Sunday, January 17, 2021

Guest Post: Why You Should Take The Vaccine

A few months ago, there was understandable hesitancy about taking the Covid vaccine. After all, had it really been tested properly? What are the potential short-term and long-term side effects? Besides, who's to say that you'll catch Covid anyway?

Several months later, things are very different. The vaccine has already been given to many millions of people. Whereas millions have died from Covid, there are at most one or two debatable deaths from from the vaccine. There are negligible short-term effects and no reason to believe that there are any long-term side effects. 

Meanwhile, the chances of catching Covid have gone up immeasurably with the new, more contagious variants. And the long-term effects of Covid, even for those who recover, are now known to be much more serious, including nerve damage and severe lung damage. As one surgeon has said, "There is no long-term implication of a vaccine that could ever be as bad as the long-term implications of Covid."

And yet, people are still irrationally afraid, and spreading conspiracy theories. The Arutz-7 website, popular because of its national-religious orientation, has been especially guilty of this. Its latest missive is an anti-vaccination article, titled "This Is Not A Vaccine," by a "Health and Wellness Counselor" which superficially looks impressive (it has lots of endnotes!). 

With lives at stake, it's important for this to be refuted by authoritative voices - and for people to realize that they should be listening to authoritative voices, not "wellness counselors." And so I approached two suitably qualified people to write a response. Dr. Joel Kaye (my esteemed brother-in-law) has a PhD in Immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, a Fellowship in Immunology from Harvard Medical School, and 16 years’ experience developing drugs for Autoimmune Diseases and Cancer. Dr. Gillian Kay (no relation) has a PhD in pharmacology and has been involved in molecular biology research at Hebrew University for 25 years. Here is their response:

This IS a Vaccine

The homepage of Israel National news, the English language website of Arutz 7, has three headlines close together:

“9,172 new COVID infections in 24 hours”

“1 person with British mutation gives 146 people COVID”

“This is not a vaccine”

The extremely worrying current situation regarding COVID-19 has not deterred Arutz 7 from publishing an article aimed at preventing people from vaccinating against this disease. This opinion piece, packed with misinformation and distortions, was written by Ilana Rachel Daniel, a “Health and Wellness Counselor”, who has a hastily put together website in which she gives a link to what purports to be the “Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System Israel,” but is in fact a Google form that gives no indication where the information goes to or mention of data protection. The questions on the form include personal details and medical history. Her qualifications and scientific background are not given on her website or in the article.

The subheading is “Israeli people haven't been given information required for a sufficient risk-benefit analysis in this extraordinary endeavor.” We assume she has not subscribed to the Ministry of Health’s Telegram channel or bothered to spend any time looking at the wealth of information on their website, but apart from that, since when does a country's general population carry out risk-benefit analyses about public health issues? It is the job of the Ministry of Health and their scientists and epidemiologists to weigh all of the evidence before approving medicines for the use in specific diseases. Tens, if not hundreds, of independent people from different disciplines review the data for ALL drugs and vaccines. Every medication we take – from antibiotics to biological anti-cancer drugs has been reviewed and approved. Each individual ultimately has the right to decide for his/herself whether to vaccinate, but the public health decisions are not made by the public, but for the public.

The impression from the article is that a secret agreement was made to offer Israeli citizens to Pfizer as guinea pigs, an agreement that is only now being revealed, and that the vaccine is being tested on us before everyone else. While it is true that Israel is leading the world in the number of vaccines per 100 people, as of Jan 14th 37.5 million vaccination doses have been given worldwide. We only account for 2 million of these. What is special about Israel is that since we have both a high vaccination rate and a high disease prevalence, the effect of the vaccine will be quickly seen. In addition, we have a fully computerized medical system that creates a huge amount data; this is termed “big data”. All the HMOs use this big data to carry out many studies, analyzing the effects of many public health interventions, medications, vaccines, diet, various therapies and more. This data is all protected by privacy laws so personal identifying information is never revealed. The Ministry of Health is also keeping track of all adverse events as a result of COVID-19 vaccination (the online form for reports can be found here). The information collected is available to all on their website (the presentation given to the committee in charge of monitoring adverse events at their first meeting can be found here). So much for the supposed “complete opacity of data on the unfolding outcomes of adverse reactions currently taking place”.

Phase 3 clinical trials are carried out on tens of thousands of people, providing enough information on efficacy and safety for roll-out to the population at large. Research into the effects of the vaccine or drug always continue after roll-out. This is the only way to reveal any rare adverse events and long-term effects and efficacy. It can be considered Phase 4 of the trials; currently there are at least 17 million people in this “trial” worldwide (since we don’t know how many of the 35.6 million doses were first or second doses).

Daniel's article makes several claims that at best demonstrate her limited knowledge of immunology and the basic tenets of cell biology. For example, she states that Pfizer’s vaccine is not actually a vaccine “..as defined by the CDC as 'A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease.' Rather, it is an experimental and novel technology." Since the vaccine does in fact stimulate a person’s immune system to produce immunity to COVID-19, this is a strange thing to say. The fact the technology is relatively novel (after over 10 years of research) does not have any relevance to its mechanism. 

Daniel further claims that "By definition of the FDA as a component used as treatment to affect a body’s function, it is indeed a medical device, a physical device that comes in a molecular sized package." All vaccines affect a body's function in the same way, causing it to produce antibodies. This vaccine just does that in a different way, using mRNA instead of a piece of the virus. That does not turn it into a medical device.

