Note that views expressed in this opinion article are the writer’s personal views and not necessarily those of TrialSite.
By: Joel S. Hirschhorn
The sad death of Colin Powell should bring much needed attention to the phenomenon of breakthrough COVID infections of the fully vaccinated. You can choose to believe the establishment that breakthrough infections are nothing to worry about. Or you can choose to believe that they are just a minor inconvenience because COVID vaccines are not and cannot be 100% effective. Or you can consider real-world data that show how serious breakthrough infections really are.
Department of Defense study
A recent release of data from an important study by the Department of Defense merits very serious attention. It is called the Project Salus study. One indication of how important the data are is that the official website giving the data was taken down. But it is available on this site. A logical interpretation is that the federal agencies running the pandemic, namely the NIH, CDC, and FDA, were upset with the data (I am about to give you). Why? It is because the data undercuts the establishment’s argument in favor of COVID vaccines and downplaying of breakthrough infections. It should be noted that this study has received no attention by the mainstream media.
The title of the report is “Effectiveness of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Against the Delta Variant Among 5.6 Million Medicare Beneficiaries 65 Years and Older,” dated September 28, 2021.
The DOD study got access to the medical data for those people who were fully vaccinated. Of that group, 2.7 million got the Pfizer shot and 2.9 million got the Moderna one. Here are key findings:
– There were 161,000 breakthrough cases.
– There were 33,000 hospitalizations.
– There were 10,400 intensive care unit admissions.
– There were 3,381 deaths for a death rate of 2.1%.
The first reaction from establishment vaccine advocates is that all these numbers are very small percentages of the total sample of 5.6 million fully vaccinated people. That is correct. All this illustrates is the tyranny of small percentages when looking at health impacts of vaccines.
But there are reasons why the DOD data undercount the true negative impacts of breakthrough infections. The principal one is that the study followed the CDC procedure in not counting any negative health impacts occurring within 14 days of the last vaccine shot. This is important, because some analyses have found that high fractions of negative health impacts, such as vaccine induced blood problems, happen within a few days of vaccination. This omission is a deliberate deception aimed solely at undercounting negative health impacts of vaccines.
It should also be noted that this study did not examine serious adverse health impacts, including death, resulting from vaccines without any COVID infection long before and possibly long after breakthrough infections. This has been detailed by this author.
Another consideration is that the DOD study was on a cohort of about 10 percent of the entire Medicare population. It is reasonable to believe that the 65 and older demographic very likely was vaccinated to a very high degree. The New York Times said in August that at least 80 percent of people 65 and older are vaccinated in the US. Thus, the total number of deaths for this large group resulting from breakthrough infections could be large; perhaps over 10,000. Indeed, it has been widely reported that over 80 percent of COVID deaths are in that demographic. The tragic end to Colin Powell, age 84, who had two major underlying medical problems also pertains to the 65 and older population. The elderly population is especially vulnerable to having immune systems unable to block a breakthrough infection when the vaccine immunity seriously degrades. Powell surely had his initial vaccinations many months earlier.
Another cause of undercounting breakthrough deaths is that many are likely counted as only COVID deaths, and do not consider full vaccinated status. Taking all these factors into account, the total number of breakthrough deaths for the nation is likely in the 10,000 to 20,000 range. This number is rising as more vaccinated people have declining vaccine effectiveness.
The study emphasized that the above data represented a marked improvement of analogous data from March to December 2020 period when COVID was rampant and before vaccinations. Consider the example of the death rate of 2.1 percent for breakthrough infections of the vaccinated compared to 12 percent in the pre-vaccination period. That information is correct. But do consider that some 3,000 deaths for the 9/11 calamity was considered of enormous news media importance. So, why are the 3,381 deaths reported in the DOD study of little mainstream media interest?
In Massachusetts, it was reported this month that the total number of breakthrough cases was 44,498, with 345 deaths (.8%). In South Carolina, it was reported this month that there had been 14,992 breakthrough cases with 350 deaths, showing a much higher death rate (2.3%). In Oregon, it was reported this month that out of 28,075 breakthrough cases there were 237 deaths (.8%). In Indiana, the reported number of breakthrough cases was 39,000 with 334 deaths (.8%). In Minnesota, the total cases reported were 32,796 with 185 deaths (.6%).
As of October 12, the CDC reported 7,178 breakthrough deaths, with 85% over 65. It no longer counts all breakthrough cases, but just deaths and hospitalizations. However, CDC data are notoriously unreliable. So, extrapolating the data for the above six states to the entire nation (using population data) results in 14,510 breakthrough deaths for 1.6 million cases and a death rate of .9%. This is lower than the 2.1 percent in the DOD study; this might be explained by many breakthrough infections happening in people younger than 65 and some under-reporting of breakthrough deaths probably because they are counted as COVID deaths.
Declining vaccine effectiveness
The deaths are important because they show the true limitation of current COVID vaccines. It is now recognized that the effectiveness of the vaccines quickly diminishes over time. After about six months they become ineffective. It was found in this study that breakthrough infection rates 5-6 months post-vaccination are twice as high as 3-4 months post-vaccination. Also noted was that the data showed that mRNA vaccine effectiveness falls short of what was predicted in the drug company studies that got them FDA sanctioned. It also showed that the Moderna vaccine was better than the Pfizer one in sustaining effectiveness.
