I want to take a closer look at some points I've seen floating around online about COVID-19 vaccines. I believe we should all be skeptical when presented with new claims, and investigate their merits. So I'm going to examine a few key points that have been brought up repeatedly, and try to address them objectively.
1. Pharmaceutical Companies are Immune from Liability
When you get sworn in to testify as a witness in court, you swear "to tell the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth." The statement "pharmaceutical companies are immune from liability" is the worst kind of lie, because it's a lie of omission. There is some truth to it, but there's more to the story. It's not the whole truth.
A more complete way to say it would be this: a small number of pharmaceutical companies are immune from liability, specifically when it comes to developing a COVID-19 vaccine, in the United States alone, and only until 2024.
This is because of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act that was signed in to law by President Bush in 2005. It was meant to be used in case of a public emergency, so that pharmaceutical companies could develop new drugs, treatments, and vaccines faster. Shockingly, for once, the law is being used exactly as it was intended in this case: to expedite the development of a new vaccine in order to save lives.
This limited immunity only applies in the US. Europe and most of the rest of the world - including Germany where the vaccine was developed - have not granted this same immunity. In fact, Italy has threatened to sue Pfizer over the vaccine, although it has nothing to do with safety or efficacy: it's because of shipping delays.
From a business perspective, wouldn't you still be worried about when your immunity expires? The impending threat of a class action lawsuit being filed in only 3 years would tank stock prices.
This is far from total immunity. I don't see it as a good reason for the pharmaceutical companies to behave in some way that overly exposes them to liability, since they still have to worry about lawsuits in the future as well as in other countries.
And what's more, it has no bearing on the science of the vaccine itself.
2. Pharmaceutical Companies Have a Bad History
I have first hand experience with how bad pharmaceutical companies can be: I worked in electronic evidence on a case where the defendant was a pharmaceutical company in a major class action lawsuit, and they were clearly in the wrong. They can do some really bad things, yes.
But here's the problem with trying to use this as an argument against the vaccine: you can't hide from the science. As soon as the vaccine is out in the wild, researchers are investigating it, examining it, and there's a lot of really good breakdowns available out there. We know exactly what each piece of it does.
And pharmaceutical companies are mostly evil in the same ways that every corporation is evil: they're obsessed with profits. In this case, that means creating an effective vaccine that the entire world will want to purchase. Capitalism and its market forces are working for us: the pharmaceutical companies are in competition with each other, and there's billions on the line. There's no good evidence to prove that these companies would do anything other than try to create the safest, most effective vaccine possible, in order to generate the most global sales.
I've also worked in healthcare before, and one of the key metrics that pharmaceutical companies use to determine success is patient health and survivability. They want you to live for longer, because it means you have more chances to buy their drugs.
As with the previous point, this is an ad homonym logical fallacy: it's attacking the entity behind the vaccine, rather than the vaccine itself.
If you're worried about evil companies you probably shouldn't buy anything from most major corporations. Especially that new iPhone.
3. Previous Attempts to Make Coronavirus Vaccines Failed
Previous attempts at a coronavirus vaccine did fail. We got lucky with when this pandemic hit. Had it happened a few years earlier we might not have been able to develop a working vaccine. At the very least it would've taken a lot longer.
Coronaviruses are one of the causes of the common cold, so there's always been a lot of interest in them. But yes, developing a vaccine has been hard. One of the silver linings of past epidemics like SARS and MERS is that they gave us a lot of data about coronaviruses that we didn't have before. Examining that data is part of what led to new vaccine developments.
There was a lot of research that went into these vaccines. And it didn't happen overnight. It took a decade. And then on top of that, when the pandemic hit the world poured billions into turning that research into a reality.
4. The Data Submitted to the FDA Has "Gaps"
This is a scare tactic - there are no "gaps" in the data. Nothing's missing. The FDA received all of it.
What the FDA means when it includes caveats is that it can't predict the future, and it's not going to approve the vaccine for populations where it hasn't been determined to be safe - that's why it hasn't been approved for small children yet, because they're still gathering that data. Those are the "gaps."
5. No Access to Raw Data from Vaccine Human Trials
This is a misleading half-truth. Researchers absolutely do have access to the data from the vaccine trials, including third parties that are not affiliated with the pharmaceutical companies. They have overwhelmingly found that the vaccine is what it appears to be: effective at preventing illness caused by COVID-19, and without safety concerns.
There's no public access to the "raw" data because that contains personal information that could be used for identity theft and other malicious purposes. When people sign up for a trial they're considered a patient, and afforded all the same rights, including privacy under laws like HIPAA. Would you want to sign up for an experiment if part of that was having your name and social security number and date of birth available to the public? I don't think so.
6. Long Term Vaccine Safety Concerns
If you can remember back to mid-2020, you might recall that there was a lot of public discussion about why it was taking so long to develop a vaccine. This is in a large part because of one thing the FDA did not let the pharmaceutical companies rush: the human trials. And a decent amount of that time is just waiting: do people have adverse reactions? Are they still ok a month later?