A particularly problematic claim is that "An mRNA vaccine is not a vaccine, because it does not elicit an immune response. What it is, is genetic engineering." No, that is not what genetic engineering is. Genetic engineering is the process of using technology to alter the genetic makeup of an organism via direct manipulation of one or more genes. This vaccine does not alter DNA, and it does elicit an immune response, just via production of a protein. She shows her total lack of knowledge of molecular biology (and the Human Genome Project) later in the article when she discusses “tampering with the human genome”. The human genome cannot be altered by injecting mRNA into our muscles; mRNA does not change DNA – it cannot even enter the cell nucleus where DNA is located. Presumably the author is also unaware that the virus itself hijacks our cell machinery in order to replicate, making our cells produce the proteins it needs (without altering our DNA). 

Daniel goes on to discuss several vaccines whose research failed at the animal phase due to antibody dependent enhancement (ADE). Since the current COVID-19 vaccines did not fail at the animal phase, and ADE has not been seen at any three research phases or as a result of the 35.6 million doses already administered, we fail to see any relevance to this information, unless the aim is to provoke unnecessary fear.

The next issue raised by Daniel is that of autoimmune disease and infertility. The immunological concerns of mRNA vaccines have been considered in detail and this vaccine platform has been extensively explored for other infections and cancer. Molecular mimicry has been described as a potential mechanism of some autoimmune disease. But molecular mimicry means that a tiny stretch of amino acids would need to be identical at a molecular level. As described in the NY Times by Stephanie Langel, an immunologist and expert in maternal and neonatal immunity at Duke University, the coronavirus spike and the placental protein in question have almost nothing in common, making the vaccine highly unlikely to trigger a reaction to these delicate tissues. The two proteins share only a minuscule stretch of material; mixing them up would be akin to mistaking a rhinoceros for a jaguar because they are wearing the same collar. If this were true, we would also expect COVID-19 to cause early pregnancy loss a significant amount of the time, which is not the case. There is no reasonable basis to believe that vaccines against COVID-19 will affect fertility.

Regarding prevention of transmission of SARS-CoV2 by Pfizer’s vaccine, it is untrue to claim that the mRNA vaccines were not designed with that aim but rather as treatments. A vaccine is by definition a prevention, not a treatment. The trials have shown conclusively that the vaccine completely prevents illness in 95% of people and prevents serious illness those few cases of vaccinated subjects who contracted the disease. However, the phase 3 trials were not designed to assess transmission; this is being investigated currently world-wide. Analysis of preliminary data by the Ministry of Health and the four healthcare providers indicate that transmission is prevented by between 50-60% after a single dose.

COVID-19 has challenged us in many ways. The scientific community has risen to this challenge, cooperating and shifting their research efforts into investigation of the disease, its treatment and its prevention. Misinformation and fearmongering must not be allowed to prevent us from ending this pandemic.

*  *  *

I would like to thank Dr. Kay and Dr. Kaye for putting together this response. If anyone would like to understand the science behind the mRNA vaccines and their efficacy, you can watch Joel on the YouTube channel “COVID Vaccine Facts and Fiction”. For general information about vaccination, מדעת is a wonderful resource (https://www.midaat.org.il/) and if you are looking for information in English about vaccination and evidence-based parenting, Gillian is one of the admins of a Facebook group VILOs (Vaccinated Israeli Little Ones)/ Evidence-Based Parenting where all questions are welcome. There is also a lengthy video about the vaccine from Prof. Yonatan HaLevy, former Director-General and current President of Shaarei Tzedek, at this link.

It must be noted that for some people, rational arguments have little effect; they need an emotional appeal. Fortunately, there is just the thing! Check out this amazing song on YouTube.

UPDATE: I was pleased to see that Arutz-7 posted this rebuttal on their website.

(If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you.) 

80 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Joint response by Joel Kaye and Gillian Kay (no relation)

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    2. Rabbi Slifkin asked us to write it up for his blog

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  2. I've really never understood how people can shamelessly write an article on a topic they know absolutely nothing about.

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    1. And if they did know nearly everything about the topic & wrote the same exact article, would that be OK?

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    2. No, I don't even get what your point is.

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  3. Thank you Dr. Kay and Dr. Kaye for your important response. Unfortunately, Arutz Sheva has taken a turn in a dangerous direction, and this post helps combat it.

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  4. It is indeed unfortunate that religious zionists can be so prone to radical conspiracy theories and ignore rational science. I guess it is due to the influence of messianic thinking, and their insistence that the state of Israel heralds the upcoming redemption of mankind. Rav Kook zt'l was very influenced by mystical kabbalists.

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    1. This lie has to stop! "Messianic thinking" is not irrational. The Rambam (Maimonides) including belief in the coming of Moshiach (the Messiah) in his 13 articles of the Jewish faith. The Rambam is known to be one of the most rational and non-mystical Sages in Jewish history. "Mystical Kabbalists" were not crazy -- they have a tradition that goes back to Sinai - the giving of our holy Torah to the Jewish People.
      To make the "jump" from someone who believes in the Messiah or who learns Jewish mysticism, to those who are "prone to radical conspiracy theories" is plain wrong, and a defamation of a significant part of the Jewish People!

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    2. Perhaps. But only irrational and messianic fanatics can convince themselves to ignore the entire world and fight provocatively against a stronger and much larger enemy, convinced that G-d will somehow send someone down to save them. It's one small step from that type of thinking to being ignoring all rational health directives.

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    3. No, it's generic right-wing-ism. Trump and QAnon say the virus is a hoax, therefore we have to say so also.

