In late 2020, a colleague of mine, board-certified in pulmonology and critical care medicine and who had been on the front lines treating COVID patients, invited me to join a large, private social media group of physicians who had assembled to educate each other in a time of uncertainty.
At the time, I was mystified at the confidence our authorities had in the COVID-19 vaccines’ safety and efficacy. Published trial data included only a few months of observation.
In Pfizer’s trial of some 40,000 participants, only 10 (page 1, Results) came down with severe COVID.
Do 10 outcomes (9 in the placebo wing and 1 in the vaccine) justify the deployment of this intervention on hundreds of millions of people?
Furthermore, these numbers meant we would have to vaccinate more than 2,500 people to prevent a single case of severe COVID. Because 0.6% of vaccine recipients suffered a serious event, we can expect 15 people to be injured for every severe covid case prevented. A serious adverse event, according to the FDA, is one that includes death, permanent disability and hospitalization. How could this product be authorized for use under any circumstances?
Were other doctors asking the same questions that I was asking? I joined the social media group to find out what other doctors were saying.
This group has more than 20,000 doctors, each one vetted by the group’s administrators. Admission to the group is through invitation by a member only. The members span nearly all specialties of medicine, from rheumatology and pediatric cardiology to ER medicine and infectious disease.
The intent was to share our understanding and personal experiences in order to care for the public more effectively.
The general public’s understanding of this complicated threat is rudimentary at best. It’s not their fault. They are constantly being bombarded by a relentless stream of messaging that can be summarized like this:
“COVID-19 is a threat to everyone. The vaccines are extremely safe and effective. Doctors and Scientists are in unanimous agreement. Any medical professional who expresses a different opinion must be part of an extremely small fringe minority.”
Every element of this message is factually incorrect, including the idea that doctors have been in complete agreement, more or less, from the very beginning. Their comments to each other tell a different story.