Before you begin...
The lessons learned from the ongoing saga of thimerosal are significant to all who care about vaccine safety, want justice for the injured, and to prevent future harm. The government has said they corrected the thimerosal issue and want us to believe the case is closed. But has the public been fooled with swapping one heavy metal toxicity for another? While thimerosal is still in some flu shots and is especially harmful to pregnant women, infants and children, there are increasing amounts of aluminum exposures from vaccines as more shots are added to the schedule. Like early reports about mercury, now children’s toxic profiles show alarming amounts of aluminum. And the problems don’t end with heavy metals. There are other vaccine contaminants that can cause harm, like retroviruses, formaldehyde, and aborted human fetal tissue. In short, we are in desperate need of an agency that can protect our citizens, especially children, from vaccine injuries. How can the controversy and handling of thimerosal-containing vaccines instruct us as we move forward for real reform?
Thimerosal is the infamous mercury-containing preservative in use, to this day, in some vaccines and also in dozens of other pharmaceutical products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).1-3 Public health agencies, government regulators and medical trade groups have repeatedly declared thimerosal to be safe,4,5 but the published peer-reviewed science argues that nothing could be further from the truth. For anyone who bothers to investigate thimerosal’s appalling record, there is a vast, still accumulating and compelling body of research that contradicts the public health establishment’s deceptive safety claims.
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Thimerosal is almost 50 percent ethylmercury by weight. Ethylmercury is an organic mercury compound with toxicity mechanisms similar to methylmercury6 (the hazardous type of mercury in seafood). The danger posed by both types of mercury was evident in earlier eras when fungicides containing either ethyl- or methylmercury poisoned farmers, sometimes on a large scale, from the 1950s through the 1970s.7,8 Of the two compounds, the ethylmercury in vaccines is far more toxic to and persistent in the brain, where it has a propensity to accumulate as inorganic mercury,9,10 with an estimated half-life of as long as twenty-seven years.11
HISTORY OF THIMEROSAL
Before the invention of modern antibiotics and antiseptics, physicians experimented with mercury-containing compounds to try to stave off microbial pathogens. Thimerosal was born of those efforts. Dr. Morris Kharasch, a university chemist and Eli Lilly fellow, developed thimerosal and filed for a patent in June, 1929, describing thimerosal as an “alkyl mercuric sulfur compound” with antibacterial properties. Eli Lilly and Company registered thimerosal under the trade name Merthiolate later that year.
Eli Lilly researchers reported in 1931 that animals seemed to tolerate high doses of thimerosal. However, many of those animals died of evident mercury poisoning just days after the study ended. Also noteworthy is the fact that in early animal toxicity studies and many later research efforts, researchers did not assess socialization behaviors or perform cognition tests. In other words, they did not consider the possibility of mercury-induced brain damage.
During this same time period, the Eli Lilly researchers reported on the first injections of thimerosal into humans. The unlucky recipients of large doses of Merthiolate were twenty-two patients hospitalized during a 1929 epidemic of meningococcal meningitis in Indianapolis. The thimerosal had no apparent therapeutic benefit, and all twenty-two patients died—seven of them within one day of thimerosal administration. The researchers nevertheless described the experiment as a success, and a published paper stated that “these large doses did not produce any anaphylactoid or shock symptoms” (neither of which is associated with toxic mercury exposure). However, the clinician who treated the meningitis patients apparently was not convinced of thimerosal’s efficacy, stating, “Beneficial effects of the drug were not definitely proven.” Moreover, any short-term neurological or other deleterious effects of the thimerosal would likely have been masked by or attributed to the patients’ meningitis infections.
For decades, Eli Lilly promoted its confident version of the Indianapolis results as evidence of thimerosal’s safety, paving the way for thimerosal’s inclusion in various antiseptic products, including nasal sprays, eyewashes, vaginal spermicides and diaper rash treatments. This escalation of thimerosal use in consumer products occurred despite numerous studies from the 1930s showing that thimerosal was not, in fact, “highly germicidal” and actually was more effective at destroying human cells than killing pathogens. Thimerosal never measured up to its supposed raison d’être of safely preventing microbial contamination, and studies continued to chalk up clear and unequivocal evidence that thimerosal was deadly to human cells.
THIMEROSAL IN VACCINES
Nonetheless, starting in the 1930s, pharmaceutical companies began to use thimerosal in multidose vials of vaccine to extend shelf life and lessen the risk of bacterial and fungal contamination that arises when several doses are drawn from the same vial. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines allow health providers to administer extra doses from multidose vials up until the printed expiration date “if the vial has been stored correctly and the vaccine is not visibly contaminated.”12 (The CDC does not say what to do about contamination that may not be “visible.”)
Through the 1970s and 1980s, children in the U.S. generally received eight injections of three types of vaccines—oral polio, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine—in their first eighteen months. The DTP vaccine contained fifty micrograms of thimerosal per shot, translating into one hundred micrograms of mercury exposure by eighteen months. In 1986, after more and more people began suing vaccine manufacturers for serious vaccine injuries primarily related to the DTP vaccine, Congress took the unprecedented step of granting vaccine manufacturers full immunity from lawsuits. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 established a compensation program “as an alternative remedy to judicial action for specified vaccine-related injuries.”13 By making it impossible for vaccine-injured plaintiffs to sue pharmaceutical companies, the result—whether intended or unintended—was to eliminate any financial incentive to make vaccine safety a priority.
Beginning in 1989, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) began steadily increasing the types and total number of vaccines required for school attendance, including thimerosal-containing vaccines. By 1999, the expanded vaccine schedule called for children to receive nineteen vaccine injections by age two, eleven of which contained thimerosal. Children born in the 1990s could be injected, therefore, with up to 237.5 micrograms of mercury by their second birthday, and as much as 62.5 micrograms at a single doctor’s visit.
