in an effort to tackle surging infections. The Telegraph has more.

Nadal Blames Djokovic For Being Barred From Australia as There Are “Consequences” of Not Being Vaccinated as Downing Street Falsely Claims Vaccines Are “Completely Safe”

Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic has been told by rival Rafael Nadal that he only has himself to blame for being denied entry to Australia over his vaccination status. The Telegraph has more.

Nadal took aim at his long-time rival, who was facing being deported on Thursday for failing to provide “appropriate evidence” to warrant him being granted a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open.

The Spaniard, who is tied with Djokovic and Roger Federer on 20 grand slams and could now be the only one of the three at the first major of the year, also implied those who refused to be jabbed were selfish.

Nadal said: “If he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without problems. He makes his own decision. Everyone is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences. I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he made his own decision.”

Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal whether he had been inoculated against COVID-19 but has previously stated he was “opposed” to vaccination.

Stressing the importance of players being jabbed, Nadal said: “We have been going through very challenging [times] and a lot of families have been suffering a lot during the last two years with all the pandemic.

“I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view.

“I went through Covid. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here. That’s the only thing.

“The only, for me, clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion has been suffering enough to [not] not follow the rules.”

Nadal’s comments come as Downing Street uses the incident to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.