Why Believing in Long-Term Vaccine Safety Is Simply Irrational

We are told repeatedly and in ever-more-strident tones that the newly developed COVID vaccines are “safe and effective.” We are told that the elites are starting to lose patience with us and, thus, are resorting to authoritarian measures to mandate compliance. Ironically, we are told by people who routinely label President Trump a “fascist” that we must be forced, for their sake, to undergo experimental medical procedures for which they cannot be held liable should anything go wrong. We are told that if we do not subscribe to the gospel they are preaching, we are science-deniers. And when we dare to raise our voices in protest, the faceless tech monopolies that do their bidding label us dangerous nonconformists and silence us.

 The problem is that neither science nor basic logic is on their side. The simple argument against their position does not require a Ph.D. in epidemiology to understand. But, in fact, the Ph.D.s already get it, as do those with only a high school education. Indeed, proving Alexander Pope’s quip that “a little learning is a dangerous thing,” it is those in between—the ones who have the false confidence that comes from thinking themselves “educated” but whose educations are not as thorough as that of some others—who are the least vaccine-hesitant group in America. The Ph.D.s and those who have not submitted to the indoctrination of our education establishment are the ones who have not lost touch with the elementary common sense it takes to know that when the government comes a-knocking to offer to stick you with a syringe loaded with a rushed, experimental vaccine based on a new technology being implemented for the first time ever, a bit of “hesitancy” might be in order.

A Blur of Contradictions

 Here is the simple argument: consider, first, how virtually everything you were told about COVID and the vaccines turned out to be wrong again and again and again. (Note that every single one of the links that follow is from a mainstream source and, in fact, I will not cite anything from a remotely questionable source in this entire article): 

You don’t need to wear a mask unless you’re sick. Everyone should wear a mask. If you’ve been vaccinated, you don’t need to wear a mask. Even the vaccinated need to mask up. You need to sanitize your hands, wipe down all surfaces and clean your home on a daily basis. COVID isn’t really passed through surface-to-surface contact. COVID is a respiratory disease. No, COVID is a vascular disease

We’re going to lock down for 15 days to slow the spread. We’re going to lock down for months on end. Now we can celebrate because COVID is over. COVID is back and might clear up by spring 2022 . . . or is it fall 2022? COVID will be with us forever now. COVID definitely did not leak from a lab, and that’s a debunked conspiracy theory. There’s a good chance COVID leaked from a lab. The death rate from COVID might be well over 1 percent. The death rate from COVID might be 0.65 percent. Or maybe more like 0.8 percent

The herd immunity threshold is 67 percent. Or maybe far, far lower than that. Or is it significantly higher, closer to 80 percent? To tell you the truth, herd immunity might be unattainable

Vaccines are going to stop COVID in its tracks. Vaccine efficacy is as high as 95 percent. Vaccine efficacy is fading fast. Everyone will need boosters in a year . . . or in eight months . . . or six months . . . or five months (should we just put everyone on a 24/7 vaccine drip?) . . . or back to eight months

People who are vaccinated have a lower level of the virus in them and are less likely to transmit it. Well, no, what we meant to say is that they seem to have the same level of the virus in them and are, therefore, just as likely to transmit it as anyone else. The vaccine gives you more protection than the natural immunity you gain from having recovered from COVID. Natural immunity gives you far more protection than the vaccine.

 All of these statements, as I said, were published in perfectly mainstream sources, often by the same sources that later contradicted themselves. At every point along the way, a failure to believe or even a mere willingness to question the guidance of the moment would get one branded a science-denier by the same smug scolds who apparently had learned nothing from their earlier errors. 

The Arrogance of the Experts

 In most of these cases, I do not blame our authorities for repeatedly revising their views, forecasts, predictions, and policies. That is exactly how science and related policy recommendations should work in a rapidly unfolding scenario involving a novel virus and novel treatment options, experimental vaccines included. 

