I was recently sent an interesting video (published on June 16, 2021) entitled, “Concerned Adventists and World-Renowned Scientist Discuss Liberty and COVID Vaccination Safety” (Link). It was put together by “a brand new self-supporting ministry that has come into being: Liberty and Health Alliance” – “Hosted by Scott Ritsema, moderated by Dr. Lela Lewis, we feature Pastor Wyatt Allen (on liberty of conscience) and the world-renowned MD, professor and scientist, Dr. Peter McCullough (on COVID vaccine safety).”
The basic thrust of the video is that the vaccines against COVID-19 are extremely dangerous, so far having caused more than 50,000 deaths and untold injuries in the United States alone. After watching this video, I must say that I do very much sympathize with those with little if any medical background or training of their own who might walk away from watching something like this more than a little confused. After all, here are two well-educated physicians telling people that the vaccines against COVID-19 are extremely dangerous – much more dangerous than the virus itself at this point in time. Who is one to believe if well-known doctors like this are making such sensational claims? Then we have Pastor Allen and lay evangelist Scott Ritsema claiming that these same vaccines are being “forced” upon people against their will with the use of government bribery, extremely biased media advertising, and shaming. Ritsema, in particular, claims that their primary goal is to present “both sides” of this issue. However, this particular video is not balanced or even-handed with the available evidence but is strongly biased and sensational, even conspiratorial, in the claims being made.
Well, for those who haven’t already made up their own minds on this topic, here are a few of my own thoughts on the key claims made in this video and what appears to me to be very strong evidence that effectively falsifies most of the claims made and puts a few that have some truth to them into a more balanced perspective – at least for me.
Table of Contents
- 1 Dr. Peter McCullough:
- 1.1 VAERS:
- 1.2 Brand New Technology:
- 1.3 Spike Protein and Lipid Nanoparticles Dangerous to the Human Body:
- 1.4 Infant of Vaccinated Mother Dies after Breastfeeding:
- 1.5 Antibody-Dependent Enhancement:
- 1.6 COVID-19 Survivors Don’t Need the Vaccine:
- 1.7 New Treatments are More Effective than the Vaccines:
- 1.8 Additional False and/or Misleading Claims:
- 2 Dr. Lela Lewis:
- 3 Pastor Wyatt Allen:
- 4 Scott Ritsema:
- 5 Bio of Dr. Sean Pitman
- 6 Related
Dr. Peter McCullough:
I was particularly interested in this video because of the inclusion of Dr. McCullough – a well-known consultant cardiologist and Vice Chief of Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX. Dr. McCullough has also become well-known for speaking out against the COVID-19 vaccines – especially following his testimony to the Texas Senate HHS Committee in March, 2021 (Link). So, I was interested in what he would say in this particular video:
Dr. McCullough put a great deal of emphasis on the VAERS reporting system (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System – maintained by the CDC and the FDA), noting that over 5,000 deaths had been reported to VAERS following vaccination against COVID-19 with 40% of these deaths occurring within 3 days of vaccination (around the 53:00 mark in the video). He then went on to explain that this is likely an underreport of the true number of deaths following vaccination by a factor of 10. In other words, Dr. McCullough believes that the COVID-19 vaccines are likely responsible for over 50,000 deaths so far – calling it one of the worst national disasters ever.
This sounds horrible! How could the government be allowing this sort of catastrophe to be happening in this country?! Well, things aren’t always as they may seem on the surface – even for a doctor like Dr. McCullough. It has to do with the nature of the VAERS reporting system. People can report anything to VAERS without any kind of demonstration of a causal link to a vaccine or anything else. The fact of the matter is that even if I were to simply wave my hand over the foreheads of a population the size of the United States that nearly 8,000 people would die that very same day (Link). So, it only stands to reason that, out of the 178 million Americans who have currently received at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 (54%) that many tens of thousands of people would have died, for various reasons, within three days of being vaccinated. Here’s another commentary to illustrate this point:
There were 293 deaths reported to VAERS during the last week of April. That sounds like a large number, particularly when, averaged out, it translates to 41.9 deaths per day. But is it? How many people received COVID-19 vaccines that week? By subtracting the April 23 statistic from the April 30 statistic, I come up with 7.66 million people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine during the last week of April, or 1.1 million/day. How many deaths would we expect in a week in a population of 7.66 million in a week, based on the CDC’s pre-pandemic statistics? Using the aforementioned yearly incidence of death pre-pandemic of 868.7 per 100,000 in a year, we can say that in a population of that size there would be 66,619 deaths in a year, or 182.5 deaths per day or 1,278 deaths in a week… Think of it this way. Never before in the history of VAERS has there been a mass vaccination program like that for COVID-19. The population initially targeted vaccination was exactly the population that has the highest baseline death rate, meaning that by random chance alone we would expect to see a seemingly large number of deaths within days of vaccination.
