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Why do people think the vaccine kills?

Published by marco on

I keep finding people who suggest that the vaccine is “potentially sacrificing millions of citizens like so many experimental fruit flies.” That is one of the more reasonable formulations, as the author of the article Medicine Wants to Kill You by James Howard Kunstler (Clusterfuck Nation) has included the word “potentially” to hedge his bets against the fact that many of us have not (yet!) fallen over with an acute case of death brought on by what they deem an untested—or under-tested—vaccine.[1]

They also seem to believe—and almost rejoice in—the apparently waning efficacy of the vaccine. But now I’m kind of confused. Does it not work at all or does its protection wane more quickly than we’d hoped? Or is it all three? That is: It doesn’t work, but, even if it does, it doesn’t last long and, if it doesn’t kill you first. Maximum conspiracy-theory achievement unlocked.

The citation above is shown in context below,

“Historians of the future, savoring ‘possum goulash around their campfires, will marvel that modern medicine squandered its authority, its credibility, and its sacred honor in the Covid Panic of the 2020s, when public health officials and doctors in clinical practice colluded to force mass vaccinations while suppressing news of the harms and injuries the vaccines caused — potentially sacrificing millions of citizens like so many experimental fruit flies.”

It’s nicely written and would make quite an impact, had it anything to do with reality. I’ve been reading Kunstler’s column for years, through his good and bad times. While he’s written a couple of non-fiction books that I very much enjoyed[2] and I continue to enjoy his writing style, he’s gone a bit more around the bend in the last year or so (in my opinion). Lately, like Mark Crispin Miller[3], he’s been dead-on convinced that people are dropping like flies, even though I only ever hear about it from people like Kunstler and Miller.

They usually offer either no corroborating information at all or they offer a literal rabbit-hole of shady-looking and statistically catastrophic pages and interviews.[4] Many of the link journeys end in dead, private for-pay pages that are only for “true believers” who are willing to pay for their information—unlike the sheep who just gobble up what is publicly available—information that is, therefore, simultaneously wrong and manipulated to benefit authoritarianism.

But people are dying!

What is the likelihood that this bit of news—that millions of people are dying directly after having been vaccinated, in particular young people—would be completely ignored in a media system that has never seen a scandal (real or imagined) that they wouldn’t exploit?

“[…] young vaxxed athletes drop dead of heart failure in shocking numbers on high school gridirons, soccer fields, cricket pitches, bike trails, and running tracks around the world […]”

Even if media organizations were so in the tank for the vaccine, do you really think no-one would crack and grab the millions of clicks that this kind of story would generate? They don’t all have that much discipline. But I follow a plethora of sources and no-one—other than the absolute fringe of auto-didactic researchers without anything resembling an official source—has anything to say about this. It’s not being reported because it doesn’t exist. I can’t help but notice that these statements are never accompanied by links to supporting documents or reports.

Kunstler writes of confronting a medical professional—his own doctor—whom he claims to trust,

“My own doctor tried to persuade me to get vaxed-up during a routine physical in October. I asked him if he was aware of the thousands of deaths and disabling adverse events reported on the CDC’s VAERS system. He said the numbers were not true and went on to say that he had “one hundred percent confidence in the vaccines.” He’s always appeared to be a smart and capable person. A year or so ago he was enlisted to act as an executive administrator in the health care org he practices in, and now only sees patients two days a week. Perhaps that leaves him no time to follow the news. Or maybe he has no inclination to follow any news except what comes from sources like cable TV channels, which are almost entirely sponsored by the Pharma industry.”

Instead of questioning his own information, he questions his doctor’s being “a smart and capable person”. Kunstler has his story and he’s sticking to it. I guess so is the doctor? But the doctor’s story is accompanied by billions of successful vaccinations and hospitals filling up with COVID patients where there are still too many unvaccinated.[5] Kunstler’s story is accompanied by news sources that he never cites and bodies that he can’t produce. And yet, he writes on his own blog about this sad experience with his doctor—who is obviously the deluded party here. I understand the doctor’s dilemma: the longer it takes for the vaccine to start killing us all, the harder it is to lend credence to Kunstler’s version of reality.