If the experts had settled on their “truth” on day one and stuck to it, mounting evidence notwithstanding, that would have been irrational and dangerous, of course. What I blame them for, therefore, is not that they repeatedly changed their minds and shifted course, but rather, that they refused to acknowledge the fallibility of their enterprise and came out swinging each time a new momentary consensus emerged. I blame them for not understanding that most published research findings are false, a fact that is doubly or triply the case in a scenario as new and unpredictable as this one has been. 

I blame them, above all, for demonizing and/or ignoring the critics and skeptics who refused to leap on board. And I blame still more the legions of journalists who readily abandoned all traces of critical thinking and served, instead, as enthusiastic yes-men echoing and amplifying the pronouncements of the state and the crackdown of the Big Tech authoritarians. That abject media failure should be scrutinized for years to come and held up in journalism schools across the world as a paradigmatic case of reporters abdicating their watchdog function and taking on the role of state propagandists.

Too Soon for Long-Term Conclusions

 If, in the case of a rapidly unfolding pandemic, all statements purporting to propound scientific truths must be understood as merely provisional and subject to revision as evidence accumulates, how could it be remotely rational to conclude the all-important question of vaccine safety is any different? 

If the proponents of the vaccines clearly turned out to be clueless as to the long-term efficacy of their shots, especially as new variants emerge, why would we conclude that their views of long-term vaccine safety are any more reliable? Consider what evidence there is for the proposition that these new types of vaccines are safe in the long term. The only right answer is hardly any. 

What evidence could there possibly be when the “long term” hasn’t had time to happen yet? For pregnant women as well, despite the CDC’s assurances that the vaccine is safe for them, there is no testing that could possibly yet have been done to track the long-term effects of those vaccines on the children of those pregnancies. For now, it is all a matter of guesswork and prognostication based on the actual biological properties of the substances used, as well as experience with other, older types of vaccines—the same type of guesswork and prognostication that has, as above, failed to get COVID right time and again. 

 The best the experts can do on this is to tell us—not quite reassuringly—that long-term side effects of vaccines “are not really a thing,” as the vaccines are a one- or two-dose deal, not prolonged chemical exposure of the sort that could be expected to result in long-term consequences. 

First, this is transparent sophistry. We know with certainty that these vaccines, like others, presumably are designed to bring about at least one long-term consequence: immunity. If they are capable of that long-term effect, there is no reason other long-term effects are outside the realm of possibility. 

Second, with boosters apparently needed every few months, we are talking about repeated exposure at this point. 

And third, the entirely new breed of Pfizer and Moderna mRNA-based vaccines may have a particular risk of unanticipated long-term side effects, as an article in the Jerusalem Post headlined, “Could mRNA COVID-19 vaccines be dangerous in the long term?” explained:

[T]here are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions.

An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institutes of Health, said other risks include the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression; possible development of auto-reactive antibodies; and toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components. 

What is “not really a thing,” moreover, is tracking long-term vaccine side effects, a notoriously difficult chore given the things confounding it—vaccine manufacturers and governments interested in vaccine administration having every incentive to avoid pursuing such questions for fear of destroying their businesses and/or alarming the public. 

An article in Nature—published shortly after news of the rare blood-clotting side effect of the European AstraZeneca vaccine led to a temporary halt in its use—gives a more honest assessment of these challenges, even in the context of far more easily traceable short-term adverse events:

These events illustrate how fiendishly challenging it is to prove that a medical problem following immunization—known as an adverse event—was caused by the vaccine itself. Public-health officials must strike a ‘delicate balance’ when communicating the risk of rare side effects alongside the dangers of severe COVID-19, says vaccinologist Kathryn Edwards at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. Physicians worry about fueling anti-vaccine movements that are already increasing vaccine hesitancy in some communities. At the same time, it is important not to dismiss the potential for rare but severe side effects until researchers can establish causality, a process that can take years.

 In simpler terms: unless vaccine side effects are either relatively harmless or really, really obvious and easily traceable to particular vaccines, which they hardly ever are, we won’t tell you about it for fear of fueling vaccine hesitancy. 

