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Wednesday 2 December 2020

Vaccination And The Thalidomide Stupidity

The 1950s. A decade to which the Daily Mail would like to return us, a time of dreadful urban air quality, indifferent food, retail price maintenance, holidays in the UK only, but hope in the future and confidence in the current received wisdom. That last included the idea that smoking was good for you, despite his smoking habit being a prime contributor to The King’s premature death in 1952 at the age of just 56.

Then along came Richard Doll to tell the world that smoking may not be so good for you after all. The world learned an important lesson. It learned an important lesson in the then-new field of jet-powered airliners: Britain gave the world the Comet I in 1951; three years later, after two of the aircraft broke up in mid-air soon after taking off from Rome’s Ciampino airport, the planes were grounded. We then learned about metal fatigue.

And we learned another valuable health lesson about 1950s products when the wonder drug Thalidomide was shown to be responsible for birth defects in thousands of children. Drugs would never again be simply brought to market and given the hard sell: there would now have to be rigorous clinical trials, with side-effects identified as part of that process.

No-one would reasonably shy away from air travel because they feared their plane was another Comet I (737 Max excepted). But in the world of bots and trolls, some have decided that getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is somehow another potential Thalidomide. And once the bots have put the idea out there, all that is needed is for the anti-vax faithful and their easily led followers to amplify the message. Thus the stupidity.

Would Jennifer Cassidy care to state the obvious? Thankfully, she would. “COVID-19 vaccine: It’s optional. Calm down. Your right to choose is still there … Remember when you hated the right to choose? Thalidomide was NOT a vaccine … It didn’t even have clinical trials … Read facts. Use evidence. Make your decision. Stop scaremongering”.

Immunologist Prof Matthias Eberl had advice for those with gaps in their knowledge of scientific progress over the years. "People spouting nonsense about thalidomide on social media are kindly invited to inform themselves about the Medicines Act 1968 and all scientific and regulatory advances ever since”. The lessons have been learned.

Adam Fare reminded us “And now Thalidomide is trending … The thing about science is that they actually learn from experience, they don't use it to scare others. Every time you have a safe plane flight, or use your seatbelts in the car, it proves science works”. Cars have airbags. Aircraft have TCAS. Trains have train protection systems.

None of this has been allowed to enter the anti-vax mobs’ heads. So it was that the Spiller of Tea took one look and mused “Ah, fucking hell, the morning one of the vaccines that will finally get us out of this mess is approved, and Thalidomide is trending in the UK, because of course it is. This fucking country”. He was not alone.

Another Tweeter has concluded simply “Thalidomide is trending because people are stupid”. That means you, KBF and QAnon idiots. Everyone else can get vaccinated, stay safe, and help break the transmission of Covid-19. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Gulliver said...

Except if there are enough KBF and QAnon idiots the vaccine may ultimately be less effective. See also MMR and Andrew Wakefield (as boosted by M Phillips) and the subsequent fall in immunization rates below the recommenced 95% for population wide protection.

I don't know if the C19 vaccine requires a similarly high percentage of the population for it to be effective but if it does.........

Anonymous said...

Freedom to choose, I'll see what the long term effects are.

David said...

Who is this Adam Fare?
"Every time you have a safe plane flight, or use your seatbelts in the car, it proves science works”.
The science involved is not new the success of any flight is more to do with engineering and the political will to hold engineers to account (except where the engineers cut corners and the politicians turn a blind eye, as at Boeing).

Cassidy is nearer the mark when she mentions the lack of clinical trials for Thalidomide. She may be unaware that it was declared safe by two chums, a Health Minister and a businessman, over a good lunch. Perhaps it could be repeated by Hancock and his former pub landlord or Grayling and a pizza parlour?

It has already been determined that AZ's success was due to only testing on young, healthy people. Give them an inch...

Anonymous said...

Hi Gulliver.

Covid Vac doesn't need 95%.
I've seen 66% quoted, but like that supermarket ad says; every little helps.

The best thing we sensibles can do is to get ours, and then ensure any 'school of life' type elder relatives get theirs.

Iain said...

I am pro-vaccines but am a little concerned that it is being claimed that the accelerated testing performed on the pfizer vaccine hasn't skipped any safety tests so it is 100% safe.

Reason is this particular vaccine is based on a brand new never used before technology.
This means that there is no long-term data for this type of vaccine unlike many of the other candidates (the Astra Zeneca one is based on a Chimpanzee virus is somewhat novel) and the testing so far can only show that there are no obvious short-term effects.

This means that any mid/long-term effects (e.g. Damage to unborn babies, Cancers, Heart disease , other organs etc. ), no matter how unlikely, that might only show up months or years after use will not be picked up.