I come across Covid articles every day that spur me to want to write, and today’s is a real doozey. A Baltimore couple, Christina Van Norman and David Coe, followed all the guidelines; then they got fully vaccinated; and then they resumed having small gatherings at their house- but only for the vaccinated. Their last party involved 17 vaccinated people, and 14 of them came down with Covid.

And Christina got it badly. She said: “I’m not dying, but I’m pretty darn sick.” Two weeks after it started, she is still struggling badly. “We thought we were vaccinated and safe, and that’s the scary part.”

You might think that nobody would dare try to put a positive spin on this. But, you would be wrong.  

“The key message is that the vaccine works very, very well,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association and a former Maryland health secretary. “It is extremely effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death.”

Then, they made an incredible claim about the small number of breakthrough cases among the 3.6 million Maryland residents who got vaccinated. But, how can they make any such claims? It’s not as though everyone who gets vaccinated reports back to them and gets tested. Since breakthrough cases can occur without any symptoms, they would have to test and retest every vaccinated person. But, that isn’t happening. They are just helping themselves to the conclusion that all vaccinated persons who don’t make the news with a horror story must therefore be vaccine success stories.

But, let’s talk about the issue of whether the vaccines have been shown to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The vaccine trials were not designed to find that out. They were only designed to look at mild symptoms. This is by the Associate Editor of the British Medical Journal. 

Covid-19 vaccine trials cannot tell us if they will save lives

None of the current trials are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospitalizations, intensive care use, or deaths,

Vaccines are being hailed as the solution to the covid-19 pandemic, but the vaccine trials currently underway are not designed to tell us if they will save lives, reports Dr. Peter Doshi, Associate Editor of the British Medical Journal.

Several covid-19 vaccine trials are now in their most advanced (phase 3) stage, but what will it mean exactly when a vaccine is declared “effective”? 

Many may assume that successful phase 3 studies will mean we have a proven way of keeping people from getting very sick and dying from covid-19. And a robust way to interrupt viral transmission.

Yet the current phase 3 trials are not actually set up to prove either, says Doshi. 

“None of the trials currently underway are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospitalizations, intensive care use, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus,” he writes.

He explains that all ongoing phase 3 trials for which details have been released are evaluating mild, not severe, disease - and they will be able to report final results once around 150 participants develop symptoms.

In Pfizer and Moderna’s trials, for example, individuals with only a cough and positive lab test would bring those trials one event closer to their completion.

Yet Doshi argues that vaccine manufacturers have done little to dispel the notion that severe covid-19 was what was being assessed. 

Moderna, for example, called hospitalizations a “key secondary endpoint” in statements to the media. But Tal Zaks, Chief Medical Officer at Moderna, told The BMJ that their trial lacks adequate statistical power to assess that endpoint.

Part of the reason may be numbers, says Doshi. Because most people with symptomatic covid-19 infections experience only mild symptoms, even trials involving 30,000 or more patients would turn up relatively few cases of severe disease. 

“Hospitalizations and deaths from covid-19 are simply too uncommon in the population being studied for an effective vaccine to demonstrate statistically significant differences in a trial of 30,000 people,” he adds. “The same is true regarding whether it can save lives or prevent transmission: the trials are not designed to find out.” 

RC:  Yet, the claim that the vaccines are preventing serious illness and death has become a standard mantra and talking point. It should be obvious to everyone that there is no positive spin to cases like Ms. Van Norman. To conclude that the vaccine served her well because she isn’t dead is factually baseless. It is just a desired belief. It’s something that she wants to be true because the alternative- that the vaccine did nothing for her- is too discomforting and painful. Her mind runs away from it.

I mean, come on! This woman was following all the protocols, masking like crazy, and then she gets vaccinated, and as soon as she throws a party, she and 13 others all come down with Covid? And that’s supposed to have a positive spin?

I am a filmmaker. My first film, My Stretch of Texas Ground, an anti-war movie, came out in 2019, and you can watch it on Amazon. My second film, the sequel to it, His Stretch of Texas Ground, is about to come out, and it has been screening at various venues in Central Texas, most recently at the Lake Travis Film Festival in Bee Caves, and soon at the Lost River Film Fest in Lockhart. I go to these screenings, and I’m around people. It’s all very close. I’m talking with people, sitting next to them, shaking hands, etc. My third film, The Pro Bono Watchman, is also finished, and I have screened it at my home to various people. I don’t question them about Covid or insist that they wear masks- and no one does. And it isn’t me being defiant. It’s just me living my life- which I am not going to live through a Covid lens.   

People are getting sick, as people always have, and I don’t claim to know exactly what is going on. But, what I do believe is that there is a construct, a paradigm, that is being applied to everything as it happens, and the authorities are bending over backwards to interpret everything that happens according to that construct, which is now centered on the idea that the vaccine works- even though it obviously doesn’t.  Hearing about cases like Ms. Von Norman should be enough to turn you against the vaccine forever. And if it doesn’t, then your thinking process has been hijacked.