LETTERS: Alarm bells keep ringing

Wednesday 6 October 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTERS: Alarm bells keep ringing

Letters for Wednesday October 6, 2021

Dear Editor,

I am absolutely terrified and concerned for the well-being of our people already involved in this vaccine trial.

Te Marae Ora seem hesitant to share any results from the 11,409 trial participants and explain the cause of the influx deaths and injuries associated from the vaccine roll out five months ago.

I am guardian for my nephew at Tereora College so I went to the TMO science lesson last Wednesday just to listen.

I saw Mr Williams discard some real concerns voiced by parents that they are just YouTube conspiracies alarms bells rang. 

Unique to any country in the world trialling out this vaccine, Cook Islands has always been Covid-19 free and kept isolated, therefore we should have real data on how we have reacted to the vaccine so far.

Why in the past five months have deaths here tripled compared to the normal over the last five years?

No viruses so TMO must explain this unusual spike in deaths.

TMO told us they don’t have death numbers or check the cause of death but do they know none of them died from the effects of the vaccine? 

If you are in this vaccine trial and die from a heart attack or stroke it’s just normal so we don’t investigate the reason you died, even if you have been vaccinated.

Alarm bells keep ringing.

There is much speculation also in the community that hundreds of our local people are, or have been seriously injured, but when I asked Dr May how many injuries have been recorded, the answer was none. Unless they come and tell us how many, am l to know?

Also, no locals were sent to New Zealand for a vaccine related health issue.

Warning bells again.   

TMO must present its findings on their 11,409 trial clients before injecting our healthy children.

TMO must share real local data to avoid conspiracies and speculation among families.

We all know 97 per cent of the adult population is vaccinated so reporting on injuries and deaths shouldn’t be hard to discredit it as a probable vaccine related death or injury.

This is not about stopping the vaccine rollout as it’s your choice.

If you are making this choice to throw your child in this trial please see the real damage it has caused to our people in just the first five months.

We still don’t know the long term effects for the injured people.

My recommendation is TMO stall the rollout until an updated report on the effects of the injected population first.

Unless TMO are truely incompetent in dealing with this vaccine trial or they are afraid to show you the tragedy that has been committed, then let’s not inject our children just yet.

Ask the question people. Silence only feeds speculation so for the children let’s decide once the results come back from TMO before participating.

Uncle to all our children,

Chris Denny

Secretary of Health Bob Williams replies

Dear Editor,

Your letter from Mr Chris Denny is alarming and disturbing, and unfortunately also completely wrong.

Yes people do sometimes suffer after effects - Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI) from vaccinations, and they have here in the Cook Islands too. But the overwhelming number of cases reported are miniscule and involve complaints like headaches, pain around the area of the injection site, fever, muscle pain, dizziness, nausea etc.

An AEFI is an untoward medical event which follows immunisation and does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the injection of the vaccine. The adverse event may be an unfavourable or unintended sign, abnormal laboratory finding, symptom or disease. Often, these events occur by chance.

Any suspected AEFI to the COVID-19 vaccines are reported by Te Marae Ora to the New Zealand Ministry of Health (through IMAC –Immunisation Advisory Centre). This information is then provided to the New Zealand Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM), based at the University of Otago in Dunedin. Medsafe is closely monitoring the AEFI reported from the use of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

To date there has been a total 22,536 vaccine doses administered. A total of 98 AEFIs were reported to Te Marae Ora – some people reported more than one nonserious AEFI e.g., headache and muscle pain around injection site. There were 88 non-serious and 10 serious AEFIs reported.

A serious AEFI event is one that results in death, is life threatening, requires hospitalisation or prolongation of an existing hospitalisation, causes persistent or significant disability or incapacity, causes a congenital anomaly/birth defect, is a medically important event or reaction.

Each of the 10 serious reports were assessed by a Medical Assessor at CARM. The Medical Assessor reviews the information provided in the reports, including the medical history of the patient. In many cases, a patient can have several underlying conditions that can contribute to a reaction. This can occur by chance and does not mean that the vaccine caused the reaction/s. An example of this is a patient with a history of hypertension not taking their blood pressure medication on the day of their COVID-19 vaccination resulting in a report of high blood pressure (hypertension).

