Holding The Line

Journalists Against Censorship


By Rusere Shoniwa

First published at https://plagueonbothhouses.com

On 29th October the BBC published an article titled “Covid: Double vaccinated can still spread virus at home.” The article reports on a study published in the Lancet which, in line with HTL’s highlighting of evidence for vaccine inefficacy, has made the discovery that the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant is running rampant among the vaccinated, who are transmitting it to vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

With no hint of comic intent, the study finding is turned on its head to show “why getting even more people vaccinated and protected is important”.

Science or séance?

The febrile drive to vaccinate the entire planet has generated at least two irrational memes. The first meme is the ‘it-only-works-if-we-all-do-it-together argument’. This is bunk for the simple reason that there is no one-size-fits-all medical treatment that we all have to undertake together. Vaccination is no exception, particularly in the case of Covid, whose risk profile is heavily skewed to one segment of the population – the frail elderly. It is also obvious to many experts that the huge number of people with prior immunity from infection should not seek vaccination, partly because of the potential harm to them from additional priming of their immune systems through vaccination but also because of the emerging evidence that natural infection confers far superior immunity than the vaccines. 

Therefore, the belief that we all have to get jabbed or they don’t work is cult rhetoric, in the same league as enjoining everyone at a séance to hold hands so that the spirits from the other side can be successfully summoned forth. Martin Kulldorff is a professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations. He debunked this notion by saying that “thinking that everyone must be vaccinated is as scientifically flawed as thinking that nobody should”.

The second meme is that of scapegoating, which is a corollary of the first flawed argument. It engenders a spirit of intolerance of bystanders, resulting in a venomous persecution of the unvaccinated. Everyone must board the vaccination train when ‘called forward’ or forfeit their right to function in society as a free human being. It’s nonsense because it depends on the equally nonsensical first meme. And as a violation of fundamental human rights and natural law, it is morally repugnant.

Taking the flight from reason to new heights and borne out of the painful realisation of vaccine inefficacy, the BBC article heralds the emergence of a third meme as it warns the unvaccinated that they “cannot rely on those around them being jabbed to remove their risk of getting infected”. Let’s call it the don’t-think-you-can-ride-on-our-coattails-now-that-the-vaccines-are-failing meme. Like previous iterations, its flaw is gaping: the unvaccinated cannot ride on the coattails of the vaccinated precisely because the vaccines are failing.

The unvaccinated could be forgiven for construing this latest meme as a backhanded insult: it implies that they are stupid, cowardly, freeloading parasites. This meme really does contain all these elements in it. And so, on behalf of an unvaccinated leper who complained to me about the BBC article, I will lodge a rebuttal of these insinuations before moving on to more serious matters concerning presentation of Covid mortality data and leaky vaccines.

The unvaccinated have opted out because they do not believe these vaccines do what vaccines are supposed to do – prevent infection and transmission of the targeted pathogen. And, so far, they have not been proven wrong. The BBC warning implies that there was a time, prior to the revelations of the Lancet study, when the unvaccinated were allegedly using the vaccinated as a shield. This in turn implies that, if the unvaccinated have rejected the vaccines because they do not believe they would work for them, they would have to believe in some process of alchemist witchcraft that converts an ineffective vaccine in a vaccinated person to an effective one in an unvaccinated person. Vaccine transubstantiation?

Put more bluntly, if the vaccinated themselves cannot rely on each other to ‘remove their risk of getting infected’, on what basis does the BBC assume that the unvaccinated were stupid enough to seek a ‘free’ ride on a bus with no wheels?

Regarding the insinuation of freeloading and cowardice, the unvaccinated do not believe that personal medical treatments delivered to individuals can be mystically converted to a shared public good. They believe that vaccination is something you do to protect yourself and not others. They acknowledge that herd immunity slows the spread of the virus by reducing the number of uninfected hosts available for the virus to propagate. But they believe that, given everything they know about this virus and everything they don’t yet know about this vaccine, they are well within their natural human rights to exercise control of their bodies by rejecting a medication they think is not right for them.

