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Tag: Vaccination

Victorian Government Bites the Bullet and Mandates Vaccination

22 September 2021

At last!  A government that does the sensible thing.  The Victorian government will only open up if people are vaccinated.  Thanks to NSW the Delta variant genie is out of the bottle and spreading nationwide.  Business wants to unlock, some with no care for anyone but themselves.

Victoria wants to unlock but minimise spread among those now having more interpersonal contacts.  The R (Reproduction) number is the number of cases each case infects.  If everyone is vaccinated, less people will get it and those who have it will get it to less people.

Reasonable medical opinion is that the risks of vaccine are massively less than the risks of getting COVID, so the case against vaccination is incredibly weak on medical grounds.  The ‘right not to have your body violated’ etc sounds very dramatic, and makes vaccination equivalent to rape in a semantic sense.   But in a practical sense the two concepts are as far apart as could be.  One is sensible medicine and the other is a crime.

Anyone who thinks that this does not matter should look at the graph of NSW cases that has peaked and is just starting to fall.  Anything that can flatten the curve or make it fall is good. Anything that makes it rise is creating deaths and misery.

I am a member of the Council for Civil Liberties and have spent years working against excess government power. But sometimes it is necessary to act for the common good.  I have no time for smokers’ rights or the right to spread disease.  The Morrison government is as usual missing in action when real leadership is needed.  ‘Let every workplace decide’, is a nightmare for retail business owners, offices and just about every other employer. Gladys is similarly missing.  Dan Andrews has stepped up, despite a motley crew in the streets spreading disease and demanding the right to continue to do so.

What of the Health System?  We are going the way of the Americans by stealth, and the fact that the public system is what has helped us survive is being glossed over, hidden  by subsidies to private hospitals. The Federal government has been quietly trying to kill public medicine for years. The Medicare rebate has fallen from 85% of the AMA rate to 45%, so for the same bulk-billing work doctors incomes have almost halved over 35 years, while subsidies to the inefficient Private Health Insurers continue.  Being a GP is now a little-sought speciality.  (I have a FB page- Fix Medicare that I spend too little time on).

The States have maintained the public hospitals at a minimal level, as all the lucrative work has been siphoned off by the private system basically doing the easy stuff.  There is No slack in the system, not that counting the number of ICU beds should factor.  All our efforts should be to keep people out of Hospital and ICU by prevention of infection. 

Have a look at this article on the anti-discrimination aspects of mandatory vaccination, and also look at the NSW cases, just turning down, but likely to rise if anything, like opening up from lockdown, tips the balance.

www.smh.com.au/national/victoria/here-s-why-no-jab-no-entry-is-not-discrimination-20210920-p58t2v.html?fbclid=IwAR2jrbfGJsq6fD-J-unnAn12j9UyWvdk-do5BpE23bI0z0gQ8kknq5nc39c

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Please Sign the Petition to stop the COVID Lockdown Ending Prematurely

4 September 2021

The Governments, Federal and NSW State, seem hell bent on ending the COVID lockdown.

Morrison stuffed up the vaccine and Gladys stuffed up the lock-down.

Now Morrison is talking about ‘Freedom’ and ‘One Australia’ showing that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.  Gladys is talking about the need for more deaths as if it is an inevitable consequence of the Delta strain and that nothing can be done to mitigate the situation . She is talking about bed numbers and trying to conjure ICU nurses out of thin air.  The fact that the State public hospital system is always at full capacity with beds in corridors in ED is well known to any health professional who has any dealings with the system and is about to bite us big time.

So what should be done?  The lockdown can only buy time to improve the vaccine rollout, but this is still very much worth doing.  Figures from NSW that I posted last week suggested that vaccination reduced the chance of being in ICU by about 97%. Vaccinated people can still get and transmit COVID as it seems that the antibodies are not in secretions, so it is not until the virus invades that the body starts to fight it.  But as the disease is milder, vaccinated people will cough less, spread  the virus for less time and be less sick themselves.

NSW has given about 7.2 million doses to a population of 8.2 million people.  For everyone in NSW to have 2 doses it would take about 16 million doses.  If we assume that about 4% of people are anti-vaxxers and want to take their chances, and 16% are children under 12 for whom the vaccines are not approved,  then 80% of the total population should be vaccinated, which will take about 13 million doses.  At the current rate of a million doses a week, that should take about 6 weeks from now.