In my book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak,14 I quote school nurse Patti White, who noticed, early on, the vaccine-induced mercury overload in young children. In 1999, White testified before Congress about the thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccine administered to newborns:
The elementary grades are overwhelmed with children who have symptoms of neurological and/or immune system damage: epilepsy, seizure disorders, various kinds of palsies, autism, mental retardation, learning disabilities, juvenile-onset diabetes, asthma, vision/hearing loss, and a multitude of new conduct/behavior disorders. We [school nurses] have come to believe the hepatitis B vaccine is an assault on a newborn’s developing neurological and immune system. Vaccines are supposed to be making us healthier. However, in twenty-five years of nursing I have never seen so many damaged, sick kids. Something very, very wrong is happening to our children.
School nurses were not the only ones to call attention to the mounting evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines were having neurotoxic effects. In response to pressure from Congress and the public, the FDA conducted a review in the late 1990s that found that the amount of mercury in the childhood vaccine schedule surpassed some federal safety guidelines. Accordingly, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a lukewarm statement in 1999 about thimerosal’s potential risks. The statement’s authors called for the phase-out of thimerosal-containing vaccines “as expeditiously as possible,“ while still avowing that “the large risks of not vaccinating children far outweigh the unknown and probably much smaller risk, if any, of cumulative exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines over the first 6 months of life.”15
THE SIMPSONWOOD CABAL
A year later (June 7-8, 2000), the CDC convened a secret scientific review panel of over fifty experts who began backpedaling from the AAP-USPHS pronouncement.16 The group that met at the Simpsonwood Retreat Center near Atlanta included high-ranking CDC and FDA representatives, state and international public health officials, vaccine company representatives and others. At the outset, the meeting’s chair, immunologist Richard Johnston, expressed regret that the group had not met to consider the data sooner, “in advance of…the public health decisions [to phase out thimerosal] that were made last summer.” Further betraying his preconceptions, Johnston stated that there was “no evidence of a problem, only a theoretical concern that young infants’ developing brains were being exposed to an organomercurial.”
The group then heard a presentation by Thomas Verstraeten, a research fellow at CDC who subsequently went on to a decade-long career at GlaxoSmithKline. Verstraeten had been working up a study using data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink (established by the CDC in 1990 to study rare and serious vaccine adverse events), scrutinizing data from roughly one hundred and ten thousand children born between 1992 and 1997 and enrolled at U.S. health maintenance organizations. The study sought to assess the relationship between thimerosal exposure (at one, two, three and six months of age) and neurological damage. After the initial findings showed a possible causal link, Verstraeten reworked the study design and analyses several times prior to Simpsonwood.
Despite these apparent attempts to make the association “go away,” Verstraeten was obligated to present the troublesome finding of linear and statistically significant dose-related relationships between thimerosal exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders to the group assembled at Simpsonwood.
Although differing viewpoints emerged, many of the Simpsonwood attendees were less than persuaded by Verstraeten’s results. Some, such as John Clements of the World Health Organization’s Expanded Program on Immunization, focused more on the public relations implications. Clements stated:
I hear the majority of the consultants say…that they are not convinced there is a causality direct link between Thimerosal and various neurological outcomes. …The research results have to be handled, and even if this committee decides that there is no association…through freedom of information that will be taken by others and will be used in other ways beyond the control of this group. […] My mandate…is to make sure…that 100,000,000 are immunized with DTP, Hepatitis B and if possible Hib, this year, next year and for many years to come, and that will have to be with Thimerosal-containing vaccines unless a miracle occurs and an alternative is found quickly and is tried and found to be safe. […] How will it be presented to a public and a media that is hungry for selecting the information they want to use for whatever means they have in store for them? …I wonder how on earth you are going to handle it from here.
Despite the clear association between thimerosal exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders demonstrated by the Verstraeten study, many of the industry and public health scientists present tried to minimize the implications by voting them away. When polled at the end of the day’s discussion, most of them voted to rate the link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders as “weak.” In his summary comments as meeting rapporteur, Paul Stehr-Green described Verstraeten’s results as being only weakly indicative of a safety signal—defined as “information on a new or known adverse event that may be caused by a medicine.”17 While acknowledging that the signal “deserved further investigation and…raised some perhaps disquieting possibilities,” Stehr-Green concluded that “there was not anything close to sufficient evidence to support a finding of a causal relationship.”
Pediatrician William Weil observed that “the number of kids getting help in special education is growing nationally and state by state at a rate we have not seen before.”
Attendee William Weil (a pediatrician representing the AAP) noted that even accepting Stehr-Green’s assertion that Verstraeten hadn’t proven a link to neurodevelopmental disorders, it was alarming that he hadn’t disproven it, and there was insufficient evidence, he pointed out, to reject a possible causal relationship. He stated that “the possibility that the associations could be causal has major significance for public and professional acceptance of thimerosal-containing vaccines.” Weil also observed that “the number of kids getting help in special education is growing nationally and state by state at a rate we have not seen before.” Another of his observations was that thimerosal in vaccines represented “repeated acute exposures” and that “the earlier you work with the central nervous system, the more likely you are to run into a sensitive period for one of these [neurodevelopmental] effects.” Finally, Weil pointed out the limitations of epidemiological studies, calling for further indepth animal and developmental neurotoxicity studies and stating: “Some of the really gutsy questions from a person who is very concerned about neurodevelopment cannot be answered out of this.” At the same time, Weil cautioned others not to overly minimize or “play with” the VSD data. Weil was the only reviewer present to rate the association between thimerosal and the neurodevelopmental outcomes as strong, giving it a four on a scale of one to six (where one was weakest).
