We’ve heard an awful lot about the coronavirus vaccine over the last several months. It’s a massive scientific achievement, something all Americans can be proud of. But that’s not the context in which we’ve heard about it.
Joe Biden’s first speech to the nation urged the entire population to take this vaccine immediately. The celebrity-industrial complex has reinforced that demand ever since. "Get the shot! Get the shot! Get the shot!" OK! We will!
We’re not against it on principle. Like most Americans, we’re grateful for vaccines. But before we take this one, a few questions about this specific one. There are two things we’d like to know, and neither one has anything to do with how many professional athletes or Netflix stars have been vaccinated so far. We don’t care. It’s irrelevant.
Here’s what is relevant. The first question: Is the vaccine safe? The second question: Is it effective? Safe and effective. That’s all that matters. Let’s address them in order.
From the moment the first shipments arrived in the U.S., we were assured this was the safest vaccine science has ever produced. The risks of taking it were so small that we could ignore them completely. "The worst thing that could happen," explained one medical expert on ABC News, "is having an allergic reaction." Clinical trials, they said, revealed no evidence at all that the vaccines could cause any life-threatening condition. In February, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Rochester called Dr. Angela Branche explained that the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine was particularly safe.
"The bottom line," Branche said, "is that nobody who has gotten these vaccines has died from COVID." As far as we know, that's still true. That vaccine does not cause COVID.
But it was hardly the bottom line or the end of the story. In fact, we know now that there are people who have become gravely ill from taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Some patients who received it developed complex and poorly understood immune system responses. Their bodies suddenly stopped developing adequate blood platelets, leading to bleeding and dangerous clotting.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at least six young women experienced this response to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One of them, a 45-year-old Virginia woman, died of a stroke last month, two weeks after getting the vaccine. Another woman, who apparently lives in Nebraska, is in critical condition. That’s pretty much the extent of what we know. The government won’t tell us more.
How significant is this? Well, if it happened to you or someone you loved, it would be highly significant. But here’s the statistical context: About seven million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson shot so far. We know of six who have developed blood clotting disorder as a result.
By comparison, for some context, some versions of the birth control pill are believed to cause blood clots in one out of every 1,000 women, a far higher rate. So why the concern about this vaccine? Because there are reasons to believe those aren’t the real numbers. The real numbers may be much higher than that. Why do we think that? This morning, federal health authorities, including the FDA and the CDC, called on state governments to stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to no less an authority than Tony Fauci, this ban could be permanent:
REPORTER: Are you ruling out the possibility that the vaccine could be removed from the market? Are you expecting it to be re-allowed?
FAUCI: You know, I think it would be premature to comment on that, and that's the reason why the pause was done so that they could take a good look at it very carefully. Look at every different factor. I wouldn't want to speculate as to what would happen.
Notice the caginess there. "I wouldn’t want to speculate," says the man who speculates for a living. In that statement, Fauci is asking us to believe something amazing. For months, he and the rest of the public health establishment have been badgering Americans to take a vaccine they claim is absolutely, perfectly safe. That’s what they said through Monday.
Now, Fauci has declared that because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has injured six people — which, if true, would make that vaccine much safer not just than birth control pills, but safer than many other vaccines we’ve distributed in the past — because this vaccine has hurt six people out of seven million, we need to stop using it immediately. Does that make sense to you? No, it really doesn’t. It seems possible there’s a lot more going on here.
It’s possible this vaccine is more dangerous than they’re indicating it is. Federal officials appeared to acknowledge that today. They noted that it's easy for physicians to miss the connection between the vaccine and the blood disorder it can cause. That may be happening. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is structured much like the AstraZeneca vaccine, which also uses DNA technology.
Across Europe, the AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to blood clotting at a rate of approximately one in 100,000 patients. Several people have died from it. That's why a number of advanced countries -- including the U.K., Denmark, Canada, Germany, and the Philippines -- have limited or banned the use of the AstraZeneca shot.
Do authorities in this country believe the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been causing reactions at a similar rate? We don’t know the answer, because they haven’t told us. We do know that the way this country keeps track of Americans who are hurt by vaccines — something called the "Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System" — is notoriously inaccurate. (Ask any physician.) But, no one seems in a hurry to improve it. Our public health bureaucracy doesn’t seem that anxious to know all the details.