Don’t get me wrong: I think Kunstler makes a good point about media. It’s not like there’s no point to mentioning that “[…] cable TV channels, […] are almost entirely sponsored by the Pharma industry.”. This is both true and certainly restricts what and how those channels will be willing to report on. However, just mentioning that fact does not prove that these channels would obviously ignore the wholesale slaughter of millions of young Americans. That’s a pretty big leap, but all of the intervening points to be made are elided and just assumed to be true. The mainstream media is bad, but it can also be trusted to jump on a story about human misery.

Kunstler goes on,

“The bottom line for me is that he has compromised my faith in his judgment.”

It’s almost like he can’t see the irony that the doctor probably thought the same thing about him.

Like, what is a pandemic anyway?

But this intrepid reporter of the truth keeps on plugging away, questioning even whether we’re having a pandemic at all—or having one worth worrying about,

“It’s also getting harder to tell how much of a crisis this actually is or ever really was. There’s no reliable way of knowing how many people really died as a direct result of Covid, or just tested positive for the virus […]”

So, his theory is that we detected a new virus and we were all warned about it. Then, hospitalizations and deaths and illness spiked—despite heretofore unthinkable and drastic lockdown, isolation, distancing, and masking measures—but the deaths and hospitalizations weren’t due to that virus, just because scientists and the media and administrations around the world said that it was. It’s like the theory is: If that many people are in agreement, you almost have to be suspicious, right? How could this all be explained by a virus? It’s only happened a dozen times before, but not recently, so what are the odds? Use your brain.[6]

They think that all of this suffering and death just happened on its own for other reasons, none of which could have been prevented because it’s all so unpredictable. These people would rather have a much riskier world where no-one can be faulted for just continuing with their lives as they’ve always done, instead of sacrificing anything for the common good. It’s easier to think, “what’s the point of sacrificing doesn’t help anyway? I might as well get mine.”

Let the virus win

Instead, they advocate a very medieval approach: let the virus rip! And just let it kill whomever it’s going to kill. We have the technology to combat a pandemic, but we no longer have the morality to do so—and we don’t have anywhere near the solidarity required.

The following is a not-uncommon sentiment these days,

“It bears repeating that whatever Covid-19 actually is or where it came from, it’s a disease not a whole lot more deadly in the general population than the flu in a bad season; that in the natural course of things, it would have probably only killed mostly the very old and already sick, and that the rest of the population would have soldiered through it and acquired a sturdy natural immunity superior to anything the vaxxes might confer (even in theory).”

That is wildly untrue, unless he’s also suggesting that we let at least some, possibly many, of those people go without hospital care, possibly dying or becoming disabled. That is, if you caught COVID, then we’d have to keep enough people out of hospitals—choosing who suffers and dies from it—to make sure that those hospitals would retain enough capacity to treat the population affected non-COVID diseases. Right?

I mean, that’s the problem, isn’t it? I’m assuming that we all consider it a problem when a reasonably advanced society is able to afford endless military hardware and bailouts for its investor class, but to be incapable and unwilling to face a pandemic against a virus whose basic technology we’ve understood for over 150 years and that can be fought by keeping our distance and wearing masks. High-tech stuff, that. It’s even more of a problem when there is an actual vaccine available but not nearly enough people get it.

But, once again, for the rest of the class, let’s reiterate the problem that so many seem to keep deliberately forgetting. If COVID is like a “bad flu season”, then the hospitals will fill up quickly. In the scenario above, with everyone getting it at once, the weakest will fill the hospitals immediately, taking a nice, long time to die—or do we not help them? Do we really act like animals and leave the weak to die behind the herd? I’m not making a judgment here[7]—but that’s what he’s talking about when he talks about letting it rip.