An unpublished graph of CDC data (made available on a Rational Ground newsletter, October 14, 2021) showed a marked increase in COVID deaths in hospitals starting in April 2021, rising from 3.1 to 15.1 percent for vaccinated patients in May 2021. This corresponds to the five months since the onset of the mass vaccination program; a period when vaccines lose their effectiveness. As time goes on, more people lose protection from vaccines causing more breakthrough infections.
This serious decline in vaccine effectiveness should lead rational, objective people to conclude any vaccine that only provides just a few months of protection should not be described as a medical solution worthy of wide use and mandates. In terms of ineffectiveness against the delta variant, does it make sense to believe that requiring repeated booster shots of the same vaccines will produce better results? At best, they may only delay breakthrough infections.
The worsening of health outcomes after vaccination has been interpreted as resulting from damage to the immune system caused by vaccines. This is referred to as Antibody Dependent Enhancement in the medical research literature. It refers to immune system weakening from the vaccines.
As to declining vaccine effectiveness it should be noted that two studies from Israel and Qatar that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine supported this threat to the fully vaccinated. In Israel, the rise of COVID-19 cases in fully vaccinated people has been reported. According to Dr. Haviv, the vaccinated account for 85-90% of all new hospitalizations and 95% of “severe” cases at the Herzog Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Impacts of being vaccinated
There have also been reports that very high fractions of hospital admissions in the US are for fully vaccinated people. One whistle blower reported that where she worked that while the vaccination rate was less than 50% in the community, about 90% of hospital admissions had been fully vaccinated.
It has been reported from several states that 40% of hospitalized COVID patients had been fully vaccinated, including from New York. Since July 1, nearly 40% of all Onondaga County residents who tested positive for the novel coronavirus had been fully vaccinated.
Recently reported for Maryland was that over the past three months in Anne Arundel County, about 30% of the people hospitalized with COVID are fully vaccinated. In neighboring Howard County, health officials said roughly 30% to 40% of people hospitalized with COVID are fully vaccinated. That is a lot of breakthrough infections.
A recent report from Public Health England shows that 163 of the 257 people (63.4%) who died of the delta variant within 28 days of a positive COVID test between February 1 and June 21, had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
A very important finding of the DOD study that deserved attention by mainstream media was that the one variable that explained substantial resistance to serious negative health impacts from breakthrough infections was natural immunity resulting from prior COVID infection.
If we want to face reality with honesty, then natural immunity must be viewed as the enemy of mass vaccination. That governments refuse to credential natural immunity as they increasingly mandate vaccination is a disgraceful rebuttal of medical science. Indeed, there is now indisputable medical evidence that natural immunity is more effective, especially against variants, and longer lasting than vaccine immunity. All of this makes it a threat to mass vaccination.
St. Lukes University Hospital, in Pennsylvania has recognized natural immunity by offering their workers with it at least a one-year deferment to get vaccinated. With workers in many sectors refusing vaccination even with loss of their jobs, and a resulting huge impact on our economy and society, perhaps the federal government and major companies will be compelled to act in a similar fashion by recognizing natural immunity.
Vaccine immunity impacts
Finally, newly reported research is worth noting: High viral load found in “158 of 232 unvaccinated (68%…) and 156 of 225 fully vaccinated (69%…) symptomatic individuals.” This indicates no difference between the symptomatic vaccinated and unvaccinated in terms of who was carrying, and therefore spreading, the virus. It also found high viral loads in “7 of 24 unvaccinated (29%…) and 9 of 11 fully vaccinated asymptomatic individuals (82%…).” What this means is that among asymptomatic individuals, the vaccinated had a higher percentage with a high viral load.
A valid conclusion is that the unvaccinated that catch the virus are more likely to be at home in bed with symptoms, while the vaccinated that catch the virus (breakthrough infection) may often have no symptoms and hence continue their daily routine unknowingly spreading the virus. This is why many medical experts refer to the vaccinated as super spreaders. Indeed, the eminent Dr. Robert Malone, inventor of mRNA vaccines, has emphasized that vaccinated people in their normal activities are “going to be spreading the virus like crazy.”
As to breakthrough infections and deaths, what must be remembered is that there is likely to be a lot of COVID virus circulating, mostly the delta variant now. This is happening as fully vaccinated people have declining vaccine effectiveness. The booster shots just delay such a loss. All of this means increasing breakthrough cases, some of which result in death, especially in the most vulnerable; that is, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems (like Colin Powell), and those with serious comorbidities, including obesity.
Dr. Joel S. Hirschhorn, author of Pandemic Blunder and many articles on the pandemic, worked on health issues for decades. As a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he directed a medical research program between the colleges of engineering and medicine. As a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association, he directed major studies on health-related subjects; he testified at over 50 US Senate and House hearings and authored hundreds of articles and op-ed articles in major newspapers. He has served as an executive volunteer at a major hospital for more than 10 years. He is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and America’s Frontline Doctors.