I’ve been getting a boat load of questions about the Covid-19 vaccines. As with all things Covid related, unfortunately, there seems to be lots of bogus misinformation.
I have created this post to look at the actual facts regarding the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
It’s been really interesting to watch how many practitioners and thought leaders in the alternative medicine realm and others in the “New Age” community have aligned themselves with conspiracy theories and outright nonsense regarding the pandemic.
The very same things that are being pushed by the alt-right. It’s an odd and dangerous marriage of right and left wing “conspirituality” that has resulted, in my opinion, in the US becoming the epicenter of an out of control pandemic.
It didn’t have to be this way. What we are living through now is the consequences of this irresponsible, self serving behavior. And while there is reason for optimism, the truth is it’s not going to be over for any time soon.
If you’re looking for someone to pander to the legions of anti-mask and anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists, I’m not your man.
I’m frankly disgusted by some of my colleagues who have irresponsibly pushed conspiracy theories and made simple methods of prevention like mask wearing and social distancing into some sort of political game.
Of course, there are many important things we can do to keep ourselves healthy and less likely to get seriously ill such as take Vitamin D and zinc, and other herbs and essential oils. (I have written about these in the past.)
We should all also let this be a wake up call about the importance of good diet and exercise and how vulnerable we are when we have pre-existing conditions. That’s just common sense. As is taking simple precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.
I think conspiracy mongering is nothing but a form of narcissism and it should be called out as such. Here’s a good article that looks at this in depth and really does a good job of calling out this dangerous phenomenon.
As of writing this the death toll in the US is 344,000. Covid-19 is not a hoax or a grand plot to control humanity. It’s a deadly, novel virus that is lethal for some and, unfortunately, we don’t yet know enough about it to know why. So, that means anyone can be at risk of dying or of having long term effects from the virus.
The focus of this piece is to look at the pros and cons of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently being made available via the emergency use authorization from the FDA. There are two vaccines that have been authorized at this time, one made by Pfizer and one made by Moderna.
Both are mRNA vaccines. What does this mean?
mRNA technology was discovered 30 years ago. And it has been studied for vaccine purposes for nearly two decades. Scientists were working on vaccines for both SARS and MERS, but funding was cut and they didn’t develop them until recently, when due to the pandemic we had a great deal more urgency and money to help develop these more quickly.
Clinical trials for mRNA vaccines have been conducted for influenza, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Advances in technology in RNA biology and chemistry as with delivery systems has improved the stability, safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.
RNA and DNA are not the same. Without getting too far into the weeds, let’s say they are both some of the most important molecules for cell biology and they are used to store and share information about every cell, organ and tissue in the body.
DNA encodes the information, RNA is the reader that decodes that information. (Here’s an in-depth look at this:)
That being said, RNA vaccine development is relatively new and we just do not have much data on the long term effects of this technology. And the reality is that we won’t for some time. We are all living through a large global experiment right now involving COVID-19 and treatment and prevention strategies for it.
One concern that many people have is in the ingredients of what’s in the vaccines. This is also an area of misinformation and outright lies. Both manufacturers of these vaccines have been transparent about what is in them.
These vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. They also do not interact with our DNA. These vaccines work by providing instructions to our immune cells by introducing fragments of the spike protein which is found on the surface of the virus (that’s what the virus uses to enter our cells).
The vaccines also do not contain fetal stem cells. Some of the vaccines being studied in clinical trials used cells originally isolated from fetal tissue. These come from historical cells lines that were derived in the 1970’s and 1980’s from two elective abortions.
The fetal cell lines that were used to produce some of the potential COVID-19 vaccines are from two sources:
HEK-293 A kidney cell line that was isolated in 1972
Per.C6 A retinal cell line that was isolated in 1985
The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna do not require the use of fetal cell cultures in order to manufacture the vaccine.
Early in the development of these vaccines they were used for “proof of concept” to show how a cell could take up mRNA and produce the COVID spike protein or to characterize the spike protein.
In fact, both vaccines have been deemed ethically uncontroversial by pro-life policy organizations like The Charlotte Lozier Institute and the Catholic Health Association of the United States.
The vaccine is injected into the muscle in the upper arm. Once in the muscle cell the cells follow the instructions from the mRNA fragment and make a piece of protein. After this is made the cells break break down these instructions and destroy them.
Next, the cell displays this protein piece on it’s surface. Our immune system recognizes this protein as something foreign and it makes antibodies against it. The development of these antibodies by our immune system gives us protection against future infection.
The obvious benefit of doing this versus actually getting COVID-19 is that you gain protection without having to go through the potentially dangerous consequences of getting the virus. However, we do not yet know how long this protection lasts.
