The British Medical Journal (or the BMJ), is a respected, weekly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the British Medical Association. Published for over 180 years, it has authority. In an April 2021 editorial, while broadly supportive of vaccine passports, it did point out the numerous ethical dilemmas associated with the policy. Now, the journal has well and truly broken with the narrative.
In an editorial on 19 January, the journal demanded the full and immediate release of all data related to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, saying it would be in the public interest. The editorial titled ‘Covid-19 vaccines and treatments: we must have raw data, now’ pointed out how a lack of transparency in the past had deleterious consequences for people’s health, and how that those mistakes are now being repeated, and the lack of transparency is even greater than before.
‘Today, despite the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, the anonymised participant-level data underlying the trials for these new products remain inaccessible to doctors, researchers, and the public—and are likely to remain that way for years to come,’ the editorial states. ‘This is morally indefensible for all trials, but especially for those involving major public health interventions.’
The BMJ also accused pharmaceutical companies of ‘reaping vast profits without adequate independent scrutiny of their scientific claims,’ pointing to Pfizer, whose Covid vaccine trial was ‘funded by the company and designed, run, analysed, and authored by Pfizer employees’.
‘We are left with publications but no access to the underlying data on reasonable request,’ the authors wrote. ‘This is worrying for trial participants, researchers, clinicians, journal editors, policymakers, and the public. The journals that have published these primary studies may argue that they faced an awkward dilemma, caught between making the summary findings available quickly and upholding the best ethical values that support timely access to underlying data. In our view, there is no dilemma; the anonymised individual participant data from clinical trials must be made available for independent scrutiny.’
Tellingly, the authors of the editorial added that regulators are not there to ‘dance to the tune of rich global corporations and enrich them further’ but to protect the general public’s health and for that reason, they said, we need ‘complete data transparency for all studies, we need it in the public interest, and we need it now’.
This bombshell editorial comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had asked a judge to keep all data concerning the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine suppressed for 75 years. The judge, thankfully, did not accede to this request, ordering the FDA to make public 12,000 pages of the data it used to make decisions regarding approvals for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine by the end of January. In accordance with the same ruling the FDA must also release Pfizer’s vaccine data at a rate of 55,000 pages per month until all of the requested pages are public.
This is not the only crack that has appeared in the narrative recently. Earlier in January, Professor Clive Dix, the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, called for an end to mass vaccination and that Covid should be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu. Additionally, Professor Andrew Pollard, who helped develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, stated around the same time on BBC Radio 4’s Today program that ‘it really is not affordable, sustainable or probably even needed to vaccinate everyone on the planet every four to six months,’ adding ‘In the future, we need to target the vulnerable’.
Such views are not just being expressed in the UK, but also in Israel, once seen as the ‘gold standard’ in terms of the vaccine rollout. Professor Cyrille Cohen, head of immunology at Bar Ilan University and a member of the advisory committee on vaccines for the Israeli government, confirmed that, ‘No, the vaccines are not protecting us, they are not causing what we call sterilising immunity’.
Professor Cohen added that Israel’s Green Pass vaccine passport was no longer relevant. ‘We don’t see virtually any difference between people vaccinated and non-vaccinated, both can get infected with the virus more or less at the same pace,’ he said.
Those comments came after another leading Israeli immunologist slammed the government’s pandemic response.
Writing for N12 News, Professor Ehud Qimron, head of microbiology and immunology at Tel Aviv University, wrote a scathing open letter excoriating the government for its coronavirus policy debacle. Qimron did not pull any punches, alleging that health authorities had ignored established epidemiological science and pandemic plans at the outset – and then refused to adjust policies in the face of real-world data.
‘Two years late, you finally realise that a respiratory virus cannot be defeated and that any such attempt is doomed to fail,’ Professsor Qimron wrote.
‘You do not admit it, because you have admitted almost no mistake in the last two years, but in retrospect it is clear that you have failed miserably in almost all of your actions, and even the media is already having a hard time covering your shame.
‘You refused to admit that the infection comes in waves that fade by themselves, despite years of observations and scientific knowledge. You insisted on attributing every decline of a wave solely to your actions, and so through false propaganda “you overcame the plague”.
‘You refused to admit that recovery is more protective than a vaccine, despite previous knowledge and observations showing that non-recovered vaccinated people are more likely to be infected than recovered people. You refused to admit that the vaccinated are contagious despite the observations. Based on this, you hoped to achieve herd immunity by vaccination – and you failed in that as well.’
For two years what the British Medical Journal and these professors have called for was dismissed arrogantly as ‘misinformation’. Let us see now if true science, not propaganda, will prevail.
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Dr Rocco Loiacono is a Senior Lecturer at Curtin University Law School. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Curtin University.
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