Not just ‘anti-vaxxers’ worried about Covid-19 vaccine

Press release

A recent New Zealand Herald article, “Covid 19 coronavirus: Should a vaccine be compulsory—and what would this mean for anti-vaxxers?” offers a thought-provoking examination of the issue of mandatory vaccination. Author, Claire Breen, professor of law at Waikato University ends the article by admitting that there is “no definitive answer” to this question. However, the government could exercise other options such as limiting the rights of those who decline vaccination, “But, again, the government would have to present clear justifications for any such restrictions.”

How might the government present clear justifications? One possible place to start would be by addressing the concerns raised by Whangarei resident, Sacha Stevenson, creator of the parliamentary petition, “Taking any coronavirus vaccine to be voluntary and without coercion in NZ.”

Experimental Technology

The reason cited for Stevenson’s petition is: “[t]he potential vaccines, especially RNA vaccines… are necessarily ‘experimental’ in nature… This would appear to put such vaccines into the category of ‘medical or scientific experimentation’, which the Bill of Rights Act (s10), as well as international law, recognises as something which must not be inflicted on people without their consent.”

Stevenson notes in his supporting documentation that one of the frontrunners in the vaccine race, the Moderna vaccine, uses “new generation” Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which has never before appeared in a vaccine. Moreover, fifteen of the 165 candidate vaccines use novel DNA technology. One Canadian manufacturer, Medicago, boasts it is producing the first plant-based vaccine.

Moreover, some of the experimental technology used in the vaccines are based on controversial GMO and synthetic chemical technology such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) and lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). In its corporate prospectus Moderna admits that “certain aspects of our investigational medicines may induce immune reactions from either the mRNA… or degradation of the mRNA or the LNP, any of which could lead to significant adverse events in one or more of our clinical trials.” Given the results of their COVID-19 vaccine trials to date, these predictions appear to be on the mark.

Rushed testing, unknown long-term effects

With the launch of “Operation Warp Speed” tremendous pressure was put on the world’s vaccine manufacturers to produce a COVID-19 vaccine quickly. The US government, in order to achieve these goals, truncated the normal vaccine development processes.

Thus, not only will there be no testing for long-term side effects, allowances are also being made for skipping animal trials. Yet as Stevenson points out “animal testing in experimental medical treatments was given as a critical requirement in Principle 3of the Nuremberg Code.”

Another lead contender in the vaccine race, Oxford/AstraZeneca, did its animal study due diligence. However, their entire test group became infected with COVID-19 after being vaccinated and challenged with the wild virus strain. Strangely, this did not stop the researchers from moving immediately to human trials, which resulted in 60% of participants experiencing immediate side effects: this without being challenged with the wild strain.

The results of the “challenge studies” is particularly concerning given that previous attempts to develop coronavirus vaccines have failed in similar ways, leading to the death of the animal test subjects. Stevenson explains that in medical terms it is said that the vaccine has “potentiated,” that is, has caused the participant to be at higher risk of contracting a serious disease (including coronavirus SARS) or, as is suspected in one study involving 600 Filipino children, has caused their death.

Conflicts of interest

The final point Stevenson would like to see addressed is that of criminal behaviour and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry. He references the recent debate between Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, and environmental/human rights lawyer, Robert F Kennedy Jr. In this debate Kennedy produces evidence that the US congress:

“receives more money from pharmaceutical companies than any other industry in lobbying… FDA gets 50% of its budget from vaccine companies…CDC owns 57 vaccine patents, so it can make money on every sale of a vaccine, NIH [National Institute of Health] owns hundreds of vaccine patents, NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine… these regulatory agencies are actually vaccine companies… They are not doing their job as regulators.”

Similarly, the fact that Oxford/AstraZenca has persuaded governments—possibly including New Zealand—to grant them protection from liability claims does not inspire confidence. A member of the company’s executive team recently stated “we as a company simply cannot take the risk if in … four years the vaccine is showing side effects.”

Us against them?

The headline of the aforementioned NZ Herald article implies that we have a “pro” and “anti” vaxxers debate going on here. Yet even Dr Paul Offit, author of Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, recently said that had he been chosen for the recent US poll on willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine, he would have said, “No”. He goes on to explain, “We don’t really know anything about the safety or efficacy of these [US frontrunner COVID-19] vaccines yet.” Regarding efficacy, Offit has recently stated that the vaccine may not stop people from contracting or transmitting COVID-19.

Given these and other scientists’ concerns, as well as those raised by Stevenson, we may see—as a recent US poll suggests—less than half the population lining up for a COVID-19 vaccine… with fewer still clamouring for a mandatory programme.


Steve Hart is a writer and podcaster.

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