But we went through all of this logic in March 2020—and have now conveniently forgotten the perfectly valid reasons for restricting behavior in the face of a pandemic. “Conveniently” because doing so means we no longer have to restrict ourselves. It’s almost always other people—and their families and friends—who are getting sick and dying and stuff anyway.

Our medical system is completely inadequate for caring for the order-of-magnitude higher influx of patients that a policy like that would engender. So, you’d have to pair it with a policy of “death panels”, choosing who gets treatment and who does not. Knowing our world, we would just take care of the rich and let the poor die. But isn’t being poor kind of like a co-morbidity?

Why even listen to people like this?

The short answer is: because enough other people seem to listen to what they’re preaching that vaccination levels in a lot of countries have stalled at wholly inadequate levels.

Why am I still following Kunstler and Miller? Because I don’t want to be like them, ignoring everything that doesn’t already agree with what they think. I don’t give them as much weight in my worldview, but I do periodically consider whether they might have a point. They have a point about creeping authoritarianism in some countries, but they muddle it all with wild and completely fantastical allegations about spying via apps and discriminating against the unvaccinated and piles of hidden bodies and weird authoritarian agendas that don’t gibe at all with most countries revoking their measures too soon.

The COVID initiative in Switzerland

Here in Switzerland, our local versions of Kunstler and Miller are putting up posters against the COVID referendum we are voting on soon. Their posters say “Impfzwang”, which means “vaccine mandate”. That is not at all what the referendum is about. The referendum just wants to continue using the Covid Certificate to regulate people’s access to common, indoor areas where the chance of spreading COVID is known to be higher. People can still get tested, but they also have to continue to pay. Nothing changes from today. The measures just becomes “official” rather than “emergency”.

Some call it a “mandate” because you’ll need a test or a certificate (recovered or vaccinated) in order to get inside a restaurant or bar or to go to a concert. You can sit outside without a certificate, but it’s getting colder, so that’s not really a viable option until spring. That’s why people feel like they’re being “forced” to get the vaccine: because now it’s getting annoying for them personally not to have the vaccine. As we read above, if you also believe that the vaccine will kill you, then this initiative is exactly like the state trying to kill you just because you wanted to eat out in a restaurant.

What’s really going on is that the restrictions are finally hitting people where it hurts. They don’t want to get vaccinated, they don’t care about solidarity, they don’t believe anything, but now they won’t be able to dine out without a certificate, so they’re claiming they’re being “forced” to vaccinate.[8]

Nobody’s forcing anyone to get vaccinated; you just can’t sit inside the Café Spettacolo anymore. That’s where the other argument comes in: they claim that it’s “splitting society”. But, we’ve already accept that in other ways, haven’t we? If you don’t have enough money for a CHF5.- coffee, you can’t go into the café either. Nobody’s splitting society any more than it already has been. It’s just a split along a different line—and for a much better, epidemiologically reasonable reason than something arbitrary like whether you have money. People are comfortable with keeping out the poor, but not the unvaccinated. I’m the opposite.

Also, the “Überwachungsstaat” (big brother) part of their argument isn’t true either. The COVID apps (tracker and certificate) are a couple of the few on your phone that explicitly don’t share your private information and data with everyone. They’re open-source; anyone can go look at how they work and many security researchers have done so and verified that there’s nothing shady going on.

For Christ’s sake, these people complaining about the COVID apps are probably all in giant WhatsApp groups and on Facebook complaining about it, just bleeding their data all over the place … then complaining about the two apps that don’t do anything at all. Sure, you show the restaurant your name before you go in, but almost everyone pays digitally with cards that identify them anyway.

The thing to remember is that these are temporary measures. Some states—like the country of Denmark and many U.S. states—have already repealed some measures, often more hastily than the science called for. How is that authoritarian creep?

There is no way that restaurants are going to want to continue doing this when it’s no longer epidemiologically necessary. It’s possible that they will, but then we can get up in arms and have it repealed. Right now, it just looks silly to not use tools that would help us live with the pandemic when the upside is so much larger than the downside.

