There isn’t a single part of our lives left unaffected by politics. From the education we receive, the taxes we pay, religion, the economy, our available jobs, our healthcare system and beyond, nothing in our lives operates without some form of government influence. The current coronavirus pandemic is no exception. It, as well as the Covid-19 vaccine, remains one of the best modern examples of how politicization of a global crisis generated misinformation, panic and public mistrust.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, every aspect of Covid-19 has been politicized. The origin, confinement protocols, mask mandates, PCR diagnostics, treatment and even the mortality associated with the infection only begin to cover the topics which have been mispresented. It was under this environment of politicization, bias and misinformation, that the vaccine against Covid-19 was developed under President Donald Trump.
When Donald Trump announced the vaccine’s development, which became available shortly before the end of his presidential term, prominent Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris criticized it as uncredentialed due to its development under a republican administration.
Trump’s leadership left the country with the vaccine, an excellent weapon to save lives, fight the coronavirus and end the pandemic. Unfortunately, the antagonism toward the president and the vaccine turned one of the president’s greatest accomplishments into a torrent of misinformation, bias, and confusion. Never in the history of medicine has the development and use of a vaccine been so misrepresented and criticized.
Before delving into the details of the Covid-19 vaccine, I would like to mention something that I believe to be of vital importance. Vaccinations are one of the best inventions in the history of medicine. To date, no medical product has saved more lives on a global scale than vaccines. From smallpox to Covid-19, millions of people have survived multiple diseases thanks to vaccinations. This medical and historical significance is often dismissed by groups opposed to the Covid vaccines.
Attached below are several supplemental videos concerning the myths and disinformation surrounding Covid-19 vaccination.
First, critics misrepresented the role of mRNA vaccine ingredients such as spike proteins and nanoparticles, both necessary components in ensuring the vaccine’s performance, stability and efficacy. In truth, the spike protein is crucial in the generation of the immune response and the production of antibodies. On the other hand, the nanoparticles prevent the degradation of the vaccine and facilitate its entry into the cells. While vaccine opponents reported multiple complications and adverse reactions allegedly caused by these ingredients, vaccine experts and medical centers around the country had no such experiences.
Another common faulty statement made was that the Covid-19 vaccine was not even a vaccine and that it contained metals, hidden toxic substances and a microchip to spy on the U.S. population. Absolutely none of these elements are included in the vaccine.
Others claimed that the coronavirus mRNA vaccines caused infertility and that it was made using fetal tissues. These claims are false. No scientific study has shown that the Covid-19 vaccine causes fertility problems in men or women and none of the mRNA vaccines used in the U.S. contain fetal tissue. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists approves and recommends Covid-19 vaccination.
Others spread rumors that the vaccine transmitted Covid-19 and that it was the cause of the virus’s mutations. It is important to understand that the vaccines used against the coronavirus are not live vaccines and do not contain the virus, and therefore, cannot transmit the infection. Mutations are genetic molecular events frequently seen in RNA viruses. These events are a consequence of natural causes and are seen frequently in the Common Cold, Influenza, Covid-19 and other similar viruses.
Another quickly spread misconception was the idea that the vaccine was developed without passing the necessary scientific testing, but the reality is different. Research on mRNA vaccines began in 1989 and scientific testing continued during the SARS-Cov-1 outbreaks in 2002 and MERS-Cov in 2012. The 3 vaccines used in the U.S. were extensively investigated, both in pre-clinical animal studies and in human clinical studies. Regarding Covid-19, thousands of people participated in a multitude of studies before the vaccines were licensed for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in December, 2020 and January, 2021. In fact, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccine and infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic, vaccines against Covid-19 are one of the most studied vaccines in medical history.
Since vaccination against Covid-19 began, news spread that mRNA vaccines could alter the genome of cells. If we take a closer look at the way the vaccine works, it cannot even penetrate the nucleus of a cell. Therefore, genetic alterations are not possible. The idea that the vaccine is a DNA modifying gene therapy is incorrect.
Some outlets said that mRNA vaccines frequently cause severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). In truth, these reactions have been reported with vaccines – as with other medicines – however, the incidence is extremely rare. Anaphylactic reactions occur in 2.5 to 4.7 people per million vaccinated. In fact, you are more likely to develop anaphylactic reactions with some everyday medications than with the current Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S.
Another myth still circulating in the media is that more people die from the vaccine than from Covid-19. This claim originated, in large part, due to misrepresented data obtained from VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System).
