Niall McCrae and David Kurten
The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic shows startling variation, some countries having rates of less than ten per million, while western Europe and the USA are in the hundreds. Among the likely reasons are ecological (high population density and urbanisation), demographic (ageing and multicultural societies) and clinical (obesity and chronic disease such as diabetes mellitus). Also, there are significant differences in diagnostic practice and recording.
However, a factor that hasn’t been considered is the flu vaccine, which is widely administered to the elderly. Some correlation with Covid-19 mortality, although not necessarily causal, is readily apparent. The medical establishment tends to cast any critic of vaccination as an extremist, but we are not ‘anti-vaxxers’. We present our case tentatively, and leave it to readers to decide whether this is a reasonable line of enquiry.
Influenza is a contagion that strikes every winter, with symptoms of headache, fever, chill, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, nasal congestion and cough. Severe cases lead to pneumonia, a common cause of death in the elderly. The first vaccine against influenza was produced by Ernest Williams Goodpasture at Vanderbilt University in 1931, and vaccination became widely available after the Second World War.
Flu vaccination had its first major contest with the Asian flu pandemic of 1957-1958, which killed two million worldwide. Although the vaccine failed to protect, the high mortality was attributed to insufficient coverage: the pharmaceutical industry thus turned defeat into victory. In 1960 routine flu vaccination was recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control. Since then, pandemics have been regularly exploited by the pro-vaccine lobby, which has a hold on the medical establishment, to demand wider use of the flu shot.
A challenge for flu vaccine producers is the volatility of the virus, which mutates rapidly. A new vaccine is needed every autumn, based on guessing which strains will emerge. In practice, the preventive performance is poor. A review in 2014 by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international body for evidence-based medicine, revealed that the vaccines reduced incidence of influenza by a mere 6%. Tom Jefferson, one of the authors, has described evidence for flu vaccination as ‘rubbish’.
Jefferson was also involved in a controversy over Tamiflu. This drug was stockpiled by governments, after a Cochrane review showing that it reduced complications of influenza. When it transpired that mostSource: The Gateway Pundit