But there’s yet another factor. Those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination know that all those who receive COVID-19 vaccines are given instructions to sign up for V-Safe, a monitoring system that works by text message. Basically, if you sign up for V-Safe, you will receive periodic text messages, starting as daily text messages that become less frequent over time. I note that, even though I completed my vaccination series in January, I still receive V-Safe texts periodically. This basically turns a passive surveillance system into a quasi-active surveillance system. And, remember, the more you look for something, the more you will find. Always.
The law of large numbers says that, whenever an intervention is administered to huge numbers of people, there will be large numbers of adverse events that happen after that intervention by random chance alone. The way scientists determine if there is a safety signal in those adverse events is by comparing them to the expected baseline rate of each adverse event. The bottom line is that, fear mongering articles by RFK Jr. and reports of a “vaccine Holocaust” to the contrary, there is no evidence of deaths above and beyond what one would expect based on known baseline rates of death in the US population. Although RFK Jr. might not be expected to know this, someone like Dr. McCullough, who has an MPH in addition to his MD, should really, really, really know better. That he promotes antivaccine disinformation based on fear mongering about reports to VAERS of deaths and adverse events tells me one of two things. Either his MPH education failed him, or he’s lying. Take your pick. .
So, for Dr. McCullough to claim that the vaccines are clearly responsible for deaths reported to VAERS following vaccination is clearly misguided. The fact is that he has no evidence whatsoever that the vaccines were responsible for these deaths. Rather, the intended purpose of VAERS is to detect patterns that occur above and beyond normal background levels for large populations – like the US population. And, so far, the vaccines against COVID-19 have proven themselves to be not only very effective against COVID-19, but also very safe. While some serious risks have been detected, these risks are very rare (Link).
But what about the graph shown by Dr. McCullough that demonstrated a dramatic increase in the number of deaths reported to VAERS since the beginning of vaccinations against COVID? After all, the usual number of deaths reported to VAERS is less than 200 per year. Why, all of a sudden, is there a spike of reported deaths to VAERS in 2021 of over 5,000 deaths? Well, this could be for a number of reasons (as Dr. Gorski pointed at above). It could be that the worldwide nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strong promotion of the vaccines to help fight it simply makes people much more aware and vigilant when it comes to events surrounding vaccines against COVID-19. Everyone is aware of the situation we’re in and all of the unusual restrictions. This issue has become very political instead of just a medical/scientific question – and has become very divisive as a result. It is no wonder, then, that there has been a sudden increase in reported deaths to VAERS following the COVID-19 vaccinations in particular. The very consistent V-Safe Texts also contribute to this heightened awareness for those who’ve been vaccinated. However, this doesn’t prove or even suggest, by itself without additional evidence, a correlation with the vaccines.
This is what a lot of people don’t understand – including some of those with an M.D. or a Ph.D. behind their names. There is a world of difference between causation and correlation. And, sometimes, it can be very hard to tell the difference. That is why very careful scientific studies and investigations are required to determine if there is, or isn’t, a true connection between two events.
Brand New Technology:
Dr. McCullough, although noting that he is not against vaccines in general, having personally received two different vaccines just this year, also brings up the common claim that the vaccines being used against COVID-19 are based on “brand new technologies”. The fact of the matter is, however, that the mRNA vaccines are not “experimental” in how they fundamentally work. They’ve been around for over 30 years and we know very well how they work (Link). Sure, they’ve just recently been authorized to be used as vaccines against COVID-19 (and Pfizer / Moderna vaccines will likely receive full FDA approval within the next few months), but that doesn’t mean that they are unknown or are “experimental” in nature as most people understand that term. The mRNA vaccines were extensively tested via double-blinded placebo-controlled trials in both humans and animals and were found to be both very safe and very effective – and this safety and effectiveness continue on after the trials – even after millions of people around the world have now been vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines.