The government already has a huge debt and will avoid a lot of future costs by prevention rather than ‘cure’.  A support package for those who cannot work is naturally needed also. There was a full page ad in the SMH last week with a number of businesses urging the Government to stick to the opening up timetable of the Doherty Report.  Given that the Doherty Report recommendations were based on a far lower number of cases and it was assumed that what cases there were could be traced and were not Delta variants, the report needs to be reconsidered. Perhaps because it is from a reputable research organisation and that it is a long read it has not been seriously challenged, The Government has used it to try to justify the early opening.

One of the disappointing things in my life has been the revelation that some people really do not care a fig about anyone as long as they are personally OK.  I was initially shocked to find that the Tobacco industry really did not care how many people died as long as they could make money.  I found that the asbestos industry was the same, and then that most businesses skimp on safety on the principle that ‘we take the money, you take the risk’  There has also been the worrying trend, which I still link to Harvard management theory  in the 1980s that managers can manage anything, and just need to buy any expertise that they do not have.  Often that do not even know what they do not know, so they neglect to ask, do not know who or what to ask, or find the advice inconvenient.    And sometimes they put ads in the paper.

We also cannot assume that those in Government know or care or that their primary concern will be for the welfare of their constituents.  Presumably their unlikely re-election is what they are focused on.

So please sign the petition to stop the early opening- it currently all we can do.

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COVID Vaccine Works!

29 August 2021

An anti-vaxxer who keeps posting on my Facebook page also keeps demanding proof that the vaccine does more harm than good.  I told her to do her own research as it is really too obvious.

I looked at the figures for NSW today and they made the point very clearly.  There are 126 people in ICU of whom 13 have had one dose of vaccine and 1 has had 2 doses. The percentage of NSW people over 16yo unvaccinated are 37.3%, one vaccination jab 29% and two vaccinations 33.8%.

If vaccine did not work, the percentage of people in ICU would be the same in all 3 groups. This would mean unvaccinated would be 47 (37.2% of 126), one vaccine jab 37 (29% of 126) and two vaccine jabs 43 (33.8% of 126).  But the numbers are: unvaccinated 113, one jab 12, two jabs 1.

So those with 2 jabs have only I person in ICU instead of 43, and those with one jab have 12 instead of 37.  So the chance of being in ICU has been reduced by 42/43 (97.7%) with 2 jabs, and 25/37 (67.6%) with one jab.  This is just a one day sample (yesterday in NSW), but the results are very significant. The data is from NSW Health via Juliette O’Brien’s website.

And the chance of dying due to vaccine is about 1 in a million.

www.covid19data.com.au/hospitalisations-icu

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Is There a Role for the Military in Vaccination?

10 July 2021

I felt that something was wrong when a Soldier started advising me about vaccinations.

Here is a good summary from Crikey of what seems to be happening. 

www.crikey.com.au/2021/07/07/administration-with-authority-how-putting-the-vaccine-rollout-in-military-hands-is-corrosive-for-the-country/?utm_campaign=Weekender&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wkndr=RFdETTg0am9ucG5qc2dpcVpTeTU2QT09&success=krsmvj

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COVID19 Vaccines Reduce Transmission

9 July 2021

www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/mounting-evidence-suggests-covid-vaccines-do-reduc?fbclid=IwAR0HwSRf56I6awyVZfsN1O-CbCjeOHJWZk9PwxbgJE_L2V9TwRJPxalSLu8

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Clotting Risk from Vaccines and COVID19 Infection

28 April 2021

A new Oxford Study compares the incidence of Cerebral Venous Thrombosis with the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine and the risk if you get COVID19. The risk from the A-Z vaccine is 5 per million, the Pfizer and Moderna 4 per million and the risk if you catch COVID19 is 39 per million. The sample size is large with over half a million cases in each group, so the reliability of the research is quite good.While there is no COVID19 about, it is obviously safer to have no vaccine and no risk, but the COVID19 situation could change at any time. The Business Council and other non-medical political groups are calling for a more open society and for the case chasers to try to keep a certain level of infections once the gates are opened. i.e. We get the money- someone else fix the problems. Presumably they will try to stop further lockdowns, particularly as the percentage of the population who have been vaccinated increases.The bottom line is that the A-Z vaccine is almost as safe as the Pfizer one, and it is a good idea to be vaccinated ASAP in case the situation changes for the worse. I had the A-Z almost 2 weeks ago and only noted a slight headache, and tiredness on the evening of the vaccine, and a bit of local tenderness at the injection site the next day. I will have the second shot in 10 weeks.

www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-04-15-risk-rare-blood-clotting-higher-covid-19-vaccines-0?fbclid=IwAR2TIjtz8C7ku_M1OXcELaa2BfrC4hBTwBSoD_svCfdhwWQORr6K4sx4BOI

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Politicisation of Vaccine Rollout has caused the Problems

13 April 2021

Scott Morrison’s objective was to have a low risk strategy. He got the States to handle the COVID19 crisis, while he merely took the credit for its success. Then he wanted to have a successful vaccination programme, and go quickly to an election. He announced a lot of vaccine deals, waving a chequebook with our money to put us high in the world’s vaccine queue. (Tough luck poorer countries with much more cases).