In addition, there has been some research done by Dr. Kharrazian and Dr. Vojdani on cross-reactivity of the spike protein to some of our own tissues and this is an area of potential concern.
This may have implications for the development of autoimmune disease, but we just don’t know yet. It’s not clear whether the fragments used in the vaccines are proteins that cross react, not all of them do.
Another area of misinformation is the ingredients. There is no formaldehyde, no aluminum, and no mercury. These are sometimes used in other vaccines, they are not used in these.
When the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was granted an EUA from the FDA, its ingredients list was published online along with other safety data. The list includes:
What are the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine ingredients?
Moderna has also been given emergency use authorization for their vaccine. Moderna also recently released its ingredients list through the FDA:
| 95% effective 30 mcg doses given 21 days apart |
Must be diluted with 0.9% sodium chloride
Must be stored at -112 to -76 degrees F
36,621 people took part in the clinical trial
Approved for age 16 and over
Published safety and final efficacy results from Phase 3 on 12/10/20
| 94.5% effective|
100 mcg doses given 28 days apart
No dilution required
Stored at -13 to -5 degrees F
30,350 people took part in clinical trial
Approved for age 18 and over
Announced primary efficacy analysis on Phase 3 on 11/30/20
One concern that many people have is whether or not this vaccine is safe for people with autoimmunity and in our case, thyroid autoimmunity.
The CDC guidelines on this are pretty vague:
“People with autoimmune conditions may receive an mRNA vaccine. However, they should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for them. Individuals from this group were eligible for clinical trials.”
Not much help.
As I mentioned previously, Dr. Kharrazian and Dr. Vojdani’s research into cross reactivity of the COVID-19 spike protein and some of our tissues revealed that some (not all of the) proteins are cross reactive to human tissue. This has implications for the development of autoimmunity from the virus.
But, I could not find data on whether or not these proteins are the proteins used in the mRNA vaccines.
Something else that has been studied is the impact of COVID-19 on the thyroid.
There is evidence that COVID-19 may result in post-infection thyroid disease. Sub-acute thyroiditis is a common finding.
This is pretty common for any virus that affects the upper respiratory system. Epstein Barr can also do this as can the flu, the mumps and other viral infections.
There is also some evidence of that thyroid disease is associated with severe COVID-19 infections.
Pre-existing hypothyroidism is not associated with increased hospitalization or ventilator use in patients with COVID-19. One study looked at 3703 COVID-19 patients (251 had pre-existing hypothyroidism, 22 had Hashimoto’s. 68% of the COVID-19 positive patients with hypothyroidism needed hospitalization. But apparently, this is not higher than other groups.
At the end of the day, there are potential consequences to the thyroid if you contract COVID-19. And while I have not seen any evidence that people with Hashimoto’s are more vulnerable to COVID, getting it may complicate the disease. How much? We still don’t know.
We do not have a lot of data on people with Hashimoto’s who got the vaccine. As you know we have a wonderful and supportive community online and I was able to survey my Facebook (51,000) and Instagram (14,000) followers and I got responses from 23 people with Hashimoto’s, all mostly frontline workers who got the vaccine.
All but two got the the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Of that group, none reported any severe reactions. 6 reported some soreness in the arm around the injection site which went away in a day or two. Two others reported fatigue and body aches.
Everyone else reported no reaction at all that they were aware of. None have gotten the second dose of the vaccine yet. I will be following up and asking them about this.
Whenever making a decision of this magnitude, we have to look at risk and benefit. I am not for or opposed to the vaccine. But I am opposed to misinformation and lies.
Here’s what we know:
Covid can be fatal and can cause long term damage to many parts of the body ( the lungs, the cardiovascular system, the brain and nervous system and the thyroid and more).
We don’t know who it will be fatal for, but it kills more men, and those with pre-existing conditions and people of color.
Also, the pandemic’s economic and social destruction will not end until we have some type of herd immunity. This can happen if enough people get sick (and lots, lots more will die) or we get vaccinated to such a degree as a society that the virus peters out.
Some combination of that will probably occur over the next year. The vaccine is an important part of achieving that (and ultimately saving lives).
These mRNA vaccines do not contain mercury, formaldehyde, or aluminum. Nor are fetal stem cells used to manufacture the vaccine.
So far, from the small sample size we have, there were few side effects. We don’t know about the long term effects of the vaccine, but we do know about the long term effects of COVID-19.
Vaccines have also worked historically for other diseases.
I hope this was helpful and that it can be used to help you make a better, more well informed decision about whether or not to get the vaccine.
I intend to get it as soon as I am able.