I admit to leaning conservative on some issues and reading the Wall Street Journal most days. I believe that their news sections often have less “commentary” on events than many other sources. Unfortunately, their opinion section seems to be increasingly heading off the rails. More and more it publishes observations from uninformed sources that seem to be focused simply on scaring people about anything related to traditional medical care.
This has recently presented itself as rants about a range of diverse and conflicting medical issues, such as supporting access to an unproven (but now FDA approved) Alzheimer’s drug while discrediting approved vaccines that have enormous amounts of safety data. The latest missive was published as “opinion” this morning.
The WSJ opinion piece entitled “Are Covid Vaccines Riskier Than Advertised?” is a poorly conceived effort to discredit COVID-19 vaccines. The authors (I will discuss them later) refer to “concerning trends” about side effects ranging from blood clots to myocarditis and suggest authorities “will not tell anyone” about these issues. The article is presented with a graphic that includes a glowing question mark in a syringe!
The authors suggest that most of the discussion around the safety of these vaccines has been “motivated by politics.” They then throw out the favored government target of the WSJ opinion section, Dr. Fauci, as the “proof” the vaccines are politically protected, despite the fact that he has had nothing to do with the approval or safety monitoring.
The authors argue that (in their words) “Historically, the safety of medications—including vaccines—is often not fully understood until they are deployed in large populations” as if these vaccines aren’t well tested. They argue the CDC and FDA are ignoring their own adverse event reporting system (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS) which has data implicating safety issues from the vaccines. They lean on a Norwegian study where the vaccine was given to 100, pre-morbid individuals who had symptoms “potentially related to the vaccine” when they died. But they failed to disclose that the death rate in this unique population was not higher than in the vaccinated group.
Finally, the authors hopefully suggest “there are, however, signs of life for scientific honesty” around vaccine safety. They use a position paper against COVID-19 vaccine approval written by three fringe anti-vaxers as their evidence of this. But they warn, “it will be an uphill battle in the U.S. (as) Anti-Trump politics in the spring of 2020 mushroomed into social-media censorship.”
The facts are just the opposite. COVID-19 vaccines have now been given to almost 200 million people in the U.S. alone and 2.6 BILLION people worldwide. This is more than enough individuals to gain an exhaustive safety profile. Every potential side effect, from blood clots, to myocarditis, to allergic reactions, has been extensively publicized and examined. The FDA is now doing a formal safety review including holding an advisory meeting on myocarditis, a reaction that occurs in about every 2 million recipients, and in most cases appears to cause mild symptoms. No aspect of the safety of these vaccines has been hidden.
Every part of the WSJ opinion piece is either incorrect or misstated to a degree that I could not believe it was written by physicians. Also, neither author appears to have any background in vaccines or immunity. Dr. Ladapo, has published 30 papers in cardiovascular disease mainly related to diabetes. Dr. Risch is a cancer geneticist and epidemiologist, who has written two opinion papers arguing for the investigation of multidrug therapy in COVID. He was the 44th of 57 authors on his COVID drug paper! So, neither seems to have had much interest in or experience with COVID-19 before this publication.
Why this opinion piece is being published now, when the U.S. COVID vaccination program is waning due in part to exactly this type of misinformation, is unclear to me. The Journal may be looking to capitalize on COVID-19 vaccines as the latest “red flag” to drive their own political agenda. But it is immoral to use false information and innuendo for a political cause that has a side-effect of keeping people from getting a safe and effective vaccine.