In January, The New York Times reported that a Miami Beach obstetrician called Gregory Michael had died of a brain hemorrhage just days after taking another vaccine, the one made by Pfizer. There seemed to be a connection between the shot and his death. At the time, authorities at the CDC said they were investigating Dr. Gregory’s death. Yet so far, they’ve issued no update on it.
Now, sometimes this stuff takes time to work out. And the fact they haven’t issued a report does not prove they are hiding something. On the other hand, it does seem strange, given that the federal government is encouraging the entire population of America to take the vaccine immediately. You’d think understanding, fully understanding, the potential side effects would be an urgent top priority. But it’s clearly not.
In its story about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this morning, Axios reported that the Biden administration is worried that halting distribution of the shot might encourage "vaccine hesitancy." In other words, "Don’t tell them it’s dangerous; they might not take it." That doesn’t reassure anyone.
All of which leads to the second essential question: Is the vaccine effective? Does it work? Well, of course it works. That’s why we’re giving them to the entire population. That’s why this vaccine rollout is more important than the moon shot. Because it works. The president himself told us that. The funny thing is, if you listen carefully, they’re not really saying that anymore. They’re not really telling you how effective it is. They’re telling you the opposite.
Here’s the new director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, speaking Monday about the vaccine.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY: So when you have an acute situation with an extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccine. In fact, we know that the vaccine will have a delayed response. The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer, and to shut things down.
Oh. Now they’re telling us the vaccine has a delayed response. OK, delayed by how long? They don’t say.
They do tell us we have to shut things down, just like we did last year before we had a vaccine. But now we have a vaccine, so why are we shutting them down again? What’s going on here? We’re not sure. We do know what she said is not science. There’s a lot of evidence that flatly contradicts what the CDC director said.
For example, in early March, Texas ended its lockdowns and mask mandates completely. The governor of California, looking over at the state to which his whole population is moving, called this move, "absolutely reckless." Vanity Fair, which believe it or not, was once a magazine, published a story with the headline,
"Republican Governors Celebrate COVID Anniversary With Bold Plan to Kill Another 500,000 Americans."
Tony Fauci, who apparently still reads Vanity Fair, agreed.
"It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now," he said. Inexplicable? Well here’s an explanation: We have a vaccine. Isn’t that the point of the vaccine, so we can pull back now and get back to normal life? "Whatever. Shut up. "An epidemiologist called Whitney Robinson jumped in to support Fauci.
"I feel genuinely sad," she said. "There are people who are going to get sick and die because of avoidable infections they get in the next few weeks. It’s demoralizing."
Over at the CDC, Rochelle Walensky pleaded for Americans to ignore the promised effects of the vaccines they are now required to get.
"Please hear me clearly," she wrote. "At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. I am really worried about reports that more states are pulling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19."
Those measures, by the way, are demonstrably not helping. That’s why we got the vaccine which is going to fix everything, except it didn’t.
What is going on here? And what happened next? In Texas, the state's hospitalization rate and seven-day rate of COVID infections did not rise. They dropped to record lows. Cases have continued to plummet in Texas over the last month. They're down around 30%. Texas now ranks in the bottom 10 of all fifty states in coronavirus cases. Daily deaths have dropped substantially. Needless to say, Tony Fauci was asked: How did this happen? How would he explain this?
He couldn’t explain it. "I’m not really quite sure," Fauci said. "It could be they’re doing things outdoors."
Or maybe, just maybe, they got vaccinated. Wasn’t that the point? Fauci didn’t suggest that. He didn’t even hint that the vaccine might have worked, and that’s odd. Does Fauci believe the vaccine is ineffective? He seems to think that. He even told you that once you get the vaccine, you're still not allowed to eat or drink indoors at restaurants. Your life can’t really change at all.
MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC, APRIL 11: Eating and drinking indoors and in restaurants and bars. Is that ok now?
FAUCI: No it’s still not OK for the simple reason that the level of infection in the community is still really disturbingly high ... And if you are vaccinated, please remember that you still have to be careful and not get involved in crowded situations, particularly indoors where people are not wearing masks.
That’s not at all what we expected him to say, but the CDC has affirmed that Fauci is right. According to their new guidance, once you're vaccinated, you still can’t, [a]ttend medium or large gatherings." The feds also recommend you keep wearing your mask when you go outside. How long will this continue? According to Yahoo News, experts say that it's, "not entirely clear when it will be considered OK for people who are fully vaccinated to stop wearing masks."