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    4. "it's generic right-wing-ism."
      Maybe in the USA. Consider that UK leftist Piers Corbyn is a big covid denier.
      Here is Israel, you don't see a big right wing covid denial movement. Also consider that reckless BLM protests were also a form of covid denialism- not manifest but implicit.

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    5. I forgot to mention RFK Jr. another USA leftist in the covid denial movement.

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  5. SHTUYOT! you sound like Walter Sobchak in "The Big Lebowski" who ties everything to Vietnam! Give us a break!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. "This comment was removed by the author." The author of the comment, or the article?
      ......just wondering......

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  6. The medical risks are not the only one. The sheer speed at which the roll out took place is an important factor.

    In the UK EVERY TIME a pharmacist issued medication based on a prescription, however low risk, it is checked by somebody else. Why do you think that is?

    People make mistakes. People are pressured by their line managers. People rely on their jobs to keep their houses and feed their children.

    You are aware that to date NO mRNA vaccine has ever been approved anywhere in the world, precisely due to the risks of the new technology. Yet suddenly we are told the risks are negligible.

    The correct approach to any doctors or scientists, directly or indirectly on a Government payroll is kabdeihu vechashdeihu. Ditto doctors or scientists directly or indirectly on the payroll of the manufacturers of the vaccine.

    What do you think would happen to the careers of any doctors who expressed concerns? It's not a smart career move.

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    1. "You are aware that to date NO mRNA vaccine has ever been approved anywhere in the world, precisely due to the risks of the new technology."

      Incorrect - Both Pfizer and Moderna have been approved in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Israel & Bahrain

      The speed by which the vaccines were developed is miraculous! If anything it has taught us how slow the normal process is, and how cutting red tape can make things move so much quicker

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    2. You are aware that mRNA vaccines have been shown to work in scientific studies since 1994? The main reason they weren't approved for human vaccine use (for diseases like rabies) is that traditional vaccines for those diseases already exist and there is no point in reinventing the wheel.

      You also realize that this particular vaccine has been tested by hundreds of thousands of people over the last 10 months, with no significant harm occurring from the vaccine, and hundreds of lives already saved by preventing COVID infections? That's really the point, this vaccine doesn't have to be perfectly safe, it just has to be safer than COVID itself - and it is.

      You do realize that expressing concern about the vaccine would be a great career move? The anti-vax media would jump on you and instantly make you a celebrity because they would now have "scientific" backing for their skepticism.

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    3. "Yet suddenly we are told the risks are negligible."
      Untrue. These vaccines were approved for emergency use. Implicit in such approval is that the vaccine has not achieved a gold standard of efficacy & safety. So no, you were not told the risk are negligible. You were told they were negligible relative to the ongoing danger of covid.

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    4. ***********************************January 17, 2021 at 8:48 PM

      Joel,

      You miss my point. THIS is the vaccine that is approved. All mRNA vaccines before this were not. Why?

      Ephraim,

      Really? - where in this post is it flagged that " You were told they were negligible relative to the ongoing danger of covid. ". But in essence you agree with me.

      Eric,

      Rejections of regulatory aproval for medicines are not made because of "there is no point in reinventing the wheel". Do go and read some scientific papers. When have you ever seen any such reason? They are a little more technical than that.

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    5. You do realise that nature has been giving us mRNA vaccines since the earliest moments of evolution. I suspect however what you really mean is synthetic mRNA vaccines.

      Still, all the immunologist are doing is coopting our natural defence systems to work in a way that they would otherwise work.

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    6. Ephraim

      "These vaccines were approved for emergency use."

      This is an untrue statement, and everything that you conclude after this statement is therefor false. These vaccines may have gone through an accelerated approval process, but acceleration means faster, it doesn't mean cutting corners. The same saftey studies were conducted.

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    7. "This is an untrue statement"
      Of course, it's true. The vaccines were authorized for emergency use. Everything else you wrote is true.

      Details here: https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines/emergency-use-authorization-vaccines-explained

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    8. Ephraim,

      My apologies - you were right and I was wrong.

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  7. The vaccine may well be ineffective agaibst the Brazilian varient that will spread rapidly around the worls. Scientists have gone very quiet about that.

    And in the UK the doses are now being spread 12 weeks apart (if we are lucky). Dispite the fact that dosage regime has not been tested, regulated or even approved. And Pfizer have vouced concerned.

    But don't worry say the doctors and scientists on the Government payroll. It's all fine.

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    1. My brother-in-law is not on the payroll. I don't think he's lying to me.

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    2. The decision to wait 12 weeks between vaccine doses in the UK is indeed worrying, though I understand what drove them to take this chance. How has that got anything to do with the issues discussed in the article?

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    3. ***********************************January 17, 2021 at 8:50 PM

      Gilian,

      How doctors and scientists on the Goverment payroll behave. What else is out that there we simply do not know about?

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    4. ***********************************January 17, 2021 at 8:54 PM

      Natan,

      No one is suggesting anybody is lying. That's not the way it works in science (and indeed in academia in general).