Spike Protein and Lipid Nanoparticles Dangerous to the Human Body:
What is particularly interesting to me is McCullough’s claim that the viral “spike proteins” (that are located on the surfaces of the COVID-19 virus) are “dangerous to the human body”. McCullough, therefore, believes that an infection by the COVID-19 virus is harmful – and even potentially lethal. Why then does he have a problem with the vaccines against COVID-19? Well, it’s because the vaccines cause the body to produce the spike proteins – which McCullough says are themselves harmful to the body and are produced by the body for up to two weeks and sometimes up to 60 days. Now, the claim that the spike proteins produced by the vaccines are themselves harmful to the body is not unique to Dr. McCullough. Many others have made this claim as well.
Dr. Byram Bridle:
Bridle asked listeners to brace themselves for “scary” findings that he assured were “completely backed up by peer-reviewed scientific publications”. He said: “We made a big mistake… we thought the spike protein was a great target antigen, (but) we never knew the spike protein itself was a toxin and a pathogenic protein.”
Bridle referenced a paper published by Ogata et. al. (May 20, 2021) that showed that the spike proteins produced by coronavirus vaccines could linger in the bloodstream for a couple of weeks and cause cardiovascular damage. The problem here is that the authors of the paper quoted by Birdle don’t agree with him.
“Bridle is over-interpreting our results,” David Walt, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the study’s co-author, said in an email to USA TODAY. The study measured proteins in plasma samples from 13 participants who received two doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. It found that spike protein “was detectable in three of 13 participants an average of 15 days after the first injection. But those results don’t indicate the coronavirus vaccines are dangerous. It suggests the vaccines are working as designed. Our study simply validated that the mRNA vaccine is translated into the protein it is designed to encode. Because our method is 100-1000 fold more sensitive than others, we detected VERY low concentrations of the protein in most vaccinated individuals… the levels are incredibly low in the blood, suggesting this shouldn’t be a concern.” (Link)
“Bridle is suggesting that a study that noted minuscule quantities of spike protein in blood after first dose represent a health hazard,” David Fisman, an epidemiology professor at the University of Toronto, said in an email. “That is poppycock: biologically implausible and not data-based.”
The second source Bridle cited during his interview is a “biodistribution study” obtained from the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (Link, Link in English). He said the study shows how the coronavirus spike protein circulates in the bloodstream of vaccinated individuals and accumulates in their organs. First off, this particular study didn’t deal with the spike proteins at all, only with the distribution of lipid nanoparticles – which Bridle completely misses, claiming instead that this paper deals with the distribution of the spike proteins. Beyond this, Bridle also doesn’t seem to understand what the paper is actually saying about the distribution of the lipid nanoparticles from the vaccines either.
“The document is a real (common technical document), though it’s not leaked – it’s part of the submission data applied by Pfizer to PMDA (Japan’s version of FDA) for its review,” Kit Longley, senior manager of science media relations, said in an email. “The document is about the pharmacokinetics overview seen from lab studies and we can confirm it’s not about spike proteins from the vaccine resulting in dangerous toxins that linger in the body.” (Link)
Vaccine Lipid Nanoparticles Accumulate in the Ovaries of Women:
The common claim (among anti-vaxxers lately) that the lipid nanoparticles accumulate specifically in the ovaries of women, producing infertility, is based on this same Japanese Biodistribution Study (also mentioned by Dr. McCullough), but is also inaccurate and very misleading.
The biodistribution study found that the injection site retained the highest concentration of lipid nanoparticles, not the ovaries.
This data was obtained by injecting rats with a mix of lipid nanoparticles, which are identical to the ones used in the COVID-19 RNA vaccines, that carry a radioactive “label” (deuterium). Researchers then then measured the level of radioactivity in tissues at different time points after injection. The level of radioactivity acts as a proxy measurement for how much lipid nanoparticle is present in a given tissue. Changes in the level over time provide scientists with an idea of how long it takes for the body to eliminate the particles.
The article’s interpretation of the biodistribution data is inaccurate. As Abraham Al-Ahmad, an associate professor in pharmacology at Texas Tech University, pointed out in a blog post, the data showed that the injection site had the greatest accumulation of lipid nanoparticles, followed by the liver. Specifically, the peak concentration at the injection site was 52.6% of the administered dose at one hour post-injection. That of the liver was 18.1% of the administered dose at eight hours post-injection (see Table 1). A microgram is one-millionth of a gram.
