Thursday, February 16, 2023


Republicans are a menace:
Two Idaho lawmakers have introduced a bill to charge those who administer mRNA vaccines with a misdemeanor.

Sen. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, and Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, sponsored HB 154. It was introduced in the House Health & Welfare Committee on Feb. 15 by Nichols. According to the bill text, "A person may not provide or administer a vaccine developed using messenger ribonucleic acid technology for use in an individual or any other mammal in this state."

... Nichols ... later clarified she was referring to the two COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.

... The bill requires a future vote in the committee to pass onto the House floor for debate.
I don't know Idaho politics, so I don't know whether this bill has a chance of passing. I'm hoping it doesn't -- but even so, its introduction is one more step down a slippery slope.

The bill was introduced the same day Ron DeSantis's handpicked state surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, posted this on the Florida Department of Health website:
The State Surgeon General is notifying the health care sector and public of a substantial increase in Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports from Florida after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

In Florida alone, there was a 1,700% increase in VAERS reports after the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to an increase of 400% in overall vaccine administration for the same time period (Figure 1).

The reporting of life-threatening conditions increased over 4,400%. This is a novel increase and was not seen during the 2009 H1N1 vaccination campaign.
Well, of course there wasn't a big increase in reports of adverse effects during the 2009 H1N1 vaccination campaign, for two reasons: (1) H1N1 wasn't a life-altering event for most Americans, so many of us never got vaccinated, and (2) there wasn't a massive anti-vaccine propaganda campiagn in 2009 led by first-tier right-wing pundits and "experts."

It's important to remember that anyone can report an adverse reaction to VAERS, including people waith political agendas who haven't actually experienced ill effects. The reporting system was set up in the hope that people would honestly report ill effects they'd had following vaccinations; some might be unrelated, but others might be worth investigating, especially if a number of people reported the same adverse effects. But as the website of the school of public health at Johns Hopkins notes,
Anti-vaccination fringe groups have attempted to spin false stories using VAERS data, adding to misinformation about the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations....

VAERS is a publicly available, searchable database of reports that have not been verified. It simply contains whatever people have voluntarily reported. Moreover, the CDC and FDA do not restrict what people can report, as long as it happened at some point following a vaccination.

That means events that happen even years later and have no obvious connection to a vaccine, such as feelings of anger, end up reported in the system, says [Dr. Kawsar] Talaat [of the Institute for Vaccine Safety]. “It’s very open and public and searchable. Since it’s so transparent, people don’t really understand what it’s for. They think it’s things that are vetted and have causal relationships with the vaccine.”
Dr. Ladapo cites VAERS data as if he's one of the people who believe VAERS reports are vetted. Undoubtedly he knows better and is simply citing the data because he doesn't like the mRNA COVID vaccines and sees the VAERS reports as an effective propaganda tool.

Please note that if Ron DeSantis is elected president, Ladapo will probably be named America's surgeon general, or given another prominent position in the federal government.

I'm looking at these stories back to back and I'm wondering what will happen if there's a new pandemic during a DeSantis presidency, especially if Republicans control both houses of Congress. Complete GOP control is quite possible after the 2024 election -- and we might soon face another pandemic, possibly bird flu, as Zeynep Tufekci recently noted:
This pathogen, especially the H5N1 strain, hasn’t often infected humans, but when it has, 56 percent of those known to have contracted it have died....

The virus, which has long caused outbreaks among poultry, is infecting more and more migratory birds, allowing it to spread more widely, even to various mammals, raising the risk that a new variant could spread to and among people.

Alarmingly, it was recently reported that a mutant H5N1 strain was not only infecting minks at a fur farm in Spain but also most likely spreading among them, unprecedented among mammals. Even worse, the mink’s upper respiratory tract is exceptionally well suited to act as a conduit to humans, Thomas Peacock, a virologist who has studied avian influenza, told me.
If this happens, what kind of vaccines might become available? Every available flu vaccine except one needs to be incubated in an egg -- a problem when the flu itself threatens the health of poultry. One possible alternative, according to Tufekci:
The mRNA-based platforms used to make two of the Covid vaccines ... don’t depend on eggs. Scott Hensley, an influenza expert at the University of Pennsylvania, told me that those vaccines can be mass-produced faster, in as little as three months. There are currently no approved mRNA vaccines for influenza, but efforts to make one should be expedited.
Sooner or later, we're likely to face a public health crisis for which the best response is an mRNA vaccine. But I don't know whether Republicans will ever allow another mRNA vaccine to be distributed in America. Republicans are in a banning mood these days -- surgical abortion, abortion pills, CRT, ESG, medical care for trans people, drag queen story hours. I don't think it's crazy to imagines that mRNA vaccines will be next -- nationwide.

No comments: