To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate, That is the Question

Joseph F. Dumond

Joe Started Sightedmoon in 2005 to assist him in spreading his understanding of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years according to Torah.
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Published: Nov 27, 2020 - (5856)
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News Letter 5856-040
The 4th Year of the 4th Sabbatical Cycle
The 25th year of the 120th Jubilee Cycle
The 12th day of the 10th month 5856 years after the creation of Adam
The 4th Sabbatical Cycle after the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Middle of the 70th Jubilee Since Yehovah told Moses To go Get His People
The Sabbatical Cycle of Sword, Famines, and Pestilence

November 28, 2020

Shabbat Shalom to the Royal Family of Yehovah,


Shabbat Zoom Meeting

There are many people in need of fellowship and who are sitting at home on Sabbath with no one to talk to or debate with. I want to encourage all of you to join us on Shabbat at 12:30 PM Eastern Time Zone, and to invite others to come and join us as well. If the time is not convenient then you can listen to the teaching and the midrash after on our youtube channel.

We hope you can invite those who want to keep Torah to come and join us by hitting the link below. It is almost like a Torah teaching fellowship talk show with people from around the world taking part and sharing their insights and understandings.

 Sabbath Nov 28, 2020, will be a 1 PM Eastern.

Joseph Dumond is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Joseph Dumond’s Personal Meeting Room

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Introductory Comments.

This week we are going to discuss something that for sure is going to be very controversial. And almost everyone has a very strong opinion about it.

In our society today, if you differ in your views the rest of the people try to shut you down or cause you to loose your job. Freedom of speech does not exist. To have a different view than the crowd is dangerous. But to go along with the mob is also dangerous.

So what is my role in this. What is the role of Sightedmoon.com in this explosive situation that we are now going to step into.

We have sought to share the truth since we began our walk. We have resisted the majority view many times in order to present the truth and it has cost us as I explained last week.

This past spring I wrote many articles against conspiracy teachings and gossip and Lashon Harah, the speaking evil of other people or slandering other people. A number of our brethren got upset and left sightedmoon.com. Some have never come back. They continue to think they are doing Yehovah’s work by sharing such things.

We are at the very door of the return of our Messiah and the end of this age. Those you understand the Jubilee Cycles know this. I want you all to consider what Yehshua says in Luke. This is right after He told them about the woman and the unrighteous judge.

Luk 18:6And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge says.

Luk 18:7And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him, though He has been long-suffering over them?

Luk 18:8I say to you that He will avenge them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?

Luk 18:9And He spoke this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and despised others:

Luk 18:10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-collector.

Luk 18:11The Pharisee stood and prayed within himself in this way: God, I thank You that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector.

Luk 18:12I fast twice on the Sabbath, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luk 18:13And standing afar off, the tax-collector would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but struck on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner!

Luk 18:14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

The word Faith here is

G4102

πίστις

pistis

pis’-tis

From G3982; persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

G3982

πείθω

peithō

pi’-tho

A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

We have sought the input of brethren and we have sought the input of professionals. In all of this we wanted the truth and not opinions or views. And in all of this we believe we are seeking the truth out of love.

1Co 13:1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

1Co 13:2And though I have prophecies, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so as to move mountains, and do not have charity, I am nothing.

1Co 13:3And though I give out all my goods to feed the poor, and though I deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am profited nothing.

1Co 13:4Charity has patience, is kind; charity is not envious, is not vain, is not puffed up;

1Co 13:5does not behave indecently, does not seek her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil.

1Co 13:6Charity does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth,

1Co 13:7quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1Co 13:8Charity never fails. But if there are prophecies, they will be abolished; if tongues, they shall cease; if knowledge, it will be abolished.

1Co 13:9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

1Co 13:10But when the perfect thing comes, then that which is in part will be caused to cease.

1Co 13:11When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. But when I became a man, I did away with the things of an infant.

1Co 13:12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known.

1Co 13:13And now faith, hope, charity, these three remain; but the greatest of these is charity.

Faith Hope and Love.

The times we are in right now are going to put to the test our Faith and our Hope and our Love.

In the past few weeks we have had news of Pfizer, Moderna and now Oxford University are all coming out with a vaccine against COVID 19 that is 90% effective.

‘Just beautiful’: Another COVID-19 vaccine, from newcomer Moderna, succeeds in large-scale trial

By Jon Cohen Nov. 16, 2020 ,

Now, there are two. Another COVID-19 vaccine using the same previously unproven technology as the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, the U.S. and German companies that reported success on 9 November, appears to work remarkably well. And this time, the maker, U.S. biotech Moderna, is releasing a bit more data to back its claim than the other two companies.

An independent board monitoring Moderna’s 30,000-person vaccine trial met on Sunday and reported to the company and U.S. government health officials that only five people in the vaccinated group developed confirmed cases of COVID-19, whereas 90 people who received placebo shots became ill with the disease. That’s an efficacy of 94.5%, the company reported in a press release this morning. Although the clinical trial measurement may not translate into an equally high level of real-world protection, the success indicates the vaccine is Iikely more than effective enough to stop the pandemic if it can be widely distributed.

We have this newest report this November 23, 2020

Oxford University breakthrough on global COVID-19 vaccine

CORONA VIRUS COVID-19 VACCINE

The University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, today announces interim trial data from its Phase III trials that show its candidate vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019, is effective at preventing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and offers a high level of protection.
Our vaccine work is progressing quickly. To ensure you have the latest information or to find out more about the trial, please visit the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine web hub or visit the COVID-19 trial website.

Phase 3 interim analysis including 131 Covid-19 cases indicates that the vaccine is 70.4% effective when combining data from two dosing regimens
In the two different dose regimens vaccine efficacy was 90% in one and 62% in the other
Higher efficacy regimen used a halved first dose and standard second dose
Early indication that vaccine could reduce virus transmission from an observed reduction in asymptomatic infections
There were no hospitalized or severe cases in anyone who received the vaccine
Large safety database from over 24,000 volunteers from clinical trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, with follow up since April
Crucially, vaccine can be easily administered in existing healthcare systems, stored at ‘fridge temperature’ (2-8 °C) and distributed using existing logistics
Large scale manufacturing ongoing in over 10 countries to support equitable global access
Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said:

‘These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regimen is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply. Today’s announcement is only possible thanks to the many volunteers in our trial, and the hard working and talented team of researchers based around the world.’

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said:

‘The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by SARS-CoV-2. We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world.’

Now, many people were claiming the COVID 19 virus was fake. Then they were saying it was a man made virus created in a lab in China. Then they said it was created by Bill and Melinda Gates. Then it was George Soros. And the propaganda is still going on to this very day.

Sightedmoon.com has said and our position for the past 15 years is the same. This virus is from Yehovah. Period.

No ya buts. No yes ands… Yehovah sent this virus and He alone.

Lev 26:23  And if you will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will still walk contrary to Me,

Lev 26:24  then I will walk contrary to you and will punish you seven times more for your sins.

Lev 26:25  And I will bring a sword on you that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant. And when you are gathered inside your cities, I will send the plague among you. And you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

Lev 26:26  When I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight. And you shall eat and not be satisfied.

Lev 26:27  And if you will not for all of this listen to Me, but will walk contrary to Me,

Lev 26:28  then I will walk contrary to you also in fury. And I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

Lev 26:29  And you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters you shall eat.

Sword Plague and Famine.

Yehovah is the one who is going to send these things. Not some conspiratorial invention by men in the back room working to take over the world by the inner workings of the illuminati.

Yehovah has sent this plague around the entire world. And yet many still deny it it real. Many still deny and will not wear a mask to help curb the spread. They say masks do not work. And yet Doctors were mask when they operate on you and dentists wear masks when they work in your mouth. If they do not work then why do they wear them?

Common sense is tossed out the window in favour hyperbolic drama. This is very plain to see in the USA where the wearing of a mask is against their human rights or their constitutional rights. They are indifferent to the rights of the elderly who are the prime targets for the disease.

Instead of acting out of love for the elderly and their fellow man they demand we accept their rights to not wear a mask. They care not if the elderly get sick. During the election in the USA the mask was weaponized with the Democrats wearing a mask and not assembling. in crowds and the Republicans not wearing them and assembling in large crowds.

Ironically just a short time earlier the Democrats were protesting in every city across the USA against Trump with thousands of people gathered without masks and no social distancing. It is hypocritical of them now to jump on the other side for political reasons.