The groupthink on display at Simpsonwood primarily illustrates that most public health and medical experts were itching to exonerate thimerosal, regardless of the science, and continue with business as usual. Following the Simpsonwood meeting, CDC moved aggressively to hastily gin up five poorly designed epidemiological studies18-22 to disprove the link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders. Written by industry scientists, the published studies focused solely on one injury (autism), and four out of the five were done on foreign populations with minimal exposure to thimerosal. Three of the five studies were published in a compromised journal, Pediatrics, which receives a significant portion of its revenue from vaccine-makers. In 2002, the AAP dutifully “retired” its 1999 joint statement on thimerosal.23 In January 2013, the AAP went even further in several articles in Pediatrics, going on record in favor of exempting thimerosal from an international treaty on the elimination of avoidable mercury exposures.24
THE FALLACY OF TRACE AMOUNTS
Even when vaccines do not contain thimerosal as a preservative, manufacturers use it in some single-dose and multidose vaccines to impede bacterial growth during the manufacturing process.5 The CDC states that “when thimerosal is used this way, it is removed later in the process” and only “trace amounts” remain (no more than one microgram per dose).25
The notion that “trace amounts” of a substance as highly toxic as mercury might be benign is exceedingly misleading. In a seminal 2014 publication in the prestigious journal Lancet Neurology, toxicology experts Philippe Grandjean and Philip Landrigan observed that the developing human brain is uniquely vulnerable to mercury and other neurotoxins, often “at much lower exposure levels than had previously been thought to be safe.”26
Discussing methylmercury, the Lancet authors also noted that developmental neurotoxicity occurs at far lower exposure levels than “the concentrations that affect adult brain function.” Other investigators have argued that there may be no meaningful safety threshold for methylmercury.27 Given the body of research indicating that ethylmercury is more toxic than methylmercury and that both have comparable mechanisms of toxicity, it stands to reason that warnings about the risks of lower exposure levels would also apply to ethylmercury.
A 2012 Italian study showed that ethylmercury-containing thimerosal diminished the viability of human cells in the lab at a concentration one-fiftieth that of methylmercury.28Although thimerosal’s apologists like to state that ethylmercury disappears from the bloodstream more quickly than methylmercury, this is no evidence that it has cleared the body. Ethylmercury migrates more rapidly to and then lingers in the organs.29
A study that analyzed hair samples from babies’ first haircuts found that children with autism who had received thimerosal-preserved vaccines excreted lower levels of mercury into their hair as infants compared with normal, same-aged children also receiving these vaccines, suggesting that the mercury had lodged in the autistic children’s brains and was hindering neurological development.30
OPEN SEASON ON PREGNANT WOMEN
Thimerosal passes more easily from a mother’s bloodstream through the placenta than does methylmercury.31 Fetal cord blood mercury levels are typically about double the mother’s mercury blood levels.32 This is cause for concern for developing babies in light of the CDC’s 2004 recommendation that all pregnant women in any trimester get flu shots. By 2012–2013, uptake of flu shots during pregnancy had steadily increased to approximately 50 percent.33 Manufacturers still preserve millions of flu shots with massive bolus doses of thimerosal (about thirty-six million flu shots containing twenty-five micrograms of mercury in the 2017-2018 flu season),34 meaning that children born since 2004 have been increasingly likely to be exposed to thimerosal in utero.
A 2017 CDC study reviewing data from the 2010–11 and 2011–2012 flu seasons linked spontaneous abortions to flu vaccines, finding that women vaccinated with the inactivated influenza vaccine had 3.7-fold greater odds of spontaneous abortion within twenty-three days than women not receiving the vaccine.35 For women who received the H1N1 vaccine in both seasons covered in the study, the odds of spontaneous abortion in the month after receiving a flu vaccine were 7.7 times greater. The vast majority of flu vaccines available during the seasons studied were multidose formulations containing twenty-five micrograms of mercury.
While the thimerosal debate has carried on in the United States, children around the world have never stopped receiving thimerosal-containing vaccines. The mindset revealed by Simpsonwood attendee John Clements of the WHO—who described a “mandate” to vaccinate one hundred million children “this year, next year and for many years to come” with thimerosal-containing vaccines—has not changed. In fact, the medical community continues to argue that the benefits of keeping thimerosal in vaccines outweigh the risks and that thimerosal is “critical” for low-resource countries that rely on multidose vials as the most affordable option.36 One of the AAP’s former presidents has asserted that, for the good of the global community, the Academy’s pro-thimerosal position is a “no-brainer.”37 The WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety states that “no additional studies of the safety of [thimerosal] in vaccines are warranted.”38
The global health authorities making cavalier and single-minded pronouncements on “life-saving vaccines” should consider the bigger health picture. For example, exposure to toxic metals such as mercury can contribute to malnutrition and, conversely, malnutrition may also increase susceptibility to mercury toxicity.39,40 Mercury is also a potent immunosuppressant, which has implications in low-resource settings where children already face numerous other health challenges and environmental pollutants.41
THE TIME IS NOW
The medical establishment’s defense of thimerosal’s safety has proven highly successful in tamping down deeper investigation into thimerosal and the vaccine industry. Perhaps because major pharmaceutical companies (the makers of vaccines) are among the biggest advertisers in the U.S., the mainstream press has accepted these government orthodoxies and ignored the ample evidence showing that thimerosal is toxic. In fact, the thimerosal saga illustrates the aggressive, knee-jerk rejection by the press, the medical community and allied financial interests of any scientific information suggesting that established medical practices are harming public health. Nevertheless, continuing to wait for more research is not a reasonable public policy option. Thimerosal is dangerous to human health and should immediately be removed from all vaccines (as well as other pharmaceutical and cosmetic products), both in the U.S. and globally.
1. Geier DA, Sykes LK, Geier MR. A review of thimerosal (Merthiolate) and its ethylmercury breakdown product: specific historical considerations regarding safety and effectiveness. J Toxicol Environ Health B 2007;10:575-596.
2. Food and Drug Administration. “Mercury in drug and biologic products.” https://worldmercuryproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/MercuryinDrugsandBiologicsFDAupdated_2009.pdf.
3. World Mercury Project. “Mercury in medicine.” https://worldmercuryproject.org/mercury-facts/mercury-in-medicine/.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Thimerosal in vaccines.” https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal/index.html.
5. Food and Drug Administration. “Thimerosal and vaccines.” Last updated Jan. 5, 2018. https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228.
6. Risher JF, Tucker P. Alkyl mercury-induced toxicity: multiple mechanisms of action. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 2017;240:105-149.
7. Al-Tikriti K, Al-Mufti AW. An outbreak of organomercury poisoning among Iraqi farmers. Bull World Health Organ 1976;53(Suppl):15-21.
