Will a Covid-19 vaccine, developed at unprecedented speed, restore health and normality to a world in trauma? As of August 2020, over 165 vaccines are in the process of evolution worldwide, some 32 of which have been entered into human trials. And now in early January 2021, several of these have been approved for implementation, initially, to specific groups, such as medical personnel and the elderly, before the public at large. But there are many people who are not comfortable taking the plunge into these new pharmaceuticals. Here Kendall Nelson of Weston A. Price Foundation discusses some of the concerns many may have.
Under normal circumstances, vaccine development requires a testing process that can take a minimum of five to six years and sometimes decades, and even then scientists cut important corners such as not using inert placebos. The general stages of the development cycle begin with preclinical testing where scientists give the vaccine to animals. This is followed by Phase One safety trials in a small number of human volunteers to test safety and dosage as well as confirm that the vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies. In expanded Phase Two trials, typically involving hundreds of participants, scientists assess whether the vaccine’s effects vary by age group (e.g., children, the elderly) or other factors such as health status. Finally, Phase Three trials are meant to determine the vaccine’s safety and efficacy when given to thousands of people over a specified length of time.
Of grave concern is the fact that Covid-19 vaccine developers are compressing standard timelines. Many are forgoing animal studies. Russia’s vaccine, Sputnik V, was given approval after testing in only seventy-six people, well before Phase Three trials had even begun. China approved experimental use of a coronavirus vaccine in selected “high-risk” groups in late July, without any clinical trial results. These premature authorizations could have dire implications, especially considering the fact that previous attempts at developing comparable vaccines have triggered lethal hyperimmune reactions in vaccinated animals or children who later came in contact with the wild virus. This immune backfiring, or “pathogenic priming,” is the reason that no vaccine has ever been approved for the common cold or the coronaviruses associated with Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Regrettably vaccine manufacturers have a strong incentive to win the Covid-19 vaccine race, despite the failure of previous attempts. Companies have the potential to earn billions of dollars once their vaccine goes to market, and some have already profited substantially through stock evaluations. Moderna, a company that has never brought a vaccine or any other drug to market, saw its stock price rise fourfold virtually overnight based on coronavirus vaccine speculation. Additionally the federal government is granting billions of dollars to expedite the development of a coronavirus vaccine. For example, Moderna received nearly one billion dollars, and Novavax received 1.6 billion dollars in federal funding. To date, the White House has committed twelve billion dollars to six vaccine candidates under its Operation Warp Speed vaccine plan. Wealthy nations have struck deals to purchase a total of more than two billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to be proven either safe or effective.
In the U.S., vaccine manufacturers have full immunity from all liability for any potential injuries or deaths through a declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.81 So even though companies and governments are fast-tracking the vaccines—and some manufacturers, like Moderna, are using highly experimental and potentially dangerous RNA or DNA technologies—citizens will not be able to sue if a Covid-19 vaccine harms them. Even supposing that a never-before-used experimental technology could produce a “safe” vaccine, one must also ask how long such a vaccine would be effective, considering that the coronavirus appears to be “mutating.” This begs an important question: will manufacturers have to chase down the mutations and retool their Covid-19 vaccines annually, using the same guesswork involved in manufacturing each year’s poorly performing influenza vaccine?
A June poll found that only about half of Americans reported that they planned to get a Covid-19 vaccine. The remainder were either unsure (31 percent) or planned to decline (20 percent). Perhaps this is because they know that systemic adverse reactions are common among Covid-19 vaccine trial participants. The most important question may be: are you willing to get a vaccine brought to market at unprecedented speed for a virus that is mutating and primarily has affected older individuals who already had serious health problems? If your answer is no, call your representatives today and let them know you are against a mandated coronavirus vaccine. If we do not make our voices heard, mandates are sure to follow.
Reprinted from Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, Fall 2020, a publication of The Weston A. Price Foundation