Now the USA has the highest daily rates of COVID 19 each day from around the world and the numbers are climbing.

Coronavirus Cases:
12,598,974

Deaths:
262,757

Over 183 thousand new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States on November 23, 2020.

 

As you can see the daily death totals seems consistent after the initial outbreak. But with more and more people getting sick, more space in the hospital beds is being taken up. And the stress levels of the medical teams is being worn out. The ICU beds are being filled and once they are fill then overflow beds are created and emergency operations are turned away.

I understand that many people write these numbers off and these charts off as the yearly flu and that this is nothing more than that.

Again what I said about the 4th curse of Leviticus. Sword Plague and famine.

We are coming up to a cliff. We are not going back to normal.

Sword Plague Famine.

These are the things we have been warning you were coming starting in 2020. As you look back over this year with 2020 vision you see wildfires in Australia and the USA west coast. Smoke so thick it turns the day to night. Record long fire seasons. Record number of hurricanes. Apocalyptic sized locust across Middle East Pakistan India China Iran and Pakistan. A world wide pandemic and now the second wave has begun. The UN is still warning of 270 million being in famine by years end.

And now we see line ups by thousands in the USA the greatest nation on earth begging for food.

Lev 26:23 And if you will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will still walk contrary to Me,
Lev 26:24 then I will walk contrary to you and will punish you seven times more for your sins.
Lev 26:25 And I will bring a sword on you that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant. And when you are gathered inside your cities, I will send the plague among you. And you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
Lev 26:26 When I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight. And you shall eat and not be satisfied.
Lev 26:27 And if you will not for all of this listen to Me, but will walk contrary to Me,
Lev 26:28 then I will walk contrary to you also in fury. And I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
Lev 26:29 And you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters you shall eat.

Again I want urge you to get our book The 2300 Days Of Hell and learn why these things are happening and what it means.

It is not getting better. Your family is in danger. Get the book and learn why all of this is happening.

We also had the following from the PBS News Hour on Tuesday.


 

Doing Good

We are told that we can break the Sabbath in order to help save an animal in distress.

Luk 14:5  And He answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit and will not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?

We also have the parable of the good samaritan.

Luk 10:25  And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Luk 10:26  He said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it?

Luk 10:27  And answering, he said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

Luk 10:28  And He said to him, You have answered right; do this and you shall live.

Luk 10:29  But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?

Luk 10:30  And answering, Jesus said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothing and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luk 10:31  And by coincidence a certain priest came down that way and seeing him, he passed by on the opposite side.

Luk 10:32  And in the same way a Levite, also being at the place, coming and seeing him, he passed on the opposite side.

Luk 10:33  But a certain traveling Samaritan came upon him, and seeing him, he was filled with pity.

Luk 10:34  And coming near, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Luk 10:35  And going on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, Take care of him. And whatever more you spend, when I come again I will repay you.

Luk 10:36  Then which of these three, do you think, was neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?

Luk 10:37  And he said, The one doing the deed of mercy to him. And Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.

I would like you to read the rest of the articles I have here and consider the two parables I have shared above. Is it wrong to do good to hep others?

Please read the next article and click on the link to look at just how young the people are that are documenting their stories after they have COVID 19.

 


We have all had the flu and many of you think this COVID is no different. It is not the same as the Flu. Please click on the link and look how young the people are in this next article.

I would also like you to watch this Nov 22, 2020 interview on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-long-haulers-60-minutes-2020-11-22/

Long Haulers

‘It hurts to be alive’: Stories from COVID-19 long-haulers
For thousands of people who have had COVID-19, the disease never left.

Diana Duong October 21, 2020

Gastrointestinal pain, mini strokes, short-term memory loss, months of “brain fog,” and chronic fatigue. Just some of the signs of COVID-19 that don’t make the official list of symptoms.

It’s hard for anyone to understand what living with any disease is like, much less living with one that’s just barely 10 months old and still so misunderstood.

For thousands of people who have had COVID-19, the disease never left.

Known as “long-haulers,” they are the unfortunate ones, struggling with lingering symptoms and debilitating relapses several months after the initial symptoms of the potentially deadly virus, for which there is no cure.

But while the physical damage that’s been done to their bodies has had devastating effects on quality of life and emotional health, many of these long-haulers say what’s worse is not being believed.

The Body Politic Covid-19 support group believes in patients. What started as a small Instagram group chat has evolved into a massive Slack channel with more than 7,000 active members worldwide who have struggled with COVID-19. There are channels for patients from every country, those who have had symptoms for more than 30 days, more than 90 days, caretakers of sick friends or family, and for every single symptom or organ system affected. Members discuss and support each other through all aspects of COVID-19, from mental health struggles to navigating through financial and employment concerns.

Healthing spoke with three women who are members of Body Politic and currently living with the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Lauren Nichols began feeling ill on March 10.

It wasn’t just a sore throat. But rather, a pain deep in her lungs that made every word she spoke, and every breath inhaled, burn. Within 24 hours, she was overwhelmed with debilitating fatigue, diarrhea, and painful lower gastrointestinal pain that left blood in her stool for five days.

But in March, these abstract symptoms didn’t match the CDC’s description of COVID — which, back then, was still largely seen as a respiratory disease. Nichols was denied a COVID-19 test and told she had bad acid reflux.

By March 17, she developed such severe shortness of breath to the point where walking just a few steps around her one-bedroom Boston apartment left her completely winded and gasping for air. She had a fever, dry cough, nonstop migraines, loss of taste and smell, and purple lesions on her feet, now known as COVID toes. After a test, the worst was confirmed: she had the novel coronavirus.

“It felt like someone was really tearing my lungs apart from the inside,” she says. “I could feel each body system that I had gradually get more and more decimated by this thing.”

“I’m lucky enough to have that positive test on file because a lot of people have COVID but don’t have that positive test. It really makes a difference when you get the test done.”

I can’t function in the morning at all. It’s not like a cute where’s-my-coffee morning. I really can’t function and it hurts to be alive every morning.
But a positive result for the virus was only the beginning of Nichols’ health struggles. By mid-April, the previously healthy 120 pound 32-year-old with no pre-existing conditions developed walking pneumonia, experienced continued gastrointestinal symptoms, and developed hand tremors in her left hand and numbness in her left foot that lasted two months. After four straight months of nausea, vertigo, and constant diarrhea, she’d lost 12 pounds.

For the majority of long-haulers, COVID-19 post-exertional malaise can make one bedridden even after a simple task like walking to the kitchen. Nichols, who used to walk six miles a day pre-COVID, would now get dizzy easily and forget how to do the simplest of things.

“I’d literally forget what to do with a door and not know how to close the shower door. I’d have to write everything down or I’d forget it,” she says.

These days, the mornings are the hardest. Nichols’s employer has allowed her to change her schedule so she starts work at 11 a.m.

“I can’t function in the morning at all,” she says. “It’s not like a cute where’s-my-coffee morning. I really can’t function and it hurts to be alive every morning.”

The disbelievers

Nichols says she’s met a lot of people, both online and in real-life, who don’t believe long-haul COVID survivors. And although she wakes up most mornings completely exhausted, this is what has motivated her to advocate for long haulers.

“A lot of people don’t relate because they haven’t lived it. Sometimes, people aren’t getting the proper medical support, so you’re really left to kind of fend for yourself — and that’s a very difficult place to be in when you are battling such difficult physical issues,” she says. “You cannot pretend it’s psychological when there are very real physical symptoms going on. It’s incredibly inhumane to tell that person your erratic heartbeat, your COVID toes, your diarrhea or severe nausea is because of anxiety.”

Heather-Elizabeth Brown had been taking all the precautions she could to avoid COVID-19. She started wearing a mask early in the pandemic, stayed physically distanced from others, and constantly washed her hands and used hand sanitizer. To this day, she’s not sure where she contracted the disease that would put her on a ventilator for 31 days.

As chaplain of the Detroit Police Department, Brown was able to get tested for the virus as a first responder. Her first two tests came back negative even though she was already coughing. On her first visit to hospital, she was told to go home, self-quarantine, and get a pulse oximeter to check her oxygen levels. As she got sicker, she returned to the hospital, where she was turned away again.

On her third visit to the hospital on April 15, with a high temperature, low oxygen levels and a chest X-ray that showed pneumonia, she was finally tested. The positive result was both reaffirming and frightening.

“It was a feeling of bittersweet and almost relief that I was right in listening to my body. I knew that something was wrong,” she says. “But also a sense of dread because I knew that I had COVID and I was pretty sick.”

