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When a vaccine comes along for coronavirus, how many will say ‘no thanks’?

No vaccine exists yet for COVID-19, but the war against it already is raging.

Bill Gates is funding vaccine research to implant microchips in billions of people, said one assertion that went viral. Dr. Anthony Fauci owns patents on a coronavirus protein, and deliberately orchestrated COVID-19 to profit from an eventual vaccine, claimed another.

“I do not consent to mandatory vaccination!!!” proclaimed protest signs at recent rallies. “COVID-19 is a false flag operation to usher in the New World Order,” said a banner at another. “Say no to martial law, mandatory vaccinations, one world currency, cashless society.”

Social media teems with posts claiming that the pandemic — and riots over George Floyd’s death — were engineered by the government to justify a sinister level of control. One meme equates a COVID inoculation with the Tuskegee experiment — “US government offers free healthcare to southern rural blacks. Intentionally injects them with syphilis. STILL WANT A CORONA VACCINE?”

While most people eagerly await a vaccine that might protect against the worst ravages of the novel coronavirusrecent polling found 70 percent of Americans would get one if it were free and available to everyone —  reasonable doubt and conspiracy theories abound. If skeptics refuse to get inoculated, it might suck wind from the sails of any vaccine that ultimately gains approval — which, in turn, could enable the virus to keep spreading and, ultimately, cost lives.

Vaccination rates falling

Vaccination rates have fallen in recent years, and once-eradicated diseases have reemerged. The measles outbreak in 2019 — 1,282 cases across 31 states — was the greatest the United States has seen since 1992, according to the CDC.

Those numbers seem quaint in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected nearly 2 million people in the U.S., leading to 111,000 deaths.

Outbreaks of once-eradicated diseases like the measles happen because people forget, said David D. Lo, distinguished professor of biomedical sciences at UC Riverside.

“The really scary part of this is that many of the people resisting vaccines for their kids include people with higher income and education,” Lo said. “The acceptance rate for vaccines seems to be much higher among people who come from places where they remember how bad it was when vaccines weren’t available and kids were dying form measles and meningitis.”

It’s a cliché, said Richard M. Carpiano, professor of public policy and sociology at UC Riverside, that vaccines are the victims of their own success.

Skeptic central

Southern California has long been an epicenter for vaccine doubters, with a concentration of affluent, go-your-own-way parents rejecting the recommended regimen for their children.

Dr. Bob Sears in Capistrano Beach on October 30, 2013. Sears recommends patients get immunized but delay some vaccines. The Southern California pediatrician was been placed on probation for 35 months by the Medical Board of California in 2018 for exempting a 2-year-old boy from vaccinations without sufficient information. (Photo by ED CRISOSTOMO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/SCNG)

They found an ally in pediatrician Bob Sears of Capistrano Beach, whose alternate vaccine schedule is founded on the notion that some children’s immune systems can be overloaded by all those shots in first two years of life. Sears believes parents should be able to make their own decisions about when and whether to vaccinate, so long as they understand the risks. He has a fervent following, even though he was placed on probation by the Medical Board of California for being too free with medical exemptions for children.

Sears is not a COVID denier. “The disease is real,” he said by email. “However, I do think a government has no right to mandate a vaccine if it has serious side effects and if it does NOT prevent infection and spread of disease (i.e., it only reduces complications).

“Some would argue that even if it does, you can’t force a medical intervention on anyone if there are significant risks — bodily autonomy is an important concept for both sides of the political aisle,” Sears continued. “Plus, there is growing concern about the use of fetal tissues from terminated pregnancies to make vaccines (as is already the case with MMR, Chickenpox, Hepatitis A, and a DTaP/Polio combination): this raises religious constitutional issues that could make mandates problematic.”

Some vaccine viruses are, indeed, grown via fibroblast cells from fetal embryos. But those cells were first obtained from elective termination of two pregnancies in the early 1960s, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says in a fact-check. “These same embryonic cells obtained from the early 1960s have continued to grow in the laboratory and are used to make vaccines today. No further sources of fetal cells are needed to make these vaccines.”

Might a COVID vaccine become mandatory to return to work, to school? With 70 percent of people eager to get one, would it need to be? Mandatory vaccination is possible, but nothing is clear yet as no vaccine has been approved.

Critics aren’t waiting to push their alternate message out.

“There is not a single good reason to accept dangerous vaccination for COVID-19 or any other disease when natural immunity combined with natural remedies — like high dose vitamin C IV, homeoprophylaxis, etc. — and other medical remedies (like hydroxychloroquine/zinc) can and has cured virtually every infection we can think of, including COVID-19, polio, measles, pertussis, chickenpox, etc., etc., etc,” said Larry Cook of Los Angeles by email.