Underreported and Underpublicized?

To the extent that the relative frequency of short-term side effects is any indication of the expected relative frequency of long-term side effects, another Nature article, while leading with the standard overstated boilerplate (“[t]here is no question that the current vaccines are effective and safe”), admits that the rate of serious short-term side effects, such as anaphylaxis, from the COVID vaccines reflects “a higher rate than most other vaccines.” 

Speaking anecdotally, nearly everyone I have spoken to and I personally know at least several people who had severe and long-lasting side effects that appear to have begun almost immediately after the first or second dose of one of the mRNA-based vaccines, ranging from tinnitus to stroke-induced vision loss to symptoms identical to those reported in long-haul COVID. This suggests that, if anything, vaccine side effects are being underreported and underpublicized.

I want to be very clear about what I am saying and what I am not saying: I am in no way suggesting that people should not get vaccinated. Any knowns and unknowns concerning vaccine risks must be weighed against the known and unknown risks of COVID-19 itself, which includes, of course, long-haul COVID complications. For many people, especially the elderly and individuals with various pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and chronic liver disease, this should be an easy choice. The likelihood that anyone will drop dead or experience some catastrophic side effect soon after getting the vaccines is obviously quite low, whereas the chances that individuals in these at-risk categories will experience life-threatening or significantly adverse outcomes from COVID are much higher. 

But others, like myself, might have a very different risk calculus. I am in my mid-40s, am in generally good health, and had a documented asymptomatic case of COVID in late December into early January. Out of an abundance of caution, I got tested before going to spend New Year’s with my parents and then had antibodies afterward. 

Getting vaccinated might not make sense for someone like me in light of the fact that the risk of vaccine side effects appears to be significantly higher among those who already had COVID. More importantly, recent findings from a large database of 32,000 patients indicate that natural immunity due to prior infection may actually offer significantly more protection against the delta variant than does vaccine-induced immunity (“the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 was 27 times higher among the vaccinated, and the risk of hospitalization eight times higher” than for those with natural immunity). This is yet another instance of the common phenomenon that “[f]or many infectious diseases, naturally acquired immunity is known to be more powerful than vaccine-induced immunity and . . . often lasts a lifetime.” 

The same risk calculus should be even more compelling for people recently infected with the delta variant. It is beyond the pale that, in a city like New York, someone who just recovered from COVID must still go get vaccinated in order to see a concert or just eat out. 

A Gross and Unjust Imposition 

What the sum total of the considerations I have adduced above indicates—beyond that any vaccine mandates should, at the very least, have an exception for natural immunity—is that the same health authorities and politicians who have been wrong about COVID and COVID vaccines time and again cannot possibly assure us that COVID vaccines “are safe and effective” in the long term. The belief that the vaccines will certainly not have adverse long-term consequences is, in fact, irrational—a piece of dogma rather than a grounded scientific inference based on reliable (or, really, any) data.

 What this means is that no matter the perceived benefit for the collective “we,” forcing vaccines upon all of us is a gross imposition that cannot be countenanced. Whether or not to get vaccinated is a decision that must be weighed differently and individually by each American. Such decisions must remain in the core domain of personal liberty. The practice of eugenics and forced sterilization of people in various categories expected to put the rest of us at risk of various adverse social outcomes might also yield lots of perceived benefits for the collective, but we simply do not take such potentially life-altering choices out of people’s hands in 2021. 

Or, at least, I thought we didn’t. Like everything else about COVID, this is another belief that may need to be revised, as we come to understand that, with every passing day, our authoritarian elites are increasingly revising America into something less than a free country.

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About Alexander Zubatov

Alexander Zubatov is a practicing attorney specializing in general commercial litigation. He is also a practicing writer specializing in general non-commercial poetry, fiction, essays, and polemics that have been featured in a wide variety of publications. He lives in the belly of the beast in New York, New York. He can be found on Twitter @Zoobahtov.

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