Vaccines

Sweden Rejects Covid Vaccines For 5-11 Year-Olds: “We Don’t See Any Clear Benefit”

Sweden has decided against authorising Covid vaccines for children aged 5-11, the Health Agency said today, arguing the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Reuters has the story.

Sweden has decided against recommending COVID vaccines for kids aged 5-11, the Health Agency said on Thursday, arguing that the benefits did not outweigh the risks.

“With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm told a news conference.

She added that the decision could be revisited if the research changed or if a new variant changed the pandemic. Kids in high-risk groups can already get the vaccine.

It raises the question: Do the benefits really outweigh the risks for teenagers as well?

Sweden, like many countries, is currently reporting record infections, though this is not translating into pressure on hospitals or high numbers of deaths. Unlike neighbouring Denmark, which is to lift its winter measures, the Swedish Government yesterday extended restrictions, including a restaurant curfew and attendance limits for indoor venues, for two weeks but said it hoped to remove them on February 9th.

Worth reading in full.

Vaccine Safety Update

This is the 24th of the round-ups of Covid vaccine safety reports and news compiled by a group of medical doctors who are monitoring developments but prefer to remain anonymous in the current climate (find the 23rd one here). By no means is this part of an effort to generate alarm about the vaccines or dissuade anyone from getting inoculated. It should be read in conjunction with the Daily Sceptic‘s other posts on vaccines, which include both encouraging and not so encouraging developments. At the Daily Sceptic we report all the news about the vaccines whether positive or negative and give no one advice about whether they should or should not take them. Unlike with lockdowns, we are neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine; we see our job as reporting the facts, not advocating for or against a particular policy. The vaccine technology is novel and the vaccines have not yet fully completed their trials, which is why they’re in use under temporary and not full market authorisation. This was done on account of the emergency situation and the trial data was largely encouraging on both efficacy and safety. For a summary of that data, see this preamble to the Government’s page on the Yellow Card reporting system. (Dr. Tess Lawrie in June wrote an open letter to Dr. June Raine, head of the MHRA, arguing that: “The MHRA now has more than enough evidence on the Yellow Card system to declare the COVID-19 vaccines unsafe for use in humans,” a claim that has been ‘fact checked’ here.) Boris Johnson said in October that being double vaccinated “doesn’t protect you against catching the disease, and it doesn’t protect you against passing it on”. We publish information and opinion to inform public debate and help readers reach their own conclusions about what is best for them, based on the available data.

Summary of Adverse Events in the U.K.

According to an updated report published on January 20th, the MHRA Yellow Card reporting system has recorded a total of 1,429,071 events based on 436,173 reports. The total number of fatalities reported is 1,954.

  • Pfizer (25.5 million first doses, 22.2 million second doses) now has one Yellow Card in 160 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 36,638 people vaccinated (696).
  • AstraZeneca (24.9 million first doses, 24.2 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 103 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 20,924 people vaccinated (1,190).
  • Moderna (1.6 million first doses, 1.4 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 48 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 53,333 people vaccinated (30).

Myocarditis Risk Increases Up To 133-FOLD Following Covid Vaccination, Study Finds

A study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found that the risk of myocarditis (heart inflammation) after receiving an mRNA Covid vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) was dramatically increased across many age groups and was highest after the second vaccination dose in young men.

The study found myocarditis reports were highest after the second vaccination dose in males aged 12 to 15 years at 70.7 per million Pfizer doses, compared to an expected rate of 0.53 per million, amounting to a 133-fold increase; in males aged 16 to 17 years at 105.9 per million Pfizer doses, compared to an expected rate of 1.34 per million, amounting to a 79-fold increase; and in young men aged 18 to 24 years at 52.4 per million Pfizer doses and 56.3 per million Moderna doses, compared to an expected rate of 1.76 per million, amounting to a 30-fold and 32-fold increase respectively. The full results are shown in the table below and a selection are depicted in the chart above.

Wales Would “Not Rule Out” Recruiting Unvaccinated NHS Workers Sacked in England Over Vaccine Mandate

Well that was unexpected. Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford – who has consistently erred on the side of totalitarian when responding to the pandemic – has said he would “not rule out” recruiting NHS workers from England who leave their jobs due to its mandatory vaccination policy. The BBC has the story.

Vaccines are not compulsory for NHS staff in Wales.

Mr Drakeford said a “vast majority” of care sector staff had also taken the “protections that vaccination offers”.

