• Eva Wisenbeck

What’s the story with the Covid-19 vaccine?!

LifeHakx – What’s the story with the Covid-19 vaccine?!

By Eva Wisenbeck 20/12/2020

Conspiracy Theory vs Critical Thinking

What’s the story with the Covid-19 vaccine

…or To vaccinate or Not to vaccinate – that is the question

Watch interview here

Listen to podcast here

THE Covid-19 Vaccine?

Right! Firstly let’s clear this up, there is no *one* Covid-19 vaccine or as it’s often seen in mainstream media, “The Vaccine”.

As Forbes state: “Globally, there are more than 100 vaccines under development — with nine of them in human clinical trials already, asserts equity analyst Sel Hardy, in CFRA Research's flagship newsletter, The Outlook.”

AND maybe even more importantly they are different types, or classes, of vaccines!

Again, the way the media is often portraying this it is as though it’s just another vaccine, like another flu vaccine you take every year, so, it’s no big deal…

However the Covid-19 vaccines uses very different ways of achieving their goal (their goals also differ by the way it’s not all “this will stop you getting the disease”) and the “how” matters very much depending on your current health and risk situation.

And that’s not even quite the full picture. The current main vaccine contenders all use brand new technology called mRNA or Recombinant Vector, no other vaccine exists using this technology and these will be the first to be used anywhere in the world – ever.

This doesn’t make it good or bad, it certainly means though that we should ask questions and look rather closely at the safety data and early rollout data as well as follow the longer term studies.

So let’s take it back to the basics and go through the different types or classes of vaccines, including these new ones.

What are the different types of vaccines

There are 4 main types (or classes or categories) of vaccines which have all been around for a long time.

In fact, let’s geek out with a little history, the first modern vaccine was the smallpox vaccines in 1796. They realised that milkmaids didn’t catch smallpox and deduced that their exposure to the similar cowpox must somehow protect them, and voila, the first vaccine using cowpox pustules to protect against smallpox was born.

It wasn’t until the 1930s though that bigger vaccine strides were made around diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis etc so all in all we are talking less than 100 years.

Right, back to the 4 basic types of vaccine:

Live Attenuated Vaccines (Sometimes called LAV or just Attenuated) Live weakened virus is injected which produces a robust, and most likely a long term, immune response. Can be overwhelming for a weakened immune system. Example: Measles and Mumps vaccines and Flu nasal spray

Inactivated Vaccines (‘Killed’ (heat or chemically treated) Antigen) The injected pathogen can’t replicate but the exposure is enough for the body to produce an immune response. Safer if you are in risk category. Might need booster shots. Example: Rabies and current Flu vaccine

Subunit and Conjugate Vaccines (Purified Partial Antigen) Parts of the antigen is used, not the whole, this is sufficient to elicit an immune response. Example: Shingles and Hepatitis B vaccine

Toxoid Vaccines (Inactivated Toxins)

You are protected from the toxic effects of the infection rather than the actual antigen/virus itself.

Example: Tetanus and Diptheria

So what about the 2 new classes or vaccines which are being used for Covid-19?

The DNA/mRNA and Recombinant Vector vaccine types:

DNA/mRNA Vaccines

Genetic instructions for the coronavirus spike protein are encoded in mRNA, delivered via lipid nanoparticle. Once in the cells, the mRNA sequence replicates. In simple terms this means that this vaccine has nothing to do with the virus as such. It's sort of implanting a 'code' for how each cell should produce a particular protein, when you then are exposed to the virus the body will produce these proteins which will lock on to the virus and therefore slow or stop it's possibility to attach itself and therefore it's replication.

Example: The forerunners using this technology are the Pfizer and Moderna companies

Recombinant Vector

The spike protein gene of the coronavirus is inserted in a chimpanzee (or other similar) weakened virus which is genetically changed so that it cannot grow in humans (hence the trojan horse analogy). Again, as with mRNA, once in the cells, the mRNA sequence replicate and tells each cell how to produce a particular protein, when you then are exposed to the virus the body will produce these proteins which will lock on to the virus and therefore slow or stop it's possibility to attach itself and therefore it's replication. .

Example: The forerunners using this technology are the Oxford Astra Zeneca and CanSino companies

This article gives a really great overview of the main Covid-19 vaccine players, what type of vaccine they are working on, where they are at with development, how much money, and from where, has been invested, their target dose availability etc.

Biopharmadive - The coronavirus vaccine frontrunners are advancing quickly. Here's where they stand. https://www.biopharmadive.com/news/coronavirus-vaccine-pipeline-types/579122/

Informed Consent and Medical Freedom

To keep it short and clear, here is a great description from NCBI (The National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the United States National Library of Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health):

“Informed consent is the process in which a health care provider educates a patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a given procedure or intervention. The patient must be competent to make a voluntary decision about whether to undergo the procedure or intervention. Informed consent is both an ethical and legal obligation of medical practitioners in the US and originates from the patient's right to direct what happens to their body.”

Although this refers to the US the same applies in many countries. I will add the link to the UK NHS page below in sources.

And what about the Nuremberg Rules of Conduct that we mentioned in out chat? Well it seems it might be a bit more “grey” than I thought. Regarding human research it’s been eclipsed by the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki in 1964.

The original Nuremberg Code aimed to protect human subjects from enduring the kind of cruelty and exploitation the prisoners endured at concentration camps.

