Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘Multibillion-dollar failure’: Australian doctors rip into Covid response

A top doctor has ripped into Australia’s handling of the Covid pandemic, accusing the government of spreading “misinformation” and putting people at risk.

Dr Kerryn Phelps accused the government of fuelling mistrust of health authorities while overselling the “safety and efficacy” of vaccines, and ignoring those suffering serious adverse events from the jabs.

Dr Phelps, who first went public in late 2022 about the “devastating” vaccine injury both she and her wife had suffered after a Pfizer jab, said while there was “a lot that our public health agencies got right during this pandemic”, significant mistakes were made.

The former MP for Wentworth and Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, and past president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), is one of dozens of doctors and medical professionals who made public submissions to the federal government’s Covid-19 Response Inquiry.

Dr Phelps slammed “confusing misinformation” spread by authorities early on.

This included claims that Covid was not airborne, there was “no need for masks”, children did not spread the disease and that “herd immunity” could be reached.

All of this turned out to be false.

She said the consequence of the “let it rip” decision in late 2021 led to a “massive number of infections and excess Covid-related deaths estimated by actuaries to be 20,000 in 2022”.

“Political decisions were made, and public health advice was provided based on this misinformation, fuelling mistrust in subsequent advice emanating from those sources,” she said.

Regarding the vaccine rollout, Dr Phelps said “doctors and the public were assured that the vaccines would reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalisations and death from the virus” and the “information being disseminated emphasised their claimed ‘safety and efficacy’”.

“Of course, early in the rollout of the vaccines, little was known about the potential range of adverse effects of the vaccine,” she said.

“In the urgency to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible, patients who had suffered significant vaccine injury were encouraged or mandated to have subsequent doses with inadequate evidence for the potential damage this might do to someone who had already suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

“It was extremely difficult for patients who had been affected to obtain a medical exemption.”

Another consequence of this lack of information about adverse events “was that many patients report that they were not believed, or their doctors initially did not recognise the diagnosis or did not have treatment protocols in place”.

“This meant that patients had to take matters into their own hands and set up advocacy groups such as Coverse to share experiences and provide much needed support,” she said.

“It also became evident that these were not sterilising vaccines, and that while they were reported to provide some protection against severe disease and long Covid, they would not stop infection or transmission or the development of long Covid.”

For future pandemics, Dr Phelps called for a “return to the precautionary principle and the fundamentals of public health and disease prevention” and a “comprehensive plan for research and development of treatments”, including sterilising vaccines.

Among the recommendations in her submission were for greater access to high-quality N95 masks with associated mandates in healthcare facilities, a “concerted and sustained effort” to reduce Covid transmission in schools, a return to isolation for infected individuals during the infectious period with appropriate financial support, and expansion of hybrid work and education.

She also called for research into the underlying mechanisms of vaccine injury, better follow-up of adverse events reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and identification of barriers to reporting such reactions, as well as better information for GPs and a review of the Covid-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme.

In a separate submission to the inquiry, Kooyong MP Dr Monique Ryan was strongly critical of the “extent and severity” of Morrison government’s “failures” during Covid.

In her submission she cited “lack of preparedness” for a global pandemic, inadequate quarantine and testing, delays in procurement and rollout of vaccines and failure to “combat widespread public misinformation” about the jabs.

But the Teal MP also said the government had failed to “adequately address community concerns regarding side-effects of vaccinations”, which she said were “not well communicated to the general public” contributing to “mistrust of the system”.

“Constituents also reported unreasonable delays and rejection of claims by the Covid-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme,” Dr Ryan said.

A number of submissions also highlighted human rights concerns around Covid measures.

The Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) said it had received more than 1500 complaints, the majority related to border closures, hotel quarantine, and mandatory mask and vaccination requirements.

“Rights raised in relation to these complaints included recognition and equality before the law, the right not to be subject to medical treatment without consent, privacy and reputation, humane treatment when deprived of liberty, and freedom of movement,” it said.

Queensland GP Dr Melissa McCann, who is leading a vaccine injury class action against the federal government, said in her submission it was “difficult to know” whether the key Covid response measures “could have been managed any worse”.

“The Covid-19 vaccinations have been perhaps the most egregious health response measure in recorded history,” she said.

“The success of a vaccination campaign is not measured by the percentage of population who were convinced to be vaccinated, despite this being reported by various official sources as evidence of a successful program.

“A successful vaccination campaign ought to result in the majority of vaccinated persons not becoming infected with the disease the vaccines were designed to protect against.

“A successful campaign would result in reduced number of cases and reduced transmission of disease throughout a population following the vaccination campaign.

“It ought to result in small numbers of adverse events after vaccination and such events comparable with traditional vaccines. It ought to result in an overall reduction in severe disease, deaths caused by the disease and reduction in overall excess mortality across a population.”

By all of these measures, the Covid vaccination campaign “has been a complete failure despite the multibillion-dollar investment”, she argued.


SARS-CoV-2 Hit Some Children Hard, with MIS-C and Neurological Symptoms

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) pediatrician-scientist Michael Wolf, M.D. recently authored a commentary in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network. Affiliated with VUMC’s Division of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Wolf articulates that children and adolescents hospitalized with infectious and inflammatory conditions get exposed to the risk of neurological symptoms. This means from the physician’s point of view, he/she must identify those at greatest risk for more serious neurological conditions.

According to one study (Francoeur et al.) looking at the issue from a pediatric neurocritical care perspective, the VUMC physician informs that in the authors’ secondary analysis of the pediatric Global Consortium Study of Neurologic Dysfunction in COVID-19 (GCS-NeuroCOVID), severe neurological manifestations were strikingly common in hospitalized children and adolescents (i.e., from birth to <18 years) with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), occurring in 18.0% and 24.8%, respectively.

TrialSite reminds that children’s hospitalization was always far lower than adults, however, with the delta variant of concern the hospitalization rate increased as did the incidence of MIS-C. Such incidence declined again with the onset of omicron.

But nonetheless, a small sample—rare—but as we describe in TrialSite as “real” damage to our children can occur, as pointed out by Dr. Wolf.

For example, he points out in JAMA Network, “Acute encephalopathy accounted for most of the neurological sequelae in both conditions.”

Acute encephalopathy is a rapidly developing brain dysfunction that can be caused by a number of factors, including metabolic, toxic, epileptic, or infection-related issues. It can also be caused by structural disturbances. Acute encephalopathy can lead to a range of symptoms

According to Dr. Wolf, the study demonstrated an association between severe neurological manifestations and new functional or neurocognitive morbidity, as measured by the Functional Status Scale and the Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category scale.

The study involved a large global cohort of hospitalized young patients with a group of experts backing the diagnoses. The resulting analysis highlights the strengths and also some limitations of such datasets, pointing to the need to better understand risk factors for and downstream consequences of neurological conditions linked to children and adolescents hospitalized with neurological conditions.




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