Without high vaccination levels, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention won’t reach the levels it believes are needed to reach herd immunity. That might be a blessing in disguise.
How to counter the high rate of vaccine skepticism that is foiling governments’ plans to reach herd immunity? According to Gallup’s 2020 World Poll, 1 billion people indicated they would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine, with rates of skepticism especially high in the developed world.
In the United States, many who early on were willing to be vaccinated have had second thoughts—the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 5 million Americans and counting who have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are skipping appointments for their second.
Over the last month, Americans’ average acceptance of 3.3 million daily doses has plummeted to under 2 million, with no sign of the freefall ending. The 115 million already fully vaccinated were the easy gets. The many skeptics who remain unvaccinated are anything but.
Cheerleading for vaccines by virtually the whole of the medical establishment and mainstream press hasn’t been able to turn the tide; neither has widespread censorship by social media of anyone who questions the efficacy or safety of COVID-19 vaccines; neither has an unprecedented U.S. government outreach aimed at winning over skeptics. None of these has been able to overcome persistent reports of harm caused by vaccines, bolstered by official government data showing questionable benefits.
Hence, a heightened motivation for the CDC to hide unwelcome data and make vaccines look more effective than they are. A current case in point involves “breakthrough infections,” jargon for COVID-19 infections that occur after people get vaccinated. Although the CDC acknowledges that the existing reporting systems for breakthrough infections already “represent an undercount” since reporting is voluntary and “not all real-world breakthrough cases will be identified because of lack of testing,” that official undercount nevertheless attracted unwanted publicity, making it too high for the CDC’s liking.
By April 26, when the ever-increasing tally of these undercounted breakthrough infections exceeded 9,200, the CDC called a time-out, stopped reporting them, and announced that as of May 14 it would arrange for new breakthrough cases to be counted differently.
To lower the official numbers that come in from U.S. states and territories for breakthrough infections, the CDC won’t log breakthrough cases requiring doctor or emergency-room visits, let alone minor adverse events. It will only report adverse events serious enough to result in hospitalizations or deaths. The CDC’s new procedure should reduce the number of new breakthrough infections that the CDC reports by approximately 90 percent, ending their newsworthiness to the press.
The CDC faces other challenges in convincing people COVID-19 vaccines are safe, though, because of another reporting system that documents deaths and side effects following vaccination, its own Vaccine Adverse Events Reports (VAERS). The most recent update, for example, showed that by April 30, 157,277 adverse events had occurred, including almost 4,000 deaths. Although these deaths could be entirely or mostly coincidental, as the CDC and vaccine companies assert, over 30 percent of the deceased became mortally ill within one day of inoculation and almost 40 percent within two days.
The coincidences, if that’s what they are, have especially jinxed COVID-19 vaccines. As Fox News’s Tucker Carlson reported last week to an audience of close to 3 million, “In just the first four months of this year, the U.S. government has recorded more deaths after COVID vaccinations than from all other vaccines administered in the United States between mid 1997 and the end of 2013.”
Carlson’s comparisons of recent deaths following COVID-19 vaccines with the cumulative deaths that occurred over a period of 15-and-a-half years from all other vaccines combined—all based on the government’s VAERS data—also noted that 160 million Americans get the flu shot every year yet relatively few coincidentally die afterward—203 in 2019, 119 in 2018, and 85 in 2017. In contrast, far more deaths have followed the far-fewer fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Coincidence seems to strike those who take a COVID-19 vaccine several dozen times more often than those who take the flu vaccine.
Foreign governments also undermine the CDC’s insistence that the vaccines are all safe. Last week Denmark’s health authority broke from the U.S. insistence that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe by concluding “the benefits of using the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson do not outweigh the risk of causing the possible adverse effect in those who receive the vaccine.” Denmark voiced similar concerns last month in abandoning the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Without high vaccination levels, the CDC won’t reach the levels it believes are needed to reach herd immunity. That might be a blessing in disguise. The CDC could then rely on a fall-back position that might even be superior—the default of acquiring herd immunity through natural infections that humans have used since time immemorial.
Lawrence Solomon is a columnist, author, and executive director of the Toronto-based Consumer Policy Institute.