The 10 elements of the code are:

  1. Voluntary consent is essential

  2. The results of any experiment must be for the greater good of society

  3. Human experiments should be based on previous animal experimentation

  4. Experiments should be conducted by avoiding physical/mental suffering and injury

  5. No experiments should be conducted if it is believed to cause death/disability

  6. The risks should never exceed the benefits

  7. Adequate facilities should be used to protect subjects

  8. Experiments should be conducted only by qualified scientists

  9. Subjects should be able to end their participation at any time

  10. The scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment when injury, disability, or death is likely to occur

And what are guidelines and codes of conduct vs legal obligations I genuinely can’t answer… That is one for lawyers to debate and I have a feeling that will happen in various countries as the Covid-19 vaccines become increasingly more available and discussions of mandates and 'vaccine passports' proliferate!

What I do know is that you certainly have a right to ask questions, and gain access to data and risk assessments, before taking any medical decision (yes yes if you are indeed conscious and of sane mind and all that jazz). And our favourite motto still stands – ask questions – What does Informed Consent mean where you live? What rights do you have? What obligations do your doctors have?

Do we need a vaccine?

Well this is a Critical Thinking segment after all so let’s backtrack and turn over some more stones…

- If the survival rate is over 99% (currently I’m seeing about 99.4% in European countries) does the whole world population need to be vaccinated for Covid-19?

- What is the total overall mortality where you live compared to the last 5 or 10 years?

- If this is a syndemic aka acute disease mixed with chronic lifestyle related diseases, what is the best way to approach and correct the underlying issues rather than just focus on the “pathogen”?

  • “A syndemic or synergistic epidemic is the aggregation of two or more concurrent or sequential epidemics or disease clusters in a population with biological interactions, which exacerbate the prognosis and burden of disease. The term was developed by Merrill Singer in the mid-1990s.” Wikipedia

- What happens when the next virus comes, as it will, they always have?

- How come there has been very little airtime and debate around clinically proven, and research supported, risk reductions such as addressing Vitamin D deficiencies and metabolic disorders etc?

- What is my personal health status and risk profile for any disease?

- What is my past history of tolerance and issues with medication and vaccines?

- What is the balance between, “for the greater good”, commercial profit etc?

  • Financial Times – “The future Covid-19 vaccine market could be worth more than $10bn a year, generating bumper revenues for pharmaceutical companies that have funded large parts of their research with government money. The calculations by analysts at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse assume that people will need to take a Covid-19 vaccine every year, like a flu jab, and are based on projected costs for the shot, currently hovering at about $20 a dose.”

I am no investigative journalist and I admit it has not been easy to find information on the detail and official numbers on the vaccine trials. All this highlights to me is that yet again this is for sure an area to keep an eye on and apply critical thinking to any news or articles you come across.

Critical Thinking

There are many definitions of Critical Thinking, I really like this:

“Critical Thinking is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information”

Use of the term ‘critical thinking’ to describe an educational goal goes back to the American philosopher John Dewey (1910), who more commonly called it ‘reflective thinking’. He defined it as active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends.

Here is a great simple exercise to look at thinking critically from SkillsYouNeed.com

Think of something you’ve recently heard or read, then ask yourself the following questions:

- Who said it? Someone you know? Someone in a position of authority or power? Does it matter who told you this?

- What did they say? Did they give facts or opinions? Did they provide all the facts? Did they leave anything out?

- Where did they say it? Was it in public or in private? Did other people have a chance to respond an provide an alternative account?

- When did they say it? Was it before, during or after an important event? Is timing important?

- Why did they say it? Did they explain the reasoning behind their opinion? Were they trying to make someone look good or bad?

- How did they say it? Were they happy or sad, angry or indifferent? Did they write it or say it? Could you understand what was said?


BioPharmaDive - The coronavirus vaccine frontrunners are advancing quickly. Here's where they stand. https://www.biopharmadive.com/news/coronavirus-vaccine-pipeline-types/579122/

Forbes - 9 Pharmaceutical Companies Racing For A COVID-19 Vaccine https://www.forbes.com/sites/moneyshow/2020/06/16/9-pharmaceutical-companies-racing-for-a-covid-19-vaccine/

Financial Times - Covid-19 vaccine market worth $10bn a year, analysts say https://www.ft.com/content/7961437d-33cd-4f47-b190-2be3b571c8e5

The Lancet - Offline: COVID-19 is not a pandemic https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32000-6/fulltext

Financial Times - Covid-19 is really a syndemic — and that shows us how to fight it https://www.ft.com/content/34a502b1-5665-42ff-8a8d-1298b71f1e7b

Microbenotes - Vaccines- Introduction and Types with Examples https://microbenotes.com/vaccines-introduction-and-types/

Meridian - What’s the Difference Between Active, Inactive, and Other Types of Vaccines? https://www.mcrmed.com/types-of-vaccines/

NCBI - Informed Consent https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430827/#:~:text=Informed%20consent%20is%20the%20process,undergo%20the%20procedure%20or%20intervention.

NHS – Consent to Treatment https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/consent-to-treatment/

JAMA - The Nuremberg Code 70 Years Later https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2649074

imarc - THE NUREMBERG CODE AND ITS IMPACT ON CLINICAL RESEARCH https://www.imarcresearch.com/blog/bid/359393/nuremberg-code-1947