However, instances of this claim, as seen in the TrialSite News article, tend to omit the table containing the data for the liver and injection site, instead drawing attention only to the data for the ovaries.
The peak concentration in the ovaries, occurring at 48 hours post-injection, was just 0.095% of the administered dose (see Table 2). [or less than 1:1,000 of the total dose of lipid nanoparticle. 50% was metabolized by liver. Brain peak was 0.02% (1/5000 of the total dose)]
Apart from the inaccurate interpretation of data, another critical aspect of the biodistribution experiment that TrialSite News failed to consider is the amount of lipid nanoparticles administered in the rats and its relevance, or more precisely, its lack thereof to the amount present in RNA vaccines given to people.
The study administered 50 micrograms of lipid nanoparticles to each rat. As explained by David Gorski, a professor of surgery at Wayne State University and editor of Science Based Medicine, this would effectively translate to a much higher dose in rats than in humans [a does of ~18-35x higher than the typical adult human dose]. This is due to the large difference in body weight:
In other words, the dose administered to rats was far higher than the dose used in people. There isn’t evidence showing that COVID-19 RNA vaccines are causing fertility problems.
Also, why would lipid nanoparticles (tiny fat droplets) be harmful to the human body? The fats that we eat are absorbed and generally distributed and used throughout the body as well – without any problems. What is so concerning about the lipid droplets used in the mRNA vaccines? Where is the evidence that they would or could cause any negative effects on the ovaries? – or any other organ system within the human body?
There have been actual studies of COVID-19 vaccines and ovarian function. In one such study, for example, researchers studied women undergoing oocyte retrieval for in vitro fertilization. They found no detrimental effect on ovarian follicular function. Another study of women undergoing in vitro fertilization demonstrated that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has no detectable effect on the percentage of clinical pregnancies resulting from the procedure. Yet another study has shown that vaccination against COVID-19 has no effect on immunological tolerance of the fetus by the mother. Still another study failed to find any effect on embryo implantation rates between SARS-CoV-2 infection seropositive, SARS-CoV-2 vaccine seropositive, or seronegative women. (Link)
Bridle’s own colleagues at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College say the immunologist’s claims are wrong.
“The bottom line is the vaccine contains an altered protein that is designed to prevent full activation, and it circulates for a short period of time at levels that are far below what would be a concern,” W. Glen Pyle, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, said in an email.
J. Scott Weese, an associate professor in the Department of Pathobiology, said in an email that all evidence suggests the coronavirus vaccines are safe. Misinformation about the safety of the vaccines appears to be aimed at “creating fear and confusion during a critical time in this pandemic,” he said.
“The efficacy and safety of mRNA vaccines is astounding, to me, particularly for a virus we’ve only known for a year and a half,” Weese said. “mRNA vaccines have been used on millions of people, including extremely high rates of vaccination in high-risk populations (elderly, patients with other diseases), with incredibly low adverse event rates.” (Link)
Very Few Spike Proteins Make it to Bloodstream:
Again, the basic facts here are that the vast majority of the spike proteins produced by the vaccines against the COVID-19 virus remain local at the injection site. Very few make it to the bloodstream, and those that do circulate in the bloodstream are not toxic because of three reasons:
- There just aren’t enough of them to produce toxicity.
- The few spike proteins that do make it into the blood are almost all filtered out by the liver.
- The spike proteins produced have been modified to reduce bioactivity within the body.