Within 48 hours, Brown’s condition deteriorated rapidly. The previously healthy 35-year-old was sedated, put into a coma, then on a ventilator in the early hours of April 18.

I finally asked, ‘when was I?’ — as in ‘where was I’ but when is it. He told me, ‘it’s the middle of May.’ And I remembered the last time I went to sleep was middle of April.
“I have only been able to piece together that 12 to 24 hour range from looking back over text messages from a couple people I was talking to leading right up to when I went on to the ventilator,” she says. “But I don’t remember anything about that whole day.”

Waking up from being on a ventilator was nothing short of surreal.

“I had some really vivid dreams and nightmares when I was on the ventilator, and when I first woke up, it was really difficult to know what was reality,” she says. “It took me a couple days to like get my bearings and grasp what had happened.”

She describes not being able to speak.

“It wasn’t until a day or two later, when one of the nurses in the intensive care unit was talking to me and I realized I couldn’t talk back,” she says. “I could make movements and mouth words, but nothing was coming out. I finally asked, ‘When was I?’ meaning, ‘Where was I?’ and ‘When is it?’ He told me, ‘It’s the middle of May.’ Then I remembered the last time I went to sleep was in the middle of April.”

A week later, Brown was able to check her phone where she found text messages and emails from friends, family, and her church family. When she looked at the date of the messages, it sank in how long she had been unconscious: 31 days.

The time spent on a ventilator was not without consequences. She had developed a blood clot which has resulted in a persistent numbing sensation and weakness in her left arm and leg. Her left arm also doesn’t have full range of motion — the result of what doctors suspect was a mini stroke had while on the ventilator.

For now, Brown is getting stronger every day, but it’s not easy.

“I have my moments of being frustrated or dejected. But I have a very strong faith, I trust God, I believe in him,” she says. “And I have confidence in myself and my resilience. Keeping a positive focus on the main thing, which is getting better and doing whatever I can to recover.”

Before COVID-19, Brown was constantly on the go and active in her community as a minister. But since her illness, she has had to slow things down. Walking up and down stairs now leaves her winded and even going to a doctor’s appointment uses up all her energy for the day. And while she says that those around her have tried to rally around her, the fact that no one shares her experience has contributed to a sense of isolation.

“As supportive as everyone has been, nobody has been in my shoes to fully understand how I feel or why I’m so frustrated when it takes me 10 minutes to get up the stairs or why I can’t do this or that,” she says. “It’s a challenge, but I appreciate people are at least trying. I do wish I could impress the importance of staying healthy and safe for themselves and others because the ramifications can be really serious.”

Like many Americans at the end of March, Lauren Trozzo wasn’t able to get a COVID-19 test immediately — even while she was feeling sick.

Her husband had been in Argentina settling his late grandmother’s affairs when he flew back to their home in New York in mid-March. There, he quarantined in a hotel for 12 days, feeling only a scratchy throat. A week later, however, Lauren and her three kids began to feel sick. Her children had much milder symptoms, but Lauren was coughing and congested, experiencing a faster heart rate, shortness of breath, and a low-grade fever — symptoms that didn’t meet strict testing policies at the time.

The first telltale sign that Trozzo had the virus was when she made bacon and eggs for breakfast a week and a half later and found she couldn’t taste anything — a reported symptom of COVID-19.

“That was the weirdest thing ever,” she says. “It was like eating a piece of cardboard, it was just bizarre.”

When Trozzo went to the hospital, the doctor gave her an antibiotic and recommended a COVID test. The technician struggled with a stiff wooden swab and said the swab wasn’t going “where it needed to go.” Wooden shafts are not recommended for PCR tests. Another technician later told Trozzo she might have been using a throat swab. The test was negative.

People say, ‘but you didn’t test positive,’ but I didn’t have to test positive.
On April 22, Trozzo started feeling dizziness and numbness. It disappeared overnight, so she drove herself to the hospital the next day. Halfway through the 20-minute drive, her lips, hands, and entire face started to tingle and she started losing muscle control in her hands. She drove with her wrists, her vision became blurry, and, as she talked to her dad on the phone, she was suddenly unable to articulate her words.

At the hospital, she was given a wheelchair just as she lost all muscle function in her legs. She was sent to triage and saw multiple nurses and referred for an EKG and a chest X-ray. She was released and referred to a neurologist. It was revealed she had blood clotting, which could have led to the mini stroke-like symptoms she experienced. Later, one doctor told Trozzo she likely just had anxiety while driving.

While the other symptoms have since mostly subsided, Trozzo continues to experience shortness of breath and is now getting random body pain. She has seen a neurologist, a rheumatologist who told her she doesn’t have an autoimmune disease, and a hematologist for blood clotting. She has also had another COVID-19 test — this time with the correct swab. Once again, the result was negative.

The previously healthy 36-year-old had no history of strokes or any other disease or illness. She regularly exercised — running two miles every day — maintained a healthy diet and weight, and didn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. Now, she spends her time biking with her family, trying to build lung capacity just so she can walk without feeling out of breath.

It’s definitely been a long haul for Trozzo, especially as she continues to fight Blue Cross, her insurance company, over hospital bills that have racked up to $11,000. Blue Cross states that any treatment for COVID is covered, but because of Trozzo’s negative test in April, which may have been administered incorrectly, the insurance companies won’t cover anything. Her pulmonologist — who had told her on June 23 that she had COVID-19 with pneumonia — is currently her “only saviour” throughout this grievance process.

“People say, ‘but you didn’t test positive,’ but I didn’t have to test positive,” she says.”

The story of long-haulers is just one of many during this pandemic. But after more than seven months of advocating for themselves, it’s only now that long-haulers are becoming part of the dialogue on COVID-19.

“It’s really heartbreaking because patients really don’t have the energy to advocate for themselves,” says Nichols. “But we have to advocate because no one else is helping us.”


 

Brethren this disease is real. It is not some made up figment of our imagination. It is not a conspiracy fake news event. It is very real and very dangerous. What are we to do as believers? With the potential for a cure by a vaccine it is now time for all of us to seriously consider what we must do. Whether to get the vaccine or not to get it, each of us must base our decision as though we are a King over our nation and decide what is best for all concerned. The time for hiding behind a computer screen and playing FB games is over. What do you do and have you examined the truth and all the facts? Do not go off with only one side and half truths. Satan wants all of us dead.

If you are getting your facts from FB then you do not have any facts. You have hearsay. I am going to present to you I hope facts from reliable sources. I am not going to tell you what to do. Nor am I going to give you the same old FB conspiratorial propaganda. What are the facts? Are children really being killed to make vaccines. Are Monkeys? What does the Torah say? May Yehovah guide you in all you decide to do based on the truth.

Jewish position on vaccines

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2870103/jewish/What-Does-Jewish-Law-Say-About-Vaccination.htm

What Does Jewish Law Say About Vaccination?

Question:
Recently there’s been is a lot of debate and discussion on the issue of vaccinations. As a parent, I’m curious what Jewish law has to say on the topic.

Informed Citizen
Answer:
Dear Informed Citizen,

Thank you for your question! Or perhaps I should say questions, because the topic of vaccinations has many sub-topics and issues that need to be addressed. What makes your question even more complex is the fact that the term vaccination is very broad—there are some vaccinations that are for life-threatening diseases, and others for non-life-threatening ailments. Also, different segments of the population might have different risks based on their age and location, and so on.

However, before we address the question of vaccination specifically, we first need to understand the Torah’s take on the importance of guarding your health in general.

The Halachic Mandate to Take Precautions

Guarding your own health doesn’t only make sense, it’s actually a mitzvah. That means that even if you don’t want to do it, for whatever reason, you are still obligated to do so. The Torah is teaching us that our body is a gift from G‑d, and we are therefore not the owners of it and we can’t cause it any damage.1

It is not enough to deal with health issues as they arise; we must take precautions to avoid danger. The final chapter of the Code of Jewish Law emphasizes that “just as there is a positive commandment to build a guardrail around the perimeter of a rooftop lest someone fall, so too are we obligated to guard ourselves from anything that would endanger our lives, as the verse states,2 ‘Only guard yourself and greatly guard your soul . . .’”3

As an example of this ruling, Rabbi Moshe Isserles (known as the Rema), one of Judaism’s outstanding halachic decisors, writes that when a plague breaks out in a city, the inhabitants of that city should not wait for the plague to spread. Rather, they (with some exceptions4) are obligated to try and flee the city at the onset of the outbreak.5

When there is an epidemic, not only is it your obligation to flee, but as a parent you have the obligation to secure the safety of your children. Rabbi Yeshayah ha-Levi Horowitz, known as the Shelah, writes that any parent who doesn’t move his children out of a city plagued by an epidemic is held responsible for their fate.6

We have established that one must do whatever is in their power to save oneself, one’s children, and others as well from possible life-threatening dangers. and it would seem that there is no difference between vaccinating and having to flee a city when there is an epidemic.

