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The impending ‘wave of the unvaccinated’

By Dr Harry Rakowski
as appeared in the National Post

“You can choose to not be vaccinated but you will risk death or disability and face restrictions on returning to normal life”

We are now in our second summer lull as the explosion of third-wave cases and the resulting hospitalizations and deaths have abated.

Last fall when vaccinations were not yet available, everyone was more susceptible to a new wave of infections as the Alpha variant increased disease burden and deaths.

The current Delta variant is even more contagious and harmful, requiring careful prevention measures of which vaccination is the most important.

As this summer progresses the next wave will be, as Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has called it, “the disease of the unvaccinated.” Currently 97 per cent of US hospitalizations are occurring in unvaccinated people, with similar levels in Canada.

The Delta variant has been described as Covid-19 on steroids due to its very high level of contagiousness and risk. It is quite possible that most unvaccinated people may contract the virus as it spreads so quickly.

While most will survive and many, particularly the young, with have only mild infection, many older and at-risk people will be hospitalized and die unnecessarily.

This is what we already see occurring; so why are so many people still so vaccine hesitant? Much of it is due to the anxiety being fuelled by the disinformation spread on the internet and via social media.

There are major areas of misrepresentation of data that I have seen. These are five examples:

1. Covid-19 is just the flu since 99.9 per cent of people don’t die;

Early in the pandemic, certain so-called “scientists” claimed in internet posts that Covid-19 was simply the flu and that masks and lockdowns were not needed and it would simply die out on its own. The multiple waves of infection, millions of deaths worldwide, increased risks of variants of concern and the devastating effects on health care prove the fallacy of this position.

It is also argued that 99.9 per cent of the population won’t die of this infection so what’s the concern? Covid-19 has not decimated our population because of the containment measures taken, even if some may argue they were sometimes misdirected or excessive.

If left unchecked it is estimated that most of the population would likely have become infected, with a mortality rate of about 1.0 per cent. This would have caused an adult death toll of over two million people in the US rather than the 610,000 current Covid-19-related deaths there.

Currently, Covid-19 is the third leading cause of US deaths behind cancer and cardiovascular disease and has abated primarily due to vaccination.

2. Vaccines reprogram your DNA;

Viral vector vaccines such as Astra Zeneca and J&J use known technology that have known low long-term risks. The greater concern expressed has been for the novel mRNA-based Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that use an engineered piece of viral spike protein.

The vaccine induces the production of an immune response by your body to generate antibodies that neutralize the virus if you become exposed. Memory T cells are produced for longer term protection as well.

There is no data in animals or humans that suggests that altering your DNA is possible since the mRNA is a part of single strand piece of protein, not the full double strand DNA genetic code that creates who you are.

To date hundreds of millions of doses of these vaccines have been given with an extremely low rate of serious side effects. Of course no one can fully predict what might happen in 10 to 20 years, however there is likely an extremely low risk of long-term unrecognized serious effects.

3. An epidemic of vaccine-related deaths and complications is being hidden;

Another major promoted untruth is the fear that somehow vaccine complications are being hidden and undercounted. The false argument is that any event in a vaccinated person should be considered vaccine related.

The accurate way to determine vaccine-related events is to compare these events to historic levels. The only events that then stand out are rare, occurring about 1.0 per 50,000-100,000 vaccinated people. Somehow events such as dying in a car accident just can’t be seen to be vaccine related.

Another report of a small sample of events suggested that vaccinated people die more frequently than those not vaccinated.

The fallacy comes from comparing natural deaths in early vaccinated people who were much older than younger people who were not yet offered vaccination. This biased assessment fails to apply critical thinking to truly assess outcomes.

4. Vaccines affect fertility; and

This misconception comes from false claims that the spike protein used in mRNA-based vaccines can lodge in your reproductive organs and also shed from your body like dandruff and “infect” unvaccinated or other bystanders and harm them.

According to this misguided thinking even the partners of vaccine-hesitant people should avoid vaccination so as not to harm them.

There is no study that has ever demonstrated that this occurs yet it widely believed by many vaccine-hesitant women. About one in five pregnancies may normally end in miscarriage.

Early in the pandemic there was uncertainty as to whether pregnant women should be vaccinated. The spike in maternal deaths due to the rise of variants made the choice to vaccinate as soon as possible much clearer.

5. Common medicines and vitamins will prevent Covid-19.

Vitamin D, Ivermectin, which is an anti-fungal drug, and hydroxychloroquine have all shown mild benefits, particularly in low-risk, mildly infected people.

Larger trials have not shown sufficiently convincing benefit to justify widespread administration to millions of people, or that widespread use will not lead to significant harm in people who would have recovered anyway. These therapies do not replace the need for vaccination.

Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, has railed against the wave of disinformation circulating in videos and on social media.

It is time for everyone to put aside their biases and evaluate the data critically and fairly, without politicization.

This is not the 1918 flu pandemic that decimated the population. It is a highly contagious and dangerous virus that will now be a disease of the unvaccinated.

You can choose to not be vaccinated but you will risk death or disability and will face restrictions on returning to normal life. Think carefully and critically. Your life and health may depend on it.

Dr. Harry Rakowski is an academic Toronto cardiologist and commentator

Written by Ezri

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