When ‘experts’ tell me something has been thoroughly assessed but give no details of the evidence or argument supporting that assessment they are asking for confidence on the basis of authority rather than understanding. This respects neither scientific nor democratic principles of discourse.
Covid -19 Exists
I have not at any point doubted the existence of the virus named as ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)’ and commonly referred to by the name of the disease it causes ‘Covid-19’. I will refer to it as the Covid-19 virus. It seems misguided to allege that this virus does not exist or that it has not been ‘isolated’, that is to say properly identified. If this were the case I do not doubt that there would be plenty of scientists who make this case but there are none. An article on the Virology Down Under website, “Sigh, yes, the ‘COVID virus’ is real” , seems to shoot down any argument against the Covid-19 virus’s existence quite definitively. For similar reasons I have not doubted the virus causes the Covid- 19 disease and that it is different to and more dangerous than the flu.
I do not distrust expertise qua expertise. There is much that I cannot understand with regard to propositions offered by experts in any field, particularly the hard sciences because I do not have the conceptual framework for full comprehension. I accept certain propositions without fully understanding them because they are offered with evidence for the propositions themselves, explanation of the processes through which such evidence was obtained and arguments connecting evidence to propositions.
Questions about the Pfizer Vaccine
With regard to the issue of coronavirus vaccines and in regard to an early rollout of a vaccine developed by Pfizer I had a few initial questions and concerns that I quickly jotted down:
Questions (On Safety): Has this been tested on people of varying age and health profiles? How does the experience of side effects and the vaccine’s effectiveness as a prophylactic vary across the range of profiles?
Further Questions (On the Costs to Benefits Relationship): What is the current overall and predictable overall risk profile of the Covid-19 virus with regard to infection, morbidity and mortality? How do the overall and co-morbidity related risk profiles of the virus compare to the overall and co-morbidity related risk profiles of the vaccine.
Ethical Observation: Any action that affects a community or communities and requires our consent or compliance also requires for that consent and compliance that we weigh it with regard to its impacts on the welfare of the many, the welfare of more vulnerable minorities and on the welfare and right of the individual.
Logistical Observation: In order to make decisions that are rational and ethical government needs to make and present a risk assessment based on what is known of the actual (the facts) and what we take to be the ethical (our values).
Concerns: I am concerned that I do not see this very basic level of public assessment and consideration taking place anywhere. I am concerned that decisions are being made and will be made not on the basis of the facts, the ethics and the logistics but on the basis of the ‘sunk costs’ of previous commitments, investments and decisions.
In fact there has been and there is an ongoing public debate about the virus and the vaccine but the presentation of this to the public in and by most of the media and by both major political parties has been decidedly one sided in support of the position succinctly articulated by George Monbiot that:
“Once a vaccine against Covid-19 which has received regulatory approval is offered to you, [you should] please accept it. It will help protect you and other people. Getting vaccinated is a pro-social act.”
See Monbiot’s full Twitter thread:
Pfizer’s history includes convictions for criminal practices including bribery. They should be treated with caution. It is fair also to question the motives of governments that offer public contracts to this company.
In the video below we learn:”The SEC alleges that employees and agents of Pfizer’s subsidiaries in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Serbia made improper payments to foreign officials to obtain regulatory and formulary approvals, sales, and increased prescriptions for the company’s pharmaceutical products” 2012.
See also: https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2012-2012-152htm
It is reasonable that we should question the decisions of a government that has been shown to be both corrupt and incompetent. The government does not deserve the trust of the public on anything and it is time that the public recognises that it does not. I suspect that institutional incompetence and corruption is not just a flaw of this particular government but of the whole present system of establishment. Neither the replacement of Boris Johnson with Rishi Sunak nor the replacement of the Conservative government with a Labour one, whose leadership has whispered no challenge to the corona cronyism, will change the systems of preference and privilege that define establishment governance. Only the profound disgust and distrust of a public awakened to the long scam and prepared to take persistent action against it will make the difference.
The suggestion that we can ‘trust the science’ while not trusting the government that effectively commissions ‘the science’ from profit-driven manufacturers is naive. This BMJ article suggests:
“Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health.1 Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.”https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4425
Noting the commendation of the release of full trial protocols by four manufacturers I note also criticism of the ‘clinical relevance’ of the protocols in another BMJ article:
The first question is whether the right endpoints are being studied. Contrary to prevailing assumptions (including those of a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner), none of the vaccine trials are designed to detect a significant reduction in hospital admissions, admission to intensive care, or death.9 Rather than studying severe disease, these mega-trials all set a primary endpoint of symptomatic covid-19 of essentially any severity: a laboratory positive result plus mild symptoms such as cough and fever count as outcome events. These studies seem designed to answer the easiest question in the least amount of time, not the most clinically relevant questions.https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4058
In the first week of December it was announced by the government that the MHRA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for use. But “the full safety data and clinical trial results [had] still not been published by Pfizer and neither has any technical analysis by the MHRA”
In short in addition to there being questions concerning the relevance of the trial protocols we do not have, at the time approval was announced, information on the trial results. Why are these things not matters of concern?