However, the question of general vaccinations when there is no current epidemic seems to be a bit more complex.

Vaccinations

The directives found in the Code of Jewish Law for avoiding danger don’t really carry any risks of their own (e.g., fleeing the city, not eating meat and fish together, or not putting coins into your mouth). Vaccinations, however, may have certain risks, however minuscule they may be. Thus presenting us with the question of whether one may take a small risk now in order to perhaps avoid a bigger risk later.

In grappling with this issue, one of the leading authorities at the time of the discovery of the smallpox vaccine during the 19th century, Rabbi Yisroel Lipschutz (famed for his commentary on the Mishnah entitled Tiferet Yisrael), ruled that despite the risk of death from the smallpox vaccine (at that time 1/1000), one should still get vaccinated.7

When the polio vaccine was being implemented in Israel, there were those who turned to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, for his opinion. The following is a sampling of his replies.

In the winter of 1957 the Rebbe wrote a reply, pointing out that he was hurrying to do so because of the prime importance of the issue at hand:

. . Regarding your question about inoculations against disease:

I am surprised by your question, since so many individuals from the Land of Israel have asked me about this and I have answered them in the affirmative, since the overwhelming majority of individuals do so here [in the United States] successfully.

Understandably, if there are inoculations that are produced by multiple pharmaceutical companies, you should use the ones whose product has been safely tried and proven.8

In the spring of 1956 the Rebbe wrote:

. . In reply to your letter in which you ask my opinion about the injections that are commonly given to young children:

It is with regard to matters such as these that the axiom “Do not set yourself apart from the community” applies. You should act according to that which is done by [the parents of] the majority of children who are in your children’s classes . . .9

Even as the polio vaccine effectively eliminated the dreaded disease, there were instances where faulty shots actually brought about illness. In a letter from the winter of 1957, the Rebbe addressed this issue:

. . The event that occurred in the United States was at the beginning of the use of these vaccines, before the [exact] medical compound was definitively established. This is not the case at present, after months of experience with the vaccine.

Therefore, once a vaccine’s reliability is firmly established, there is no worry. To the contrary . . .10

In a similar vein, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, one of the preeminent rabbis of the past century, rules that if one has reasonable concern of the dangers of not being vaccinated, and the only chance to be immunized is on Shabbat (or the person would have to wait 4 or 5 years for the next chance to be immunized), then immunization would be permitted on Shabbat.11

Mandating Vaccinations

Assuming that vaccinating when there is a high risk of catching a disease is similar to fleeing from an epidemic, then it’s mandatory for you to do it, and others can be compelled to do so as well. The question that still needs to be addressed is whether, from a purely halachic perspective, we can mandate it even when there is no current epidemic.

Some hold that since vaccinations have become the accepted and standard practice, it is incumbent upon all parents to provide them for their children. Thus, it would be right to mandate vaccination.12 Others, however, are of the opinion that while we can at times force someone to receive medical treatment, we cannot, from a purely halachic perspective, compel a healthy person or a parent to vaccinate, even if his or her refusal is based on an “irrational fear.”13

Obviously, as in all cases, especially in regard to the health of children, one should consult one’s personal physician, a licensed medical doctor. If your personal physician advises you not to vaccinate due to specific concerns, then you should not vaccinate.

Food for Thought

Having discussed the Torah’s approach to vaccines in a general, it should be noted that not all vaccines are necessarily equal, and some pose unique questions of their own. For example, chickenpox (varicella), while inconvenient, is relatively benign and very rarely fatal in children. On the other hand, while adults are less susceptible to varicella infection, they are more likely to die of chickenpox. Perhaps, some argue, it would be better for the child to actually get chickenpox than be vaccinated?14

Another potential question rises with the polio vaccine. Strains of polio have been found in parts of Israel which can affect unvaccinated people. To remedy this, there is a campaign to introduce a weakened live strain of the virus into children who have already been inoculated but can still transmit the virus to others. Having received the live virus, the child will not get sick, but will fight the virus and not be a carrier, thus helping to eradicate the virus completely. However, at the same time, this child cannot come into close contact with immune-deficient people, who will contract the disease even from a weakened live virus. The question then is: do we compromise the health of some immuno-deficient people with whom one may come in contact, for the greater good?

In summary, as with many other issues in Jewish law, open and educated debate based on Torah principles and the opinions of our sages is vital to reaching a consensus. As the Rebbe writes, it is with regards to matters such as these that the axiom “Do not set yourself apart from the community” applies.

Vaccination as a Life Lesson

Let’s conclude with the following incident related by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

A Jew visited me recently, and we discussed education. He told me that statistics have shown that a bad education harms only 5 percent of children.

I asked him if he vaccinated his children for measles, polio, etc. He replied: “Of course! We are parents!”

“Do you know what percentage of children who do not receive the vaccine actually contract the disease?” I asked. He happened to know the statistic—less than 3 or 4 percent. In other words, even for a possibility of 4 percent, and especially in these countries where these diseases are even more rare, it is still worthwhile to vaccinate, with all of the pain, etc., that it causes. Why?

“Who cares about those minor inconveniences, as compared to what possibly could happen without vaccinating?” he responded.

I said to him: “If for a doubt of 4 percent it is worth causing the child pain, enduring the child’s screaming and all the other effects of the vaccination, just to avoid the disease—even though for the most part there is not even a possibility of any life danger, but rather just severe discomfort for some time—how much more so is it worthwhile to ensure the health of the child’s soul, where the doubt is 5 percent, and where the vaccine does not cause any pain. All that is required is to sign the child up for studies in a Torah-true educational facility! This action will affect his entire life!”

 


 

Why Jews will not get vaccinated until school age.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/11/9/18068036/measles-new-york-orthodox-jewish-community-vaccines

New York’s Orthodox Jewish community is battling measles outbreaks. Vaccine deniers are to blame.

Rockland County and New York City have declared emergencies because of the outbreaks.

By Julia Belluz@juliaoftoronto  Updated Apr 10, 2019, 1:22pm EDTGraphics: Javier Zarracina

Anti-vaccine advocates have swayed parents in New York to refuse immunizations for their kids, sparking two of the largest measles outbreaks in the state’s recent history, according to local health officials.

As of April 10, at least 285 people in New York City — mainly in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods — had fallen ill. In nearby Rockland County, 168 people have caught the virus. The outbreaks have prompted health officials in both areas to declare states of emergency. In the city, officials ordered mandatory immunizations among unvaccinated people on Tuesday, threatening those who opt out with fines. Nearby Rockland took the unusual step of barring anyone under the age of 18 who hadn’t been vaccinated for measles from public places for 30 days in March. That order that was put on hold by a judge ten days later.

What’s notable here is that the affected communities are closely linked: Cases are occurring mostly among unvaccinated or under-vaccinated Orthodox Jews, particularly children. When asked why people are opting out of vaccines, the New York city health department said anti-vaccine propagandists are distributing misinformation in the community.

The fearmongerers include a group called PEACH — or Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health — which appears to be targeting the Jewish community with misinformation about vaccine safety, citing rabbis as authorities, through a hotline and magazines. Brooklyn Orthodox Rabbi William Handler has also been proclaiming the well-debunked link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Parents who “placate the gods of vaccination” are engaging in “child sacrifice,” he told Vox.

Last fall, when the outbreak started, I talked to Orthodox Jews in New York about the outbreak and their vaccine concerns. And I learned that a minority distrust vaccines — for reasons that have nothing to do with religious doctrine.

Yet the fact that some Orthodox Jews live outside the mainstream, avoid technology, and hold rabbinic opinion in high esteem may leave them particularly vulnerable to anti-vaxxers.

”Being a religious Jew, you also get used to having a minority viewpoint,” said Alexander Rapaport, the CEO of the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network in Brooklyn, and a public face of the Hasidic community. “So if something is not mainstream, it doesn’t take you away from believing it.”