When asked if he would take on NHS staff from England, Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House: “We wouldn’t rule it out but it would depend on what anybody said in an interview when they were applying for a job.

“We’re not going to make vaccinations mandatory in our NHS,” he said.

“We haven’t in our social care services because we have succeeded by persuasion by getting the vast majority of people who work in our services to do the right thing and take up the protections that vaccination offers.”

NHS staff in England must have a first jab by February 3rd and be fully vaccinated by April 1st to continue in frontline roles.

The U.K.’s Department of Health said there were no plans to delay and it was “the right thing to do to protect patients”.

Mr Drakeford said: “I don’t expect us to go looking for people who have not been vaccinated but, if people apply, then they would be interviewed in the normal way.

“We’d look to see what lay behind their decision.

“We wouldn’t rule them out but we certainly won’t be going out there looking for them.”

Come on Boris, when you’re being outflanked on freedom by Mark Drakeford you know you’ve gone wrong somewhere.

Worth reading in full.

Government Scraps Covid Tests for Travel – But Only For the Vaccinated, Despite Government Data Showing the Vaccinated Have Higher Infection Rates

Holidaymakers who are double-vaccinated will no longer have to take any Covid tests for travel abroad, Boris Johnson has said. The Telegraph has more.

Speaking on a visit to a hospital, the Prime Minister said that day two lateral flow tests – which are currently required for fully vaccinated people entering the U.K. – would be ditched, saving a family of four around £120. The changes are expected to come into effect at 4am on February 11th.

It follows the ending of pre-departure and PCR tests for vaccinated travellers earlier this month and will be seen as a major filip for the travel industry in advance of the February half-term break. …

Holiday firms have already reported a surge in bookings for half term after the easing of restrictions and in anticipation of further lifting of curbs.

Speaking ahead of a Covid-O cabinet committee meeting on Monday, Mr Johnson said the country was moving through the Omicron wave and “things are starting to get better”.

“On travel, to show the country is open for business, we will see changes that people no longer have to take tests if they are double-vaccinated,” he said during his visit to Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire. …

Bookings to all holiday destinations have already jumped by 67% on average compared with December 2021, according to analysts Skyscanner.

Some international and long-haul beach and sun destinations are seeing demand return to levels above that in 2019 before the pandemic, according to the company.

The destinations with the fastest growing bookings are Maldives (up 125%), Mexico (up 110%), Costa Rica (72%), Colombia (48%), and Tanzania (39%).

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “When it happens, it will be a terrific boost for the travel sector and crucially for consumers. It will mean cheaper holidays and business trips and the end of the testing nightmare the industry has faced for nearly two years.”

But why only the double-vaccinated? Nobody now pretends that two vaccine doses provides any kind of protection against Omicron infection. The UKHSA estimates vaccine effectiveness of two doses against Omicron after six months of just 0-10%. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has stated that two doses are “not enough for Omicron… We have seen with a second dose very clearly that the first thing that we lost was the protection against infections”. Government data show infection rates in the double vaccinated have been considerably higher than in the unvaccinated across most age groups for some months. Where then is the evidence behind this continued restriction on the unvaccinated? It has no scientific basis, plainly is now solely to add coercive pressure to the unvaccinated to get the jab, and should be dropped.

Worth reading in full.

New York Times Mentions ‘Original Antigenic Sin’

Several datasets have shown what appears to be negative vaccine effectiveness against infection – of higher infection rates among the vaccinated than among the unvaccinated. While this was phenomenon was initially ascribed to the use of incorrect denominators when estimating infection rates, it’s now too widespread to ignore.

One possible explanation for negative vaccine effectiveness is original antigenic sin – a property of the immune system’s response to some viruses.  

When the immune system encounters a novel pathogen, it responds to the pathogen’s antigens. Original antigenic sin means that when it encounters a related version of the pathogen, it may respond to the antigens carried by the original version. The result is weaker immunity.

If original antigenic sin exists for the Covid vaccines, then vaccinated people might actually have weaker immunity against certain variants – either now or in the future – because the vaccines have ‘programmed’ their immune systems to target the Wuhan strain.

While a number of sceptics and other ‘non-mainstream’ commentators have mentioned original antigenic sin in this context, we haven’t heard much about it from ‘mainstream’ commentators.