Unfortunately, many are unaware of what VAERS actually is and how it was designed to work. VAERS is a passive data collection system created by the CDC in 1990 to report possible adverse effects of vaccines. Anyone – you do not have to live in the U.S., be a medical professional or even a family member of a patient – can report a complaint to VAERS. This can be done without providing evidence that the vaccine was the cause of the reported reaction. Furthermore, the system does not determine the veracity of the report, it only records it. In other words, a causal relationship cannot be established using the information provided to VAERS.
After a complaint is filed, VAERS assigns the report to other CDC agencies to initiate the necessary investigation of the reported effects. This was how cases of thrombosis, Myopericarditis, Guillain Barre Syndrome and other effects related to vaccination were initially detected. It is important to mention that those reactions are extremely rare. On the contrary, cardiac, neurological and thrombotic complications occur more frequently in patients infected with coronavirus. These complications, widely reported in the medical literature, are often dismissed by opponents of the vaccine.
It is worth mentioning that in the U.S., health workers must report adverse reactions related to Covid-19 vaccines to VAERS.
Vaccines Adverse Reactions
Opponents of the Covid-19 vaccine tend to ignore complications caused by the virus itself, while exaggerating reactions related to the vaccine. Unfortunately, this misinformation spreads daily in the national and international press.
In the content below, I would like to bring clarification to three adverse reactions reported with Covid-19 vaccines to date.
Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS)
GBS is a disease that attacks the nervous system causing muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis. Approximately 100 GBS cases were reported after 12.8 million people received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (J&J). Of the reported cases, one person died.
Other viral infections including Influenza, Epstein Bar, Zica, and Covid-19 can also cause GBS.
According to statistical data, you are more likely to develop GBS from an infection than from Covid-19 vaccines. A report from the Cleveland Clinic revealed that the risk of GBS after receiving the J&J vaccine was 0.0008%. Given the rarity of these cases and the increased risk of infection, complications, and deaths due to the virus itself, medical statistics favor vaccination with J&J regardless of this rare GBS adverse reaction.
After approximately 300 million doses of the mRNA vaccine were administered in the U.S., 1,226 cases of Myopericarditis were reported. According to VAERS, for men ages 25 to 29, the risk of Myopericarditis after the second dose of the vaccine was 20.4 per million, or about 1 in 49,019 cases.
According to the Vaccine Safety Datalink (a CDC project established in 1990 to study the adverse effects of vaccines-) for men ages 12 to 39, the risk of Myopericarditis after the second dose was 32.0 per million, or 1 in 31,250 cases. Furthermore, a Canadian study revealed that the total incidence of Myopericarditis was 8.7 per million of cases after receiving the second dose of Pfizer and 28.2 per million of cases after receiving two doses of the Moderna vaccine. The same study reported a higher incidence of Myopericarditis among the 18-24 year age group. In this group, the incidence was 37.4 per million of cases with the Pfizer vaccine and 263.2 per million of cases with the Moderna Vaccine.
A large-scale U.S. study published in NewScientist reported 450 cases of Myopericarditis per million among patients infected with Covid-19 and 77 cases per million among vaccinated people. The study was conducted with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Another study from Israel revealed that the risk of Myopericarditis associated with the Pfizer vaccine was between 1 and 5 cases per 100,000 people. This study included 884,828 vaccinated people.
It is important to note that the vast majority of patients that develop Myopericarditis due to the vaccine recover completely and do so without additional complications. We cannot say the same about the complications associated with the coronavirus. Sadly, 20% of Covid-19 patients develop chronic symptoms, these cases are known as Post Covid Syndrome cases or Long Haulers. Furthermore,the incidence of Myopericarditis due to the coronavirus is 6 times higher compared to the vaccine.
While many critics allege that healthcare authorities and doctors ignore the risk of this adverse reaction, a warning about Myopericarditis risk is part of the FDA fact sheet. The American Heart Association has stated “The facts are clear, this is an extremely rare side effect, and only a very small number of people will experience it after vaccination”.
Although rare, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can cause thrombi and thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets). This complication is known as Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome and occurs in 1 per 533 thousand of vaccinated people.
It is important to know that Covid-19 is a hypercoagulable condition (a disorder causing the blood to easily clot). In fact, the risk of thrombosis caused by the coronavirus is much higher compared to the risk associated with the vaccine. Reports at the beginning of the pandemic revealed that approximately one third of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 developed thrombotic complications.