He also explained that some Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn go to school together, worship together, and live and travel together. This means a few unvaccinated people living in close proximity can be dangerous. But it also means making inroads with public health messages requires extra effort. “We see government invest in public health awareness a lot,” Rapaport said. “But it never trickles down to Yiddish speakers or people who don’t own TV sets.”

The story in New York is familiar: Other tight-knit communities — like the Somali-Americancommunity in Minnesota, the Amish in Ohio, and, more recently, Russian-language immigrants in Washington — have recently fallen victim to measles outbreaks as a result of vaccine refusal. This New York outbreak is a reminder of how vulnerable more insular groups can be to anti-vaxxers, and the unique challenges for public health advocates in countering their messages in these communities.

Measles was eliminated in the US in 2000 — but outbreaks linked to vaccine refusal have been popping up in insular communities

There’s one fact that makes the measles virus really scary: It’s one of the most infectious diseases known to man. A person with measles can cough in a room, leave, and — if you are unvaccinated — hours later, you could catch the virus from the droplets in the air that they left behind. No other virus can do that.

So if you’re not vaccinated, it’s extremely easy to catch measles. In an unimmunized population, one person with measles can infect 12 to 18 others. That’s way higher than other viruses like Ebola, HIV, or Sars.

By 2000, because of widespread vaccination, the virus was declared eliminated in the United States: Enough people were immunized that outbreaks were uncommon, and deaths from measles were scarcely heard of.

But in order for any vaccine to be effective, you need to have a certain percentage of people in a population immunized. That’s what’s known as “herd immunity,” and it means diseases can’t spread through populations very easily. With the MMR vaccine, 95 percent of people need to get the shot. So just a few people refusing vaccines can be dangerous.

Since 2000, we’ve seen outbreaks every year in populations with lower levels of vaccine uptake, totaling between 37 and 667 cases. The virus typically spreads when unvaccinated travelers visit places where measles is circulating widely and bring it back to other unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people in a close-knit community where some parents have been opting out of vaccines for their kids.

That’s what happened in two of the largest recent measles outbreaks in the US since the disease was eliminated. In 2014, measles spread among unvaccinated Amish people in Ohio after a missionary brought the virus back from the Philippines. And in 2017, a traveler sparked an outbreak in an unvaccinated Somali-American community in Minnesota.

In New York, the current outbreaks also originated with travelers who had recently visited Israel, where a massive measles epidemic is currently underway. The travelers returned to the US and spread it among unvaccinated or under-vaccinated New Yorkers.

But this is not an isolated incident. The Orthodox Jewish community has already faced numerous outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years, including whooping cough and mumps. As recently as 2013, another measles outbreak involving 58 cases became the largest in the city since 1992, nearly a decade before measles was eliminated, and cost the city $400,000 to contain.

The reason parents aren’t vaccinating in New York

Most of the people I spoke to for this story had no concerns about vaccine safety and happily vaccinate their families. The majority view is also that there’s no religious reason to avoid vaccines.

“From a religious point of view, people have to vaccinate,” Rabbi David Niederman, executive director and president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, told me. Instead, people have a duty to protect their families and the most vulnerable in their communities. “Anything that causes harm — you have to do whatever you can to [avoid] that.”

Yet Rabbinic authority, and the argument about avoiding harm, is being used by anti-vaccine campaigners as a vehicle to spread misinformation.

Consider the story of Rachel,* an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn. When her eldest child was 18 months old, she brought her baby to the doctor for the MMR vaccine. Soon after, the girl came down with a fever that climbed up to 106 and eventually had to be hospitalized.

“The doctor said there was no correlation with the vaccine,” the mother of seven, ranging in age 11 months to 15 years, recalls. But Rachel was skeptical. After that, she noticed her daughter was getting sick all the time. “Ear infections, viruses. I lived at the doctor’s office.” She thought vaccines might be the culprit.

So she read up on the shots in PEACH’s pamphlets, watched the anti-vaccine documentary Vaxxed, and talked to her neighbors in her Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish community.

“The rabbis that don’t think vaccines are the right way to go keep a low profile,” she said, “but I could name you a bunch of them.”

She read and heard about things that concerned her. The ingredients in vaccines didn’t seem safe or healthy, and she heard rumors of neighbors whose kids got autism right after their shots. (For the record, data on thousands of people over the past half-century have found vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and effective.)

So over the years, Rachel has vaccinated her kids “less and less.” Her two youngest aren’t immunized at all.

Nowadays, between bringing her children to school and changing diapers, the stay-at-home mom hosts a library in her home, where parents can borrow books about vaccines and discuss what they read. The library includes both pro- and anti-vaccine books. “People can read and decide for themselves.”

Her library is advertised in anti-vaccine materials that are being spread in Rachel’s community, and she’s now part of the minority who resists vaccines — one that’s helped spark two of the largest measles outbreaks in recent US history.

“It has been very difficult to dissuade parents”

Some of Rachel’s concerns are reflected in the Vaccine Safety Handbook, purportedly produced out of Brooklyn by the PEACH group. (The group declined to be interviewed for this story.) The book carries the slogan, “You can always vaccinate later. You can never unvaccinate,” pages of misinformation about vaccines, including the well-debunked link with autism, as well as advice from rabbis about the “Biblical commandment” to avoid putting one’s life or health in danger — including the danger of vaccines.

Another source of vaccine misinformation is Rabbi William Handler, who also holds the view that vaccines cause autism — and shares it with parents. “I explain to parents that public health authorities like [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] are not interested in individual children,” he said. The best way to avoid potential harm is to avoid getting immunized, he advises. “[Parents] don’t want to play Russian roulette with their children. It’s like child sacrifice.”

Though large-scale studies involving thousands of participants in several countries have failed to establish a link between the MMR vaccine and the mental developmental disorder, it’s the autism views that the New York City health department hears a lot of.

“Unfortunately the concern about whether there’s any linkage has really lingered and [because of] misinformation, and it has been very difficult to dissuade parents,” Jane Zucker, New York City’s assistant commissioner of the bureau of immunization, told Vox. “We hear they want to wait until the child is older so they know the child doesn’t have autism, then get the child vaccinated.”

The challenge of countering anti-vaccine rhetoric in isolated communities

New York State does not allow parents to refuse vaccines for philosophical reasons, though parents can get exemptions for health and religious reasons. Once children reach school, they have to present evidence that their kids have been vaccinated, unless they have been granted an exemption.

Zucker says vaccine levels in Jewish schools in New York City look average, although religious schools have more religious exemptions than non-religious schools. And before kids get to school, there’s a problem in Williamsburg: It has one of the lowest rates of vaccine coverage among young children, ages 19 to 35 months, in the city.

So it was no surprise to Zucker that the children currently affected by measles in this outbreak were all too young to be in school. According to the city health department, the Williamsburg and Borough Park measles cases involved only small children, ages ranging from seven months to 4 years old. (Rockland declined to provide details about the affected, citing privacy concerns.)

That means there’s a cohort of kids for which state vaccine laws aren’t applicable, and who are vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Once the kids get into school we know we have good vaccine uptake,” said Zucker. “It’s the delay, though, and that’s what’s linked to this outbreak.”

Reaching vaccine-hesitant parents isn’t easy, however. The public health department has sent notifications to schools and hospitals with large Orthodox Jewish populations, done outreach, and placed ads and distributed posters in Orthodox papers in both Yiddish and English.

Public health officials need to intervene before outbreaks start

But they need to try harder, community leaders said, and intervene before outbreaks start.

“We have a language barrier, a culture barrier,” said Rabbi Avi Greenstein, executive director of the Boro Park Jewish Community Council, in one of the affected areas, “and it only makes sense the health department should reach out to [our community].”

After outbreaks, posters about the importance of vaccines from the public health department will show up in community centers and neighborhood bodegas, said Alexander Rapaport, the Masbia Soup Kitchen CEO. But, “The posters from the city are reactionary,” he added, and not enough is being done to educate people ahead of outbreaks.

In a recent Facebook post, Rapaport also shared his view that the city vaccine mandate might backfire. “Instead of spending some real numbers on marketing and awareness they are trying coercion tactics. It will not work,” he wrote. “Spend some real money on a pro-vaccination message.”

Prior to the mandate, the outbreak led to a surge in MMR vaccine uptake among children in the city, according to data from New York City’s health department last fall.

So maybe the health emergency will be an opportunity to change people’s views. “It’s becoming increasingly clear if people take the position [not to vaccinate], they are an irresponsible person, an irresponsible parent,” Greenstein reiterated. “This is the challenge for the community.”