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  8. I think the one issue no one is considering is the fact that pfizer will make a fortune from this and it is in their interest to squash anyone who questions the safety of the vaccine. With all do respect to your brother-in-law he is no expert in vaccines and certainly not this novel one either. There is nothing wrong with one questioning this new vaccine that was created in record time for a desease that we still know so little about. No one can promise that there are no long term effects and no one can say for sure if it will work against the new mutations. I believe it is prudent for those that have the luxury to defer the vaccine until we see what happens to those already vaccinated. As Shlomo hamelech said הפתי יאמין לכל דבר

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    1. 1) I am an expert in Immunology
      2) You are more than welcome to watch the videos where I explain the process of authorization
      3) Long term effects of vaccines are never studies prior to approval - only as part of post-approval studies, as being done now
      4) Data has already been generated showing the Pfizer vaccine induces antibodies that are effective against the mutations

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    2. ***********************************January 17, 2021 at 8:53 PM

      Joel,

      Not necessarily protects against one of the Brazilian ones (or maybe both). As I wrote, its all gone a little quiet over that one (other than the UK banning ALL incoming travellers without quarantining, precisily because of this.

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    3. "it is in their interest to squash anyone who questions the safety of the vaccine. "
      False. It's in their best interest to confront anyone who questions the vaccine in open debate. Quashing debate only fuels suspicion.
      And has anyone really quashed any debate? Where has it been quashed?

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    4. Dr K:
      If it works through antibodies, isn't it known that antibodies only last 4-6 months?
      Does that mean the whole procedure has to be repeated 2-3 times a year, times two doses?

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    5. MMhY - afaik, the vaccine does not produce anti-bodies in the body, it convinces the anti-body producing mechanism in the body that there is a massive infection, essentially lying to the body (what is the hetter to lie to your own body? What about למדו לשונם דבר שקר?/s), which makes the body produce a steady supply of anti-bodies. That is why the vaccine is more likely to last longer than the infection's own anti-bodies.

      And just as an aside, so far, reinfections are quite rare. So we can be quite assured that the anti-bodies of a natural infection last at least a year. Although anti-body tests show a reduction in anti-bodies after some months, people are still immune. I don't know why.

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  9. I am 63 and have asthma...as I understand it, the vaccine is risky to me. Added to that there are reports coming through that it is messing up people and yes, I know there is always allergic reactions. In spite of the guest post, there are people who will not take it and it will divide society into two groups and those who take the vaccine will at best look at contempt and restrict those who did not take it and at worse will resort to physical and verbal abuse...by the way, I have seen the worse happening in Petah Tikva. Eventually the govt will force this on people if they do no want it, Dark days ahead.

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    1. "Added to that there are reports coming through that it is messing up people "

      Prove it. Cite these reports! And then consult your calculator. Suppose there are reports than n people have complained of excessive earwax. So that's n out of 2 million people vax'd in a month. Multiply n by 12 to get the yearly figure. Then check out the yearly incidence of excessive earwax in the general population. Contrast the two numbers. Is the vax'd rate higher than the general population? (Don't forget that it's mostly older people who've been vax'd so far.) How much excess complaints of earwax beyond that which is expected for a non-vax'd population? Then tell me that number is not a worthwhile price to pay for saving lives from covid.

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    2. You do not read well. I am talking about allergic reactions. Are you saying that the vaccine has not negative side effects? Nor was I saying that I am against it, as I am taking a wait and see approach. Added to this, you did address the social implications of those who take and those who do not. Are you assuming that all people will take it by any means necessary?

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    3. "I am talking about allergic reactions."

      So are the expects. Macabbi Health in Israel is not allowing people with a history of severe allergy to medication/vaccines from getting the jab. This is a known issue to all vaccines & medications. Hell, incidents of anaphylaxis can show up suddenly without apparent cause. There are people, who had such reactions & now carry an epipen even though they still don't know what they reacted too. So this issue concerns all vaccines/medications & not just the one for covid.

      "Are you saying that the vaccine has not [had] negative side effects?"
      I'm saying prove it. The science-illiterate media has reported cases of heart attacks or facial paralysis. But those numbers were well within the range of existing prevalence in the general non-vax'd population. So no, there have been no proven negative side-effects from the covid vaccine per se.

      "Are you assuming that all people will take it by any means necessary?"
      I'm not addressing that important issue. That being the case, it's one thing to refuse the vaccine while remaining masked & socially distanced. But to refuse the vax & run around recklessly is downright selfish & sociopathic.

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  10. While, the article was useful to rebut the misinformation printed elsewhere I did note what I believe is an error. The sentence “ The trials have shown conclusively that the vaccine completely prevents illness in 95% of people and prevents serious illness those few cases of vaccinated .” Is incorrect. That is not what the study showed. Rather, It showed 95 efficacy rate. This means that under the same conditions as the study, the vaccine reduces the risk of infection by 95 percent compared with placebo.

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    1. Yes and no. It did not reduce the risk of infection by 95%, rather the risk of getting ill. People who were not ill or who were not to their knowledge exposed to the virus were not tested for the virus. That is why I wrote that the clinical trials were not designed to measure transmission. But you are correct that the figure of 95% comes from the percentage of those subjects in the study who had COVID-19 after two injections that had received placebo as opposed to the vaccine.

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  11. Bottom line: One who takes the vaccine doesn't need God anymore.

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    1. Right, and God told me not to wash my teeth anymore, because I must rely on him alone.

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    3. Was said tongue in cheek....Not that you shouldn't get the vaccine, but do realize that God can still get you. You don't become immortal or invincible to desease or death.

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    4. Rationalist Jew, is that something the rationalist Maimonides would have said? No. The talmudic rabbis taught us to not rely on miracles.

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  12. Whether one does or doesn’t take the vaccine when it's a person's time, they will go. If one thinks not taking the vaccine will "buy" themselves life or taking the vaccine wll "buy" themselves life - life teaches us otherwise.

