Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 16 October 2023

The Vaccine War: A Technical Review

On 28 Sep 2023, the movie The Vaccine War by Vivek Agnihotri was released internationally, as the story behind India’s Covid-19 vaccine development. While there will be many a review written, as for other movies, a technical review is important, as the film is supposed to be fact-based, on the science and scientists behind the science. This write-up is such a technical review.

“The Vaccine War:” The Good

Let us first list the several things which it got right.

  1. Choice of vaccine technology: The movie explains that Covaxin chose the traditional vaccine technology of inactivated virus, rather than the untested mRNA platform. The mRNA platform also would have required sub-zero temperatures during storage and rollout, which would have caused a logistical nightmare. So this was the right choice for the right technical reason.
  2. Keeping Pfizer out of India: The movie commends the government of India for keeping Pfizer out of India, and this praise is well-deserved. Pfizer is one of the most corrupt pharmaceutical giants, having paid billions of dollars in fines. Pfizer’s arm-twisting of other governments has come to light recently, and it is not pretty.
  3. The CCP-WHO nexus: The film rightly criticizes the WHO as being influenced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Indeed, the WHO has throughout praised the CCP for its “commitment to transparency.” If anyone asked you for a government which is transparent, CCP/China would likely be the last on your mind, whereas WHO has praised CCP for its transparency!
  4. Social media censorship: The movie is spot-on in pointing out that social media censorship was rife. The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab leak was (and is) heavily censored in social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The US government has been coercing these platforms to engage in such censorship. Recently, the US government was even directed by a US court to stop coercing the social media companies to do censorship.
  5. Media as the problem: The film’s portrayal of media as the problem during Covid-19 response is right, although not remotely in the way depicted in the film.

The caveats

In the list above, a few quick caveats are in order, with details following subsequently.

  1. Although the choice of traditional vaccine technology was right, Covaxin used a brand new adjuvant (stimulator to boost immune response) called alhydroxiquim.
  2. Although Pfizer was kept out of India, Covishield (AstraZeneca) was widely used, which used an even worse technology (DNA and adenovirus vector based).
  3. While CCP is secretive and authoritarian, India and indeed the world copied CCP’s authoritarian method in terms of lockdown.
  4. Government-directed social media censorship has been rife not only for the lab-leak possibility, but also for all the elements of the official Covid-19 response including questioning vaccine safety and efficacy.
  5. The film portrays media as being anti-Indian-vaccine, while the truth is that most media has been blindly pro-any-and-all-Covid-vaccines.

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