COVID-19 vaccine skepticism and hesitancy have been concerns for medical authorities, warning that a considerable number of people opting out of being jabbed would determine the trajectory of the pandemic. A recent AP-NORC survey found that one-third of U.S. adults are skeptical of the inoculations, while a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll reported that 49% of Republican men would not be receiving vaccinations. Doubts over the vaccines’ efficacy were on display during the 2020 election when then-candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris revealed they would not trust the vaccines’ veracity if Donald Trump approved.
“But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I’m not going to take it,” Harris said at the VP debate.
Although both individuals have been vaccinated since those remarks, their initial reluctance may have been justified. It has been well-documented that the vaccines do possess side effects, and there have been many fatal cases worldwide. But the question is: Were these deaths caused by the vaccine?
‘And Then Everything Changed’
Recently, a local CBS News affiliate in Utah, KUTV, investigated COVID-19 vaccine side effects. It discovered four deaths, including Kassidi Kurill, a 39-year-old single mom who passed away four days after her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. She was described as an individual with “no known health problems or pre-existing conditions.” The family ordered an autopsy.
Alfred Hawley, Kurill’s father and a retired fighter pilot, outlined the events to the media outlet. According to Hawley, the first shot did not produce any side effects or issues. After the second injection, everything spiraled out of control: she was sick almost immediately, felt soreness at the shot location, and could not urinate despite drinking plenty of fluids. Eventually, her liver, kidney, and heart shut down.
“She was healthy, happy and active, the greatest mom you ever saw in your life, and then she was so sick that, in less than 12 hours, intubated and on life support,” he said. Was this a result of vaccine injury? Dr. Erik Christensen, Utah’s Chief Medical Examiner, conceded that proving vaccine injury as a cause of death rarely occurs. Either way, Kurill’s family wants answers.
Health authorities in Austria, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland temporarily suspended administering the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Officials were concerned about the growing number of cases of blood clots forming in patients who had been vaccinated. While they admit that it is unclear if there is a link, governments are erring on the side of caution.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the continent’s medicine regulator, stated that there is “no indication” that the AstraZeneca vaccine led to one death in Austria. Still, according to the EMA, the benefits outweigh the risks.
In January, Norway launched an investigation into the 23 deaths of frail and elderly patients who perished shortly after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The consensus is that the number of incidents so far is not alarming, but the government has discussed that they might be too risky for the very old and terminally ill. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said in a statement:
“For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences. For those who have a very short remaining life span anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant.”
In February, Liberty Nation‘s Pennel Bird reported that South Africa hit the pause button on the same vaccine, with the government citing new variants as potentially neutralizing its efficacy. A new study also found that the Novavax efficacy rate falls to 48.6% against the South Africa variant. But this is not impacting the nation as it has witnessed a dramatic decline in the seven-day average of new infections.
A nursing home in the province of British Columbia reported a new outbreak, despite staff members and patients being vaccinated. Some of the infected individuals were fully vaccinated with both doses. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told the press that being vaccinated does not mean the transmission is stopped, adding that all the precautions are still necessary.
Like any vaccine, there will be side effects and allergic reactions. And, since these are new products, there are many questions and uncertainties. For example, are pregnant women at risk? The World Health Organization (WHO) advised against them receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. But it reversed this position almost immediately. The pharmaceutical companies are initiating vaccine trials for pregnant women, but the results will not be known until 2023.
That said, confirmed side effects have been mostly benign, such as fatigue, headache, chills, and muscle pain. But there have been extreme cases. For instance, clinical trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine saw four participants diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, temporary weakness, or paralysis of facial muscles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor vaccine safety, reporting all cases to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). As of March 8, 2021, there have been only 1,637 (0.0018%) reports of U.S. deaths, and zero have been attributed to the vaccine. “A review of available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records revealed no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths,” CDC wrote.
Operation Warp Speed
In the waning days of former President Donald Trump’s term, the coronavirus vaccine rollout commenced, reaching around one million inoculations per day by the time he left the Oval Office. Thanks to Operation Warp Speed and the previous White House’s efforts, the new administration was served with everything it needed to combat the pandemic on a silver platter. With President Joe Biden taking over the reins, more Americans have now received at least one dose than have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. It has been impossible to study the long-term consequences of either the respiratory illness or the vaccine since both are new. With time, more information will come out. Until then, it is damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.
Perhaps by the end of the pandemic, recipients will be saying: “I survived the coronavirus pandemic, and all I got for it was a lousy vaccine.”
Read more from Andrew Moran.