* We did not use Rachel’s real name because she was concerned about privacy and backlash about her views.

 


 

Autism debunked

https://www.vox.com/2018/2/27/17057990/andrew-wakefield-vaccines-autism-study

Research fraud catalyzed the anti-vaccination movement. Let’s not repeat history.

How Andrew Wakefield’s shoddy science fueled autism-vaccine fears that major studies keep debunking.

By Julia Belluz@juliaoftoronto  Updated Mar 5, 2019, 12:06pm EST

Two decades ago, an esteemed medical journal published a small study that has become one of the most notorious and damaging pieces of research in medicine.

The study, led by the now discredited physician-researcher Andrew Wakefield, involved 12 children and suggested there’s a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine — which is administered to millions of children around the world each year — and autism.

The study was subsequently thoroughly debunked. The Lancet retracted the paper and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license. Autism researchers have shown decisively again and again that the developmental disorder is not caused by vaccines.

Still, public health experts say the false data and erroneous conclusions in that paper, while rejected in the scientific world, helped fuel a dangerous movement of vaccine skepticism and refusal around the world.

Since its publication, measles outbreaks have erupted in Europe, Australia, and the US in communities where people refuse or fear vaccines. Vaccine refusal has become such a problem that some countries in Europe are now cracking down, making vaccines mandatory for children and fining parents who reject them. In 2019, the World Health Organization called vaccine hesitancy one of the top threats to global health.

But there’s more to the story. While the WHO’s 2015 target to eliminate measles has not yet been met, and a recent spike in measles cases is concerning, progress against the disease has continued globally. The publication of yet another major study debunking the vaccine-autism link, on March 5 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, seems like a good moment to look back at what fueled the vaccine concerns, and consider how we can prevent other ideas harmful to public health from taking hold.

The MMR vaccine-autism study was dubious science

The first thing to know about Wakefield’s paper is that it was very dubious science. It did not deserve to be published in a top-tier medical journal — let alone receive all the attention it has subsequently gotten.

Wakefield drew the association between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism based on a study involving only 12 children.

The paper was also a case report. Case reports are detailed stories about particular patients’ medical histories, and — because they are basically just stories — they are considered among the weakest kinds of medical studies. To be sure, these reports can be useful, but they are certainly not the evidence on which you want to make bold claims about something like the vaccine-autism link.

Many children have autism and nearly all take the MMR vaccine. Finding in this case that among a group of a dozen children most of them happen to have both is not at all surprising. And it in no way proves the MMR vaccine causes autism. (Wakefield also proposed a link between the vaccine and a new inflammatory bowel syndrome, which has since been called ”autistic enterocolitis” and has also discredited.)

What’s more, when British investigative journalist Brian Deer followed up with the families of each of the 12 kids in the study, he found, “No case was free of misreporting or alteration.” In other words, Wakefield, the lead author of the original report, manipulated his data. (See the pop-up chart in this report for details.)

Wakefield also had major financial conflicts of interest. Among them, while he was discrediting the combination MMR vaccine and suggesting parents should give their children single shots over a longer period of time, he was conveniently filing patents for single-disease vaccines. Even more absurdly, the General Medical Council (the UK’s medical regulator) found that he had paid children at his son’s 10th birthday party to donate their blood for his research. (In deciding to take away his UK medical license, the GMC said Wakefield acted with “callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer.”)

Finally, Wakefield never replicated his findings. At the very bedrock of science is the concept of falsification: A scientist runs a test, gathers his findings, and tries to disprove himself by replicating his experiment in other contexts. Only when that’s done can he know that his findings were true.

As the editor of the BMJ pointed out, “Wakefield has been given ample opportunity either to replicate the paper’s findings or to say he was mistaken. He has declined to do either.” In 2004, 10 of his co-authors on the original paper retracted it, but Wakefield didn’t join them, and he has since continued to push his views, including doing the rounds on the anti-vaxxer speakers’ circuit and publishing books.

The vaccine-autism link has repeatedly been debunked

In the most recent analysis, published March 5 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark linked vaccine information to autism diagnoses, sibling histories of autism, and autism risk factors in more than 600,000 children born in Denmark between 1999 to 2010. “The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination,” the researchers concluded.

Before that, researchers writing in JAMA looked at nearly 100,000 children who got the shot and their family histories of autism. The researchers again found the MMR vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of autism, even with children who had older siblings with the disorder. “These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD,” the researchers concluded.

All together, the idea that the MMR vaccine may cause autism has been debunked by large-scale studies involving thousands of participants in several countries.

But the whole debacle isn’t only Wakefield’s fault

So how did such a shoddy idea gain such outsized influence? The second thing to know about Wakefield’s vaccine-autism study is that the media helped it go viral.

One of my favorite writings on the Wakefield debacle comes from the British journalist-researcher Ben Goldacre. In a column for the Guardian and in his book Bad Science, Goldacre pointed out that journalists were complicit in helping perpetuate the notion that vaccines cause autism:

Wakefield was at the centre of a media storm about the MMR vaccine, and is now being blamed by journalists as if he were the only one at fault. In reality, the media are equally guilty.

Even if it had been immaculately well conducted — and it certainly wasn’t — Wakefield’s “case series report” of 12 children’s clinical anecdotes would never have justified the conclusion that MMR causes autism, despite what journalists claimed: it simply didn’t have big enough numbers to do so. But the media repeatedly reported the concerns of this one man, generally without giving methodological details of the research, either because they found it too complicated, inexplicably, or because to do so would have undermined their story.

We journalists are still doing this today on myriad health topics. We report on single, often poorly designed studies — even if they don’t deserve an ounce of attention. We also focus a lot more on the anti-vaccine movement and their concerns than on the astounding progress made against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Part of this has to do with how newsrooms work: Reporters favor anomalies and novelty instead of slow and plodding progress, as Steven Pinker points out in his recent book, Enlightenment Now. But in doing so, we lose sight of the big picture.

Vaccines, Pinker notes, have been critical to the progress we’ve made during the past century against death and disease. The discovery of a smallpox shot, for example, helped turn a gruesome and painful illness — which killed more than 300 million people in the 20th century — into a thing of the past. (Smallpox is the only disease in humans that’s been eradicated, with the last case turning up in Somalia in 1977.)

More recently, since 1990, childhood deaths from infectious diseases like HIV and measles (yes, measles!) have continued to decline around the world, thanks to both vaccines and infection control practices. Just look at this recent chart from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

It shows that measles deaths with vaccination have continued to drop around the world through the 2000s. “For the first time,” the report read, “annual estimated measles deaths were fewer than 100,000, in 2016.”

Measles cases in the US in recent years have held fairly steady since the disease was eliminated here in 2000 (meaning it’s no longer endemic). These days, outbreaks occur when travelers return to unvaccinated communities — like the 2014 outbreak among an unvaccinated Amish community in Ohio.

Again, the progress against measles happened because of routine immunization services becoming increasingly available here and abroad. Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles-containing vaccines have been given to kids, saving an estimated 20.4 million lives. So the most powerful contributor to the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases was science, Pinker reminds us. Let’s not lose sight of that by focusing too much on bad science.

But truly stopping the spread of dubious science will require a lot more than developing a more skeptical media. As I’ve written before, it must also involve thinking about how to prevent bad science from taking off in the first place by educating young people in critical thinking skills.

Creating armies of little bad science detectors — who can easily spot a shoddily designed study — is the only way to inoculate ourselves against another Wakefield debacle.

 


 

Abortion opponents protest COVID-19 vaccines’ use of fetal cells

By Meredith Wadman Jun. 5, 2020 , 6:15 PM

How making a COVID-19 vaccine confronts thorny ethical issues

Senior Catholic leaders in the United States and Canada, along with other antiabortion groups, are raising ethical objections to promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates that are manufactured using cells derived from human fetuses electively aborted decades ago. They have not sought to block government funding for the vaccines, which include two candidate vaccines that the Trump administration plans to support with an investment of up to $1.7 billion, as well as a third candidate made by a Chinese company in collaboration with Canada’s National Research Council (NRC). But they are urging funders and policymakers to ensure that companies develop other vaccines that do not rely on such human fetal cell lines and, in the United States, asking the government to “incentivize” firms to only make vaccines that don’t rely on fetal cells.

“It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience,” members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 20 other religious, medical, and political organizations that oppose abortion wrote to Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in April. “Thankfully, other [COVID-19] vaccines … utilize cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods.”