Nor are they cowards hiding behind vaccinated hosts. On the contrary, they have weighed up the benefits and risks of vaccination against the risks of the disease and have decided to do their bit for herd immunity by facing the disease head-on and dicing with a broad infection fatality risk of 0.15%. Indeed, many have decided not to get the vaccine because they have already had the disease before the option to consider a vaccine was available. The vaccinated, in seeking to avoid the risk of catching Covid, are implicitly acknowledging that the approach of dicing with the 0.15% chance of death from (or perhaps more accurately with) Covid takes some courage.

The unvaccinated are undoubtedly in awe of the courage it must take for a vaccinated person to face down, all for the ‘greater good’, the risks of anaphylactic shock, blood clots, myocarditis, stroke, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and even death to list a few of the known side effects of the vaccines. The unvaccinated therefore feel that there must be a mutual recognition of each party’s bravery and they categorically reject the insinuation that they are cowards hiding behind the vaccinated. After all, the unvaccinated may soon face the additional risk of being attacked by angry mobs with pitchforks and machetes should their demonisation by the media reach such perilous levels.

The message and the nudge

In its Background section, the study acknowledges at the outset that: “The SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant is highly transmissible and spreading globally, including in populations with high vaccination rates.” The BBC article articulates the study’s key findings:

  • Individuals who have had two vaccine doses can be just as infectious as those who have not been jabbed and have similar peak viral loads to that seen in unvaccinated people.
  • Vaccinated individuals have a one in four chance (25%) of getting Covid from housemates who are also fully vaccinated.
  • For unvaccinated people, this rises to 38%.
  • “Vaccines do an excellent job of preventing serious Covid illness and deaths but are less good at stopping infections.”
  • The vaccines’ poor performance against infections is reinforced with a quote from a co-author of the study: “Our findings provide important insights into the effect of vaccination in the face of new variants, and specifically, why the Delta variant is continuing to cause high Covid case numbers around the world, even in countries with high vaccination rates” [emphasis added]

The key messages which follow these findings are:

  • “Since households are where most Covid transmission occurs, making sure every member who is eligible for a vaccine has had one and is up to date with their doses makes sense, say experts.” [emphasis added]
  • Quoting Prof Lalvani of Imperial College London, who co-led the study: “The ongoing transmission we are seeing between vaccinated people makes it essential for unvaccinated people to get vaccinated to protect themselves from acquiring infection and severe Covid-19…We found that susceptibility to infection increased already within a few months after the second vaccine dose – so those eligible for booster shots should get them promptly.” [bold emphasis and highlighting added]

One obvious question arising from the unequivocal observation that “households are where most Covid transmission occurs” is: why were we locked down in our households several times over the course of 2020/21 and, with the Government’s ongoing pledge to follow The Science ™, can we now look forward to lockdowns being removed from the Government’s ‘Plan B’ winter measures?

The statement by Prof Lalvani, if reproduced correctly by the BBC, is problematic for its breakdown in logical reasoning. Ongoing transmission between vaccinated people provides little to no incentive for an unvaccinated person to get jabbed and so it is jarring to see rampant transmission between vaccinated people being used as an argument to persuade unvaccinated people to join the ranks of the vaccinated.

At any rate, if it is possible to put that logic error to one side, the BBC article’s message is clear: vaccination does not meaningfully stop infection and transmission, but people should get vaccinated anyway to avoid serious illness.

The BBC article’s statement that “vaccines do an excellent job of preventing serious Covid illness and deaths” is likely gleaned from a section in the study, ‘Implications for all available evidence’, where the authors note: “Although vaccines remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and deaths from COVID-19, our findings suggest that vaccination is not sufficient to prevent transmission of the delta variant in household settings with prolonged exposures.”

The claim that vaccines “remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and deaths” is made twice in the study – in the Introduction and again in the Discussion section – but no reference to other studies is provided to support this, which does not mean there aren’t other studies to support it. Rather, assessing efficacy in preventing severe disease and death was not within the scope of the study so these claims represent a curious departure from the stated purpose of the study: “to investigate transmission and viral load kinetics in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with mild delta variant infection in the community.”

Moreover, the results section of the study states: “All participants [who tested positive] had non-severe ambulatory illness or were asymptomatic.” So, no serious illness at all was observed in this study in either vaccinated or unvaccinated participants.