These complications are frequently seen among severe cases of Covid-19 infection. Between 5% and 10% of patients admitted to the Intensive Care Units have problems with thromboembolisms. These patients can develop heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and other complications. Coagulation disorders caused by the coronavirus are so common that all hospitalized patients with Covid-19 receive prophylactic treatment with anti-coagulants.
Unconfirmed deaths attributed to Covid-19 vaccines are common topics in the mainstream media and fatal cases associated with Covid-19 are frequently misconstrued among these groups.
It is a mistake to assume a death that occurs after acquiring Covid-19 is necessarily due to the virus. Likewise, a death after receiving the vaccine is not necessarily caused by the vaccine. Potential causes of death in the U.S. are vast and every 35 seconds a life is lost from cardiac reasons alone.
If we were to assume that each report provided to VAERS is reliable and truthful, in any segment of the population, the possibility of dying due to the coronavirus is much higher than the possibility of dying due to the vaccine. Doctors who see Covid patients can confirm this.
Critics claim that vaccination is not necessary as the mortality from the coronavirus is only around 1%. In a country like the U.S. with 330 million people, that number would equal 3.3 million deaths. Is this figure really acceptable?
The mortality rate associated to Covid-19 varies greatly depending on a patient’s age and other risk factors. Depending on the patient, the mortality rate could be lower than 1% to as high as > 15%, especially in the elderly or in patients with immunocompromised conditions. In contrast, the mortality rate due to the Covid-19 vaccination could be as low as 0.0018%.
According to the CDC, VAERS received 6,207 reports of deaths among vaccinated people as of July 21 of this year. Given that more than 338 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered by that time, this data reflects a 0.0018% vaccination-mortality rate.
From December 14, 2020 to September 27, 2021, more than 390 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered in the United States. During this period, VAERS received 8,164 reports of deaths among vaccinated people. If each of these reports is true, the mortality associated with the vaccine would be 0.0021%.
Groups opposed to vaccination recently said 45,000 people have died in the U.S. from the vaccine. This number has not been confirmed, however, if this figure is correct, the mortality rate associated with the Covid-19 vaccine would be 0.00011538%.
After mass vaccination began in the United States, infections, hospitalizations and deaths associated with coronavirus decreased dramatically throughout the country. The efficacy of the vaccine became especially obvious in hospitals and nursing homes. Still, according to opponents, the vaccine does not work. Unfortunately, some in the press continue to dismiss the millions of infections that have been prevented and the lives that have been saved since the vaccination program began.
But, despite strong opposition, the vaccination program has been successful in the U.S. According to a study published by the Yale School of Public Health, the vaccination campaign launched in the country late last year has saved approximately 279,000 lives and prevented 1.25 million hospitalizations. This study examined the impact of vaccination from October, 2020 to July, 2021. Yale’s findings were significant. The medical benefits of the vaccine cannot be underestimated.
Sadly, the antagonism towards Covid-19 vaccination gave birth to a myriad of videos, articles and interviews that circulate the Internet and social networks, all done under the pretenses of spreading the “truth”. Many critics advise the public to avoid the vaccine. According to them, the lack of efficacy, the incidence of adverse reactions and re-infections justify not getting vaccinated.
Re-infections and Vaccine Efficacy
According to critics, the re-infections and increases in Covid-19 cases seen in recent months are evidence that the vaccine does not work. This statement ignores relevant medical facts. There are several reasons why a patient can be re-infected despite being vaccinated.
Like other medications, the vaccine is not 100% effective. According to initial reports, the mRNA vaccines protect about 95% of the vaccinated and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine protects about 66%. These percentages indicate a high degree of success. To compare, the influenza vaccine is 50% effective and is used every year in the U.S. with excellent results.
The longer a virus circulates and survives, the more possibility there are for mutations. This goes for every type of mutating virus including Covid-19. The more mutations appear, the less likely the vaccine will maintain its effectiveness. From an epidemiological point of view, it is unrealistic to think that a vaccine will maintain its initial efficacy against a virus that suffers frequent mutations. This is the case of Covid-19. A similar principle can be applied to anti-microbials, an antibiotic can’t keep its efficacy against a mutated bacteria that has developed resistance.
The truth is, most vaccines do not last indefinitely. If so, many infectious diseases would require a single lifetime vaccine. Influenza, Tetanus, Pneumococcus and other infectious diseases require boosters. The same is likely to happen with Covid-19 vaccines. According to recently revealed data, the protective effect of the vaccine could last between six and eight months.
