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Byron Shire
October 16, 2021

A letter to my vaccine-hesitant friends

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Addressing your concerns…

A few weeks ago, I discovered that some of my friends – you know who you are – weren’t planning to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Some of you said you lacked trust in the evidence provided for the safety of vaccines. On the other hand, you were confident about alternative therapies, mostly Ivermectin.

I’ll admit to having had my own vaccine hesitancy back in January, when the vaccines first came out. But with 5.7 billion people (and counting) providing data on the vaccines, I feel now there’s a very sound basis on which to evaluate benefit versus risk.  And my conclusion is clearly on the side of benefit.

Still, you raised issues that were worthy of exploration. Given that the shingle above my door reads ‘science communicator’, I told you I’d do some research and get back to you.

Journalism holds that it’s better to show than tell.  So this is a kind of ‘journey inside Ella Finkel’ to show why I think the way I do.

I do hope this journey will take you to the same place I’ve arrived. It’s not often that I’ve felt that communicating science is a matter of life and death. I feel it is the case now.

We all need good information for making grave decisions that affect ourselves and our community – most poignantly the unvaccinated children around us. Our decisions today will also determine our long-term prospects for a return to normality.

So here is the information I’ve gathered about the safety of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines – the ones now available to us in Australia – and Ivermectin.

Whether it was the first polio vaccine or the vaccine against the latest flu strain, the calculation is always: does the benefit outweigh the risk?

Let me say upfront: there is no way anyone can guarantee 100% safety for a vaccine. That’s true for the current crop of COVID vaccines, but it’s also true for any vaccine against a new pathogen. Whether it was the first polio vaccine or the vaccine against the latest flu strain, the calculation is always: does the benefit outweigh the risk?

Health authorities around the world – and especially ours – are on high alert for serious adverse effects. They’ve found some and they are rare – unusual blood clots and heart inflammation. Most of the cases are mild, treatable and leave people unharmed.

A COVID infection, on the other hand, increases your chance of a blood clot to the lung by 12-fold and a heart attack more than four-fold. Your overall risk of dying from COVID if infected, based on the latest data from Sydney, is 1 per cent. If you’re over 70, make that 4 per cent.

But bear in mind, it’s not just the risk of vaccines that we accept. No drug is 100% safe. Ten people die of Paracetamol poisoning in Australia each year.

And it’s odd that some of us expect 100 per cent safety from a vaccine but are prepared to overlook the risks of taking Ivermectin. We only know that Ivermectin is safe when it is taken as worming medication, usually 12 mg as a single dose, maybe repeated in three months or a year. Is it safe taken long term or at higher dosages? How effective is it at protecting you from severe illness or death from the Delta strain of COVID?

While some folks are blithely proclaiming it a cure, elsewhere the reports of poisonings are rolling in. I can tell you what the risks and benefits are for the vaccines. No one can tell you what they are for Ivermectin. Hopefully, that should change in a few months’ time when large and rigorous randomised controlled trials underway in Oxford, Canada and the US report their findings.

These trials are looking hard for cheap, widely used drugs to ‘repurpose’ for treating COVID. They’ve already found at least four: remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed against Ebola; dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug; budesonide, an inhaled steroid used for asthma; and recent hints that fluvoxamine, an anti-depressant, could be helpful.

Bear in mind, people with letters after their name do get things wrong.

The most likely reason Ivermectin is taking such a long time to prove its credentials is probably because it has a small effect, if any at all.

Another thing that’s flummoxed many of my friends is the individual scientists and doctors who make contrarian claims. For instance: that the COVID-19 virus is not that harmful, that vaccines and masks are, and that Ivermectin is the cure.

Bear in mind, people with letters after their name do get things wrong. Peter Duesberg, a virologist from the University of California, Berkeley claimed for years that the HIV virus was not the cause of AIDS. The many millions of people surviving thanks to anti-viral medication would disagree.

In covering science stories for many decades now, I’ve learnt not to follow people but the data.

Read on for a guided tour.

YOUR COVID TOOLBOX: This article is one of a five-part series where Cosmos editor-at-large Elizabeth Finkel hunts down all the facts and figures you need to understand COVID-19 vaccines.

This article was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Elizabeth Finkel. Elizabeth Finkel is editor-at-large of Cosmos.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.

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  1. Three months ago I was put on a queue to get some Pfizer. I was due to have my second dose on September 29.
    I had a phone call from the Health Clinic saying my second dose has been put back three weeks to October 20.
    We get all the government propaganda about hesitancy when there is no hestancy . There is a Lack of supply off vaccine from the government.
    That now makes it four months I have been waiting and I am on a Priority List because I have low blood platelets

    • Not being awkward, just interested. You say you have a priority because of a low platelet count. Surely that means that your blood doesn’t clot easily, the opposite of the rare thrombosis side effect from the Astra Zeneca Vaccine. Just curious

    • Can you have it at a different clinic, Emily? My partner got his first dose of Pfizer in Lismore Square on Saturday and he only booked the day before.

