Politics

Joanna Blythman: We need more than endless vaccinations to beat Covid

HAVE you had a booster yet? How do you feel about having a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth?

That’s the deal going forward. Sajid Javid, Westminster Health Secretary, says that we must take a third shot if we want a vaccine passport.

He changed the definition of “fully vaccinated” overnight, a sickener for those who went along in good faith with the initial ‘only two jabs to freedom’ promise.

Now we are told that two jabs cannot be relied on to deal with the slightest genetic shift in the virus’ spike protein.

Intervals between shots have been reduced too. So we must likely roll up our sleeves twice a year, or whenever the government instructs us – indefinitely – or else watch our rights and civil liberties being stripped away incrementally.

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This is a Covid vaccine subscription service, the pharmaceutical equivalent of a loyalty card, only instead of being rewarded for buying a product of your own volition, you fear state reprisals if you don’t.

Never before have vaccines figured so prominently in our lives.

Until SARS-CoV-2 appeared, vaccinations were a childhood thing, or one-offs for adult travellers. Now on top of Covid jabs, invites fly out for the latest flu or shingles vaccine.

It’s hard to see a medic these days unless they are sticking a needle in your arm.

Meanwhile, we are diverting resources away from services that would have picked up conditions that kill many more people than Covid, and at a stage when treatment could be the difference between life and death. Everything is poured into the great national booster effort, even though it isn’t stopping Covid.

The whole point of vaccination is prevention, and it is now apparent that Covid vaccines do not prevent transmission. As Professor Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University, says, “we do not have a technology that stops the spread”.

Vaccination campaigns should ideally take place when infection rates are low, not in the midst of an epidemic or pandemic. It is well established in science that a combination of high disease prevalence and high vaccination can create conditions under which an “immune escape variant” is most likely to emerge.

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To put it another way, imperfect vaccination can enable the evolution of more virulent pathogens. An Imperial College team reported this back in 2015: “Our data show that anti-disease vaccines that do not prevent transmission can create conditions that promote the emergence of pathogen strains”.

Did Delta or Omicron evolve to evade vaccine-induced immunity?

There are parallels in other fields. Look at antibiotics. It is now accepted that heavy-handed use of these life-saving drugs, both in human medicine and in agriculture, has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs which, despite our best efforts, continue to imperil both human and animal health.

We know that an over-reliance on pesticides has triggered the genesis of pesticide-resistant “super-weeds”. They can get such a grip that farmers have to abandon their land.

Toxicologists are familiar with the term “cocktail effect”. It is used, for instance, to describe unintended consequences of the accumulation of multiple pesticides residues in our food.

Each individual pesticide, by definition a poison, has been tested in isolation, after a fashion, to show that the dose is ‘safe’ in low amounts. But inadequate research has been carried out on the synergistic cocktail effect of multiple pesticides.

Some wise caution over repeat vaccines wouldn’t go amiss.

There is no scientific, randomised, long-term data to demonstrate the health effects of these new-wave vaccines when administered as recurring medical procedures, in short order, and in novel combinations. How does AstraZeneca and Pfizer get along in your body with a booster from Moderna?

I’ll bet that Sajid Javid doesn’t have a clue.

Strangely, when it comes to Covid, the usual focus on the treatment of symptomatic illness has been supplanted by the drive to vaccinate. Why are medical treatments not given equal emphasis?

Worldwide, treatment protocols that involve the early, simultaneous use of well-used, generic drugs – antimalarials such as hydroxychloroquine, and anti-parasitics, such as ivermectin – along with zinc ionophores, and more, have proved effective in treating infected people in countries like Mexico and India where vaccine rates are low. Monoclonal antibodies are a promising new development in Covid treatment options.

Yet in these febrile times, it can be construed as seditious to suggest that vaccines cannot eradicate Covid infection. A rebalancing emphasis on treatment is 21 months overdue.

Official reluctance to permit discussion of drug cures is not unconnected with the power of the vaccine companies. They are routinely presented by government and the media as disinterested actors motivated only by altruism, even though their track records, including settlement pay-outs for damages, do not always justify this uncritical view.

When vaccine company CEOs say that we’ll all need lots more doses of their product to a schedule set by them, we’d be naive not to notice that they have a strong commercial reason to advance this proposition.

And as politicians urge and coerce us into taking each vaccine shot, we should ask why they remain silent on the most obvious, affordable public health interventions.

Most patients admitted to critical care with Covid are obese. Losing weight is one obvious way to reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid. Let’s hear this from Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson.

Office for National Statistics figures show that 91% of the people who died with Covid had pre-existing conditions. These can include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity – all conditions that can be mitigated by lifestyle changes.

And a body of up-to-date evidence now powerfully suggests that people with inadequate vitamin D levels are more at risk of severe respiratory dysfunction and death when hospitalised with Covid.

If the NHS gave free vitamin D supplements to the population, at a sufficient strength to be efficacious, politicians could surely cut Covid deaths for a fraction of what they are spending on vaccine.

Our leaders need to consider all the tools that could get us off the Covid treadmill, not fixate on a never-ending vaccine regime.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.

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