Opinion Piece : Where Does Truth Lie? Unanswered Questions Experts Cannot Dismiss
BY LEO @Voices of Wilderness (vow.sg)
We have a national agenda to vaccinate Singapore. However, we need to question ourselves by what means do we go about achieving this. Do we push it at the cost of dismissing suspected vaccine injuries? Are we not transparent so that public remains unsuspecting but uninformed?
On issues of vaccine, the Singaporean is already disadvantaged towards an informed consent. Few Singaporeans even knew that vaccines can result in injuries. They have never heard of Marcella Gruelle, Hannah Poling, Jesse Gelsinger, where politics concerning vaccination resulted in scandals. They did not know of the VICP where billions have been paid out to vaccine victims. Nor have they read about vaccine injuries in failed campaigns in Japan, Philippines, India, Africa, US and many European countries etc. Singaporeans are 'blissfully' unaware. We seem to have zero cases of vaccine injury in our history. There would never be a need for vaccine injury recourse. Vaccines could do no harm - this perspective seem held by not just the commoner but the medical community here.
Therefore, I was thankful when at the announcement of our Covid-19 vaccination campaign, our authorities / experts, i.e. Kenneth Mak, admitted to the possibility of anaphylaxis that could come from the Covid-19 vaccine. They also announced the roll out of the VIFAP! Gratefully, it is the first "recourse" for vaccine victims I have heard of here. Perhaps now our narrative about vaccines can shift towards more scientific perspectives?
Unfortunately, as we move along our vaccination campaign, I began to see that our engagements are characterized by shameful name-calling and manipulative rhetoric. I began to see an invisible strong hand that pushes the official narrative (which is not wrong in itself) but also unfairly crushes dissenters' perspectives and more.
Let's start with the Media. According to The Straits Times, it is implied that alternative sources of information about Covid-19 vaccine is comparable to misinformation sprouted by extremists, like that of "yoga-beats-Covid" Baba Ramdev. This "all-or-nothing" rhetoric divides Singaporeans by positioning the vaccinated and the unvaccinated at extreme ends - with nothing-in-between. One is safely informed because he listens only to official experts' narratives. The other is misinformed because he had researched more into things and therefore fallen prey to conspiracies. As a critical thinking educator, I have never heard such flawed assumption that to research is to become misinformed. Surely there are those who know how to make the distinction between conspiracies and science, and who seek to inform others in a responsible manner.
Yet consider headlines by Today and ChannelNewsAsia like this: "The Big Read: Conspiracy theories, scientific misinterpretations, plain ignorance abound in Covid-19 infodemic." One can imagine why such a title is crafted. One of its statements read: "Tracing the roots of misinformation to their sources would likely reveal one of several motivations behind its spread: These include political and ideological reasons, commercial profit, mischief, but also cases of genuine misunderstanding". Don't overlook the mouthful of accusations. Between childlike compliance and malicious misinformation, there is little in-between.
A Mr Jake Goh is mentioned from the first sentence of "The Big Read" as an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist. This impression builds up further into that of an extremist, as Mr Jake Goh's "best friends" had to remove him "from their Facebook friends list." An "administrator of two Telegram groups that discuss Covid-19 and vaccine injuries", little was discussed about why Mr Jake chooses to painstakingly reach out to suspected vaccine victims. Instead, the article immediately reminds readers of Mr Jake's redundancy because his Telegram groups are formed "despite the fact" that the Pfizer vaccine is "authorised" by the government and assessed to be "safe and efficacious" by experts. It is ironical that "The Big Read" on misinformation fails to look into evidences of the injured, but dismisses the compassionate guy who does that, filling up the exact gap left by the media.
If such is the level of (un)thinking our media seeks to educate us about misinformation, what is the level of discernment such agenda-driven articles can build in us? Nothing. Blindly believe everything you are told is not discernment. And to brand those who had read up more as malicious extremist with an intent to misinform? Such engagements by the media strike fear and dishearten those who sincerely seek to engage with good intent. Even more hurt are the victims with burning, unanswered questions. Without providing valid answers, what right does anybody have to pigeon-hole us? Such rhetoric divides, isolates and eventually justifies hate and discrimination.
Disappointingly, such "all-or-nothing" language was also used by some figures of authority. Dr David Lye, Director of NCID, who sits on the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination, started a Facebook post stating, "Why fake science and anti-vaccine groups are dangerous in a pandemic". So if you are not in agreeement with Dr Lye, you are "fake-science", "anti-vaccine" and "dangerous." Nothing-in-between. Dr Lye wrote, "Some of these were from a group of doctors including.. a Dr Oon Chong Jin," who Dr Lye described as "a private cancer specialist who championed hepatitis B vaccination in Singapore." But how can anyone who had "championed hepatitis B vaccination" be anti-vaccine?