The elderly and patients with immune deficiencies or chronic diseases do not respond to vaccines the way young, healthy people do. The immune response of compromised people to any vaccine tends to be less efficient and less durable. In the U.S., 3% of the population suffers from conditions that compromise the immune system. For these reasons, it is not uncommon for certain people to suffer re-infection with the coronavirus, despite having received the vaccine. The same goes for other infections that require vaccination. In short, Covid-19 and its vaccinations are not an exception to established medical processes.
Prior to the vaccine, Covid-19 infections increased in all age groups between September, 2020 and January 2021. This was the period that reported the highest peak of cases in the U.S. The vaccination program against Covid-19 began in December, 2020. After January, 2021, the number of cases, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths associated to the pandemic decreased throughout the country.
The Delta Variant Effect
The success of the Covid-19 vaccines has been extensively documented and six months after vaccination began, many thought that the pandemic would come to an end. Unfortunately, the reality was different. By that time less than 50% of the population had been vaccinated and a mutation known as the “Delta Variant” began to spread in several states.
The Delta variant turned out to be the most contagious mutation of the coronavirus and within a few months it became the predominant strain in the United States. Health authorities reported that Delta was 50% more contagious than previous variants. Recently, the Delta variant accounted for 90% of Covid-19 cases in this country.
Several medical studies reported that the 3 vaccines approved in the United States (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) were more than 50% effective against the Delta variant. Pfizer reported 30% protection with the first dose and approximately 90% protection after the second dose.
Despite the rebound in cases, the presence of the Delta variant, and the efficacy of the vaccines, opposition groups continue their attack on the vaccination program. The reasons are very much the same: vaccines don’t work, they are killing thousands of people and are causing multitudes of adverse reactions.
If the vaccine does not work, why did Covid-19 cases drop drastically throughout the country when mass vaccination began?
Several reports recently stated an increase in reinfection cases in previously vaccinated patients. Faced with this situation, opposition groups again questioned the efficacy of the vaccine. As I mentioned above, there are several medical reasons responsible for the spike in cases. Despite this finding and contrary to the assertion of some media, most of the infections, hospitalizations and deaths associated with the pandemic occur in patients who were not vaccinated.
According to several recent studies, natural immunity acquired after being infected with the coronavirus could be stronger and longer lasting than the immunity granted by the vaccine. Based on these reports, critics said that vaccination against Covid-19 was not necessary. This approach misses an important medical fact. Natural immunity is not homogeneous and varies from person to person, especially in the elderly and patients with pre-existing chronic diseases. The risk of a highly transmissible, dangerous and potentially fatal infection in this segment of the population cannot be underestimated. In fact, the groups that have benefited the most from the vaccine have been precisely those patients considered to be at high risk.
Nonetheless, it is vital to understand an important fact. The immunity conferred by the vaccine is not perfect, especially when it comes to mutant viruses, the elderly and patients with chronic diseases or deficiencies of the immune system. However, denying the benefits of the vaccine in times of a pandemic is a mistake with dangerous consequences.
It is very important to note that the politicization of the Covid-19 vaccine is not limited to opposition groups. The Biden Administration has forced vaccination on millions of private sector employees through a government mandate and the president issued this mandate without prior consultation with the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). In all, the mandate did not follow scientific medical recommendations. Ironically, Biden did not impose the same requirements on illegal aliens crossing the border or Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S.
Soon after Joe Biden issued his mandate, the FDA rejected (by majority vote) recommending vaccine boosters to general population under 65 years of age. According to the agency, boosters are recommended only in the following cases:
- People 65 years of age or older.
- People 18-64 years of age at high risk for severe Covid-19 infection, and
- People 18-64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to coronavirus that place them at high risk of serious complications associated with the infection.
President Biden is not the only politician who has politicized the use of the vaccine. Recently, all Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee opposed an amendment that required the vaccination of foreigners in the United States seeking to adjust their immigration status to remain in the country. On the contrary, all Republicans supported the measure. This is another example of unnecessary, inappropriate and dangerous politicization.
Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of illegals have crossed the southern border of the country since Joe Biden took office, Jen Psaki, White House spokeswoman, confirmed in a recent press conference that the current Administration will not impose mandatory vaccination on illegal immigrants.