8. Hilmy MI, Rahim SA, Abbas AH. Normal and lethal mercury levels in human beings. Toxicol 1976;6:155-159.
9. Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato N, Grant KS, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methymercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environ Health Perspect 2005;113(8):1015-1021.
10. Dórea JG. Integrating experimental (in vitro and in vivo) neurotoxicity studies of low-dose thimerosal relevant to vaccines. Neurochem Res 2011;36(6):927-938.
11. Rooney JP. The retention time of inorganic mercury in the brain—a systematic review of the evidence. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2014;274(3):425-435.
12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. General recommendations on immunization: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 2011;60(2).
13. National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. https://www.congress.gov/bill/99th-congress/house-bill/5546.
14. Kennedy, RF Jr. Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing; 2015.
15. Joint statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). Pediatrics 1999;104(3).
16. Scientific review of Vaccine Safety Datalink information. Simpsonwood Retreat Center, Norcross, GA; June 7-8, 2000. Available at: https://worldmercuryproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/The-Simpsonwood-Documents.pdf.
17. European Medicines Agency. “Signal management.” http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/regulation/general/general_content_000587.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac0580727d1b.
18. Verstraeten T, Davis RL, DeStefano F et al. Safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines: a two-phased study of computerized health maintenance organization databases. Pediatrics 2003;112:1039-1048.
19. Stehr-Green P, Tull P, Stellfeld M, Mortenson PB, Simpson D. Autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines: lack of consistent evidence for an association. Am J Prev Med2003;25:101-106.
20. Hviid A, Stellfeld M, Wohlfahrt J, Melbye M. Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism. JAMA 2003;290:1763-1766.
21. Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB et al. Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. Pediatrics2003;112:604-606.
22. Andrews N, Miller E, Grant A, Stowe J, Osborne V, Taylor B. Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: a retrospective cohort study in the United Kingdom does not support a causal association. Pediatrics 2004;114:584-591.
23. Orenstein WA, Paulson JA, Brady MT, Cooper LZ, Seib K. Global vaccination recommendations and thimerosal. Pediatrics 2013;131(1).
24. Cooper LZ, Katz SL. Ban on thimerosal in draft treaty on mercury: why the AAP’s position in 2012 is so important. Pediatrics 2013;131(1).
25. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Understanding thimerosal, mercury, and vaccine safety.” Last reviewed Feb. 2013. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/patient-ed/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-thimerosal-color-office.pdf.
26. Grandjean P, Landrigan PJ. Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. Lancet Neurol 2014;13: 330-338.
27. Rice DC. The U.S. EPA reference dose for methylmercury: sources of uncertainty. Environ Res 2004;95:406-413.
28. Guzzi G, Pigatto PD, Spadari F, La Porta CA. Effect of thimerosal, methylmercury, and mercuric chloride in Jurkat T Cell Line. Interdiscip Toxicol 2012;5(3):159-161.
29. Harry GJ, Harris MW, Burka LT. Mercury concentrations in brain and kidney following ethylmercury, methylmercury, and Thimerosal administration to neonatal mice. Toxicol Lett 2004;154(3):183-189.
30. Holmes AS, Blaxill MF, Haley BE. Reduced levels of mercury in first baby haircuts of autistic children. Int J Toxicol 2003;22(4):277-285.
31. Leonard A, Jacquet P, Lauwerys RR. Mutagenicity and teratogenicity of mercury compounds. Mutat Res 1983;114(1):1-18.
32. Stern AH, Smith AE. An assessment of the cord blood: maternal blood methylmercury ratio: implications for risk assessment. Environ Health Perspect 2003;111(12):1465-1470.
33. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza vaccination coverage among pregnant women—United States, 2012-13 influenza season. MMWR 2013;62(38):787-792.
34. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal influenza vaccine supply for the U.S. 2017-2018 influenza season. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaxsupply.htm.
35. Donahue JG, Kieke BA, King JP, et al. Association of spontaneous abortion with receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine containing H1N1pdm09 in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Vaccine2017;35(40):5314-5322.
36. Sifferlin A. Experts argue to keep thimerosal in some vaccines. TIME, Dec. 27, 2012.
37. Tavernise S. Vaccine rule is said to hurt health efforts. The New York Times, Dec. 17, 2012.
38. World Health Organization. “Thiomersal in vaccines.” http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/thiomersal/Jun_2012/en/.
39. Anetor GO. Waste dumps in local communities in developing countries and hidden danger to health. Perspect Public Health 2016;136(4):245-251.
40. Chakrabarti SK, Bai C. Effects of protein-deficient nutrition during rat pregnancy and development on developmental hindlimb crossing due to methylmercury intoxication. Arch Toxicol 2000;74(4-5):196-202.
41. Tsai MS, Chen MH, Lin CC, et al. Children’s environmental health based on birth cohort studies of Asia. Sci Total Environ 2017;609:396-409.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2018.
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How Does Anesthesia Work? We Still Don’t Know: What Happens When Someone Goes “Under”?
Before you begin...
When patients ask anesthesiologists what we charge for putting them to sleep, we often say we do it for free. We only bill them for the waking up part.
This isn’t just a way of deflecting a question, it also serves as a gentle reminder to both parties regarding the importance of “coming to.” If we couldn’t regain consciousness, what would be the point in having the surgery in the first place? Nobody wants to experience pain and fear if it can be avoided. If the only way to avoid the pain of an operation is to temporarily be rendered unconscious, most people will readily and willingly consent to that, as long as we can return to our natural state of being alert and interactive with the world around us. We are awake and aware and that–rather than any particular conception of health–is our most precious gift.
How does Anesthesia work ?
From an Anesthesiologist’s point of view, we really shouldn’t charge for putting someone to sleep. It’s too easy. With today’s medications, putting someone to sleep, or in more correct terms, inducing general anesthesia, is straightforward. Two hundred milligrams of this and fifty milligrams of that and voilà: you have a completely unconscious patient who is incapable of even breathing independently. The medications we administer at induction are similar to the lethal injections executioners use. Unlike executioners, we then intervene to reestablish their breathing and compensate for any large changes in blood pressure and the patient thereby survives until consciousness miraculously returns sometime later.
