3rd December 2020: As the global race for Covid-19 vaccines heats up, citizens worldwide are being told that a vaccine is their best bet in fighting against this ‘deadly pandemic’. Yet, the prospect of rushed, experimental, and potentially mandatory vaccines is raising a lot of questions around vaccine safety, vaccine hesitancy, vaccine side effects and adverse reactions, conflict of interest between pharma and public health authorities and the looming past of swine flu and polio vaccine horrors in India and abroad. Allegations of corruption and bias in medicine, politics and media has polarised this debate extraordinarily, and citizens who are a part of the Awaken India Movement intend to bring these doubts and concerns into an open, public forum, at Marathi Patrakar Sangh, Azad Maidan, CSMT, Mumbai on Friday, 4th December at 2.00pm.
News spread this week about the 40-year old Chennai-based volunteer taking part in the Astrazeneca-Serum Institute India vaccine trials who suffered from virtual neurological breakdown and impairment of cognitive functions. The victim and his family has asked for all trials to be halted immediately, drawing on the fact that this information was not properly disclosed to them before they gave consent, concern that this incident did not halt trials like international counterparts, and that the general public must be made aware of what vaccine side effects might be – especially during trials.
Citizens are shocked and appalled at the heavy-handed, non-negotiable and threatening response by SII who have slapped a defamatory charge back on the victim. It raises more questions about how Serious Adverse Events are categorized, diagnosed and reported, something which doctors and researchers have expressed serious doubt about. The WHO’s guidelines make it difficult, if not impossible, to prove causation and illnesses caused due to vaccines.
Further, it is a widely known fact that debates around vaccines are heavily controlled and influenced by pharmaceutical companies via biased media counterparts. The term ‘anti-vaxxer’ has been slapped on anyone raising these questions, such content being purged off social media, and social stigma attached to valid and scientific concerns about such issues. “Let’s also try to understand that the entire medical dialogue is being controlled by the pharma mafia, and with this I hope there is going to be a continuity in this debate” says Saraswati Kavula, Activist & Documentary Filmmaker ‘Decoded.’
The WHO has also asked for ‘flexible labelling of vaccines’ – which means only including the manufacturing date and no expiry date, to speed up distribution. The thought of sacrificing such a crucial and vital aspect of a medical product is not only worrying, it borders on criminal and shows a complete and utter lack of respect for human health and human life.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that vaccine manufacturers are exempt from liability in case of any adverse events or side effects from the vaccine. This raises a lot of doubts and decreases public confidence in the push for vaccination. Further, if the vaccines are not safe and a high number of adverse events are expected, why should this cost be borne by the individual taxpayer, especially if vaccines are being made ‘mandatory’ or ‘conditional’ to access services like transport, dining, work etc. In the current scenario of mass hysteria and desperation to return to normality, the public is not able to process this much information and gather to ask the right questions to the authorities.
Members of Awaken India resonate with the global confusion about how a vaccine has been developed in record time, using mRNA technology, a process never used before, for a virus that is still not well understood and is constantly mutating, and that affects different people very differently. Given that the vaccine trials are designed to succeed, what does ‘effectiveness’ of the vaccine candidates even indicate? As far as official reports go – they will not prevent infection, transmission, severe side effects or even death. In many cases, the side effects from taking the vaccine might be worse than what someone would experience if they get covid itself (as majority are asymptomatic or experience it as a mild flu). In that case, is it justified or even sensible to prescribe mass vaccination drives or mandate vaccines to the general public? This has the danger of resulting in discrimination, infringement on right to equality, and exclusion of segments of the population depending on their personal medical choices.
Research and public surveys have demonstrated that individuals have little knowledge of how vaccines work, what ingredients they contain, and what purpose those ingredients serve. There are valid and serious concerns on religious, scientific, moral and other grounds to substances like mercury and aluminium which are toxic in specific quantities, aborted fetal cells which form the basis of most common vaccines, and fetal bovine serum which is procured from slaughtered calves. Given that India is a deeply religious and spiritual country, we believe it is vital to bring this to people’s notice, and give them the option to choose whether or not they want to take a vaccine. Simply stating that such ingredients are in many other medicines and foods does not justify continuing to keep this information from the public eye and positioning it as worrying – that remains a valid action regardless of how widely these ingredients are used in other products.
Past epidemic and vaccine scandals exposed the highly controversial conflicts of interest between the WHO, big pharma companies, organisations like BMGF and GAVI, and public health bodies. Accusations included amplifying public fear, changing the official definition of ‘epidemic’, sterilisation of women, and a push to sell vaccines for financial benefits. These were fanned by the dangerous and very real ties to unauthorised clinical experiments, and historical associations with proponents of eugenics and depopulation. Rather than dismissing these as unwarranted conspiracies, we consider it prudent and imperative that these narratives are spotlighted and investigated at a time as critical as now.
The fact that there is no uproar and condemnation from doctors, hospitals, scientists, epidemiologists, public health authorities, and media on all these points compels us to wonder about what is happening behind the scenes, and why is there a conspiracy of silence amongst those who are controlling and dictating every aspect of our lives, more so than ever during this crisis. As Advocate Harshal Mirashi stated in his petition against unconstitutional lockdowns, “The Government has tied our hands, tied lips, tied breath, tied legs and tied everything. Let’s exercise our fundamental right to unleash democratic freedom.”