Following medical assessments by CARM and Medsafe it has been determined that:

  • The one report involving a death is unlikely related to the COVID-19 vaccine (the patient had significant comorbidities which contributed to the cause of death)
  • The two reports involving medically significant reactions are unlikely to be related to the COVID-19 vaccine
  • 6 reports with reactions resulting in hospitalisation are unlikely related to the COVID-19 vaccine
  • 1 report resulting in hospitalisation included reactions of an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) and abnormally rapid breathing (tachypnoea). These reactions could not be ruled out as possibly related to the vaccine. However, the patient also had several other conditions such as pneumonia and low blood pressure which are unlikely related to the vaccine.

In terms of serious complaints there is no conclusive evidence that the complaints were caused by the vaccine.

Mr Denny repeatedly uses the term ‘trial’, suggesting that we are being experimented on by being administered  this vaccine; and that is probably where his allegations completely lose their credibility.

The Pfizer vaccine we use has been approved for use by medicines approval agencies around the world, including Medsafe in New Zealand. It has been given to over three million New Zealanders and hundreds of millions of other people around the world. It is the gold standard in terms of combating covid. In fact, as of September, more than 40 per cent of the world’s population, in 110 countries had received at least one dose of this vaccination for Covid-19.

One of the comments I’ve heard from people reluctant to take Covid-19 vaccines, is that ‘it hasn’t been tested enough’ and that ‘we’re being used as guinea pigs.

There is this notion that they have been rushed to market too soon. That too is untrue.

Drug companies like Pfizer spend years studying viruses – of which there are many – looking for ways in which they might counter their effects on humans. And that’s what happened in this case while they were looking at the virus that caused the last pandemic – the SARS outbreak.

Their scientists determined that a particular formula they had developed might do the trick; they spent many months testing it on control groups overseas, before seeking permission for it’s use on the wider population.

Their testing indicated it was 96% effective in preventing serious illness or death from this ‘new virus’ SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

And in the case of the recent New Zealand experience, the result was pretty much on the button. 97% of the people infected in this latest outbreak WEREN’T vaccinated. 3% were.

Nearly two years into the pandemic,  scientific facts tell us that compared to adults, children and young people account for a lower proportion of Covid-19 infections. And when children do get Covid-19, they tend to have less severe disease with symptoms including low-grade fever, fatigue and cough - or no symptoms at all. 

But that’s not to say children are immune to the virus. Some can get sick and have complications or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and wellbeing. In particular, there’s concerning evidence about the impacts of Covid-19 infection on developing brains.

“We’ve been neglecting younger people in this pandemic,” says vaccinologist and associate professor in the NZ Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, Dr Helen Petousis-Harris.

“There have been many serious cases and even deaths from Covid-19 among younger people.”

As of May, an estimated 12.2 million child cases (0-19 years) had been reported in a sample of 101 countries collecting age data. 

Similarly, to adults, children with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe illness if they get the virus.

In New Zealand, there have been 413 cases of Covid-19 in those aged 0-19 since the pandemic began - 14 per cent of the country’s total case tally. This is higher than the number of cases recorded in people aged over 60. 

In the current outbreak, over 20% of the 1381 cases to date have been in people aged 0 to 19. Over 24% of the cases in this outbreak are Pasifika people.

The fact is that in New Zealand only 3% of the people who contracted Covid in this latest outbreak were vaccinated, the remainder were not. Further proof of its efficacy.

There are around 1200 people aged between 12 and 15 in the Cook Islands. Vaccinating them will help slow the spread of the virus through our communities should it get here, and it will reduce the potential for new variants of the virus to emerge. 

This vaccine works, the facts speak for themselves, and people should stop spreading disinformation about it – whether they consider themselves to be the “Uncle to all our children” or not.

Bob Williams

Secretary of Health