In addition, those in my field have to contend with the reality that we really don’t know what we are doing. More precisely, we have very little if any understanding of how anesthetic gases render a person unconscious. After 17 years of practicing Anesthesiology, I still find the whole process nothing short of pure magic. You see, the exact mechanism of how these agents work is, at present, unknown. Once you understand how a trick works, the magic disappears. With regard to inhaled anesthetic agents, magic abounds.
Take ether, for example. In 1846 a dentist named William T.G. Morton used ether to allow Dr. Henry J. Bigelow to partially remove a tumor from the neck of a 24-year-old patient safely with no outward signs of pain. The surgery took place at Massachusetts General Hospital in front of dozens of physicians. When the patient regained consciousness with no recollection of the event it is said that many of the surgeons in attendance, their careers spent hardening themselves to the agonizing screams of their patients while operating without modern anesthesia, wept openly after witnessing this feat. At the time, no one knew how ether worked. We still don’t. Over the last 173 years, dozens of different anesthetic gases have been developed and they all have three basic things in common: they are inhaled, they are all very, very tiny molecules by biological standards, and we don’t know how any of them work.
Why we still don’t know…
If you have never closely considered how our bodies do what they do (move, breathe, grow, pee, reproduce, etc.), the answers may be astounding. It is obvious that the energy required to power biological systems comes from food and air. But how do they use them to do everything? How does it all get coordinated?
These are the fundamental questions that have been asked for millennia, by ancient shamans and modern pharmaceutical companies alike. It turns out that the answers are different depending on what sort of perspective and tools we begin with. In the West, our predecessors in medicine were anatomists. Armed with scalpels, the human form was first subdivided into organ systems. Our knives and eyes improved with the development of microtomes and microscopes giving rise to the field of Histology (the study of tissue). Our path of relentless deconstruction eventually gave rise to Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. This is where Western medicine stands today. We define “understanding” as a complete description of how the very molecules that comprise our bodies interact with one another. This method and model has served us well. We have designed powerful antibiotics, identified neurotransmitters, and mapped our own genome. Why then have we not been able to figure out how a gas like ether works? The answer is two-fold.
First, although we have been able to demonstrate some of the biological processes and structures that are altered by an inhaled anesthetic gas, we cannot pinpoint which ones are responsible for altering levels of awareness because inhaled anesthetic agents affect so many seemingly unrelated things at the same time. It is impossible to identify which are directly related to the “awake” state. It is also entirely possible that all of them are, and if that were the case consciousness would be the single most complex function attributed to a living organism by a very large margin.
The second difficulty we have is even more unwieldy and requires some contemplation. As explained above, western medicine has not been able to isolate which molecular interaction is responsible for anesthetics’ effect on our awareness. It is therefore reasonable to approach the puzzle from the opposite side and ask instead, “Where is the source of our awareness in our bodies?” and go from there.
We do know that certain neurological pathways in the brain are active in awake patients, but if we attribute consciousness to those pathways then we are necessarily identifying them as the “things” that are awake. To find the source of their “awakeness” we must then examine them more closely. With the tools we have and the paradigm we have chosen we will inevitably find more molecules interacting with other molecules. When you go looking for molecules that is all you will find. Our paradigm has dictated what the answer would be like if we ever found one. Does it seem plausible to think we will find an “awareness molecule” and attribute our vivid, multisensorial experience to the presence of it? If such a molecule existed, how would our deconstructive approach ever explain why that molecule was the source of our awareness? Can consciousness ever be represented materially?
A more sensible model would be to consider the activity of these structures in the brains of conscious individuals as evidence of consciousness, not the cause of it. To me it is apparent that, unless we expand our search beyond the material plane, we are not going to find consciousness or be able to understand how anesthetic gases work. Until then I know I am nothing more than a wand-waver in the operating room. And that is being generous. The magician is the anesthetic gas itself, which has, up to this point, never let us in on the secret.
What happens when someone goes “under”?
The mechanistic nature of our model is well suited to most biological processes. However, with regard to consciousness, the model not only lends little understanding of what is happening, it also gives rise to a paradigm that is widely and tightly held, but in actuality cannot be applied to the full breadth of human experience. We commonly believe that a properly functioning physical body is required for us to be aware. Although this may seem initially incontrovertible, upon closer examination it becomes quite clear that this belief is actually an assumption that has massive implications. To be more precise, how do we know that consciousness does not continue uninterrupted and only animate our physical bodies intermittently rather than the other way around, where the body intermittently gives rise to the awake state? At first, this hypothesis may seem absurd, irrelevant and unprovable. I assure you that if you spent a day in an operating room, this idea is not only possible, it is far more likely to be true than the converse.
Let us first consider how we measure anesthetic depth in the operating room. We continually measure the amount of agent that is circulating in a patient’s system, but as described earlier, there is no measurable “conscious” molecule that can be found. We must assess the behavior of our patients to make that determination. Do they reply to verbal commands? Do they require a tap on the shoulder or a painful stimulus to respond? Do they respond verbally or do they merely shudder or fling an arm into the air? Perhaps they do not even move when the very fibers of their body are literally being dissected.
There are many situations when a person will interact normally for a period of time while under the influence of a sedative with amnestic properties, and then have absolutely no recollection of that period of time. As far as they know, that period of time never existed. They had no idea that they were lying on an operating room table for 45 minutes talking about their recent vacation while their surgeon performed a minor procedure on their wrist, for example. Sometime later, they found themselves in the recovery room when, to their profound disbelief, they noticed a neatly placed surgical dressing on their hand. More than once I have been told that a patient had asked that the dressing be removed so that they could see the stitches with their own eyes.
How should we characterize their level of consciousness during the operation? By our own standards they were completely awake. However, because they have no memory of being awake during the experience, they would recount it more or less the same way a patient who was rendered completely unresponsive would. This phenomenon is common and easily reproducible. Moreover, it invites us to consider the possibility that awareness continually exists without interruption, but we are not always able to access our experiences retrospectively.