And yet, while recognising that “vaccination alone is not sufficient to prevent all transmission of the delta variant in the household setting”, the study makes an explicit policy recommendation in the discussion section: “Increasing population immunity via booster programmes and vaccination of teenagers will help to increase the currently limited effect of vaccination on transmission.”

The study itself and the BBC’s representation of it appear to mark a point in the evolution of vaccine (in)efficacy where the waving of a white flag in regard to transmission and infection has sparked a compensating need to brandish the argument for continued roll-out of boosters and vaccination of teenagers (whose risk is negligible) based on a much-vaunted benefit of the prevention of severe illness and death.

There are, as I shall argue, other ways in which this study could have been used to spark a debate about vaccines and the direction of travel to take with them. We can also use the BBC article as a springboard to discuss the potential implications for how data about Covid mortality is presented and its impact on public opinion.

Data – it’s all in the presentation

Following the Daily Sceptic’s analysis and reporting of UKHSA data to arrive at unadjusted vaccine efficacy figures, the UKHSA has updated its Vaccine Surveillance reporting to remove a chart showing infection rates that are higher in the double-vaccinated than the unvaccinated for all over-30s and more than double the rates for those aged 40-79. The removal has been reinforced by the UKHSA’s admonition: “Comparing case rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated populations should not be used to estimate vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection.”

The Daily Sceptic provides a detailed explanation of the absurdity of the government’s attempt to redefine a basic concept of immunology, characterising it as a “thinly-disguised attempt to throw a sheet over unfavourable data”.

While attempting to ban a comparison of case rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated groups to estimate vaccine effectiveness, the UKHSA continues to place emphasis on how the vaccines are providing “high levels of protection (over 90%)” against mortality. But this figure is a relative risk assessment arrived at by comparing death rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. Relative risk comparisons – the comparison of one group’s risk relative to another – can be misleading because they do not provide perspective on the magnitude of the risk faced. This is provided by an understanding of absolute risk which is the risk of getting ill over a period of time and is independent of any comparison to other groups. The relative risk reduction for the Pfizer vaccine prior to roll-out was reported as 95%. The absolute risk reduction was a far less impressive 0.84%.

How fearful the public is about Covid mortality and how confident it should be in claims about the vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing serious illness might depend on how the information is presented. What might the presentation of information look like if the media attempted to provide the public with an overview of the magnitude of Covid impact on mortality? Using the UKHSA data for deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test between weeks 39 and 42 of 2021, the following picture emerges:

*Unlinked deaths are those where NHS numbers were unavailable to link to the National Immunisation Management System database. The total number of unlinked deaths was 15 (0.54%) and was excluded from the analysis.

  • Total deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test over the four-week period amounted to 2,757. Total deaths registered in England and Wales from all causes in the comparable four-week period were 43,802. Covid associated deaths comprise 6% of that total.
  • 79% of all Covid associated deaths were in the fully vaccinated.
  • According to the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Statistics for England for the week ending 24 October 2021, 85.1% of individuals aged 18 and over have been vaccinated with two doses. (4.95% of individuals aged 18 and over have received one dose.)
  • Less than 3% of under 18s have received a second dose as of 24 October.
  • Confirming the heavily age-dependent risk profile of Covid, 77% of all linked deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test over weeks 39 – 42 occurred in those aged 70 years and over.

Contrast this headline summary of Covid mortality (using UKHSA, ONS and NHS data) with the UKHSA’s claim of “high levels of protection (over 90%)” against mortality or the BBC’s claim that vaccines “remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and deaths”. Is this headline summary any less valid than the UKHSA’s and BBC’s claims and, crucially, would it change the public’s perception of the overall risk?

Sceptical journalism, as opposed to the current rash of stenography amplifying government policy, requires an openness to airing reports such as this statistical analysis of data published in TrialSite News. It looked at data across 178 countries and found that “Covid-19 death rates following vaccine rollouts are higher in 70% of the 178 countries”. It concluded:

“COVID-19 vaccinations are not associated with decreases in COVID-19 death rates and, thus, do not reduce serious hospitalized COVID-19 case rates.  Overall, numerical data show COVID-19 vaccine rollouts are associated with increased COVID-19 illnesses and deaths.”