There's simply no way to speed this part up, and as I mentioned earlier, there were no safety concerns found.
What's much worse, and actually has data to prove that it's happening, are the long term effects of a COVID-19 infection: assuming you survive, then you may lose your sense of taste, smell, or experience brain fog for months afterward...or maybe even longer.
7. Anyone Who Gets Vaccinated is Still Part of the Clinical Trials
This is simply false. I don't know how this rumor started. The Pfizer Phase 3 trial concluded in November, 2020 for this version of the vaccine. There are many new trials both for these vaccines to do things like trying to prove their safety for younger people, and there are also trials for different versions of the vaccine still ongoing. But if you're in one of those trials you'd know it, and you'd be getting paid for it.
You will not have your data included in a trial by getting vaccinated. It is illegal to experiment on people without their consent.
8. Under-Reporting of Bad Side Effects of the Vaccines
People aren't shy about saying you might feel under the weather for a day or two after getting the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. But that's better than dying, being hospitalized, or losing one of your senses.
There simply isn't any data to support that there are serious side effects from the vaccines. And there have now been hundreds of millions of doses administered. In short: we'd know by now.
9. The Vaccines Do Not Stop Transmission
This is a question of semantics - while technically it's true that the vaccine doesn't prevent the virus from touching you (but how could any medicine possibly do that? it's not a force field) it does mean that your body starts fighting immediately. And that means the amount of time the virus is alive and replicating in your system is as close to zero as possible.
There's already good data to show that you getting vaccinated stops the virus from spreading to others. And if you look at any of the infection or fatality graphs out there, they're clearly trending downward in areas where vaccines have been widely rolled out. That should be reason enough for everyone to get vaccinated.
10. People Can Still Get COVID-19 After Being Vaccinated
This is another case of semantics. You don't get full immunity to the disease until two weeks after the second dose for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Many cases of people saying they got sick after getting "vaccinated" are usually happening in a much shorter time frame. And although highly unlikely, in the rare case that the virus does still take root later on, the vaccine will still lessen the effects of the infection and your chance of dying because your body will better know how to fight it.
People who have been vaccinated simply aren't being hospitalized for COVID-19.
11. The COVID-19 Death Rate Isn't that Bad
There is a lot of flat out wrong information about the death rate. Globally, it ranges from about 1% to about 10%, varying based on the population's health, how widely healthcare is available, and a slew of other factors.
Right now the US rate is hovering just below 2%. That's nearly 1 in 50. Do you really want to take that chance?
But even if you don't die, there are still the long term neurological effects to contend with, including losing your sense of taste, smell, and brain fog.
12. COVID-19 Death Numbers Are Over Reported
There is no evidence to support the claim that COVID-19 deaths are over reported. Instead, the reverse is true: the data has shown time and time again that the numbers are probably UNDER reported by as much as 35%.
There was also a highly unusual spike in "pneumonia" that was probably caused by many cases where COVID-19 was never tested for.
13. Fauci Owns Patents of the Moderna Vaccine
This is a lie that spread simply because someone said it out loud, but there was never any evidence to back it up. And yet people still repeat it as if it were fact.
14. Fauci and/or the NIH Funded Illegal Gain-of-Function Research in China
This is another lie that is being spread around without any basis in reality.
15. The Virus Continues to Mutate
Yes, the virus can mutate in the wild...but this is exactly why you should get the vaccine! If there are fewer transmissions and infections then there are fewer chances for mutations.
Plus, the vaccine has been found to also be effective against some of the new variants.
I don't want to be fighting a different version of this virus again any time soon. And the best way to stop that from happening is by as many people getting the vaccine as possible.
16. Lack of Scientific Debate About the Vaccines
This is a lie. I feel it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: this is the biggest event in public health in modern history. Researchers and scientists from countries all over the world have been talking about little else for the past year and a half. And they agree that the vaccine does what it's supposed to do.
17. Experts Are Sounding The Alarms
No. They're not. The experts all agree.
There are a few quacks out there of course, but the general consensus of the vast majority of the scientific and medical community is in favor of the vaccine.
Here's a full, in-depth analysis debunking one of those people that thinks they know better than everyone else.
18. I Don't Need the Vaccine Because I Already Had COVID-19
Then the vaccine will help your body fight it off better next time!
This isn't a reason not to get the vaccine. It's like saying, "I worked out last week, so I don't have to work out again this week."
19. It's a Personal Choice
Legally, yes, you can choose to get the vaccine or not. But some people in your community can't get vaccinated, maybe because they're too young, or they're immunocompromised. If you don't get vaccinated, then you are putting those people at risk. You're making the choice for them.
Every person that gets vaccinated helps reduce transmissions and variants. That's good for everyone. And after examining lots and lots of evidence in researching all this, I have yet to find a good reason for you to put your personal choice above the health and safety of others.