But the deals were soft, the Qld vaccine had problems with false positives for the HIV/Aids test, and it seems the Astra-Zeneca vaccine is not quite as effective as the others, and had a few side effects. So his loudly-touted intervention has just made him look ineffective.

The problems in the health system with the overlapping Federal/State responsibilities and cost-shifting, and the starving of Medicare with subsidies to the private system have all been swept under the carpet in the crisis. But the government’s new dynamic, which is to ignore good advice and treat everything as a political problem, with Morrison giving advice on every subject from weather forecasts, to fires to vaccines is part of the replacement of knowledge by politics, which is a problem in many areas.

Here is an analysis of this fiasco by Steven Duckett, one of Australia’s leading health economists.

https://theconversation.com/4-ways-australias-covid-vaccine-rollout-has-been-bungled-158225

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Vaccines and Probabilities

April 9 2021

Many years ago as I tried to tell sceptical people that smoking killed people, the research was all about the probability of smokers getting diseases more often than non-smokers.  People would often reply, ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’ as if this was some sort of frightfully clever response that neutralised any sensible discussion.

Statistics have been used by researchers for years and are the basis of the experimental method to get towards scientific truth.  Things are rarely ‘proved’ in science, they are just rendered more and more likely, so that the probability of their not being true becomes infinitesimally small. 

Where there are number of variables the statistics become ever more complicated and the proofs more arguable.  Some of us get a bit lost as the complexity rises, and try to retreat to ‘common sense’, with is another way of saying what is most probable based on facts we are already sure of. 

The Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been pushed in Australia, and there is a world shortage of vaccines, despite Prime Minister Morrison running around with an open chequebook for a long time and boasting that we were at the front of the queue for was it 4 different ones ‘in development’?

The loss of the Uni of Qld. vaccine because it gave a false positive in the HIV/Aids test was a bad blow, given that it was ‘ours’ and the vaccine against cervical cancer had been so successful. 

As more and more countries expressed reservations about the A-Z vaccine, it was becoming harder and harder to stick to the line that they were panicking and there was nothing in the stories about blood clotting in dangerous body locations. 

Now A-Z  is not recommended for the under 50 age group, which is most of the country.  Presumably this means that because under-50s are less likely to die of COVID19 even if they get it, the risk of dying from a clot becomes more significant.  Obviously in Australia, if we can keep COVID isolated forever, we will not need a vaccine at all unless we want to venture overseas.  So we are looking at the probability of the virus escaping, and the probability of other vaccines being available as well as the chance of dying at whatever age we are with whatever existing medical problems we may have, versus the chance of having a bad reaction to the vaccine. 

I want to get vaccinated so I can go on an overseas holiday at last, but the A-Z vaccine may be less effective against new and dastardly strains, and if I take that risk will I be stuck in a hotel in Mongolia unable to fly home because the government has changed its policy on my vaccination status or the absolute numbers who can be quarantined?

It is very hard to answer all these questions for anyone, and when older patients who have clotting problems ask for advice, it is very hard to give them an answer.  Doctors will have to spend a lot of time on this.   Our practice is not vaccinating at all, the red tape scared us off, despite the fact that we had bought a new vaccine frig and have been vaccinating people for 40 years.  Call me a coward if you will.  But for myself, I do have an appointment to have the A-Z vaccine next week.

Here is the SMH article:

AstraZeneca blood clot cases force major vaccine shake-up; Pfizer now preferred for under-50s

By Rachel Clun

April 9, 2021

Pfizer is now the preferred vaccine for people aged under 50 and the timing of Australia’s rollout is in doubt after medical experts expressed concerns about rare blood clots potentially linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine – the mainstay of the country’s existing COVID-19 strategy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday night the government will review Australia’s vaccine portfolio and accept medical advice that will preference the Pfizer vaccine over AstraZeneca’s in adults aged less than 50 years old who have not already received a first dose of AstraZeneca, putting plans to vaccinate the entire population by October in doubt.