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  13. ספר החינוך- מעקה: שאמרו זכרונם לברכה (חולין ז ב), אין אדם נוקף אצבעו מלמטה אלא אם כן מכריזין עליו מלמעלה, אף על פי כן צריך האדם לשמר עצמו מן המקרים הנהוגים בעולם

    רמב"ם: ואם לא הסיר והניח המכשולות המביאין לידי סכנה ביטל מצות עשה ועבר בלא תשים דמים.

    You're expousing anti-Torah fatalism. Hashem has decreed that we live under the laws of nature. The laws of nature are Hashem's laws. When you ignore them at your own peril, you violate halacha too. Not taking a vaccine for such "frum" reasons is also a violation of לא תנסו.

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  14. People who are not experts have absolutely no need to get into these kind of details on each individual anti-vaccine claim! It's enough to realize that the majority of medical experts heartily recommend getting the vaccine.

    Rabbi Eliezer Melamed wrote about this three weeks ago. Here's my free, approximate translation from Rabbi Melamed's article:

    Q: "I've heard rumors that the Covid vaccines are harmful. Some serious people claim that this is all part of a conspiracy by some rich people to further their personal agendas. Here are some articles on the subject. Could you please take a look?"

    A: "According to Jewish law, in medical matters one should listen to the majority of medical experts. If there are medical experts that think vaccines are harmful then they should be free to express their opinions, but the ones to decide whether their claims are convincing or not are the majority of medical experts.

    "Regarding the articles you attached, I'm not interested in reading them, because I'm not an expert in the field and I have no way of evaluating their claims either way.

    "However, I am perfectly capable of seeing that most experts say it's very important to get vaccinated. Hence, that is my position as well. I'm not arguing that medical experts never make mistakes. Of course they have made mistakes many times. Nevertheless, people who listen to the majority of medical experts make fewer mistakes on the long run.

    "Following the majority is an important general rule in life. Most people are not liars or cheaters. One who doesn't rely on other people's presumption of innocence will be haunted by doubts on every step of his life. He won't be able to rely on any Kosher supervision because perhaps the supervisor is a liar, or perhaps the store owner managed to cheat the supervisor. He won't be able to get married because perhaps he wasn't told everything about the girl. Even if he does get married, he won't be able to trust his wife, because perhaps she's cheating on him or laying him a trap. He won't be able to have children because he doesn't know what will be in the future. And if he does have children, he won't be able to trust them, because perhaps they're planning to take all his money.

    "Now, there have certainly been cases of people who cheated in all the above-mentioned ways. Nevertheless, in the absence of clear solid reasons to do otherwise, we go after the majority and after the presumption of innocence and stop worrying. And if someone does raise reasons to worry, we listen to the majority of experts who know the issue."

    The original article by R. Melamed: https://revivim.yhb.org.il/2020/12/31/

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  15. To those who think this against the laws of Hashem...

    A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

    Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you."

    The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me."

    So the rowboat went on.

    The water level rose higher. Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you."

    To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith."

    So the motorboat went on.

    The water level rose even higher. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety."

    To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith."

    So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

    Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!"

    To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"

    ---God sent you a vaccine.

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    1. I like this joke about faith. Another joke I like is this one, here.

      The synagogue officials were united. Even the rabbi agreed. They had all seen that the poor man was suffering. So they gathered at the east wing of the synagogue and prayed in unison, “Please G-d, please allow the poor man to win the lottery so that he can eat!” When Wednesday came and his name was not announced, the group gathered again at the east wing.

      Again they prayed, full of faith, “Please G-d, please let this poor man win the lottery so that he can eat!” When the next Wednesday came and they saw the same result, they prayed again. After the third failure, the rabbi addressed G-d, “Why L-rd, why didn’t he win?” A voice came from heaven, “He never bought a ticket.”

      Prayer works like this: G-d helps people who help themselves. If you want G-d to answer your prayers about the end of this pandemic, take the vaccine and contribute.

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  16. "The human genome cannot be altered by injecting mRNA into our muscles"

    That is sufficient for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. However, the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine actually does alter the genomes of the cells that it operates on. Israel will probably finish vaccinating her population before the J&J vaccine gets released, but for those elsewhere, could you ask your sources to explain why that is still not a threat before it becomes a target for the anti-vaxxers?

    The J&J vaccine uses the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech approach of injecting genetic instruction to produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. However, J&J uses DNA encased in an adenovirus coat while the others use mRNA encased in lipids. While the others directly insert mRNA into the cells to start producing protein, J&J inserts DNA that will integrate with the nucleus in order to produce mRNA that will produce protein.

    I have my thoughts on why that should be safe, but that does "alter the genome" to a limited extent as claimed by the vaccine-skeptics. Some ideas I have are that it is smaller changes than made by naturally occurring viruses and that only a limited number of cells would have their genomes altered. Since that might be non-sense, could you provide a better explanation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The J&J virus uses double stranded DNA packed onto an adenovirus
      That DNA enters the nucleus and is transcribed into mRNA
      It is unable to replicate or be incorporated into human DNA and does not alter any genes

      Delete
    2. It seems to be that the J&J vaccine allows more flexibility for logistics since it doesn't require the deep freeze. That makes it more appropriate for distribution in remote places & areas that don't have the necessary technology.

      Delete
  17. Here is a comment I wrote up a month ago. It is relevant to vaccines, so I reposted it here.

    vaccines are kosher. Vaccines have saved millions of lives. It stopped small pox, for example. If you've ever wondered why small pox is no longer a thing, you could thank vaccines for that. Edward Jenner created this vaccine against smallpox in 1796. Also, the “CDC” recommends Trump’s vaccine.