One exception was an op-ed written by three virologists, two of whom resigned from the FDA when the Biden Administration approved booster shots for 16 and 17 year olds without consulting a key advisory panel. In the op-ed, Philip Krause and colleagues point out that “boosting on the original antigen could be counterproductive”.

More recently, original antigenic sin found its way into the New York Times – America’s ‘newspaper of record’. “Some experts have raised concerns,” the article notes, that getting boosters too often “may even be harmful”. And one “plausible” reason why is “original antigenic sin”.

The article goes on to quote Harvard vaccine scientist Amy Sherman as saying, “We have enough clues that it could be a problem.”

There’s certainly no proof that original antigenic sin exists for the Covid vaccines. But the evidence is growing. And it’s summarised in this detailed piece for the Epoch Times by Todd Zywicki. He concludes:

More evidence will be needed before one can raise definitive concern about the risk of OAS with respect to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. But theory, laboratory evidence, and clinical analysis all point to this as a rapidly emerging risk of the current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and one that could be exacerbated by widespread application of booster shots,

As to the alternative explanation that’s been put forward for higher infection rates among vaccinated people – that they take more risks – Zywicki offers a comprehensive rebuttal:

Reams of data and studies demonstrate that not only are these suppositions groundless, they are also exactly opposite to reality. Studies demonstrate what everyday experience during the pandemic tells us – that vaccinated individuals are much more likely to fear SARS-CoV-2 more than unvaccinated and more likely to take precautions against potential COVID-19 infection.

Original antigenic sin ought to be getting a lot more attention from public health authorities. In the meantime, Zywicki’s article is worth reading in full.

Some Countries’ Post-vaccination Waves Were Just as Deadly as Their Pre-vaccination Waves

We know that vaccine effectiveness against infection was wildly overestimated. The evidence is now clear: the vaccines don’t stop transmission. But what about effectiveness against serious disease and death? There’s a certain amount of evidence that that too has been overestimated.

Several datasets have revealed a ‘healthy vaccinee’ effect, whereby vaccinated people are less likely to die of non-Covid causes. Since the vaccines don’t protect against things other than Covid, this suggests that those who opt into vaccination are inherently healthier and/or more risk-averse than those who don’t.

The ‘healthy vaccinee’ effect may partly derive from a quirk of methodology. As HART researchers have noted, it’s common practice to exclude data from the first 14 days after vaccination. If the most frail people tend to die in that 14 day period, their exclusion would reduce the average frailty in the vaccinated population.

I should add that this is pure speculation on my part. Nonetheless, the ‘healthy vaccinee’ effect clearly demands further scrutiny.

Another piece of evidence suggesting that vaccine effectiveness against death has been overestimated is that some countries have seen as much excess mortality in their post-vaccination waves as they saw in their pre-vaccination waves. I previously presented charts showing this for Israel. Here I’ll present similar charts for several other countries.

First, Austria saw a large uptick in excess mortality, beginning in mid October. At this time, 62% of the population was double vaccinated, including a much higher percentage of the elderly.

NHS Vaccine Mandate “To Be Delayed”

The NHS vaccine mandate is likely to be “kicked down the road”, a Whitehall source has told the Telegraph, amid demands by Conservative MPs for it to be scrapped entirely. The Telegraph has the story.

Compulsory Covid vaccines for NHS workers would be delayed for six months, under eleventh-hour plans being considered by Boris Johnson to help quell a seismic revolt among Tory MPs.

On Saturday night, just two weeks before the NHS is due to begin sacking staff who have not had a jab, a Whitehall source said that the requirement is likely to be “kicked down the road”, amid demands by Conservative backbenchers for it to be dropped entirely. …

All frontline NHS staff are required to have had two jabs by April 1st, but more than 80,000 – 6% of the workforce – remain unvaccinated.

The plan being considered at senior levels of Government is to overhaul the requirement so that staff would, in theory, be required to have their booster too. The deadline would also be delayed by six months, ostensibly to give workers time to get their third jab. Such a delay is likely to reassure some MPs opposed to the move that it will ultimately not transpire.

It was starting to feel inevitable, but it’s good to see signals appearing. Now we just need to see it permanently scrapped, and the care home mandate removed as well.

Worth reading in full.

Royal College of GPs Calls For Cancellation of NHS Vaccine Mandate as Thousands March in Protest

The NHS vaccine mandate should be cancelled to prevent staff shortages, the Royal College of GPs has said, as thousands took to the streets across England to protest against the policy. The BBC has more.