Minors and Pregnant Women
Recently there has been an increase in Covid-19 cases among children and adolescents and currently, 1 in 4 infections in the U.S. are with minors. Usually, Covid-19 has an excellent prognosis in minors. In fact, these patients are at low risk of transmitting the infection, suffering severe illness or requiring hospitalization. However, fatal cases and complications are not impossible, especially in those suffering from chronic diseases or immune system deficiencies. To date, 500+ minors have died from coronavirus in the U.S. Most of these patients were not vaccinated. Last May the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old in the United States.
Another group of patients considered high risk are pregnant women. In recent months, an increase in infections has been reported in pregnant women, including patients with serious illness and fatal cases. Covid-19 in pregnant women is associated with a higher incidence of eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, premature delivery, bleeding disorders, and other complications. Like minors, many infections in pregnant women occur in patients not previously vaccinated.
It is also important to understand that the vaccine is not contraindicated during pregnancy. Complications arising from coronavirus contracted in pregnant women can be much more severe and are seen more frequently than complications from the vaccine. It is the reason why pregnant women are often vaccinated in U.S. hospitals.
Unfortunately, the impact of Covid-19 on minors and pregnant women has been one of the most overlooked medical aspects of the pandemic.
The Medical Community’s Stance
In June, 2021 The American Medical Association (AMA) published a survey among practicing physicians in the United States. The survey, conducted from June 3-8, revealed that more than 96% of doctors had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The study did not show significant differences in vaccination rates between different regions. Of the doctors who were not vaccinated, 45% planned to get the vaccine.
The AMA’s national survey was the first conducted to collect specific data on coronavirus vaccination rates among practicing physicians. The study showed an increase of more than 20% in fully vaccinated physicians compared to a Medscape survey conducted in May, 2021.
So, why would almost 100% of the doctors surveyed decide to get vaccinated? Would any doctor have made this decision knowing that the vaccine was entirely ineffective? Would they have done this knowing that the risk of dying from the vaccine is greater than the risk of dying from Covid-19? This is not a common stance just amongst doctors, Hospitals and Health Organizations support vaccination as well. Alongside physicians, this is the position of the American Hospital Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the American Society for Infectious Diseases, the American College of Cardiologists, the American Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and many other organizations.
The misinformation about Covid-19 vaccination prompted multiple medical centers in the U.S. and other countries to publish articles and educational videos debunking some of the myths and inaccuracies mentioned above.
As of this writing, 414 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. The percentage of the population vaccinated is 65.5%, and the percentage of the population that has received 2 doses is 56.7%.
Nine months after the Covid-19 vaccination began in the U.S. we can confidently conclude that the vaccine:
- Helps prevent infections and the spread of Covid-19.
- Decreases the incidence of symptomatic infection.
- Decreases hospitalizations due to Covid-19.
- Decreases admissions to intensive care units.
- Decreases the mortality associated with the pandemic.
Dozens of vaccines are used in medicine to prevent multiple infectious diseases. Some of these infections have been entirely eradicated (for example Smallpox), others are close to being eradicated (Poliomyelitis), and some infections have decreased significantly (Tetanus)
From 1990 to 2016, Measles cases have dropped by 93% and Diphtheria and Tetanus cases have dropped by 89%. During this period nearly 2 million lives were saved. These are just 3 examples of the global impact of vaccination programs.
Overall, vaccinations are estimated to prevent the deaths of 2.5 million children under the age of 5 every year. In fact, vaccines prevent deaths in all age groups after birth.
It is safe to say that the world would not be the same without vaccinations. Not only would millions have died, but many more would have suffered from chronic debilitating conditions or mental/physical disabilities associated with many preventable infections.
Without question, humanity has benefited greatly from this medical achievement for more than 200 years. The number of lives saved globally due to the invention of the vaccines cannot be overlooked.
Juan Torres, MD
Note: the purpose of this article is to inform and clarify the role, benefits, impact, and possible adverse reactions of the Covid-19 vaccines. It is the wish of the author that the public can make an informed decision about the vaccination process based on the data and facts set forth above. Furthermore, this article does not attempt to promote or analyze the legal aspects of vaccine mandates in the general population that are currently being discussed in the country.
Juan Torres is an Infectious Disease Specialist with nearly 30 years of experience. He is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. He also received Intensive Care fellowship training at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami. Dr. Torres completed his fellowship training in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University where he performed research in PCR diagnostic techniques. He has provided in-patient care in multiple hospitals and skilled care facilities in both Indiana and Florida.