    To support my claim that vaccines are kosher, Israeli Orthodox Rabbi David Samson said: “There is no prohibition in using medicines which contain forbidden ingredients if they are administered by injection, suppository, enema, medicated bandage, and the like, since they are not eaten.” Even Moses urged the Israelites to take the “utmost care,” and to be “most careful.” (See Deut. 4:9, 4:15.) Later, Moses reminds us of the obligation to make a parapet for a roof, so the owner is not “bring bloodguilt” should anyone fall. (See Deut. 22:8.) The Sages understood Moses statement about G-d’s commandments to protect one’s health, to mean also to oneself guard against disease. For example, the Talmud teaches that we should teach our children how to swim (See BT Kiddushin 29a.) In his Mishneh Torah, Rambam said the duty to take protective measures was a positive commandment. One could only live a Torah life if one is healthy to do so. (See Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot 4:1; Rotzei’ach 1:6, 14.) Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch, agreed. (See Shulchan Aruch, Chosen Mishpat 427:8.)

    Even if vaccines contain blood cells or pig cells, these should not prompt the person to decline the vaccination. They can be taken with injection. Not mouth pill though, as it is forbidden to swallow pig or blood according to the Jewish laws and would violate the laws of kashrut. However, as I said previously, injection is safe and responsible. You would not deny a blood transfusion, so we must not reject Trump’s vaccine. Every Jew needs to be safe from bacteria. We cannot afford to lose one more.

    Chassidic Rabbi Nachman of Bratslov, who lived hundreds of years ago, wrote in his Kuntres Hanhagot Yesharot, that one “must be very careful about the health of children . . . (and) inoculate every baby against smallpox before the age of three months, for if he does not do so, he is like one who sheds blood.” Those who put the community in danger deserves a lashing or be excommunicated. (See Rabbi Prouser, at 22-25/31.) It is one thing to say that the earth was created 6,000 years ago. It is quite another for the charedi Gedolim to prevent vaccinations that are helpful. It plays with people’s lives.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Drs. Kaye and Kay, I plan on following expert consensus and I realize that open questions are not a sufficient reason to reject the vaccine, but do either of you know of any research responding to the concerns raised here? https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4037/rr-19

    ReplyDelete
  19. "Whereas millions have died from Covid, there are at most one or two debatable deaths from the vaccine."
    If we cannot trust the data about who died from Corona how can we trust the data about who died from the vaccine?
    For example how do you explain the discrepancy between COVID mRNA vaccine-related deaths in the USA and Norway vs. in Israel?

    "There are negligible short-term effects and no reason to believe that there are any long-term side effects."
    There is no reason to believe there are not any long-term side effects. The way medical research has worked until Corona Time is that the onus is on the researchers to prove there are no long-term side effects - we are not supposed to assume that. That is dangerous. ושמרתם מאוד בנפשותיכם

    "Meanwhile, the chances of catching Covid have gone up immeasurably with the new, more contagious variants."
    Or the chances have gone up with the number of people congregating in lines to receive vaccibness and being exposed to health-workers that have contact with 1000s and 1000s of people.

    "And the long-term effects of Covid, even for those who recover, are now known to be much more serious, including nerve damage and severe lung damage."
    That is mostly because Doctors are not treating COVID before it gets serious with HCQ/Quercitin+Zinc or Ivermectin which have been proven to help. See links to peer-reviewed papers here:
    http://vladimirzelenkomd.com

    "There is no long-term implication of a vaccine that could ever be as bad as the long-term implications of Covid."
    That's ridiculous and false. Most young healthy people have no long-term effects to COVID-19 therefore any serious side-effect from the vaccine including Bels Palsy or death are much worse.

    "And yet, people are still irrationally afraid, and spreading conspiracy theories."
    It is not a conspiracy that PM Netanyahu made a deal with Pfizer to do a country-wide clinical trial of the vaccine on the Israeli population. It is not irrational to be cautious and afraid of new medical treatments that only have temporary emergency use authorization and whose long-term benefits and side-effects are both unknown. Especially since for the overwhelming majority of the population there is little to no risk from the virus itself.

    "since when does a country's general population carry out risk-benefit analyses about public health issues?"
    Anyone not doing so is not taking responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family. Doctors are not G-d's, science is not unanimous, and people are not without bias.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "any serious side-effect from the vaccine including Bels Palsy"

      False. Cases of facial paralysis have been reported but the numbers have not been more than the amount of cases we'd expect from the general population. The same goes for heart attacks. These incidences are being monitored & would raise alarms IF the numbers exceed existing rates. They haven't yet, so there's not reason to interpret such incidences as side effects. You're misinterpreting the data.

      Delete
    2. "That is mostly because Doctors are not treating COVID before it gets serious with HCQ/Quercitin+Zinc or Ivermectin which have been proven to help."

      Prove it. I've seen many of these Ivermectin studies. Really low quality. For example, one study had the following flaws:
      1) Small amount of participants
      2) No blinding
      3) High dropout rate
      4) Relied on subjective patient reporting of symptoms rather than clear objective criteria
      What has been proven is that Ivermectin works in vitro. But those studies require doses higher than known safety ranges. Why hasn't there been a quality study since the idea came up way back in the Spring?

      The Zelenko HCQ study was also deeply flawed. It didn't have a proper control group. Doctors are not necessarily scientists.

      (You'd have a hard time finding someone with Zinc deficiency in developed countries. I'd speculate that there are more cases of zinc toxicity!)

      Delete
    3. Ezra Gilbert,

      Please stop saying things that are false.