During some procedures where a surgeon is operating very close to the spinal cord, we often infuse a combination of anesthetic drugs that render the patient unconscious but allow all of the neural pathways between the brain and the body to continue to function normally so that they can be monitored for their integrity. In other words, the physiology required to feel or move remains intact, yet the patient apparently has no experience of any stimuli, surgical or otherwise during the operation. How are we to reconcile the fact that we have a patient with a functioning body and no ability to experience it? Who exactly is the patient in this situation?
What can Near Death Experiences (NDEs) tell us?
If we broadened our examination of the human experience to consider more extreme situations, another wrinkle appears in the paradigm. There are numerous accounts of people who have experienced periods of awareness whilst their bodies have been rendered insentient by anesthetics and/or severe trauma. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are all characterized by lucid awareness that remains continuous during a period of time while outside observers assume the person is unconscious or dead. Very often patients who have experienced an NDE in the operating room can accurately recount what was said and done by people attending to them during their period of lifelessness. They are also able to describe the event from the perspective as an observer to their own body, often viewing it from above.
Interestingly, people describe their NDEs in a universally positive way. “Survival” was an option that they were free to choose. Death of their body could be clearly seen as a transcending event in their continuing awareness and not as the termination of their existence. Very often the rest of their lives are profoundly transformed by the experience. No longer living with the fear of mortality, life subsequently opens up into a more vibrant and meaningful experience that can be cherished far more deeply than was possible prior to their brush with death. Those who have had an NDE would have no problem adopting the idea that their awareness exists independently of their body, functioning or not. Fear and anxiety would still probably arise in their life from time to time, but it is the rest of us who carry the seemingly inescapable load of a belief system that ties our existence to a body that will perish.
What happens when we wake up from Anesthesia?
The waking up part is no less magical. When the anesthetic gas is eliminated from the body, consciousness returns on its own. Waking someone up simply requires enough space and time for it to occur spontaneously. There is no reversal agent available to speed the return of consciousness. I can only wait. In fact, the waiting period is directly related to the amount of time the patient has been exposed to the anesthetic. At some point the patient will open their eyes when a threshold has been crossed. Depending on how long the patient has been “asleep,” complete elimination of the agent from the body may not happen until a long while after the patient has “woke.”
By the time I leave a patient in the care of our recovery room nurses, I am confident that they are safely on a path to their baseline state of awareness. Getting back to a normal state of awareness may take hours or even days. In some cases, patients may never get their wits back completely. Neurocognitive testing has demonstrated that repeated exposure to general anesthesia can sometimes have long-lasting or even irreversible effects on the awake state. It may occur for everyone. Perhaps it is a matter of how closely we look.
Interestingly, it is well known that the longterm effects of anesthetic exposure are more profound in individuals who have already demonstrated elements of cognitive decline in their daily life. Indeed, this population of patients requires significantly less anesthetic to reach the same depth of unconsciousness during an operation. This poses an intriguing question: Is our understanding of being awake also too simplistic? Is there a continuum of “awakeness” in everyday life just as there is one of unconsciousness when anesthetized? If so, how would we measure it?
Does our limited understanding of awareness keep us “asleep”?
Modern psychiatry has been rigorous in defining and categorizing dysfunction. Although there has been recent interest in pushing our understanding of what may be interpreted as a “super-functioning” psyche, western systems are still in their infancy with regard to this idea. In eastern schools of thought, however, this concept has been central for centuries.
In some schools of Eastern philosophy, the idea of attaining a super-functioning awake state is seen as something that also occurs spontaneously when intention and practice are oriented correctly. Ancient yogic teachings specifically describe super abilities, or Siddhis, that are attained through dedicated practice. These Siddhis include fantastical abilities like levitation, telekinesis, dematerialization, remote-viewing and others. The most advanced abilities, interestingly, are those that allow an individual to remain continuously in a state of joy and fearlessness. If such a state were attainable it would clearly be incompatible with the kind of absolute psychological identification most of us have with our mortal bodies. It may be of no surprise that Eastern medicine also subscribes to an entirely different perspective of the body and uses different tools to examine it.
Certainly fear has served our ancestors well, helping us to avoid snakes and lions, but how much fear is necessary these days? Could fear be the barrier that separates us from our highest potential in the awake state just as an anesthetic gas prevents us from waking in the operating room? It is not possible to remain fearless while continuing to identify with a body that is prone to disease and death. Even if one were to drop the assumption that the source of our existence is a finite body, how long would it take to be free from the effects of a lifetime of fearful thinking before any changes that reflect a shift in this paradigm manifest? As long as we leave this model unchallenged we may be missing what it means to be truly awake.
Study: Organic Diet “Significantly Reduces” Urinary Pesticide Levels In Children & Adults
- The Facts:
A 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Research found that an organic diet significantly reduced the pesticide levels in children and adults. Their urine was used to measure pesticide levels.
- Reflect On:
Are the justifications used to to spray our crops actually justified? Are they really necessary or can we figure out a better way of doing things?
Before you begin...
What Happened: A 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Research titled, “Organic diet intervention significantly reduces urinary pesticide levels in U.S. children and adults” highlighted that diet is the primary source of pesticide exposure in both children and adults in the United States. It found that an organic diet significantly reduced neonicotinoid, OP pyrethroid, 2,4-D exposure, with the greatest reduction observed in malathion, clothianidin, and chlorpyrifos.
The researchers noted that all of us are exposed “to a cocktail of toxic synthetic pesticides linked to a range of health problems from our daily diets.” They explain how “certified organic food is produced without these pesticides,” and ask the question, “Can eating organic really reduce levels of pesticides in our bodies?” They tested four American families that don’t typically eat organic food to find out. All pesticides detected in the body dropped an average of 60.5% after just six days on an organic diet.