Some of the vaccine dose is going to make it into the bloodstream, of course. But keep in mind, when the mRNA or adenovirus particles do hit cells outside of the liver or the site of injection, they’re still causing them to express Spike protein anchored on their surfaces, not dumping it into the circulation. Here’s the EMA briefing document for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – on pages 46 and 47, you can read the results of distribution studies. These were done two ways – by using an mRNA for luciferase (and thus looking at the resulting light emission from the various rodent regions!) and by using a radioactive label (which is a more sensitive technique). The great majority of the radioactivty stays in and around the injection site. In the first hours, there’s also some circulating in the plasma. But almost all of that ended up in the liver, and no other tissue was much over 1% of the total…
In the Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, J&J, and Novavax vaccines, the Spike protein has some proline mutations introduced to try to hold it in its “prefusion” conformation, rather than the shape it adopts when it binds to ACE2. So that should cut down even more on the ability of the Spike protein produced by these vaccines to bind and produce the effects noted in the recent papers. (Derek Lowe, May 4, 2021)
The S1 protein started showing up as early as the first day after vaccination, peaked at around day 5, and was undetectable by day 14… The mRNA from the vaccine starts being picked up and translated into protein almost immediately, as is clear from the quick detection of S1 protein. That’s there because it’s been cleaved off the full Spike protein, but the reason that the Spike itself isn’t found (at least at the limits of detection in the assay, and it’s a really good assay) is because it’s bound to the cells where it’s produced, by the transmembrane anchor region (discussed in that earlier post I referenced above). The reason that no S1 protein is found after the second vaccination is clear – by then, a robust antibody response to it has had a chance to develop, and the protein gets rapidly cleared from the blood, just like it’s supposed to…
It seems clear from all these human trials and the clinical experience to date that the circulating levels of the S1 protein (or the Spike itself) that are sufficient to induce a protective immune response are not in themselves toxic. The animal studies demonstrate that the Spike or S1 can indeed have bad effects on living cells and tissues all by themselves, but the conditions under which this was demonstrated are not those that obtain after vaccination.
And this latest paper showing circulating S1 protein after vaccination? Coupled with the previous paper from the same group, it in fact provides strong evidence that such blood levels are not by themselves the cause of coronavirus symptoms and tissue damage. No, if you want to try for severe, permanent damage, you will need to get infected by real SARS-CoV-2 itself and take your chances. Try your luck, if you like, with the short-term symptoms and with “long Covid” symptoms as well. See if you stay out of the ICU, or if you retain your sense of smell – try them all. If you would rather not spin that wheel, and you shouldn’t, then my strong, heartfelt advice is to get vaccinated. Because then you will be protected.
In short, this claim simply isn’t based on what most medical scientists would call reasonable information.
Infant of Vaccinated Mother Dies after Breastfeeding:
Given this information, the claim of Dr. McCullough that an infant died after breastfeeding from a vaccinated mother is also completely baseless. The story itself is apparently based on a Facebook post where neither the identity nor the actual condition of the infant or mother could be verified. The nurse who posted the story to her FB profile said that the story came from VAERS. Yet, no such record could be located in VAERS – or anywhere else (Link). Another similar report of a baby dying the day after the mother was vaccinated (likely of SIDS) can be found here: Link
Again, given that only around 1% of the mRNA ever gets beyond the local injection site, it is extremely unlikely that any significant quantity of the spike protein could actually enter the breast milk of a breastfeeding woman, much less cause any damage to the infant.
“During lactation, it is unlikely that the vaccine lipid would enter the blood stream and reach breast tissue. If it does, it is even less likely that either the intact nanoparticle or mRNA transfer into milk. In the unlikely event that mRNA is present in milk, it would be expected to be digested by the child and would be unlikely to have any biological effects,” said the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine in a December statement. (Link)
What is encouraging about breastfeeding is that it is actually protective to the infant of a vaccinated mother.
New data on the vaccine’s safety in breastfeeding women is emerging, and it’s showing COVID-19 vaccination protects not only the mother but the child as well.
A recent study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found vaccinated nursing mothers may pass on protective, anti-coronavirus antibodies to their babies through breast milk for at least 80 days after vaccination. Antibody levels in the breast milk of five nursing mothers – children’s ages ranging from 1 month to 2 – were measured before vaccination and on a weekly basis until the 80 days after their initial dose. (Link)
There is a very real concern for antibody-dependent enhancement (or ADE) when developing any new vaccine – where the vaccine can result in the production of antibodies that make an infection worse rather than effectively fight against it. This concern was front and center for the development of the vaccines against COVID-19 as well – that the ADE problem could be overcome. And, the ADE problem was overcome for the vaccines against COVID-19 (Link). However, Dr. McCullough claims that following the first shot of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) that there is a period of two weeks or so where the antibodies that are initially produced by the body show some features of ADE – making any COVID-19 infection worse than if no vaccine had been given. Again, the problem here is that the evidence in hand just doesn’t back up this claim. While I can find no published data on ADE within the first two weeks following vaccination, certainly beyond two weeks there is no such risk based on the data in hand. Just the opposite is true.