Dr Onn and Dr Lye may have different positions about the Pfizer vaccine, but their disagreement should not have justified ad hominem attacks. Both are experts in their own rights. However, in critical thinking 101, everyone commenting on this debate can be assumed to be biased until proven otherwise. Dr Oon, who prefers Sinovac, believes that the mRNA vaccine will be increasingly ineffective against Covid-19 variants. Official reports have already highlighted this probability. Dr Lye disagrees with Dr Oon's belief in Sinovac, saying that there is "little data to confirm" the vaccine's effectiveness. New reports have since emerged from Indonesia that suggests Dr Lye's caution about Sinovac is correct.
Both ought to be free to engage by means of reasoning so truth is propelled forward. Dr Lye's rebuttal should have been the beginning of a robust debate based on logic, science, and statistical data. Instead, the post was uncharacteristically rhetorical.
When Dr Lye asserted that children and teenagers should vaccinate even though they "do not usually have severe COVID", his premise is basically - because they "can infect adults." Yet Dr Lye emphasises: "mRNA vaccines are one of the most effective COVID vaccines. They reduce symptomatic COVID by 95%.." If the vaccine is really as effective as described, why worry about unvaccinated kids? Vaccines have not wiped out the possibility of infection anyway, as seen from the outbreak at MINDSville@Napiri, which should have consisted of mostly vaccinated residents and caregivers. Why then is 'children can infect adults' a good premise to vaccinate children? Especially when there is a lack of safety data from Pfizer's own trial: 2,260 teenager participants studied for 2 months, and only half of them actually received the vaccine - this small sample of 1,100 teenagers now justifies the strong roll out to vaccinate 400,000 Singaporean teenagers.
Suspiciously, Dr Lye alluded to "a wealth of data from the US, UK and Israel on their safety", but conveniently neglects corresponding data on adverse effects from these same countries. E.g., U.S. government site VAERS has already recorded more than 5000 deaths and 25,000 serious injuries. How could Dr Lye square these ground reports of injuries with "the vaccines are safe for children"? In fact, Mr Jake Goh's Telegram group, the SG Suspected Vaccine Injuries Team, has compiled at least 16 cases of deaths as of 28th May 2021, with several dozens of severe injuries. These cases have mostly been dismissed on the basis that no evidence confirm the injuries to be a result of the vaccine, yet these same doctors could not disprove that the vaccine could have contributed to it. Why haven't any local experts addressed this elephant in the room in a responsible manner?
With unanswered questions of this nature, it will not be fair for anyone to engage in hateful rhetoric. People are already in paranoia. Vaccinated family members are restricting unvaccinated parents in the same household from getting near to their children. Many are vaccinating out of the fear that they could be discriminated against e.g. from traveling, work, social settings. Now, if you do not vaccinate but wish to worship God as a congregant, you have to be PCR-swabbed - weekly. Some wonder if regular swabs could hurt their nasal cavity. It's not unfair to wish for less invasive procedures like the breathalyser test. Our government must also consider that without an exit plan in sight, how much longer before increasing curbs result in poor mental health, or oppress the basic freedom to worship? Asking these questions should not make one guilty or hated.
At certain point, Singaporeans must learn to live above our fears. We must also align our beliefs to science that can be verified and exchanged in an open arena, based on reasons, not rhetoric. The real skill to cultivate against misinformation is not childlike compliance, but discernment. With discernment, one could have picked up how in Dr David Lye's post, he cherry-picked a redundant point on Ivermectin - about a fraud company's data that has nothing to do with reality - to debunk evidences about Ivermectin's success. Or that Dr Lye sufficiently cautioned on the need to "watch out for side effects" for vaccines using "old technology" but seemed totally dismissive about possible side effects of mRNA vaccines.
Dr Lye cannot not know about these facts that I mentioned, like the data on Ivermectin or VAERS. Neither could he not know that he had cherry picked a negative point about Ivermectin to debunk all the other evidence for it. By calling this out, I have not shown that I am more qualified than Dr Lye in science (far from it). What I have instead pointed out is the likelihood that Dr Lye is biased towards his narrative and therefore selective in the information he shares and withholds. This selectivity had led to loopholes. Let's make this picture larger. Can Singapore make a mistake because we decidedly choose to stand by our national vaccination agenda? The answer is yes. We cannot have two priorities at one time. Either we prioritise justice and truth and encourage reasoned scientific exchanges, or we prioritise the vaccination agenda and guard against every dissenting view. Politics therefore, must be considered in the larger picture discussion.
Experts need to build trust not by cherry picking what they want to say or toll politically correct narratives. They build trust by answering real questions, addressing legitimate concerns and demonstrating reliable trustworthiness. It doesn't help that in recent weeks, conspiracy theories about Fauci misusing his connections for vested interests have been found to be likely true. It seems if there is a narrative to upkeep, truth does get sidelined. So contrary to claims, truth does not just lie with institutions. It also belongs to independent doctors and scientists who discover what work in a crisis, statisticians who observe real world data without conflict of interest, critical thinkers who question with an independent mind, and truth seekers who search for answers. Sadly, sometimes, truth emerges from even the unfortunate injury or death of a vaccine victim.