      Also, it's "ונשמרתם מאד לנפשתיכם".

      Delete
  20. "Each individual ultimately has the right to decide for his/herself whether to vaccinate"
    And according to the Nuremburg Code of Medical Ethics rule #1 all medical procedures must be performed with freely given consent and not coercion as is the result of the Green Passport being rolled out by the Israeli government. Such a policy is unethical, discriminatory, and a dangerous attack on basic human rights.

    "The impression from the article is that a secret agreement was made to offer Israeli citizens to Pfizer as guinea pigs"
    This agreement is no longer a secret, perhaps the authors do not follow the news but PM Netanyahu has already admitted to the existence of this agreement.

    The rest of the rebuttal deals with semantics (device vs. vaccine, genetic engineering or not) and debatable science ("highly unlikely to trigger a reaction" etc.) that honest researchers and physicians understand and present the variety of opinions on the topic and not just their own biases.

    "Misinformation and fearmongering must not be allowed to prevent us from ending this pandemic."
    On this statement all can agree but more and more believe it is the government, health-system, and media who are spreading misinformation, fearmongering, and preventing us from treating who needs to be treated and allowing life to continue for the overwheloming majority who are not at risk. B"H there are cheap and availabile treatments and now even an mRNA injection for anyone he decides of their own free will and based on available information to receive or not receive any of the available treatments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "that honest researchers"
      They may be honest (why should I doubt their sincerity?) but they are not researchers. I haven't check ALL their claims, but every claim I did check turned out to be essentially false.

      Delete
    2. "The impression from the article is that a secret agreement was made to offer Israeli citizens to Pfizer as guinea pigs"
      Our point was that the agreement was not ever secret. We were not saying there was no agreement. Our article makes that clear. The agreement has since been published on MoH's webiste for all to read.

      Delete
    3. "The rest of the rebuttal deals with semantics (device vs. vaccine, genetic engineering or not)"
      Since we were refuting an article titled "This is not a vaccine" and the so-called proofs of that claim in that article involved incorrect statements about vaccines and about this specific vaccine, it was not mere semantics to discuss these statements. You cannot claim is is mere semantics to take issue with Ms. Daniel writing that the COVID-19 vaccine is an example of genetic engineering and alters the human genome.

      Delete
  21. Drs. Kaye and Kay,

    Have you seen this? Is this accurate? What is your response?

    Chinese health experts call to suspend Pfizer's mRNA vaccine for elderly after Norwegian deaths - Global Times

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202101/1212915.shtml?fbclid=IwAR0FxV46dpDms52PG_Chgqk6Loe43cgNpejW--sCbsxkh_FNKKKs2ElQY8U

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Drs.,
      That link seems not to work. Here’s one that does. Is any of this stuff true? Kindly respond.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dnaindia.com/world/report-norway-23-elderly-patients-die-after-receiving-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-13-were-nursing-home-patients-2868595/amp



      Delete
    2. (Sorry I'm not Dr. Kay or Kaye.) The vaccine is known to have unpleasant side effects that might last 1-3 days. I guess for some very old and frail people, those side effects might be the "last straw".

      From what I remember about that news item (I didn't check your link...), the authorities there said that they are still in favor of vaccinating everyone except the oldest and most frail people.

      Delete
    3. 13 of the deaths in Norway are being investigated to see if the reaction to the virus caused exacerbation of underlying diseases in the elderly patients

      Delete
  22. Your graphic highlights an important difficulty in talking to laypeople about this (and many other medical/scientific) topics.

    Much as the scientific term "theory" (as in "theory of evolution") is regularly misunderstood by laypeople, so too the word "research" is all-too-commonly misunderstood.

    Laypeople often do not understand that what is meant by formal scientific/medical research involves performing (and typically publishing) rigorous experiments, clinical trials, etc., which is different than the colloquial "research" that one might conduct by surfing the internet reading about a topic.

    I cannot tell you how frequently will be trying to explain to a patient the latest scientific research on given condition/treatment, and they break in to inform me that they have "done [their] own research", which usually involves following Google down a rabbit-hole of slickly produced, but scientifically vacuous "alternative medicine" websites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thing is, when the layperson reads this post from Drs Kaye and Kay, he is doing the same "research" he is doing when going down the rabbit hole of alternative medicine. Since he didn't do the rigorous experiments himself, and probably wouldn't understand a rigorous scientific paper, he really has no way of weighing the evidence of this against the "evidence" of antivax. He just has to take the scientist's word for it.

      So it all comes down to credentialism, do you trust the Harvard educated scientists, or the alternative medicine practitioners? For some people it's an easy decision, of course you trust the trusted institutions. Others are unsure. And yet others are sure that all scientists are part of the Illuminati/New World Order/Ancient Lizard People who want to destroy humanity and then harvest their DNA for nefarious purposes.

      Delete
    2. "So it all comes down to credentialism, do you trust the Harvard educated scientists, or the alternative medicine practitioners?"

      It certainly doesn't comes down to credentialism. There's a wide gap between ignorance & expertise. Using a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say most at level 2 & 3 are safe from quackery.
      The deniers say, "it's no worse than flu". In a couple of minutes a layperson with NO expertise can debunk that.
      The deniers say "Boro Park is doing better than NYC". In a couple of minutes a layperson with NO expertise can debunk that.
      The deniers say "The deaths rates according to the CDC have not gone up". In a couple of minutes a layperson with NO expertise can debunk that.
      The deniers say "There have been a bunch of cases of facial paralysis caused by the vaccine". In a couple of minutes a layperson with NO expertise can debunk that.