The dramatic plots of the data after even one dose of the vaccines speak for themselves: the trials did hardly saw people getting infected at all after vaccination, and most certainly not with even more severe disease. To the contrary: one of the big features of the vaccines is that across the board they seem to almost totally wipe out the appearance of severe coronavirus symptoms. We’re still collecting data on transmissibility after vaccination and so on (things are looking good, though), but what seems to be beyond doubt is that the vaccinated subjects, over and over, show up with no severe coronavirus cases and no hospitalizations. (Link)
The research, published in the medical journal The Lancet, followed 7,214 staff members at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, a government-owned facility, who received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination between Dec. 19 and Jan. 24. Scientists from the medical center found that the vaccine was 85 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 within 15 to 28 days after the shot was administered. (Link)
In any case, it seems as though getting the vaccine is far better than getting the actual COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 Survivors Don’t Need the Vaccine:
But what about those who have already been infected by COVID-19? – and have developed “natural immunity” as a result? Do these people benefit from the vaccines? A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic (Shrestha, et. al., June 05, 2021) showed that individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection do not get significant additional benefits from vaccination, indicating that COVID-19 vaccines should be prioritized to individuals without prior infection. Interestingly, no significant difference in COVID-19 incidence was observed between previously infected and currently unvaccinated participants, previously infected and currently vaccinated participants, and previously uninfected and currently vaccinated participants (observed for five months). There was, however, a steady increase in infections among those who were unvaccinated and previously uninfected. Another recent study showed similar results (Cohen, et. al., April 27, 2021). This is good news as it suggests that “herd immunity” may be achieved through immunity gained via natural infection as well as via vaccinations. There are, however, a few caveats.
Cohen [lead author of the second study] pointed to another Fred Hutchinson-led study with which she was involved. It did show that people who previously had covid-19 benefited from also getting vaccinated, because there was a significant boost in immune response, especially against variants.
The COVID-19 variants that are coming along that seem to be much more infectious and spread more rapidly and even cause more severe symptoms (such as the “Delta Variant” that started in India and has now spread rapidly around the world), seem to highlight some key differences between naturally acquired immunity and immunity via vaccines.
Shane Crotty (a professor at the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology who has published numerous peer-reviewed studies on natural immunity against covid-19) said such immunity particularly protects against hospitalizations and severe illness.
While that is good news, Crotty said, there are three points of caution.
- First, though natural immunity appears to be very effective against the current dominant U.S. variant (known as alpha), it also appears weaker than vaccine immunity against some of the variants circulating, such as the delta variant, first detected in India. That means if those variants eventually become dominant in the U.S., people relying on natural immunity would be less protected than those who are vaccinated.
- Second, there is a lack of data about whether natural immunity prevents asymptomatic transmission and infection. Several other studies, though, show vaccines do.
- Third, Crotty said his studies have shown that levels of natural immunity can vary widely in individuals. His team even found a hundredfold difference in the number of immune cells among people.
“If you thought about the immune system as a basketball game and you thought about that as a team scoring 1 point, and another team scoring 100 points, that’s a big difference,” said Crotty. “We’re not so confident that people at the low end of immunity levels would be as protected against covid-19. But those who receive a vaccine shot have a much more consistent number of immune cells, since everyone receives the same dose amount,” said Crotty.
The arguments of Dr. Crotty are also backed up by additional research that was done on the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein (Greaney et. al., June 8, 2021). Here’s a recent review of this research by Dr. Francis Collins (June 22, 2021):
By closely examining the results, the researchers uncovered important differences between acquired immunity in people who’d been vaccinated and unvaccinated people who’d been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. Specifically, antibodies elicited by the mRNA vaccine were more focused to the RBD compared to antibodies elicited by an infection, which more often targeted other portions of the spike protein. Importantly, the vaccine-elicited antibodies targeted a broader range of places on the RBD than those elicited by natural infection.
These findings suggest that natural immunity and vaccine-generated immunity to SARS-CoV-2 will differ in how they recognize new viral variants. What’s more, antibodies acquired with the help of a vaccine may be more likely to target new SARS-CoV-2 variants potently, even when the variants carry new mutations in the RBD. (Link)
With all that in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those who previously had covid-19 should get vaccinated and receive both doses of a vaccine, whether it’s the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
New Treatments are More Effective than the Vaccines:
Dr. McCullough also argues that the odds of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus are about 1 to 100 now, and the odds of actually getting infected even when exposed are about 1 to 100 at this point. So, the overall odds of getting sick with COVID-19 are about 1 in 10,000. Given these odds, McCullough claims that vaccines simply aren’t helpful at this point in time – that the pandemic is effectively over. And, besides, the medical treatments for those infected with COVID-19 have improved so much that there just isn’t any real practical advantage to getting the vaccine.