“We urge your government to fund the development of vaccines that do not create an ethical dilemma for many Canadians,” wrote Archbishop of Winnipeg Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and 17 other antiabortion religious, medical, and politic groups and individuals in a 21 May letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “The … manufacture of vaccines using such ethically-tainted human cell lines demonstrates profound disrespect for the dignity of the human person.”

FDA and senior White House officials did not respond to emails requesting comment on the letter to Hahn. In Canada, the health ministry has promised to respond to the letter to Trudeau, says Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and lead signatory on the letter.

Cells derived from elective abortions have been used since the 1960s to manufacture vaccines, including current vaccines against rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and shingles. They have also been used to make approved drugs against diseases including hemophilia, rheumatoid arthritis, and cystic fibrosis. Now, research groups around the world are working to develop more than 130 candidate vaccines against COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization; 10 had entered human trials as of 2 June.

At least five of the candidate COVID-19 vaccines use one of two human fetal cell lines: HEK-293, a kidney cell line widely used in research and industry that comes from a fetus aborted in about 1972; and PER.C6, a proprietary cell line owned by Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, developed from retinal cells from an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985. Both cell lines were developed in the lab of molecular biologist Alex van der Eb at Leiden University. Two of the five vaccines have entered human trials (see table, below).


In four of the vaccines, the human fetal cells are used as miniature “factories” to generate vast quantities of adenoviruses, disabled so that they cannot replicate, that are used as vehicles to ferry genes from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. When the adenoviruses are given as a vaccine, recipients’ cells begin to produce proteins from the coronavirus, hopefully triggering a protective immune response.

The fifth vaccine, which has shown promise in monkeys and is headed for human trials as soon as this summer, is what is known as a protein subunit vaccine. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh use HEK-293 cells to manufacture the coronavirus’ spike protein—a vital part of its structure—which is used to trigger an immune response. The vaccine is delivered through a skin patch with 400 tiny needles.

The fetal cell lines are key to producing both types of vaccine. “HEK-293 [cells] are essential for making protein subunit vaccines,” says Andrea Gambotto, a vaccine scientist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the vaccine’s lead developer. Their human origin is important, he says: “Cultured [nonhuman] animal cells can produce the same proteins, but they would be decorated with different sugar molecules, which—in the case of vaccines—runs the risk of failing to evoke a robust and specific immune response.” (Among the developers of the five vaccines, only Gambotto responded to a request for comment.)

David Prentice, vice president and research director at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which opposes abortion, notes researchers making adenovirus vaccines have modified HEK-293 cells to be adept at packaging new genes—such as those that direct cells to assemble the coronavirus spike protein—into adenoviruses. But he adds that other technologies are available, including using cells captured from amniocentesis that are engineered to make replication-deficient adenoviruses.

“The use of cells from electively aborted fetuses for vaccine production makes these five COVID-19 vaccine programs unethical, because they exploit the innocent human beings who were aborted,” Prentice and a co-author—molecular biologist James Sherley, a Lozier Institute associate scholar and director of the adult stem cell company Asymmetrex—wrote in a position paper published last month.

But Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the New York University School of Medicine, counters: “There are better ways to win the abortion wars than telling people not to use a vaccine. These are long-over abortions. These cells are decades old, and even major religious leaders like the pope have acknowledged that for the greater good it’s not worth the symbolism to put the community at risk.”

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life declared in 2005 and reaffirmed in 2017 that in the absence of alternatives, Catholics could, in good conscience, receive vaccines made using historical human fetal cell lines.

A vaccine made by the Chinese company CanSino Biologics was the first COVID-19 vaccine to enter phase II human trials. It was developed using adapted HEK-293 cells that the company licensed from Canada’s NRC, where the cells were developed. (NRC-developed HEK-293 cells have already been used to develop an approved Ebola vaccine.) Last month, NRC announced a collaboration with CanSino Biologics under which it is preparing to run late-stage clinical trials of the vaccine in Canada, and scale up facilities to produce the vaccine in quantity.

The two U.S.-backed vaccines that have drawn criticism from antiabortion groups are on a short list of candidates targeted to get financial and logistical support from the U.S. government under the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, which aims to accelerate the development and approval of at least one COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021, according to a 3 June report in The New York Times.

One of the Warp Speed candidates, made by Janssen Research & Development, uses PER.C6 cells. The second, from University of Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca, uses HEK-293 cells. Both have received U.S. government commitments of, respectively, $456 million and $1.2 billion, if they meet milestones, through the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA).

Another vaccine that relies on HEK-293, being developed by two companies owned by the billionaire scientist and businessman Patrick Soon-Shiong, made an earlier, Warp Speed long list of 14 promising candidates, according to a press release from one of companies, NantKwest.

Prentice says: “As they are choosing—BARDA and the Warp Speed people— what vaccines to move ahead, they should at least recognize that there is some portion of the population who would like an alternative vaccine they can take in good conscience.”

Caplan disagrees. “If you are going to say the government shouldn’t fund things that a minority of people object to, you will have a very long list of things that won’t get funded by the government, from research on weapons of war to contraceptive research.”

The Trump administration has restricted the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions in biomedical research. One year ago, it adopted a policy that forbids researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from using fetal tissue from elective abortions in their studies. And it imposed an extra layer of review on non-NIH scientists seeking agency funding to do research using such tissue. But the policy did not stop either group from using decades-old fetal cell lines like HEK-293 and PER.C6.

 


 

How mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna work, why they’re a breakthrough and why they need to be kept so cold

November 18, 2020 8.19am EST
Author
Sanjay Mishra Project Coordinator & Staff Scientist, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University
Disclosure statement
Sanjay Mishra receives funding (P30 CA068485) from the National Institute of Health through his employer.
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Vanderbilt University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

As the weather cools, the number of infections of the COVID-19 pandemic are rising sharply. Hamstrung by pandemic fatigue, economic constraints and political discord, public health officials have struggled to control the surging pandemic. But now, a rush of interim analyses from pharmaceutical companies Modernaand Pfizer/BioNTech have spurred optimism that a novel type of vaccine made from messenger RNA, known as mRNA, can offer high levels of protection by preventing COVID-19 among people who are vaccinated.

Although unpublished, these preliminary reports have exceeded the expectations of many vaccine experts, including mine. Until early this year, I worked on developing vaccine candidates against Zika and dengue. Now I am coordinating an international effort to collect reports on adult patients with current or previous cancers who have also been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Promising preliminary results

Moderna reported that during the phase 3 study of its vaccine candidate mRNA-1273, which enrolled 30,000 adult U.S. participants, just five of the 95 COVID-19 cases occurred among the vaccinated, while 90 infections were identified in the placebo group. This corresponds to an efficacy of 94.5%. None of the infected patients who received the vaccine developed severe COVID-19, while 11 (12%) of those who received the placebo did.

Similarly, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, was 90% effective in preventing infection during the phase 3 clinical trial, which enrolled 43,538 participants, with 30% in U.S. and 42% abroad

How does mRNA vaccine work?

Vaccines train the immune system to recognize the disease-causing part of a virus. Vaccines traditionally contain either weakened viruses or purified signature proteins of the virus.

But an mRNA vaccine is different, because rather than having the viral protein injected, a person receives genetic material – mRNA – that encodes the viral protein. When these genetic instructions are injected into the upper arm, the muscle cells translate them to make the viral protein directly in the body.

This approach mimics what the SARS-CoV-2 does in nature – but the vaccine mRNA codes only for the critical fragment of the viral protein. This gives the immune system a preview of what the real virus looks like without causing disease. This preview gives the immune system time to design powerful antibodies that can neutralize the real virus if the individual is ever infected.

While this synthetic mRNA is genetic material, it cannot be transmitted to the next generation. After an mRNA injection, this molecule guides the protein production inside the muscle cells, which reaches peak levels for 24 to 48 hours and can last for a few more days.

Why is making an mRNA vaccine so fast?

Traditional vaccine development, although well studied, is very time-consuming and cannot respond instantaneously against novel pandemics such as COVID-19.

For example, for seasonal flu, it takes roughly six months from identification of the circulating influenza virus strain to produce a vaccine. The candidate flu vaccine virus is grown for about three weeks to produce a hybrid virus, which is less dangerous and better able to grow in hens’ eggs. The hybrid virus is then injected into a lot of fertilized eggs and incubated for several days to make more copies. Then the fluid containing virus is harvested from eggs, the vaccine viruses are killed, and the viral proteins are purified over several days.

