We really don’t have enough data to say the risk outweighs the benefits.
First, President Trump in March of 2020 brought the US Department of Defense into direct collaboration with U.S. health departments with respect to vaccine distribution, Operation Warp Speed (Bonsell, 2021), a typical vaccines takes 12.5 years to go from theory to practice. Second, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) collaborated with the biotechnology company Moderna in bringing an unprecedented type of vaccine against infectious disease to market, one utilizing a technology based on messenger RNA (mRNA) (National Institutes of Health, 2020).The confluence of these unprecedented events has rapidly brought to public awareness the promise and potential of mRNA vaccines as a new weapon against infectious diseases into the future. At the same time, events without precedent are, by definition, without a history and context against which to fully assess risks, hoped-for benefits, safety, and long-term viability as a positive contribution to public health.
Without precedent, the FDA is continuing its efforts to reduce the exposure of COVID to the U.S. population and currently is not recommending the vaccines to infants, children, and pregnant women. The FDA is in discussions with manufacturers of COVID mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer regarding their capacity by hundreds of millions of doses to further increase the supply of the formulations for the U.S. and other countries. Of note, all vaccines for the U.S., including for adults, are now available only as thimerosal-free containing formulations. That means no ethylmercury. Yet, the other ingredients are very new and the nano lipid carrier vehicle for the mRNA is made from a propylene glycol. This can cause an immune reaction in some creating a rash.
Others have brought up important additional questions regarding COVID-19 vaccine safety with questions with direct relevance to the mRNA vaccines. For example, Haidere, et. al. (2021) identify four “critical questions” related to unrealistic development of these vaccines,
•Will mRNA Vaccines Stimulate Longterm Immune Response?
•Will mRNA Vaccines Provide Sustainable Immune Endurance Without Harm?
•How Will SARS-CoV-2 Mutate Regarding Use of mRNA Vaccines?
•Are We Prepared for Vaccine Blowback or Unintended Side-effects?
Lack of standard and extended preclinical and clinical trials of the two implemented mRNA vaccines leaves each of these questions to be answered over time. It is now only through observation of pertinent physiological and epidemiological data generated by widescale delivery of the vaccines to the general public that these questions will be resolved. We are seeing some of those questions being answered in the negative. And this is only possible if there is free access to unbiased reporting of outcomes –something that seems unlikely given the widespread censorship of vaccine-related information because of the perceived need to declare success.
Time will tell, but we have to be honest as physicians and still promote science without harm.