The problem here is that the pandemic isn’t over yet. Sure, the rates of infection, and especially the death rates, have been reduced significantly in the last few months (in no small part to the use of vaccines in this country). However, the real problem now is that new mutational variants of the COVID-19 virus are on the rise around the world, including within the United States – with some of these variants being much more infectious and causing more severe sickness in people (Link). And, as it turns out, those who are vaccinated are more resistant to these varients as compared to those who have achieved natural immunity after being infected by the COVID-19 virus. So, while natural immunity is certainly helpful, it is not the best way to end this pandemic and save the most lives and prevent the most injuries. In short, the vaccines against COVID-19 still have a very important role to play if people would only take advantage of the miraculous gift that we’ve been given.
Additional False and/or Misleading Claims:
Dr. Peter McCullough has made numerous false and/or misleading claims about the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 in various venues (Link, Link) and is evidently in support of the anti-vaxx work of the very well-known conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Link). In short, I just don’t find him to be a credible source of information on this topic given the vast weight of evidence that we currently have that strongly and convincingly supports the efficacy and relative safety of the vaccines against COVID-19 – particularly with regard to the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna).
Dr. Lela Lewis:
Dr. Lewis, as the moderator for the discussion, didn’t really present too many claims or arguments beyond what was presented by Dr. McCullough. Of course, she didn’t hold back with her praise and admiration for Dr. McCullough or attempt to hide her full support for the claims that he was making. I did find it interesting that she said that she was just about to get a vaccine for COVID-19 when she came down with strep throat and ended up not getting vaccinated – as if she was spared from the horrors of the vaccine by strep throat. Elsewhere, however, she says that she was advised not to get the vaccine because of an autoimmune condition of hers known as polymyositis (Link). She had previously been accepted into the Novavax COVID Phase 3 clinical trials, but when she showed up for her first shot she was told that her autoimmune condition put her at too much risk for the vaccine.
This time, however, when he asked about the autoimmune history, and I answered the same as previously, he seemed greatly alarmed and concerned. After leaving the exam room and returning with the Investigational Supervisor, I was warned it was unsafe for me to get vaccinated, given my autoimmune condition. (Link)
For those interested, the Novoavax vaccine against COVID-19 is based on injecting nanoparticles comprised of the same spike proteins produced by the mRNA and DNA vaccines. The only difference is that the spike-proteins in the Novavax vaccine are pre-formed before being directly injected (a standard type of vaccine). (Link)
It was at this point that she started to inquire as to why others might not be taking the vaccines and learned of Dr. McCullough and his claim that the spike proteins used in the vaccines are themselves extremely harmful and dangerous to the human body – and she clearly believes him. Evidently, she is unaware of the quality research that effectively falsifies this concern.
Pastor Wyatt Allen:
Pastor Allen’s main concerns are with personal and religious freedoms which he claims are being attacked by the government – which is “forcing” people to get vaccinated. How, exactly, is this being done since the documents I signed before getting my own Pfizer vaccines said that it was completely voluntary? Well, Pastor Allen explains that the government is heavily advertising in favor of the vaccines and using coercive tactics like “bribery” or “shaming” – telling people that if they don’t get the vaccine that they don’t “love their neighbor” and are not interested in the “greater good”.
The bribery argument is interesting. Since when, though, is bribing someone to do something equivalent to “forcing” them to do something? I mean really, if you accept a bribe to do something, you still acted freely. The popular saying, “The Devil made me do it!” is nonsense. The Devil can tempt with appealing bribes to do what one knows is wrong, but the Devil does not force one to sin. The same is true when it comes to accepting bribes to get vaccinated – or for any other reason. Accepting a bribe means that you really don’t have a fundamental moral problem with what you accepted a bribe to do…
And, when it comes to “loving one’s neighbor”, by all means, we are called, as Christians, to help and protect our neighbors – even if we must put ourselves at some risk to do so. After all, this is what the whole story of the Good Samaritan is all about (Luke 10:25-37). But what about those who believe that the vaccines are true poisons? Should they be forced to do something that they believe will cause injury to their own bodies? – and likely not really help their neighbors either? Well, that’s a bit of a different issue. If one honestly believes that the vaccine is poisonous and won’t help them or anyone else, then no, that person shouldn’t be forced to take the vaccine – with a few exceptions.