Genius can make mistakes. Experts can contradict. Teachers can be wrong. As long as critical questions remain unanswered, one cannot claim to be exhaustive in all truth to the exclusion of reasoned alternatives that are accompanied by evidence. Throw politics, money, power, security, fear and social pressure into the mix, we should therefore not think we could be spoon fed if we want to be informed. Discernment, not childlike compliance as "The Big Read" suggest, is the real skill we need to cultivate.
In closing, I will leave 3 unanswered questions below that experts must answer, or otherwise, the gaps are so jarring that it is disturbing why our authorities have not sought to close it.
- Suspected Vaccine Injury Cases
The biggest elephant in the room. Every injury and death following vaccination, other than anaphylaxis, seems to be unfairly dismissed. Why? Heart attack, blood clotting is a recurring pattern. Mr Yak's case, which I wrote about, and the latest, is Andrew Tan's. Consider this case too, of which the patient had "full bloodwork" cleared for a knee replacement surgery - but suddenly had a aortic clot following vaccination. The increase number of heart inflammation issues among the young following vaccination points in the same direction.
Consider too Charlene Lin's, Jo-ann Tan's cases. Unexplainable adverse reactions on perfectly healthy persons. One suddenly lost her ability to walk and the other lost his senses. The evidence is clear - all of them had sudden injuries following vaccination. Yet most have not been acknowledged for the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme payout. In the name of public interest and safety, can our experts examine these cases with more public scrutiny? Can independent stakeholders be called in to assess ethical considerations for VIFAP payout? Can "suspected vaccine injury" cases and figures be made known to the public in the name of transparency?
2. Ivermectin and it's "undeniable" evidence
Dr Robert Malone, inventor of mRNA vaccines (and DNA vaccines), who has almost 100 peer-reviewed publications resulting in over 10 patents and about 7000 citations, has claimed the evidence on Ivermectin as "undeniable".
India, whose Covid-19 infection crisis was all over the news weeks ago, has resolved their crisis by permitting the use of Ivermectin (though politics is back at play). These are two of many evidences, a number of which are already referenced in this petition which advocates for Ivermectin to be used in Singapore. More info about Ivermectin and how it emerges as a solution among many doctors, can be found here. Now that vaccination does not seem to be a plausible exit plan from infection from Covid-19 variants, Dr Lye needs to substantiate our reluctance to explore Ivermectin with reason and wisdom. Or they must bear the responsibility for compromising Singaporeans if a plausible solution was already plainly in sight.
3. The "spike protein" controversy and others
Ever since research by Salk Institute showed that the spike protein of Covid-19 virus alone was enough to cause disease, shouldn't experts be concerned with the next inevitable question: wouldn't the mRNA vaccine spike proteins act likewise? Vaccine researcher Byram Bridle has already confirmed that the spike protein of mRNA vaccines will get into our bloodstream and accumulated in our organs. Dr Robert Malone corroborates Byram Bridle's findings and raised cautions against CDC's advisory that the vaccines are safe for pregnant women (3:50min). He also suggested that spike protein in the bone marrow can lead to possible long term effects of leukemia and lymphoma in "6months, 3 years or 9 years.." (4:40min).
Can our experts confirm if the vaccine's spike protein is a toxin right now? If they are unsure, why rush pregnant women, girls and teens to be vaccinated? MOH reported "some 2,000 individuals.. experienced "severe adverse reactions" after the first dose". That's a pretty high severe adverse reaction rate of 0.1%, if we assume 2 million first doses to have been delivered at that point. Are our benefits still outweighing the risks? Have our local experts also examined hidden numbers pointed out in Peter Doshi's review: "3410 cases of "suspected but unconfirmed" Covid-19 cases; "371 individuals" who were excluded from the efficacy analysis? Will our experts' over-confidence, collective assurances, shape our narrative into an impregnable impetus that has to deny future vaccine injuries?
PS: Just as I finished my article, Dr Lye made another post seeking to debunk Dr Robert Malone's caution to pregnant women (3:50min). Note that Dr Lye provided only 1 study for that. The other study helped made up the numbers, but it actually didn't fit the the subject matter.
And for that 1 relevant study he provided... click on it for a look. I provide the screenshot here. This is the paper you will see. Check the part I highlighted in the red box.
It says in emphasis: "This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed [what does this mean?]. It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.
If this "preprint" is what Dr Lye banked on to approve vaccination for our pregnant women, he would have contradicted the scientific caution of the preprint i.e. "research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice." Is this what he should provide out of his arsenal of studies to reassure Singaporeans? The selective science that Dr Lye relies on is most worrying. And the rhetoric he continues to use to debunk other experts, including someone as esteemed as Dr Malone, just goes to prove whatever I had mentioned in my article.
Source : vow.sg/where-does-truth-lie (hyperlinks excluded in above post, refer to original article for hyperlinks)
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