I’m all for anti-authority and privacy laws—but not when there’s a legitimate reason for temporary infringement, like we have now. The pandemic is real. COVID is real. People who don’t need to get hurt or die will get hurt or die. If we were making all of these laws to combat something like, say, terrorism, which, statistically speaking, never happens here, then I’m against it.

We shouldn’t have to deal with this

But we shouldn’t even have to talk about the phone apps or the certificate-checks because we have a vaccine. The problem is all of the people who don’t want the vaccine are the ones who make it necessary to keep these measures in place to combat COVID. And they hate these measures, too. But the only alternative solution they offer is to ignore COVID. Just put your fingers in your ears and pretend it doesn’t exist.

The original point was to get a high enough vaccination rate to make it very unlikely that anyone has it. It’s not rocket science. We’ve gotten herd immunity for a dozen other diseases with vaccinations. Now, we’re back to basics and believing in voodoo and hating science because people are convinced that anyone who knows anything is just a bossy know-it-all and a show-off.

The people who really shouldn’t get the vaccine—immunocompromised, allergic, what-have-you—are the ones everyone else is supposed to be protecting. If everyone who didn’t have a legitimate concern were to get vaccinated, then we would be able to handle the handful who have a good reason. The problem is that there are so many people who can catch it so easily that, if you just let them into a restaurant, untested or unchecked, they would be more likely to infect even vaccinated people, who are not super-powered, but just less likely to be infected. Less likely to be infected, but they’ll still have a good chance of catching it if they spend three hours in the Chäschäller Restaurant in winter with someone shedding virus right behind them.

That’s why it makes it dangerous to have completely unvaccinated people around. It makes the vaccinated—perhaps with waning immunity[9]—more susceptible and they are almost certainly not aware of it. We wouldn’t have to really worry about any of that stuff at all if we were like Portugal, with almost 90% vaccination. Instead, we’re over here at 64% and acting like that’s good enough, like a child trying to round their D up to an A without doing the work.

The virus doesn’t care how you feel about your performance. You don’t get points for trying.

[1] The truth is, in fact, the opposite. This vaccine has been developed and tested in the most scrutinized process we’ve ever had for a vaccine. It’s been tested more thoroughly than any other vaccine.
[3] Whom I wrote about recently in Why are people not getting vaccinated?
[4] I spent some time investigating some of these in the article Muddling through the misinformation. Since I struck out on all of those links, I have not followed too many since. I have no reason to believe that the quality has improved since April.

Germany, in particular, shows a very strong correlation between percentage vaccinated (Impfquote in the chart) and cases per 100,000 (Inzidenz in the chart) in the first week of November. Credit for the graphic goes to Jonas aka 🚟wuppertroll🚲 (Twitter).

 Impfquote vs. Inzidenz in Deutschen Bundesländer.png

Note that the incidence scale is logarithmic: a 7% difference in vaccination rate (e.g. between Schleswig-Holstein at 72% and Bayern at 65%) translates to an incidence that is 5x higher. You could wave this away as a correlation, but it holds for all of the Bundesländer and there is a causal theory supporting it: that the vaccine seems to actually do what they say it does.

[6] If that was a bit hard to follow, I apologize. I was trying for “scathingly sarcastic” with, perhaps, mixed results.
[7] Oh, I absolutely am. I find that line of reasoning reprehensible because it’s almost always a deliberate and selfish blindness to this unavoidable conclusion.
[8] If you really want to hit the youth where it hurts—and get their vaccination numbers into the high 90s—then something like Pornoseiten ab 15.11. nur noch mit digitalem Impfzertifikat nutzbar (Der Postillion) (Starting November 11th, porn sites will only be accessible if you have a digital COVID certificate) would work a treat.
[9] See the article Study shows dramatic decline in effectiveness of all three COVID-19 vaccines over time by Melissa Healy (LA Times) for information on an 800,000-person study from the U.S. with a U.S. veterans (300,000 unvaccinated, so the control group was almost as big as the test group).