      In summary, I don't think it's all that dire. It's not like alt-med is that sophisticated that it's hard to debunk. What's more difficult is debunking mainstream medical notions that just happen to be wrong.

      Delete
    3. Sure, you can tell laypeople to do their own research and debunk the pseudoscience. But then some laypeople will say, well I did the research, and here's this 4 hour Youtube video with PROOF that scientists are taking TRILLIONS of dollars to ALTER your DNA.

      Really, I think I was wrong to say credentialism. It's more a matter of common sense. People who find 4 hour Youtube videos more convincing than Harvard trained scientists have a few screws loose, that's all.

      Delete
  23. Rabbi Slifkin, kol hakavod on another important and scholarly post.
    My only issue with your post is deeming the national religious orientation of Arutz 7.
    The views, opinions and even basic "news" on Arutz 7 have become increasingly representative of the Charedi rather than National Religious worldview.
    RCK and other "gedolim" are the focal point of many articles as well as the sensationalist advertising for the very causes which you have decried.
    I hope and pray that Arutz 7 is able to massage the right leaning kink that has developed as it constantly looks over its shoulder in order to court a different following.
    The Charedi media has enough choices to satisfy their constituency.
    Please let us in Anglo DL world have our own.
    Thank you as always.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Written by Ellie Grey

    loving this !!! Wish more people would do their research...

    I signed both the kids up for the GP practice today only as they both need their hearing tested...But the nurse came out and started having a chat with me - she said that she’d noticed that Marley hadn’t had a single vaccine, and that Skye was years overdue.
    I told her that I absolutely would never consent to them having a single vaccine and as soon as they’ve had their hearing tested that we will again be deregistering.
    She then made a comment somewhere along the lines of ‘that’s a very uneducated decision to make, we are medically trained for a reason, so we can save lives...are you? What do you do?’
    This pissed me the fuck off! But boy was I glad she asked. My reply -
    Thanks for assuming that I am uneducated, a bit of discrimination is great for a Monday morning. I’m actually studying my law degree, of which I have had a result of no lower than 89% for any of my assignments and my medical sciences degree, no lower than 91%. I am studying to specialise in vaccine inury and pharmaceutical corruption. Can you name me 3 ingredients in a vaccine? No. Can you tell me how many human and animal dna cell cultures are in the vaccines? Na. Can you tell me what the VAERS database is? Nuh uh. Can you tell me how many mcg of aluminium a baby receives in the routine 8 week jabs? Nope. Can you even tell me how many vaccines a child receives by age 12? Nada. Can you tell me how much compensation has been paid out for vaccine injury and deaths? No can do. Can you assure me that the safety of combined vaccines has been tested? Noooo. Can you reassure me that you have done over 3000 hours of research like I have? No. Can you tell me you were aware that you are more likely to die from the MMR than mumps, measles or rubella combined? No! Don’t you dare call me uneducated when I can wipe the floor with you on this topic. YOU are the uneducated one, who was trained purely to sell vaccines on behalf of £2bn a year profit pharmaceutical companies.
    Yep, I was rude. And nope, not a single fuck was given 👍
    After she left the receptionist booked me in their hearing tests and I muttered *loudly* -
    ‘Babies don’t start developing their own anti bodies until they are a year old anyway, so even the idea is bullshit’ 🙄
    I wasn’t in a good mood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I signed both the kids up..Skye was years overdue..."
      "...‘Babies don’t start developing their own anti bodies until they are a year old anyway"
      תרתי דסתרי?
      Which makes the whole narrative sound rather phony.

      "behalf of £2bn a year profit pharmaceutical companies."
      Nonsense. Pharma companies make much much more than that.

      And then we get this howler: "I’m actually studying my law degree"
      I've never studied my degree but I suspect if I did I'd discover it was made from cotton paper & not real sheepskin.

      Delete
  25. The Guardian posted today that the covid vaccine in Israel is "less effective than we thought." They say the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provides less protection than previously thought. Nachman Ash said one dose is "less effective than we thought." They recommend two doses to promote anti-body response. The UK will delay administering doses. And much more. Please read the article for more information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Guardian article is not really about Israel. It's about the UK's "experimental" program of delaying the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccines. In Israel, we're not quite seeing the effect from a single dose that the BRITISH were hoping for in their justifications for their universal one-dose scheme.

      Delete
  26. "There is no long-term implication of a vaccine that could ever be as bad as the long-term implications of Covid." We don't have long term evidence!! Stupid statement!! PLease Just share the facts !! This article made me dizzy !!! And this statement . "There are negligible short-term effects and no reason to believe that there are any long-term side effects" again STICK TO THE FACTS !!! This is a non factual approach and will confuse the reader like me who just wants the facts . GET RID OF THE SPECULATION!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I read both articles. This article fails to actually rebut any of the target articles points. This rebuttal article says that the mRNA is actually a vaccine because a vaccine is defined as triggering an immune response. You are wrong, and the original article is correct. The mRNA triggers nothing. It's job is to program the cell to create the protein. The protein triggers the response - unlike an ACTUAL vaccine where what is injected into your body IS WHAT triggers the response. Definitions matter, words matter, what they mean matters - and the mRNA is not a vaccine by its own definition. The fact that you will not even respect and acknowledge this one important detail questions the entire motivation for this article. And as others have pointed out, this article is chock full of hope that the future will not yield bad results, false assumptions, straw man arguments...its a hit piece, because opposition to the mRNA genetic therapy shall not be questioned by the proles.

    ReplyDelete

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