I took a little extra time to gather information on the AstraZeneca vaccine before writing too much about it – it works more like the Johnson and Johnson product than the Moderna or Pfizer, in that it offers genetic instructions in the form of double stranded DNA instead of single stranded mRNA, to my mind a bit less disruptive of protein biosynthesis.
Like J and J, it alters an adenovirus, a cold virus, stimulating antibody production to notice and combat the spike proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus. And like J and J, it is stored at an easier temperature to manage, and it depends on the adenovirus entering the cell to direct the immune response but not to replicate.
The adenovirus is invaginated into the cell, the DNA enters the nucleus, and provides instructions to generate the mRNA that directs the production of the spike proteins. This stimulates the antibody production that is the desired end product of this process, and I’d guess that if that mRNA is under nucleic control, it doesn’t commandeer the protein synthesis like the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA gene therapies. It still invades and tampers with the cell’s genetics, but using a perhaps less intrusive mechanism.
But there are some differences, in the efficacy and certainly in the publicity during the rollout. While the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has gotten little bad press except underproduction, AstraZeneca has been besieged with challenges, from publishing outdated information to an unusual uptick in blood clotting disease some may prefer to ignore but is nevertheless measurable and frightening.
In fact, France has banned the A-Z shot for people under 55. Denmark, Iceland and Norway have suspended its use due to similar concerns about blood clots. Now WHO says it’s probably okay, but they’re not all that reassuring. And the FDA has not yet rubber-stamped the AstraZeneca vaccine, for all the above mentioned reasons. They reported a 100% success rate in preventing hospitalization and death, but their statistics have come into question.
These numbers, 76% success rate, 94%, 100%, what do they really mean? If there are currently 31 million people who have tested positive, and 560,000 deaths, that means 1.8% of known positive cases have died. So that means that no vaccine at all has a 98.2% success rate of survival. How does it make sense to immunize everyone at a cost of many billions of dollars and an unknown risk factor when no vaccine has a comparable success rate to any vaccine? And that doesn’t even factor in the asymptomatic millions who would test positive, improving that percentage even more.
Add in the understated blossoming of monoclonal antibody treatment, which could save the majority of people who did get COVID, and we can see the vaccination process more clearly – maybe not as much a societal savior and more a money and power grab by Big Pharma, with the government and scientific community executing their strategy. Because this is a private, subscription only column, I can say what I want, but if I wrote this on Facebook, I’d be censored if not banned.
We are at a dangerous crossroads, where thinking health care consumers need to fully understand what they are signing up for. It’s easy to just buy the party line and think immunization is harmless and a cultural responsibility – but people have died, maybe needlessly, because of this vaccine furor. Let’s carefully consider our next steps, and decide if it makes more sense to target the vulnerable and help them, instead of a shotgun approach that jeopardizes healthy people’s lives unnecessarily.
Dennis Perman DC, for The Masters Circle Global
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