Australia’s decision follows changes by European medical regulators after a review of data confirmed a rare blood clotting condition seen in a small number of patients was linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Mr Morrison said the new advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation was not a prohibition on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people aged under 50.

“This is not a directive. This is not an instruction,” he said, noting they were taking “an abundance of caution” with the new advice. He said the impact of this decision on the timeline of the rollout was uncertain.

“Tomorrow, and over the weekend, there will be a recalibration of how the program will need to be adjusted to take into account decisions the government’s taken tonight to accept those recommendations from ATAGI,” he said on Thursday evening.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said the rare but serious blood clot disorder was discussed in the meeting, taking into account what was decided overseas and looking at what that would look like in Australia.

“This is a rare event,” he said. “But it is serious and can cause an up to 25 per cent death rate when it occurs.”

For those over 50, Health Department secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said AstraZeneca was strongly recommended.

“It is a vaccine that is very, very effective,” he said.

ATAGI spent hours on Thursday considering the medical evidence. It then issued new advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which it provided to the government just after 7pm.

The medical experts made three recommendations, including that AstraZeneca was preferred in adults over 50, after a lengthy meeting. They also recommended adults under the age of 50 should only be given AstraZeneca where the benefits clearly outweighed the risks. Third, it recommended that adults under 50 who had already received their first doses without experiencing serious side effects could safely be given their second dose.

Professor Kelly stressed the data on the rare clotting side effect, venous thromboembolism, was still only preliminary.

Britain’s vaccine advisory committee says adults under 30 should be offered an alternative to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine when possible, due to a very rare side effect of blood clots in the brain.

“There are very few cases of this extremely rare event that have happened anywhere in the world, but the ones we’ve seen, there’s definitely a tendency for the younger people [to develop it],” he said.

The UK regulator has decided to offer an alternative vaccine for those aged under 30.

Australia has purchased 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and has been relying on the AstraZeneca vaccine as the workhorse of the rollout. The country is expecting its first deliveries of the Novavax vaccine, pending regulatory approval, some time in the fourth quarter of the year.

Late on Thursday, Australian pharma giant CSL said “it remains committed to meeting its contracted arrangements with the Australian government and AstraZeneca for locally produced AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.”

AstraZeneca Australia added that it respected the decision outlined by the government.

“Regulatory agencies have reaffirmed the vaccine offers a high-level of protection against all severities of COVID-19 and that these benefits continue to far outweigh the risks.” a spokeswoman for the company said.

Earlier, the Prime Minister said the risk of severe side effects with the AstraZeneca vaccine is much lower than with common drugs including paracetamol and the oral contraceptive pill.

Mr Morrison said it was important to know the risk of developing venous thromboembolism was much lower following the AstraZeneca vaccine than the risk of death from COVID-19.

“Let’s note that in the UK, the advice is that some 6000 people’s lives have already been saved by this very vaccine. So we need to consider the positive benefits,” he said.

From UK data, the risk of venous thromboembolism following the vaccine was about one to five per million people.

“To put that in some sort of perspective, the combined oral contraceptive pill, that can include adverse side effects of venous thromboembolism – that’s seven to 10 per 10,000,” Mr Morrison said.

The advice has been shared with the expert medical panel, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which comprises all state and territory chief health officers and led by federal Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

The matter will also be discussed in national cabinet on Friday and in meetings with state and territory health ministers, who were due to meet on Thursday night to discuss the revised advice and its implementation.

On Wednesday 75,880 doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were administered across the country, Scott Morrison said, taking the national total to 996,214 doses administered so far during the rollout.

The states and territories have administered 509,802 doses. Through the federal government, 486,343 doses have been administered, including more than 125,260 through aged care.

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Privatisation of Research will Kill Millions due to Vaccine Non-Availability 30/12/20

The COVID vaccines were an international race.   Many countries and companies competed.  The Uni of Queensland one fell over because it made the AIDS test a false positive.  There are now 5 principal ones in the media; Pfizer from Germany, Astra-Zeneca/Oxford from the UK, Moderna from the USA, Sputnik 5 from Russia, and Sinovac from China.  Over here we ignore the two from Russia and China, for some reason.  Do we not trust them, are we just racist, or do we want to support Big Pharma in ‘The West’?