NHS staff must have a first jab by February 3rd and be fully vaccinated by April 1st to continue in frontline roles.

The Department of Health said there were no plans to delay and it was “the right thing to do to protect patients”.

NHS workers who oppose the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy have staged a protest in central London.

Demonstrations were also held in other cities across England including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. …

Martin Marshall, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said compulsory vaccination for health professionals in England was “not the right way forward”.

He said the vast majority of staff were vaccinated but some 70,000 to 80,000 were not and they accounted for 10% of staff at some hospital or GP surgeries.

Some 94.3% of NHS trust health care workers in England have had a first dose of vaccine and 91.5% have had a second dose, figures to December 31st show.

If unvaccinated staff were taken out of frontline roles by April 1st there would be “massive consequences” for the NHS, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said a delay would allow time for booster jabs and a “sensible conversation” about whether vaccines should be mandatory at all.

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said some frontline staff would have to leave their roles if they choose not to be vaccinated.

He said: “This will reduce frontline NHS staff numbers even further and lead to more gaps in capacity at a time of intense pressure and patient demand.”

In London, demonstrators marched from Regents Park to the BBC headquarters in Portland Place in a peaceful protest against mandating vaccines for health workers.

But Dr. Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, said health care professionals had “a duty” to make sure they were protected.

She said: “If you’re marching today, just take a moment, think about the people that you’ve been looking after who have experienced Covid, think about your colleagues who you’ve been working with, and think about the best way to make sure that we’re all protected, and that we’re all as safe as possible, because we are very much in this together and it’s down to us to look after each other too.”

Meanwhile, Kate, a nurse in Hampshire, told the Today programme she was prepared to lose her job rather than have a coronavirus vaccine against her will.

“I don’t feel like the vaccination needs to be mandated because we are medical professionals and we have enough information to make that decision for ourselves,” she said.

“When I had Covid I was ill but not particularly unwell and when it comes to me being forced to do something or lose my job, I just can’t understand how they think that’s a sensible position. I’m good at my job, I care about people, and I certainly have never and would never put people at risk.”

Pressure growing on the Government to U-turn on this, which can’t come too soon. With the evidence that Omicron both evades the vaccines and is mild, what justification there might have been has now clearly evaporated. Perhaps the Government is leaving the U-turn to the last moment in order to maximise the pressure on unvaccinated staff to accept the jab. Which is of course cruel, but then so is the policy so we can hardly expect them to care about that.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: talkRADIO has tweeted about the protests taking place today in London and across the country: “Thousands of people have gathered in central London to protest against the mandatory vaccine mandate that could see more than 70,000 NHS workers lose their jobs.

Island Goes into First Lockdown as 36 Vaccinated Passengers on Flight Test Positive For Covid

Two years into the pandemic, the Pacific island nation of Kiribati has gone into its first lockdown, after 36 of 54 passengers on the first international flight into the country in 10 months tested positive for Covid. All the passengers were vaccinated. Despite that, the office of President Taneti Maamau said on Facebook: “The only way that we can fight this virus is through complete vaccination. The public is urged to complete their vaccination doses in order to protect themselves and families.” The BBC has the story.

Under the new measures, people have been told to stay at home and social gatherings are banned.

Some 36 people on the flight from Fiji have tested positive. Four people have caught the virus from community transmission.

Until last week, Kiribati had recorded just two Covid cases.

Kiribati is one of the most isolated islands in the world. It is some 5,000km (3,100 miles) from its nearest continent, North America.

On Tuesday, the government confirmed that 36 of the 54 passengers had tested positive. It said in a post on Facebook that all passengers are currently being monitored by health officials..

All of the passengers on the flight are fully vaccinated, the Government said.

However three members of the quarantine facility’s security team have since tested positive. Another person who does not work at the facility has also contracted the virus, the Government said.

The lockdown came into force on Saturday but it is not clear how long it will last.

People are not allowed to leave their homes unless for essential services. They can buy essential items from shops but only between 06:00 and 14:00.

Yet more evidence of the fantasy land public authorities are living in, where the fact that all the people infected were vaccinated does nothing at all to dent the push for universal vaccination as supposedly ending transmission. The purpose of the lockdown is also unclear, as are the criteria that would make it successful. Is the Government trying to delay the outbreak until enough of the population has had two or three vaccine doses? Even then, of course, the virus will still spread.

Worth reading in full.