“Besides, we all know vaccines don’t work, as evidenced by the pro-vaccine community being deathly afraid of the anti-vaccine community: If vaccines actually worked, no one would be afraid. Why not just use what already works: natural immunity.”

Screen shot from Stop Mandatory Vaccination Facebook page

Cook runs the website, a main hub for the anti-vaccine movement that has spent heavily on social media advertising. Its site is dotted with ads for heavy metal detoxes and books like “The Unvaccinated Child: A Treatment Guide for Parents and Caregivers.”

At the top of its Facebook page is something new: “This Group Discusses Vaccines. When it comes to health, everyone wants reliable, up-to-date information. Before joining this group, read information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that can help answer questions you may have about vaccines.”

Carpiano, of UCR, noted that this is the world’s first social-media pandemic.

Warp speed

The unprecedented push to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year, backed by some $10 billion in public and private funding, does not reassure those prone to doubt.

It can take years, even decades, to develop and test a vaccine for safety and efficacy. The novel coronavirus is just six or so months old, and there already are 123 vaccines in development worldwide. Another 10 are in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.

“The haste to WANT a vaccine quickly is understandable, but we need to do it the right way,” Sears said. “We can either pour hundreds of millions of dollars, or even billions, into a poorly researched rush job to create a vaccine that might not even work — dollars that nobody has, and that could be used to save lives, feed the now-destitute, and rebuild —   or spend tens of millions of dollars on a proper scientific process to develop a vaccine the right way, with methodical research that takes time, so we have a vaccine that is safe, effective, and that the public will trust.

“Who is going to trust a fast-tracked vaccine?”

If the government pushes too far too fast, Sears warned, people might not just lose trust in the COVID vaccine, but in other, routine vaccines as well.

A researcher works on virus replication in order to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus COVID-19. (Photo by DOUGLAS MAGNO/AFP via Getty Images)

Carpiano, from UCR, said the warp-speed push plays into concerns about Big Pharma running the show, prioritizing profits over public safety.

“The anti-vaxx activists, while small in number, are really politically quite effective in terms of mobilizing social media and spreading disinformation,” he said. “We know that’s going to create significant obstacles in terms of ensuring the most optimal uptake of a vaccine in the population. Even if everything is done by the book, they’re still going to be able to say, ‘They rushed out this vaccine. What is it we don’t know?’ And in some ways, that’s understandable.”


It’s not new. More than 100 years ago, Sir William Osler got so fed up with the “anti-vaxxers” of 1910 that he dared them to expose themselves to smallpox and promised to personally pay for the resulting funeral expenses. He did not get any takers, wrote physician Christopher A. Swingle in the Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association.

Vaccines are one of the greatest success stories in public health, says the CDC in its vaccine primer. They’ve eradicated smallpox and nearly eliminated wild polio virus. The number of people who suffer the devastating effects of preventable infectious diseases like measles, diphtheria, and whooping cough is at an all-time low.

But while vaccines are the best defense against infectious diseases, no vaccine is 100 percent safe or effective for everyone because each person’s body reacts to vaccines differently, the CDC said.

And “as infectious diseases become less common, we hear less about the serious consequences of preventable illnesses like diphtheria and tetanus and more about the risks associated with vaccines,” the CDC said.

“It’s good to be informed about health choices, but the reality is that Americans have never been healthier than we are today and vaccines have never been safer than they are today. The benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks.”

Lo, of UCR, said Americans have incredibly short memories, forgetting how monumental it was when vaccines eliminated polio. That skepticism is not going away — it’s getting worse. Science has become part of the political agenda, and people aren’t thinking in terms of medical evidence, he said.

Nurse Susan Peel gives a whooping cough vaccination in Sacramento, Calif. (File Photo)

A conundrum looms, Carpiano said.

“This is not just an issue about vaccines and science — it’s become an issue about government and liberty, ” he said. “It’s become an argument about values, and that’s when it becomes a lot harder to debate.”

In our culture, health is cast in personal terms, he said. Our bodies. Our right to choose. If you have heart disease and don’t take your statin drugs or cancer and don’t go to chemotherapy, it doesn’t impact anyone else. It only impacts you. But if people skip a vaccine for a highly contagious disease that’s deadly for older, sicker people, they aren’t just impacting themselves — they’re impacting others as well, he said.

“The government exists to protect the public welfare,” Carpiano said. “That’s the mandate. The question will be, ‘Is the government doing enough to protect the public health?’ “

Source: Orange County Register

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