However, if it is indeed the case in the UK that vaccines remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and deaths, there should at least be a more nuanced discussion of a risk-benefit analysis which would be markedly different for certain populations such as children than for adults, particularly the elderly and those with comorbidities. Recognising the existence of high levels of natural immunity before the vaccine roll-out and a relatively small at-risk population would, of necessity, make continued messaging in support of mass vaccination look increasingly irrational.

No medical intervention, including vaccines, is a one-size-fits-all solution. This was recognised by the JCVI’s recommendation, ignored by the government, not to pursue the roll-out of vaccines to teenagers. This basic medical principle is continually being spotlighted by reports around the world like the one in which a US Army Physician challenged military vaccine mandates saying:

“Use of mRNA vaccines in our fighting force presents a risk of undetermined magnitude, in a population in which less than 20 active-duty personnel out of 1.4 million died of the underlying SARS-CoV-2.”

20 as a percentage of 1.4m is 0.001%. This principle can be applied to vast numbers of people in low-risk categories around the world and would serve to make vaccination, along with all other medical treatments, what it used to be before Covid hysteria: a private medical matter between a patient and their physician. As shocking as these developments are to some of us, it is equally, if not more, shocking to observe the mainstream media’s total failure to facilitate debate of fundamental issues like this.

Leaky vaccines

The BBC article could be a case study in how science gets politicised. Against the backdrop of the study’s own findings and at least 19 other reports and studies that raise profound doubts about vaccine efficacy, a study interpretation that advocates for increased vaccination seems counter-intuitive.

In 2015, long before anyone had ever heard of Covid, the scientific journal PLOS Biology published a paper titled “Imperfect Vaccination Can Enhance the Transmission of Highly Virulent Pathogens”. It examined the use of vaccines in chickens for a virus that causes Marek’s disease, and led one of its researchers to conclude that: “Our research demonstrates that the use of leaky vaccines can promote the evolution of nastier ‘hot’ viral strains that put unvaccinated individuals at greater risk.”

There is mounting evidence that the Covid vaccines are leaky. The title of the BBC article is a give-away clue. That and the 19 reports and studies linked in the Brownstone Institute article. Leaky vaccines fail to prevent transmission since they erect an imperfect barrier against a virus. Consequently, they can result in the emergence of more virulent pathogen strains. In the case of Covid vaccines, they prime the immune system to respond only to the spike protein allowing variants over time to bypass its limited defences more easily. It is this narrow immune response that causes the virus to persist and give it every incentive and opportunity to adapt and grow stronger.

This is why studies are showing that natural infection confers much better protection against infection than vaccines – the immune system is primed to mount a broader defence having been exposed to the complete wild virus and not a narrow strand of it.

With an abundance of evidence for the leakiness of the Covid vaccines, the Brownstone Institute article questions “whether vaccines with limited capacity to prevent symptomatic disease may drive the evolution of more virulent strains”. It concluded that “the public benefit of universal vaccination is in grave doubt” and that “Covid vaccines should not be expected to contribute to eliminating the communal spread of the virus or the reaching of herd immunity. This unravels the rationale for vaccine mandates and passports”.

It is therefore not difficult to argue that the Imperial College study presented in the BBC article could just as easily have been used to debate the dangers of continuing a mass vaccination program with a ‘leaky’ vaccine.

The BBC blunders on, fortified against pain and impervious to scientific scepticism

Across the EU, the UK and the US, the Covid vaccines have the highest reported vaccine injury rate and post-vaccine death rate of any vaccine in history. And yet the BBC remains impervious to the suffering this has caused millions the world over. Worse still, many of those who suffered will have been coerced into receiving the vaccine for ‘the greater good’.

While many in the scientific community are trying to have an open debate about the dangers of mass vaccination with leaky vaccines during a pandemic, the BBC remains determined to block this debate.

Fortified against pain and impervious to scientific scepticism, like a leaky vaccine, the BBC remains myopically focused on one single message: get vaccinated. Rather than critically assessing and challenging government action, it is acting as an extension of government policy making. This is a betrayal of its mission and of the public it is meant to serve.

You can read more of Rusere’s work at https://plagueonbothhouses.com

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