FROM OUR PRINTED OCT. 2, 2021 EDITION
by Richard Kradin, M.D.,
MGH Honorary Physician and Pathologist,
Harvard Medical School
Last month I received a group email from the heads of the three largest medical boards of licensure (internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics). It was signed by each head of the respective boards with their names and titles, all “M.Ds. and C.E.O.s,” which struck me as both odd and revealing.
The letter was a warning to all physicians that spreading “misinformation” concerning the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine would from now on be viewed as a serious offense punishable by loss of one’s license to practice medicine. However, the letter carefully avoided defining what exactly misinformation is, leaving that question open for them to decide what might be judged as “fake news.” Coincidentally, the letter was released at the same time that President Biden was lecturing the American people that he had “run out of patience” with them and was intent on imposing fines on all large businesses that did not insist that their employees be vaccinated.
I am a Harvard physician who has specialized in pulmonary medicine and infectious disease pathology, and with research training as an immunologist. One might consider my background as preparation to comment intelligently on the science and treatment of the current coronavirus infection. Yet in many respects, I am as confused by the “science” as are most non-physicians. The medical leadership of this country, including Dr. Fauci at NIH and Dr. Walensky at CDC, has failed to provide the public with key pieces of information concerning the efficacy and safety of the new vaccines.
It is clear that the science surrounding the virus has been marred by politics, and that it is no longer possible for most to accurately parse what is scientific evidence from political agenda.
The public is at best simply aware of the effects that corporate influences have had on the medical profession and its elites over the last 30 years. What had been a venerable profession has become a corporate endeavor. Unfortunately, like other large corporations in this country, the medical profession has joined with the government to create an increasingly strong bond towards what might best be termed a neo-fascist state, in which the elites of the corporations work hand-in-glove with one of the political parties to exert control over the population. Defining ~1/3 of Americans as working against the interests of society, or threatening to punish physicians and scientists who may still have either questions or doubts about the efficacy of the new vaccines and their safety, is symptomatic of the turn towards totalitarianism and the unfortunate role that the medical profession has chosen to play in what is transpiring.
The medical elite is by no means immune to such behavior. It was on display in Germany during the last world war and was elucidated by Robert Lifton in his now classic text, “Nazi Doctors.” I am not making a direct comparison, and don’t believe that the vast majority of physicians in this country are doing anything nefarious, but I am suggesting that they have allowed ideological influences to blur their objectivity.
I think that the pandemic has gone on long enough that there are sufficiently large numbers of studies to answer certain questions with greater clarity than has heretofore been provided. Here are some of them:
- How effective are the new vaccines and how is their efficacy being defined? Are they protective against contracting infections (apparently not), and if not what are the expected outcomes of post-vaccine infection (numbers, please)? This should include the numbers of deaths directly attributable to infection and the number of new hospitalizations due to infection. It is not surprising that following initial reports that the new vaccines were >90% effective at preventing infection, that the average individual is confused as to why they need to take precautions after having been vaccinated.
- What is the actual rate of severe illness amongst children age 0-18 years of age who do not have underlying disease? What is the actual rate of transmissibility of the virus by young people?
- What are the documented risks of the vaccine for all groups, and in particular for the young? Is there compelling evidence that the benefit:risk ratio is sufficiently high in the pediatric age group to justify mass vaccination?
- What is the evidence that people who have contracted the virus require the vaccine? To suggest that these individuals do not have natural immunity does not jibe with what is the case for most other infectious diseases.
- What is the actual effect of cloth or flimsy paper masks in protecting against serious infection and transmissibility of the virus? Masks are effective at reducing droplet transmission, but far less effective at reducing the spread of aerosols. So what are the numbers?
- What have the effects of lockdowns and school closures had on the rate of new infections and deadly ones? What have the effects of the lockdowns been on the overall physical and mental health of Americans? And finally, why in the midst of a pandemic are our health leaders silent on large scale, left-wing protests and the opening of the Southern border to immigrants infected with coronavirus?
The fact that these questions have not yet been answered by the leaders of the NIH and CDC with clarity is a large part of the reason for skepticism concerning the vaccine. The data is undoubtedly available and should be shared openly and honestly with both the public and medical practitioners, who then should be allowed to make personal informed decisions concerning how best to proceed. In my own practice of medicine for over 40 years, I always encouraged patients, particularly those at risk, to receive appropriate vaccinations. But the final decision was theirs, because America is, or at least used to be, a “free country.” If vaccines are effective against contracting disease, then those who have been vaccinated should not be at risk from someone who has not been vaccinated. If they are not, then people need to be told this and given the actual statistics so that they can assess their risk.
I have received the vaccine, and took it on faith that it would reduce my risk of contracting severe disease. However, I was skeptical at the time, and remain so, that the vaccines’ efficacies at preventing infection exceeded 90%. Indeed, I think that all medical professionals should have been skeptical about such “glowing” results. It is indeed the scientific approach to remain skeptical, and the best way to reduce skepticism is with the truth.
Nothing that I have written above can properly be judged as “disinformation.” Rather, it is the proper attitude for a scientist. When the medical establishment no longer encourages questions and reasonable skepticism, it has lost its way and is no longer engaged in its proper mission. The heads of the licensing boards would be well advised to emphasize the M.D. after their name, and pay less attention to their CEO status. They should stop threatening their members and instead help to provide accurate answers to the questions listed above.
I am prepared to face the threat of losing my license for voicing reasonable medical opinions. But the boards should know that they better “lawyer up” if they intend to act punitively, because there are still well-intentioned physicians who refuse to be “cancelled.” ♦