Let Them Eat Old Vaccines
It looks like Britain is offloading old, ineffective vaccines on the elderly and vulnerable.
There have been many scandals associated with Covid in the last 4 years. I want to tell you about another one that has got zero media coverage.
The top-line is this:
The UK government gave more than 2.3 million vulnerable and older people a Covid vaccine that isn’t matched to the currently dominant Covid strains. It wasn't a mistake. They did it to save money.
The dominant covid strains right now are known as the XBBs. They've been dominant since late summer in most places, when they took over from the BA strains of omicron. Rather than give people the new more effective XBB vaccine, the British government decided to use up their stockpile of the older BA vaccines first. The worst thing is, those who got the outdated vaccine were those first in line, such as older people and anyone with health conditions.
But they won’t know.
So 2.3 million vulnerable people in the UK are walking around thinking they're protected this winter against covid when they’re not. The British government didn’t hide why it did this. On the official government webpage spells it out. In bold are the clues hiding in plain sight.
“The choice of vaccine products for autumn 2023 has been determined based on available data on vaccine safety, effectiveness and immunogenicity, logistical factors, programmatic deliverability and a bespoke cost effective assessment. Other vaccines which may offer similar protection, but which would incur additional costs, are expected to be less cost effective within the bespoke cost-effectiveness assessment compared to pre-procured Omicron-variant mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.”
What they're saying, under the cover of gross language like ‘bespoke cost effectiveness assessment,’ is that they’d already bought the older vaccines. It was cheaper to use them than buy extra new ones.
They used people’s bodies as asset dumps for old medical stock.
It makes you shudder.
In the UK, the booster roll-out began on September 11th. We know that in Scotland they switched over to XBB on September 25th. England and Wales switched to the new ones on October 2nd, as confirmed that day by Meaghan Kall, an epidemiologist at the UK’s health security agency responsible for covid. But by September 29th, the British government reported 2.35 million people had been covid boosted. So we know this was largely with the old vaccine (save 4 days in Scotland).
Even now, people are reporting they're only being offered the old vaccine. Boosting with a vaccine not matched to the dominant strains will certainly lead to worse outcomes than if these people had received the updated vaccine.
People will die for this penny pinching.
But then the British government has for some time now been relaxed about killing people for austerity, hasn't it?
The Brits are also tightly restricting access to covid vaccines, in contrast to almost every other country. And in a final twist, the Brits are now stockpiling the new XBB vaccines and are almost certainly going to take the same approach to deploying an outdated vaccine next time 'round.
When I tweeted about this, The Guardian journalist George Monbiot responded and we subsequently exchanged emails. Monbiot did then write a very good column about the ongoing burden of covid in the UK and the various public health failures. Of course, the article omitted any mention of the millions who were given the older vaccine.
I can’t criticise Monbiot. I wouldn’t be surprised if he included this and it was cut by his editors. And his article stands head and shoulders above almost any other reporting of covid in the mass media, a mass media that has played a key part in normalising the transmission of a virus that has become the leading cause of infectious disease death in the world today.
These lies and misinformation about covid in the mass media continue. Last week was no exception.
The BBC’s health editor Nick Triggle wrote a truly noxious covid story full of half-truths, lies by omission and propaganda. He said covid was less deadly than the flu, that it is becoming a seasonal ‘bug’, that people who were concerned about rising hospitalisations were just anxious. (Nick Triggle’s sister-in-law is a Tory member of parliament, which might explain some things).
In the US, the New York Times interviewed the epidemiologist and long-time covid downplayer Michael Mina who said rates of long covid are drastically falling - without citing a shred of evidence - and said repeated exposure to covid for most people will not be harmful and will build immunity. In the comments below the piece, one person said the “excellent story begs the question as to whether healthy people should take any precautions against covid.”
Then there was the ‘long cold’ research paper which was amplified across global media. If you missed it, the thrust was that long colds might be as common as long covid. So far, so fine. But the findings were stripped of critical context in relation to covid. It failed to acknowledge that even if long colds do exist, and almost certainly they do, Sars-Cov-2 is a different beast, behaving in a completely different way to other common coronaviruses.
Rather than the conclusion here being "okay, so if long colds are this common, long covid might be very common too and maybe we should do something about it," the stories led us towards the conclusion that long covid itself is nothing to worry about because post-viral illness is nothing new.
All of this would have been bad enough without mentioning the methodology.
The study was conducted in 2020-2021 and relied on people self-reporting a respiratory illness that they said wasn’t covid. We know for a fact that far fewer people got a respiratory illness that wasn’t covid in these years, so I expect a good number of these ‘not covids’ leading to ‘long colds’ were, in fact, covids leading to long covid. But again, the media stories failed to provide any of this context. Nick Triggle was one of those who wrote a story.
Triggled twice in two weeks.
Over and over, it seems that those who are concerned about covid come armed with data, and those who aren’t come armed with gut feeling in order to keep business-as-usual ticking over.
It’s 2019 again! Stop worrying!
Normalisation is the most powerful sociological force in the world today. Through a captured media, the ruling class can make us absorb a pandemic, accept climate collapse and shrug at apartheid. Change is unnecessary because nothing is wrong. It is just the natural order, flowing.
We also found out this week that just 2% of Americans have stepped up for the new covid jab, a rate of uptake that can be traced back to the early over-hyping of vaccines and the manufacturing of a narrative that says covid is mild and we’ve all achieved immunity now anyway.
I didn’t know where we’d be nearly four years on from the start of the pandemic, but I didn’t think we’d be here. New waves, millions being infected, thousands dying every week. And a media and public knowledge blackout of Novavax, the most effective vaccine. A vaccine we’ve known is the most effective for over two years. It is tiring to keep up, to keep bearing witness to these screw-ups, to this cruelty.
But we have to.
Because to believe in change means documenting the incompetence, the failure, the lies and the indifference that eventually compels that change to come. Nothing will change if we don't try.