First, we tested the levels of pesticides in their bodies on a non-organic diet for six days. We found 14 chemicals representing potential exposure to 40 different pesticides in every study participant. These included organophosphates, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids and the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D. Some of the pesticides we found are linked to increased risk of cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and more. (source)
The most significant drops occurred in a class of nerve agent pesticides called organophosphates. This class includes chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic pesticide linked to increased rates of autism, learning disabilities and reduced IQ in children. Organophosphates are so harmful to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a full ban. (source)
A lot of the food we now spray on our food were initially developed as nerve gases for chemical warfare:
To understand this controversial issue it is helpful to look at the history of pesticide use. Prior to World War II, the pesticides that we use now did not yet exist. Some pesticides currently in use were in fact developed during World War II for use in warfare. The organophosphate insecticides were developed as nerve gases, and the phenoxy herbicides, including 2,4-D (the most commonly used herbicide in Canada), were created to eradicate the Japanese rice crop, and later used as a component of Agent Orange to defoliate large areas in jungle warfare. After World War II, these chemicals began to be used as pesticides in agricultural production, for environmental spraying of neighbourhoods, for mosquito eradication, and for individual home and garden use. – Ontario College of Family Physicians
It’s also noteworthy to mention that A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition carried out a meta-analysis based on 343 peer-reviewed publications that indicate “statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop based foods.” The study found that
The study found that Phenolic acids are 19% higher in organic foods, Flavanones are 69% higher in organic foods (linked to reduced risk of several age-related chronic diseases), Stilbenes are 28% higher in organic foods, Flavones are 26% higher in organic foods, Flavonol is 50% higher in organic foods and Anthocyanins are 51% higher in organic foods.
Apart from nutritional content, the study also measured for concentrations of the toxic metal Cadmium (Cd), finding that in conventional foods, “significantly higher concentrations” were found. Conventional foods appear to have nearly 50 percent more of this heavy metal than organic foods. Furthermore, significant differences were also detected for other minerals and vitamins.
When it comes to pesticide residues on non-organic foods, the authors found that the volume of pesticide residues was four times higher in conventional crops.
Another study conducted by researchers from RMIT university nearly 5 years ago published in the journal Environmental Research found that eating an organic diet for just one week significantly reduced pesticide exposure in adults by up to 90 percent.
The Takeaway: At the end of the day, people are and have been voting with their dollar. More grocery stores and brands are offering organic options, and the industry is starting to recognize that it’s in demand. Furthermore, more people are growing whatever food they can. At the end of the day, sprayed food not only has implications for human health, but it’s detrimental to the environment as well. This is a big problem on plane Earth, we are constantly told that GMO food and the spraying of crops is the only way to combat world hunger and changes in climate, but this sentiment goes against a plethora of information showing that local organic farming/agriculture is the most sustainable.
Fact-Checker Claims No Causal Relationship Between 929 Deaths Reported After COVID Vaccine
- The Facts:
Data from the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) shows, as of today, 929 deaths, 316 permanent disabilities and more than 15,000 adverse reactions reported after of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Reflect On:
Should private institutions/companies have the right to mandate this vaccine for people and employees? When it comes to vaccines, should freedom of choice remain? Why is only one perspective presented by mainstream media?
Before you begin...
What Happened: According to the CDC Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), as of today (February 20th, 2021) 929 deaths, 316 permanent disabilities and more than 15,000 adverse events have been reported from people after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. This mainly represents reports that are coming in from the United States. The data shows that 799 of the deaths were reported in the U.S., and that about one-third of those deaths occurred within 48 hours of the individual receiving the vaccination. You can look it up for yourself and/or see the screenshot below. I have not looked up, or attempted to look up reports from countries outside of the U.S.
Many articles have been using VAERS to claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is causing deaths & injuries, but according to Facebook Fact Checker Health Feedback, the adverse events attributed to the COVID-19 don’t demonstrate a causal relationship between the vaccine and the adverse events. They do acknowledge, however, that VAERS records adverse events occurring after vaccination.
Health Feedback highlights the following point:
Both COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were thoroughly reviewed for safety and efficacy before approval. The U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) enables the public and healthcare providers to report adverse events that occur after they received a vaccine. While VAERS serves as an early warning system for potential problems with vaccines, determining whether there is a causal link requires further investigation into these reports. VAERS data only tells us that an adverse event might have occurred after vaccination; on its own it cannot prove that vaccines caused the adverse event.
VAERS themselves makes this point clear by stating:
A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) cause the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after (the) vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.
Keep in mind that approximately 40 million Americans have had at least one COVID shot thus far.
The VAERS data can also be perceived from another perspective. There is no proof showing that the vaccine did not cause the adverse events. The reports coming into VAERS are from people who believe the vaccine is indeed responsible for the adverse event. There are, as I’ve written about many times before, other important factors that have been noted about VAERS. For example, according to some, like this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, VAERS is estimated to capture an estimated one percent of vaccine injuries, or at least reports by those who believe to be injured by a vaccine, because the majority of them are believed to be unreported. It’s not clear how many health professionals let alone people are even aware of VAERS.
VAERS has come under fire multiple times, a critic familiar with VAERS’ bluntly condemned VAERS in The BMJ as “nothing more than window dressing, and a part of U.S. authorities’ systematic effort to reassure/deceive us about vaccine safety.”
It’s also noteworthy to mention that, when it comes to vaccine injury In the United States, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has paid out more than $4 billion dollars due to vaccine injuries. Since 2015, the program has paid out an average total of $216 million to an average of 615 claimants each year. Furthermore, those injured by the COVID-19 vaccine won’t be eligible for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) while COVID is still an “emergency.”
lyson Kelvin, a virologist and assistant professor at Dalhousie University, who is currently working on COVID-19 vaccines with VIDO-InterVac, told Global News that “there’s a difference between “adverse events following immunization” and adverse events “directly related to a vaccine…Just because it’s an adverse event, doesn’t mean it’s directly related to the vaccine. It just means that it happened after someone got a vaccination… In Norway’s case, we’re talking about adverse events following immunization.”
Below is a screen shot from of the DATA:
When it comes to science and determining whether or not a vaccine is the direct cause of an injury, there doesn’t seem to be, in my opinion appropriate systems in place to investigate this. Furthermore, the VICP protects pharmaceutical companies from any liability with regards to vaccine injuries. Vaccines are a liability free product.
The scientific method in general is quick to point out that correlation does not mean causation, but again, in some cases correlation may actually mean causation. The Bradford Hill Criteria is one of the most cited concepts in health research and are still upheld as valid tools for aiding causal inference. You can look more into that too see how it all works if interested.
Another factor one must consider, also, is the politicization of science. Kamran Abbas is a doctor, recent former executive editor of the British Medical Journal, and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. He has published an article about COVID-19, the suppression of science and the politicization of medicine, and the medical industrial complex.
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. 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…The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.
According to Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal.
“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”
It’s no secret that vaccine hesitancy is quite high in some places when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, and with vaccines in general. The Washington Post reported this week that nearly a third of military personnel are opting out of the vaccines, and ESPN reported that top NBA players are reluctant to promote the vaccine.
A survey conducted at Chicago’s Loretto Hospital shows that only 40 percent of healthcare workers will not take the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available to them. Riverside County, California has a population of approximately 2.4 million, and about 50 percent of healthcare workers in the county are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite the fact that they have top priority and access to it.
At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one in five frontline nurses and doctors have declined the shot. Roughly 20% to 40% of L.A. County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine did the same, according to county public health officials.
Vaccine hesitancy among physicians and academics is nothing new. To illustrate this I often point to a conference held at the end of 2019 put on by the World Health Organization (WHO). At the conference, Dr. Heidi Larson a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project Emphasized this point, having stated,
The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen…still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider.
A study published in the journal EbioMedicine as far back as 2013 outlines this point, among many others.
Drene Keyes, described as a “gifted singer and grandmother of six,” found herself unable to breathe and began vomiting within a couple hours of being vaccinated, according to media reports. She was rushed to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, where doctors administered an EpiPen, CPR and oxygen. Keyes’ daughter, Lisa Jones, told WKTR: “They tried to remove fluid from her lungs. They called it ‘flash pulmonary edema,’ and doctors told me that it can be caused by anaphylaxis. The doctor told me that often during anaphylaxis, chemicals are released inside of a person’s body and can cause this to happen.”
Heidi Neckelmann, the wife of Dr. Gregory Michael from California, said that in her mind, her 56-year-old husband’s death was “100% linked” to the vaccine. Now, at least one doctor has come forward publicly to say he also believes the vaccine caused Michael to develop acute idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), the disorder that killed him. According to the New York Times: “Dr. Jerry L. Spivak, an expert on blood disorders at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in Dr. Michael’s care, said that based on Ms. Neckelmann’s description, ‘I think it is a medical certainty that the vaccine was related.’“‘This is going to be very rare,’ said Dr. Spivak, an emeritus professor of medicine. But he added, ‘It happened and it could happen again.’
Heidi made a Facebook post about the incident:
The love of my life, my husband Gregory Michael MD an obstetrician that had his office in Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach Died the day before yesterday due to a strong reaction to the COVID vaccine. He was a very healthy 56 year old, loved by everyone in the community, delivered hundreds of healthy babies and worked tireless through the pandemic . He was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at MSMC on December 18, 3 days later he saw a strong set of petechiae on his feet and hands which made him seek attention at the emergency room at MSMC…read the full post HERE.
Approximately one month ago, Norway registered a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who had their first COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, the country changed which groups to target in national inoculation programs. Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.” Bloomberg Reported that the “Pfizer/BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway”, stating that the Norwegian Medicines Agency told them that as a result “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine.” So, there seemed to be some conflicting information there as well, one piece of information stating that the vaccine was linked, and the other stating that it wasn’t, both from the same source.
Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist were all the initiators of The Great Barrington Declaration. They recently announced that they are strongly in favour of voluntary COVID-19 vaccination.
It doesn’t seem like governments are going to mandate the vaccine. What instead seems to be the case is that private businesses and institutions may do so. For example, certain airlines may not allow people to travel unless they’ve had the shot. Some restaurant, entertainment facilities and other places of businesses might follow suit. Certain employers may require their employees to take the shot. All of this of course raises a number of legal and ethical concerns. We will just have to wait and see what happens. In all circumstances, I do believe the COVID vaccine should always remain voluntary, especially when it’s quite unclear if they can even reduce the risk of transmission and infection, and there does seem to be a number of concerns being raised with the vaccine.
Dr. Peter Doshi, an associate editor at the British Medical Journal published a piece in the Journal issuing a word of caution about the supposed “95% Effective” COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. You can access that here.
A few other papers have raised concerns as well, for example. A study published in October of 2020 in the International Journal of Clinical Practice states:
COVID-19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralising antibodies may sensitise vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated. Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern: that vaccines designed empirically using the traditional approach (consisting of the unmodified or minimally modified coronavirus viral spike to elicit neutralising antibodies), be they composed of protein, viral vector, DNA or RNA and irrespective of delivery method, may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). This risk is sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials.
In a new research article published in Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, veteran immunologist J. Bart Classen expresses similar concerns and writes that “RNA-based COVID vaccines have the potential to cause more disease than the epidemic of COVID-19.”
For decades, Classen has published papers exploring how vaccination can give rise to chronic conditions such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes — not right away, but three or four years down the road. In this latest paper, Classen warns that the RNA-based vaccine technology could create “new potential mechanisms” of vaccine adverse events that may take years to come to light.
Again, these are a few of multiple examples, I just wanted to provide some context. All of this warrants freedom of choice, does it not?
The Takeaway: One thing that seems to be quite evident, in my opinion, is the fact that mainstream media and the “mainstream” in general is failing at having proper conversations around controversial topics, like vaccines, for example. Instead of using terms like “Anti-Vax conspiracy theorist, as well as ridicule, it would be great if mainstream media advocates actually addressed the concerns being raised by those who are concerned about vaccine safety and effectiveness. Should private institutions/companies have the right to mandate this vaccine for people and employees? When it comes to vaccines, should freedom of choice remain? Why is only one perspective presented by mainstream media?
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