I recently met with some medical sceptics, who said that there is no public proof that the vaccine works, i.e. published papers.  I said that it was in the media that there had been a 43,000 person trial with not very many side effects. They conceded that this was correct, but pointed out that you could inject water  into 43,000 people with few side effects, and that it was a question of how many of the 43,000 had been exposed to the virus, compared to a group of 43,000 in the same environment who had not been vaccinated.  And you could not ask a volunteer who had just had the vaccine to cuddle up to a COVID case- that would be foolhardy.  Their key point was that all the data was still in the drug companies’ hands and not publicly available.  Presumably the regulatory authorities have it, and hopefully they are still being rigorous under the pressure.  We have to assume the vaccines work as we need to open up the world economy.

Our government promised a fortune to these companies before they even had a product to sell, and all the bluster about having an equal world in terms of vaccine access does not seem to have dollars attached.   At present there is not enough vaccine to go around, but it still matters where you start.  Logically, vaccinating Australians where there is very little infection would likely save fewer lives than vaccinating people where the virus is rampant.

I have told the story before about Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine with public funds and did not patent it so that the maximum amount of vaccine could be distributed to rid the world of polio.  This was in sharp contrast to Glaxo, the drug company, which found that an old unpatented drug worked against AIDS, patented it and then insisted that the price of it be at least $US2 a day, although an Indian company said that they could produce it for 7 cents.  The result was several million extra AIDS cases in Africa.

Sadly the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil was a similar story.  HPV was found to be the cause of cervical cancer.  The vaccine was developed at Uni of Queensland by Prof Ian Frazer, and then marketed by CSL and Merck.  Its roll out was considerably delayed by its cost, despite the fact that the Uni of Qld declined to insist on royalties from sales in developing countries.  It is still $73 a shot in Australia (2 needed, 3 recommended), though our government makes it free to Australian schoolchildren.

This article says that the Coronavirus vaccines will worsen inequalities.  This is true, because not only will poorer countries not be able to afford the vaccine, they will also have more people die and have higher health costs as they will have to treat the cases. It will also have a bigger impact on their economies.  The fine rhetoric about sharing world knowledge will certainly be tested.  It might be noted that the Chinese released the draft genome of the Coronavirus to the world in January 2020 (Sciencemag.org) in the interest of stopping the outbreak, which was a credit to China and gives credence to their vaccine.  On the other hand, I seem to recall that Pfizer declined to be involved in information sharing, but have been unable to find the reference for this.

Pfizer did not get public funding but their development partner, BioNTech, did.   The question is how much profit will there be in all this, and how much will the price stop poorer countries getting the vaccine.

The fact that governments no longer fund the research directly and go into ‘private-public partnerships’ gives rise to the feeling that governments put in the funds but the private partners both determine the priorities in research with a bias towards research that can make a profit and then make that profit.  The governments then either largely fund the profit, or leave their populations unable to benefit from the research that they as taxpayers funded.

I have two relevant articles on this, one below, and one coming shortly.

www.internationalhealthpolicies.org/featured-article/why-does-pfizer-deny-the-public-investment-in-its-covid-19-vaccine/

https://amp.theage.com.au/business/the-economy/a-pitiful-response-global-economic-inequality-a-side-effect-of-vaccines-development-20201226-p56q99.html

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Cooperation on COVID Vaccines? 13/12/20

We hear a lot about 3 COVID vaccines; the Pfizer one being rolled out in the UK last week and in the US from tomorrow, the Oxford Astra-Zeneca one that is imminent, cheaper and has less problems with refrigeration, and the Moderna one, which is US based and does not yet seem to have a launch date.

There are two other vaccines in the news, the Russian Sputnik V one being rolled out there and in Eastern Europe, and the Chinese Sinopharm one that is going into Indonesia, India and elsewhere.  But it seems that no one is considering bringing these two into the Western world.  We might ask, ‘Why not?’

Is it racist?  Do we think their scientists are no good and would fake the results?   Are we simply in the thrall of Western pharmaceutical companies with captive regulators?  Perish the thought, would their vaccines be cheaper?  China has 1.3 billion people to protect and have goes to a lot of trouble to do so.  They had scientists working with the US until the fuss started.  They had a head start in the vaccine race.  If the vaccine did not work they would have wasted a lot of time and effort vaccinating their own country and would suffer a huge loss of face.  It seems unlikely that their vaccine does not work.  So again, why no evaluation here?  If Australia asked the Chinese to give us the data on their vaccine to evaluate it for licence here, it would be a nice peace gesture in the needless spat that was created when Morrison accused the Chinese of hiding the origins of the COVID epidemic.

It seems that some scientists in Britain and Russia have suggested cooperation between the Oxford and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. This story is from RT- Russia Today. Will this actually happen?

www.rt.com/russia/509340-astrazeneca-sputnikv-vaccine-collaboration/

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