Answering a Reader’s Response to Covid-vaccination

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Last month Rev Dr S de Marie’s “Vaccinate against corona – yes or no?”[i] was published on this site. Although it led to some favourable responses, there was also some talk that vaccinations were part of a conspiracy and should be avoided. I forwarded a critical response (below in red) from a Canadian reader on to Rev de Marie who kindly provided his responses. They’re worth reading in view of the conflicting and sometimes passionate views doing the rounds.

JN

  1. In regards to Covid, it [Rev de Marie’s article] says it’s a dangerous disease that people can die from and hospitals are being overcrowded. The reality is, the majority of the population has a 99.9% survival rate. The mass majority of those dying are the frail, elderly living in nursing homes. And the numbers here in Canada show the ICUs were full over the winter, but no more than any other year (a fact the mainstream media has not seen fit to mention.) So, is it really that dangerous that the entire population should now get vaccinated?

This article was written for the situation in the Netherlands and the situation I described is reality in the Netherlands. Yes, we had a high death rate. Yes, all our ICU’s have been totally overcrowded so that we had to evacuate some of our ICU-patients to hospitals in Germany.

It also meant that all planned surgery and the care for other serious diseases had to be scaled down with all the consequences for health and survival of the involved patients.

In only one month at the beginning of the epidemic we had 6000 deaths caused by Covid-19. By taking very drastic measures of a lockdown we could stabilize the situation.

If you extrapolate what would happen if we didn’t take such measures, we would probably end up with more than 50.000 fatal cases within one year. Now we had in 2020 from 13000-15000 Covid-19 related deaths. Yes, the majority are the frail and older people. But this is an increasing part of our Dutch society (20% are over 65 years old). We cannot say that these people do not deserve optimal care.

I have pictured the situation in the Netherlands, but in some other parts of the world it is even worse. Although these official figures are incomplete and therefore are underestimating the real situation, the website of the John Hopkin’s University (Baltimore, USA) is very informative:  https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html. As you can see there is a big difference in incidents and death rate between Australia and Europe/Canada. In Canada the figures are somewhat more favourable compared to the Netherlands, which is densely populated. 

Since 14 December 2020 we have again a strict lockdown in the Netherlands including an evening curfew, and we still have hundreds of Covid-patients in the ICU’s. The economy is affected; our family and church life is extensively blocked. So my statement that it is a dangerous and potentially fatal disease is no exaggeration. Can we keep go on with these paralysing social restrictions in order to avoid vaccination? Can we account for that to the Lord? Is there to be a ban on vaccination?

  1. Does the author [Rev de Marie] realize these vaccines are brand new and largely untested in their rush to get them out? I don’t know if there’s an evil genius behind it, but there’s doctors all over the world sending the alarm on these vaccines. So many people have died from the vaccines.

I have followed Covid-19 with great interest because I was until 2006 active as a medical specialist in the field of infectious diseases in a leading university medical centre in the Netherlands. My information is gathered not only from newspapers and popular websites but also from reliable scientific resources. The article itself has no scientific pretention but was meant to help our church members in the Netherlands in their decision on how to deal with the use of vaccination against Covid-19.

The current vaccines used in the Netherlands have had a thorough investigation with trials in people before they were introduced. Although the time of development appeared to be very brief, there was already a far longer history with a closely related virus (SARS-1, 2002) including the development of a vaccine against that virus. This offered a huge advantage in the development of a vaccine against SARS-2 (= Covid-19). Furthermore, clinical trials could be accomplished easily with enough cases because of the widespread pandemic. One drawback in these trials was that most of vulnerable and older people were excluded from them. Especially these people were included in the first phases of vaccination programs.

At the moment the first vaccinations started in the Netherlands in January 2021 with the Pfizer vaccine, it was used already on more than 2 million persons around the world, including older people. From these data it was learned that the Pfizer vaccine must be used with caution because of the (rare) possibility of a severe allergic reaction immediately following vaccination in people who are prone to such reactions. This occurred in around 35 persons per million vaccinations, which is a lower rate than reported with penicillin use (100/million users). The use of appropriate precautions (during 15-30 minutes after the vaccination) appeared to effectively avoid severe consequences of such a reaction.

