The mRNA vaccines have failed.
Provably. Indisputably. The risk estimates released by Centers for Disease Control are politicized garbage, based on hospital and state data that intentionally underestimate the number of vaccinated Americans who have been hospitalized or died.
The raw numbers from other countries far are more trustworthy - and consistent. They show that six months after injection, the basic two-dose mRNA vaccine regimen does not protect against Omicron and may even increase its risk. This failure is not confined merely to infection but to severe outcomes like hospitalization.
Boosters increase protection, but the increase is temporary. Worse, a fourth dose appears to provide less additional protection than a third and to fade more quickly.
At best - absolute best - the shots appear to have bought a few months in 2021 of a false dawn, at a cost that is still rising.
(The truth is priceless. Or $6 a month if you want to pay for it. Or $300 a year if you want a free signed first edition of PANDEMIA too. But I digress.)
The reality of mRNA jab failure is deeply unpleasant for governments and health bureaucrats.
They have spent the last 18 months touting and sometimes mandating these shots, with the active assistance of legacy and social media outlets. In the last couple of months, as the failure has become increasingly apparent, they have taken steps to cushion the blow:
Pushing boosters, which temporarily hide the problem - at a long-term cost that remains unclear;
Clamping down on data about hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated people they once readily provided;
Most of all, hoping that the antiviral drug Paxlovid, immunity from prior infection, and Omicron’s relative mildness would keep death counts low even as infections and hospitalizations rocket higher.
That third bet looked to be working for most of spring 2022.
But once again the virus is not cooperating.
The new Omicron subvariants elude vaccine protection almost immediately and are at least as virulent as earlier Omicron variants. Infections are headed higher. Despite the fact that many tests are taken at home and not reported, reported positives have nearly doubled since mid-June. They are higher than at any point in the epidemic except for the winter Omicron peak.
Deaths remain low - in part because many governments have tightened their rules on reporting Covid deaths - but they are almost certain to rise notably. One of the epidemic’s core truths is that deaths lag. When reported case counts rise, deaths follow eventually.
Just as striking, all-cause mortality - that is, deaths from Covid AND other causes - remain extremely high in the highly vaccinated countries. In Europe, which has good and timely data on deaths, reported excess mortality is now far above average for the third year in a row.
This trend runs contrary to the expectations two years ago of demographers and infectious disease experts. They predicted publicly that deaths would quickly return to normal as Covid rolled out - since the coronavirus generally targeted a small number of people who were nearly at the end of their lives.
Instead, the wave has not rolled out, and non-Covid excess deaths are running high.
Worse, among young Europeans, reported excess mortality is trending higher this year than in 2020 or 2021. In fact, before the widespread rollout of the jabs in mid-2021, Europe had NO excess mortality among people under 45. Now it does.
Squint hard enough, and you can find explanations other than the mRNA vaccines for this crisis - delayed health care or a return to risky behavior.
But none of them make as much sense as the obvious one. And none of them square with what governments and the media promised on that Monday morning in November 2020 when Pfizer and BioNTech reported their first results from their pivotal clinical trial of BNT162b2.
The vaccines have failed. They were a noble(ish) experiment, but they’ve failed us.
Now we are failing them, by insisting they can do what they cannot, and increasing the risks they pose to all of us. The push for boosters, especially, needs to end today.
Wherever Covid goes next - and at this point we don’t yet know - the mRNA shots will play no role in ending it. They are part of the problem, not the solution.
It is time, well past time, to admit the truth.