  2. Good to hear some sense at last! However it is well known that those opposed are rarely changed by logical facts, they will stick to their “alternative truths” as though their life depends on it. Oh wait a minute… it does!!

  3. As if there isn’t already more than enough mass media coercion to take this highly questionable vaccines,huge amounts of advertising to push it on everyone,force people to take it,so our “dear leaders” can give us more freedom and the Echo joins this campaign,because so many of the people have been completely brainwashed by this relentless campaign,Woolworth includes it in their commercials,that alone should ring alarm bells! Nicholas Shand would have been disgusted to see what you are doing to the great Echo he founded ,now hardly distinguishable from the crap of the mass media!

    • Bang on Herbert. Appears the Echo is hell bent on pushing the Govt and big money line. Who would have guessed? Not Nicholas.

      How about some balance Echo?

      Like…. “A letter to my friends participating in mass pharmaceutical trials”.

      Fact – trials for Pfizer jab end 31 Jan, 2023.

  4. The last thing we need is a superficial waffle that is clearly poorly researched as it ignores a tonne of evidence of the ill effects of the shot. Go look what is happening in Israel (example) where there are the highest numbers of doubled shots. Injuries and death abound.
    The countries that are by far doing the best have NO restrictions and low shot rates. The successful widespread us of Ivermectin is suppressed and ridiculed by ignorant ill-informed people including our health officials. On what evidence are our tyrannical leaders basing their stupidity. It cannot be science or common sense based. What is their agenda? Why the constant fear propaganda for something that has a 99.7 survival rate. Something absolutely stinks! Cant you smell it?

  5. I respect your choice to get jabbed. Respect my choice not to. Before you condemn me for my choice, perhaps I have reasons that you haven’t considered. I am tired of all you dogooders who suddenly when you feel threatened seem to lose your consideration of others freedoms.

  6. This is apparently written by someone who is either dumb or does not want to see the real truth.

    It comes down to this… “When people who are honestly mistaken learn the truth, they will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest!” (Anonymous)

    Throughout your entire life you continually DECIDE to either stop being mistaken –or stop being honest– when learning the truth. Which one of the two true answers applies to YOU in terms of the Covid-19 truth? Find out in  “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective  & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” by Rolf Hefti at https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html

  7. Lets just remember what the mortality rate for this virus is…. between 1-2% of people who get it die. That’s ridiculously low! And which company should you place your trust in? Pfizer, the same company who paid out a record amount for medical malpractice, over a billion dollars. Yep, sure they’re trust worthy. Just research it yourself. And while you’re there, look for the 240 million Indians who are COVID free thanks to Ivermetin. I’m no medical person but information is free if you look

  8. Not one bit of science or fact in any of that! Just an opinion from the editor of a science slanted journal that should do better. There is tons of proof Ivermectin works from front line doctors that have been trialing this for over 18 months and have 100% cure rate and doctors and nursing staff have used it as a prophylactic with success. If over 40 years of use and over 4 billion prescriptions isn’t enough research and proof then what constitutes safety. There are tablets for humans too so calling it a horse de-wormer is not doing it justice. Shouldn’t doctors be encouraged to help cure disease instead of being told that covid sufferers can’t be helped, only an experimental vaccine administered in the ‘middle of a pandemic’ may make things less deadly with a concoction that was hardly tested, with mostly unknown ingredients and without any of the original “isolated” sarscov2. Virologists will tell you that it doesn’t make sense. It is cell altering technology. This should be absurd to any any doctor or scientist with integrity. Strange strategy. Also this is not a vaccine like any other so why are some still comparing it to vaccines we have had in the past. Why?? is not the government throwing information at us about keeping healthy by taking zinc, D3, outdoor exercise and much more to keep us healthy and more able to cope with infection. Mask wearing and locking us up is not a medical answer. If people believe that injecting 7.5 billion people with this concoction is the only way to protect us from this not so uncommon virus I beg to differ.

  9. Seems like every comment comes from someone in Byron Bay, the lowest vaccinated town. Read up about all the people who were antivaxxers that changed their mind on their death bed. When the doors open up to travel you will be the hardest hit and you will expect our hospitals to keep you alive even though you have taken no precautions. Will you give your bed up for someone who has taken precautions and admit your stupidity?

  10. The reason the death rate is ridiculously low is because the majority of people have cared for themselves and their family by getting vaccinated. Also extremely effective pharmaceutical have kept people alive along with very competent nurses and doctors.
    Yes some pharmaceuticals have not worked or have caused side issues in spite of very demanding testing and trial. It happens in all parts of our society.
    Instead of playing the negative, look at all the hundred and thousands of drugs that have saved lives and increased the value of life.
    Live in fear, die in fear.

  11. Love all these conspiracy theories! What will you expect from society when you catch Covid? Since you are all so self-entitled now doubt you will expect that the public health system can offer you!

  12. And what will you expect if the chosen ‘ivermectin’ doesn’t do what you are told it will do.
    Will we have ‘man babies’ wrecking The Rivers for the fun of it? A world gone mad is far
    from a pretty sight.


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