Every vaccine has some side effects. In the Netherlands every reported (possible) side effect is monitored by an official institution. Most reactions appear to be related to the generation of an immune response of the body and are located at the site of inoculation. These reactions may occur after 12-24 hrs to 14 days. Around 1% of participants in the trials categorized the pain as “severe”. Fatigue and headache are other relatively common side effects; high fevers are less common. These side effects generally disappear within a couple of days. Up to now with 1.1. million vaccinations, there is no proof of fatal cases or unanticipated life-threatening side effects related to vaccination.

In older and compromised unvaccinated people, deaths occur all the time for various reasons. So if these people die after receiving vaccination, this fact in itself is no proof that vaccination was the cause of it. Nevertheless, all these cases are examined in the Netherlands for possible relationship with the vaccine. Up to now (March 13, 2021) no relationship could be established. 

The same experience is reported in the USA. In a review of 13.8 million doses of the vaccine given within the first month of the vaccination program, no clear pattern of serious or unexpected adverse events occurred accept for the above mentioned treatable allergic reaction. This is especially reassuring since the first wave of vaccinations went to many frail, older people who could be more at risk of side effects. Of these people, many have other medical problems, and hence some vaccine recipients have died after receiving their vaccines. Through February 21, 2021, more than 63 million doses have been administered in the USA, with 1099 reports of death. Each of these American cases is reviewed by official (CDC and FDA) physicians, including medical records, death certificates, and (when available) autopsy reports. Thus far (March 5, 2021) there has been no identified link with vaccination.

Your statement that “many people have died from the vaccines” cannot not be substantiated by the facts for the Netherlands as well as for the USA.

  1. And these vaccines are not even necessary! They’re not a regular vaccine in that they prevent you from getting covid- all it’s doing is lessening the symptoms.

I have already addressed the need for vaccines under answer 1. Regular vaccines have their effect on our immune system: it increases the specific immunity against a specific disease by stimulating B- and T-lymphocytes. This is also the case for Covid-vaccines. The result is prevention of getting the disease and consequently prevention of dying by the disease. This is not the same as “lessening the symptoms” as you propose. Some of the corona vaccines have an efficacy of 95%. This is a very high efficacy rate and far more than vaccines against other infections.

  1. You’ll still get and spread covid. So if it’s just doing what drugs can do, it does make you wonder why the push for everyone to get vaccinated?

You are right in stating that after vaccination you may still carry the virus with you. The immune response by vaccination cannot fully prevent this. However, in what degree a healthy vaccinated carrier will contribute to spreading the disease is yet unclear. After vaccination, the number of virus particles will be reduced significantly compared to unvaccinated persons. Therefore, a vaccinated person will probably be less contagious. This is supported by findings in Israel after administration of the Pfizer vaccine.

If enough people have become immune, the pandemic can be extinguished.

At this moment there is no drug available that may lead to a cure from Covid-disease, nor a drug that can prevent its spreading.

Of course, the LORD determines whether we can get rid of this disease or not. In the future, there may come new variants of the virus that are resistant to the vaccine. Or other viruses may emerge. But for the moment this vaccine may help prevent the death of millions of people if God give His blessings on it. We have to rely on Him.

But at the same time, we have to exercise our responsibility. 

  1. As for the foetus aspect, it seems ignorant to tell people that if they don’t know what’s in something they won’t be sinning by taking it. Vaccine companies rely on embryonic stem cells for much of their research. It seems a dangerous thing to treat that as okay as long as the end result means a vaccine that may help society in the long run. I don’t think Christians can take that approach.

I have not written that it is okay that vaccine companies are using foetal cell-lines. Far from it.  The issue is whether you are sinning if you are using a product of such a company. In my article I referred to what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14 and 15 and 1 Cor. 8 and 10. Using meat for sacrificing to idols is an act that you should resolutely reject. But eating the same meat just for food is another question. If you see this eating as sinning because of the original destination of the meat (for the idols), you are not allowed to take it. But if you see it as something that the Lord is still making available for food—although after a wicked act of the people—you can accept it as such, if your conscience is not condemning you.

I did not speak about my own opinion on such vaccines. My main point is:  do not condemn other people who use such a vaccine that you yourself do not want to use for principle reasons.

 

[i] See Vaccinate against corona – yes or no? – Defence of the Truth