The mRNA vaccines can leapfrog the hurdles of developing traditional vaccines such as producing noninfectious viruses, or producing viral proteins at medically demanding levels of purity.

MRNA vaccines eliminate much of the manufacturing process because rather than having viral proteins injected, the human body uses the instructions to manufacture viral proteins itself.

Also, mRNA molecules are far simpler than proteins. For vaccines, mRNA is manufactured by chemical rather than biological synthesis, so it is much quicker than conventional vaccines to be redesigned, scaled up and mass-produced.

In fact, within days of the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus becoming available, the mRNA code for a candidate vaccine testing was ready. What’s most attractive is that once the mRNA vaccine tools become viable, mRNA can be quickly tailored for other future pandemics.

What are problems with mRNA?

MRNA technology isn’t new. It was shown a while back that when synthetic mRNA is injected into an animal, the cells can produce a desired protein. But the progress remained slow. That’s because mRNA is not only notoriously unstable and easy to degrade into smaller components, it is also easily destroyed by the human body’s immune defenses, which make delivering it to the target very inefficient.

But beginning in 2005, researchers figured out how to stabilize mRNA and package it into small particles to deliver it as a vaccine. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be the first using this technology to be approved by the FDA.

After a decade of work, the mRNA vaccines are now ready for evaluation. Physicians will be watching for unintended immune reactions, which can be both helpful and detrimental.

Why keep mRNA supercold?

The most important challenge for development of a mRNA vaccine remains its inherent instability, because it is more likely to break apart above freezing temperatures.

Modification of the mRNA building blocks and development of the particles that can cocoon it relatively safely have helped the mRNA vaccine candidates. But this new class of vaccine still requires unprecedented freezer conditions for distribution and administration.

What are the refrigeration requirements?

The Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine will need to be optimally stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and will degrade in around five days at normal refrigeration temperatures of slightly above freezing.

[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

In contrast, Moderna claims its vaccine can be maintained at most home or medical freezer temperatures for up to six months for shipping and longer-term storage. Moderna also claims its vaccine can remain stable at standard refrigerated conditions, of 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, for up to 30 days after thawing, within the six-month shelf life.

Not surprisingly, Pfizer is also developing shipping containers using dry ice to address shipping constraints.


 

Is the coronavirus vaccine made from fetal cell lines?

By Catholic News Agency
Posted: 7/31/2020

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A woman models a small bottle labelled “Vaccine COVID-19” in this illustration photo April 10, 2020. CNS photo/Dado Ruvic, Reuters


Washington, D.C. (CNA) — As coronavirus vaccine prototypes move closer to testing and approval, some Catholics are debating the ethical sources behind a leading vaccine candidate.

President Donald Trump announced July 27 that the vaccine mRNA-1273, co-designed by the biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had entered phase 3 of clinical trials. The vaccine will soon be tested for safety, and to confirm that it can effectively prevent COVID-19 in two doses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID and White House health advisor, said on Monday that a vaccine is “urgently” required to “control this pandemic,” but has also cautioned in recent days that, despite speedy progress, a vaccine might not be widely available until several months into 2021.

The Trump administration is funding vaccine candidates as part of “Operation Warp Speed,” making investments in vaccine candidates from Novavax, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen. It is also investing $1.95 billion with Pfizer to facilitate the delivery of 100 million doses after a vaccine is developed.

Fauci said July 27 that early testing of the Moderna vaccine indicates that it is “safe and immunogenic.”

While demand for a vaccine is urgent, questions have been raised by some pro-life advocates about the Moderna candidate, and its ethical development — specifically, whether it has been tested using a fetal cell line taken from an aborted baby.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute, research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, has listed the Moderna vaccine among the “ethically uncontroversial CoV-19 vaccine programs,” along with development projects from Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi and Translate Bio, Pfizer and BioNTech, Novavax, and Merck/IAVI.

According to CLI, two vaccine candidates are the product of unethical programs — those being developed by the University of Oxford and Astrazeneca, and by Johnson and Johnson and Janssen Res. and Devel., Inc.

On the straightforward question of whether the Moderna vaccine is being produced from cell lines from elective abortions, Dr. John Brehany, director of institutional relations at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said “it appears that the answer is no.”

Vaccines use a weakened version of a disease, grown in laboratory cell lines, in order to inoculate someone against the disease. With some common vaccines, such as those used to fight chicken pox and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), the cell lines of babies who were aborted decades ago are used to grow the weakened diseases.

This is also reportedly the case with some coronavirus vaccines in development, such as one worked on by the University of Oxford and Astrazeneca, which relies on the HEK-239 cell lines from a baby aborted in the Netherlands in the 1970s. That program is also being funded by the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed.”

But the Moderna vaccine works in different way than most vaccines. Its method of innoculation “is not based on using cells at all in production,” Brehany said.

The Moderna vaccine relies upon a spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 to induce the production of antibodies in the recipient, instead of a weakened version of the disease.

The gene sequences for the spike protein were determined to be a good candidate for producing a vaccine.

Non-Moderna scientists had initially made DNA vectors with the gene sequence of the spike protein, and injected them in HEK-293 cells to produce the spike protein. That work was studied and evaluated by experts at NIAID and the University of Texas, who determined that the spike protein was a good candidate for testing. Moderna was not involved in the DNA construction nor was it involved in the evaluation of the construction.

Thus, Brehany said, while the company has some association with the use of cell lines from elective abortions, it is not responsible for that use, and its vaccine was not produced using those HEK-293 cells.

A 2005 document from the Pontifical Academy for Life considered the moral issues surrounding vaccines prepared in cell lines descended from aborted fetuses. The Vatican group concluded that it can be both morally permissible and morally responsible for Catholics to use these vaccines.

“In general, doctors or parents who resort to the use of these vaccines for their children, in spite of knowing their origin (voluntary abortion), carry out a form of very remote mediate material cooperation,” the pontifical academy said.

“The duty to avoid passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is grave inconvenience. Moreover, we find, in such a case, a proportional reason, in order to accept the use of these vaccines in the presence of the danger of favouring the spread of the pathological agent, due to the lack of vaccination of children,” it added.

The pontifical academy also noted that Catholics have an obligation to use ethically-sourced vaccines when available, and have an obligation to speak up and request the development of new cell lines that are not derived from aborted fetuses.

The 2008 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document Dignitatis personae strongly criticized aborted fetal tissue research. The CDF said that researchers should “refuse” the material even when they have “no close connection” to “the actions of those who performed the artificial fertilization or the abortion.”

“This duty springs from the necessity to remove oneself, within the area of one’s own research, from a gravely unjust legal situation and to affirm with clarity the value of human life,” the CDF stated.

Regarding common vaccines, such as those for chicken pox and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), that may be derived from cell lines of aborted babies, the Vatican has said they could be used by parents for “grave reasons” such as danger to their children’s health.

Another ethical question at the heart of COVID-19 vaccine production is the speed at which it is taking place.

The hurried development makes it all the more important that bioethicists scrutinize the vaccine, said NCBC president Joseph Meaney in a July 24 statement.

“Good bioethicists are nearly always wary when scientific research is rushed forward, and even more so when the potential impact on human beings could be profound,” he said.

Brehany echoed that point, telling CNA that a vaccine must be developed and distributed with the informed consent for all recipients about the possible risks, without testing on vulnerable populations especially the poor.

On April 17, leading U.S. bishops wrote Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking that a COVID-19 vaccine be developed ethically.

“It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience,” the bishops wrote.

The letter was signed was the chairs of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ committees on pro-life issues, doctrine, and domestic justice, and subcommittee on health care issues. Leaders of pro-life and bioethics groups, including the National Catholic Bioethics Center, the Catholic Medical Association, and the American College of Pediatricians, also signed the letter.

Brehany said that vaccines derived from cell lines of aborted babies is “a very significant bioethical issue” that Christians and pro-lifers “ought to take seriously.”

“This is the time to be advocating for alternatives,” he said of current COVID-19 vaccine production and ethical sources for vaccines.

Around 30,000 people who are not COVID-positive will be enrolled in the phase 3 testing of the Moderna vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will then review the testing results.

In addition to the Moderna candidate, Trump said that four other vaccine candidates “are expected to enter final trials in the coming weeks.”

Brethren I have gone through this process to seek the truth. NOT to share propaganda nor to spread half truths. Airlines will soon be demanding that you have proof of being vaccinated in order to fly with them. You should now be able to make a decision for you and your family and not have to worry whether or not you are sinning.

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