At some point – no one’s asking this, but everyone should be – what is this about? If the vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still banned from living normal lives? What’s the answer to that? It doesn’t make any sense at all. If the vaccine is effective, there’s no reason for people who’ve received it to wear masks or avoid physical contact. So, maybe it doesn’t work, and they’re just not telling you that. You'd hate to think that, especially if you’ve gotten two shots. But what’s the other potential explanation? We can’t think of one.
We know Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided, after thinking about it a lot, that vaccines just don’t work. We know that because he said it out loud.
TRUDEAU: I think it’s really important that we work from facts and understanding of the science around things. We know, for example, that the U.K. is ahead of just about everybody else on vaccinations, and yet, they maintain very strong restrictions and are facing a very serious third wave. Vaccinations, on their own, are not enough to keep us safe. We need to engage in the right kinds of behaviors. Do things the conservatives aren’t always good at, like wearing maks, keeping distances, and obeying public health rules.
That's the leader of Canada, our closest ally, explaining that according to the science, the vaccine doesn’t stop COVID. OK, if that’s true, why are they pushing everyone to get the vaccine? It’s one or the other. Either the shot works or it doesn’t. The vaccine can’t simultaneously be highly effective and not restore people’s lives to normal. They don’t tell you to avoid water fountains after you get the polio vaccine. They don’t need to tell you that because the polio vaccine works.
So there’s a legitimate mystery here, at the heart of the most aggressive vaccination campaign American history. You’d think journalists might sort this out for the rest of us. That’s their job. It’s a major important story. What’s the answer?
It’s not their job, though. Reporters have decided their job is to enforce the regime’s rules, whatever those rules are, and no matter how often or how radically they change. We know that because this weekend, that weird little guy on CNN demanded that Fox News produce "vaccine selfies" to demonstrate our obedience to the Biden administration. If you haven’t heard about it, treat yourself.
BRIAN STELTER: I think it's really important to see all of the TV anchors, personalities showing themselves getting the shot. We've seen a lot of vaccine selfies from lots of folks at different networks. It's been really inspiring to see ... Why do you think we hadn't seen the biggest stars on Fox News get vaccinated or show us their vaccine selfies?
"Where are your vaccine selfies? he asks. "Everyone’s doing it, all the kids are doing it, the "Today" Show did it! Why aren’t you doing it?" Hilarious. If the Biden administration announced tomorrow that 350 million Americans had to get microchips implanted in their ears to slow the spread of COVID, CNN would demand microchip selfies to prove you got one.
No wonder no one believes the media anymore. No wonder paranoia is growing. This is very counterproductive. If you want people to have confidence in legitimate science, it should be legitimate. You should stop politicizing science. You should stop lying all the time. You should answer basic questions. If you’re a scientist, you should act like one. You shouldn’t act like a flack. Maybe people would believe you.
That’s the opposite of what's happening. Three days ago, CNN ran a piece complaining that some enlisted members of the Marine Corps had turned down the coronavirus vaccine. This infuriated them.
"Nearly 40% of Marines have declined Covid-19 vaccine," CNN screeched. Unfortunately, their story lamented, "The military cannot make the vaccines mandatory now because they only have emergency use authorizations from the FDA."
What a shame. They should have made the Johnson & Johnson vaccine mandatory, made every Marine ... Oh, wait. We just pulled it off the market. Maybe let the scientists do their job, let people decide. Their bodies, their choice.
Over at MSNBC, their crack reporting team figured out the cause of this. It turns out, enlisted Marines are racist. They watch Fox News and drive trucks. That’s why they have vaccine hesitancy.
NICOLLE WALLACE: I want to ask both of you about right-wing media and their influence on emboldening the racist and intolerant views of what is just a reflection of what is in our society at this hour, at this moment, at this time. How much of that is sort of cheered? Is there a propaganda problem? I read that 40% of Marines don’t want the COVID vaccine. You see this rise of extremism. What is the role of right-wing media is fomenting some of those views?
Oh those questions? About medicine people are asking you to take? If you’ve got questions, you’re a right-wing QAnon bigot. Got it. That’s their position. No more questions! Shut up!
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson's opening commentary on the April 13, 2021 edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight"