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Dr. Peter McCullough, an internist, cardiologist, epidemiologist, and leading expert on COVID-19 treatment, expressed concern over the recent move by advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommend adding COVID-19 vaccines to the child and adolescent immunization schedules.
All 15 members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on Oct. 20 to add the Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax vaccines to the 2023 child and adolescent immunization schedules for ages 18 and younger, asserting that the vaccines can still prevent severe disease—despite waning efficacy.
“I see patients with COVID-19 in my practice over the course of the last three years, including giving advice on younger children. The [COVID-19] disease is characteristically mild and is easily treated. And so the vaccines are not medically necessary, they’re not clinically indicated,” McCullough told NTD News.
“We don’t have any assurances that these are going to be safe over the short or even longer term,” he added. “As a cardiologist, I have great concerns over myocarditis.”
McCullough cited a paper by Thailand researchers published in August that showed a rate of 2.3 percent of damage to the heart in children aged 13–18 who took the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
“And that’s just with one shot,” he noted, referring to the paper. “So I’m greatly concerned that this [CDC] decision is off the rails. These vaccines are still experimental, and they shouldn’t be brought into the vaccine schedule.”
The COVID-19 vaccines have proven increasingly ineffective against both infection and severe illness from newer virus variants. In addition, there is no evidence the vaccines protect against severe disease for children under 5. The clinical trials for that population weren’t powered to measure such efficacy.
McCullough expressed concerns over the efficacy and dosage of the vaccines. The original vaccines, which are being recommended to be added to the schedule, are “now obsolete,” he noted, adding that they were coded against the original Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
“Moderna and Pfizer had pediatric dosing. There was great concern that children closer to age 12 would be getting too much,” he also noted. “But those vaccines are obsolete.”
McCullough also expressed concerns over the Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters, which have also been recommended by the ACIP members to be added to the child and adolescent immunization schedules.
“The new bivalent booster vaccines have never been tested in humans at all, neither adults nor children,” he said. “So I can’t imagine what’s going to come out on the schedule with respect to the series of injections, the schedule of when they’re given, and then which ones, because the bivalent vaccines have never been tested in any human being.”
In the United States, both bivalent boosters from Pfizer and Moderna contain formula directed against the original, extinct Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and against the common elements of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. The new bivalent boosters haven’t been tested in humans at all.
“These bivalent vaccine boosters—they failed in animal studies, they were approved anyway for adults,” McCullough noted. “Now the real quandary is what does happen with a pediatric vaccine schedule? All this adds up to [that] these vaccines in no way should be added to a routine schedule.”
McCullough warned the move could erode parents’ trust in the vaccine schedule, adding, “if they lose trust, they may back out of the entire vaccine schedule for children.”
Under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, no vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death for any vaccine recommended for children. As such, vaccines recommended for children, as in the recent ACIP vote, will receive automatic immunity from liability, including when the vaccine is administered to an adult.
“That act provided a liability shield for the manufacturers,” McCullough said, noting that at the time the law was enacted, various vaccines were being developed. “That act should be dissolved at this point in time [and] the vaccine manufacturers should be held fully liable in cases where children are injured from vaccines.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
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