The exceptions to personal liberties are in regard to situations where one’s personal liberties directly affect other people. A person may sincerely believe that a vaccine against COVID-19 is poisonous – and that’s fine as a personal belief. However, if that person wants to work or be around other people who are at risk of COVID-19 infection, like in a hospital setting for instance, then that person must abide by the rules of what the hospital deems necessary to protect the patients being treated in that hospital. Now, a person is always free to work somewhere else if they don’t like the rules. However, personal liberty does not mean that a person can just do anything that he/she wants when their actions involve other people. Even the Bible outlines limitations to personal liberties, particularly when transmissible illnesses or diseases are involved. A sick person, with a transmissible disease, should be declared “unclean” and quarantined – according to the Bible (Leviticus 13:1-40). And, it didn’t matter what a person thought or believed contrary to this biblical mandate. If you were living in that society, those were the rules.
Pastor Allen also mentions the use of fetal cells related to the vaccines. However, neither of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) use fetal cell lines, or any other type of cell line, since they are synthetically produced and don’t require cellular cultures to create these vaccines. So, if a person has an ethical problem with the use of fetal cell lines, the mRNA vaccines are a very good option for them.
Pastor Allen then cites the biblical prophecies regarding End Time Events where governments around the world will force people to break the Laws of God – particularly regarding the Sabbath. Well, this is very different for at least a couple of reasons. First off, personally keeping the Laws of God, as defined by the Bible for the follower of Jesus, doesn’t put anyone else at risk of death or injury. Beyond this, getting a vaccine isn’t breaking any Law of God for the Christian. Also, no one is preventing those who aren’t getting vaccinated from “buying or selling”. The types of “force” being used are, again, not remotely equivalent here. Bribery to get the vaccine simply isn’t comparable to preventing someone from buying or selling goods or services. Again, if someone actually gives in to a bribe, then that person really never had any serious moral qualms with the issue to begin with.
Scott’s main concerns are very similar to those of Pastor Allen – primarily dealing with personal freedoms and liberties that Scott believes are being taken away and undermined by the government. He is particularly concerned about the influence of the media on the public and the biased way that the media is promoting the vaccines against COVID-19 without explaining the extreme risks of the vaccines (according to Scott). As an academic, Scott says that he’s a big fan of presenting “both sides” of a topic – even if he personally doesn’t agree with one of the sides.
“I believe that everybody needs to hear both sides. My background in academics was in history. I was a history teacher. I got into ministry later in life… but I come from that academic background of dialogue and inquiry. And, as a history teacher, whenever I notice that maybe one side was getting a little more play and imbalance, and the other side had some valid and interesting things to bring to the table, whether I agreed with them or not, I would always want to give air to that other side – to let people think and evaluate for themselves and grant people that they are capable, that they are individuals with a mind, and can evaluate the evidence for themselves.” (Scott Ritsema, June 16, 2021)
Of course, Scott isn’t exactly evenhanded in his dealing with this topic either – dwelling on all the risks that he sees with the vaccines without mentioning the abundant, I would say overwhelming, evidences for the miraculous efficacy and relative safety of these modern vaccines – particularly the mRNA vaccines. He didn’t, for example, have a medical or science expert, like the well-known Adventist pulmonologist Dr. Roger Seheult, on the side of vaccines as part of the discussion in this video that he himself produced – despite his own complaints that the public media does the very same thing. Immediately after saying all this about being all even-handed with presenting a topic, he says that in this particular video, he’s “Looking forward to hearing another side of this discussion” – without actually presenting and/or discussing both sides for his audience to “evaluate the evidence for themselves”. I don’t know. This just seems a bit hypocritical to me.
Others, of course, would argue that since the promotion of vaccines has been so prominent in this country, that’s it is only fair for Scott to personally present the anti-vaxx arguments to “balance things out”. And, that’s fine for most people – but not for someone claiming to be an “academic” who personally strives to “always” present both sides of a story, regardless of if he personally agrees or not, for his listeners to then “make up their own minds”.
Bio of Dr. Sean Pitman
Dr. Sean Pitman is a pathologist, with subspecialties in anatomic, clinical, and hematopathology, currently working in N. California.