I find it stunning articles by Dr. Russell Blaylock and Greta Mills attempt to discourage vaccinations with misinformative anti-vaccination arguments. The effect of their articles discouraging vaccinations can only add to the crisis of Mississippi’s overburdened, overflowing hospitals and ICUs.
Dr. Blaylock’s medical license expired back in June 2007. Blaylock turned to producing an “alternative health” Newsmax newsletter, herbal supplements (“brain restore”), and has twice touted Ivermectin in the Northside Sun for Covid. Blaylock has no degrees in immunology, epidemiology, or pharmacology. Yet Blaylock, took it upon himself to publish an anti-vaccination screed in the Sun on August 26, when Mississippi’s fourth surge brought 3385 new covid cases—a 54% increase from top of the third surge (2200 new cases) last January.
Greta Mills published her article in the Sun discouraging vaccinations on September 2, a day when new covid cases in the state were almost 3,000, and Mississippi doctors and nurses were exhausted to the breaking point by taking care of covid patients. The resulting hospitalizations or deaths among the unvaccinated could have been prevented by the vaccines. Even now, 44% of Mississippians eligible to take the vaccines have not and continue to fuel the crisis.
Blaylock and Mills published their articles after the FDA announced permanent authorization of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine—putting an end to any debate over the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and putting the lie to the false claim the vaccines are experimental.
The human cost of vaccine misinformation is beyond the numbers: The Washington Post for example reported September 3: “The dead include two Texas teachers at a junior high, who died last week within days of each other; a 13-year-old middle schoolboy from Georgia; and a pregnant nurse, 37, in Southern California who left behind five children.”
The Blaylock and Mills articles are as wrong as they are abhorrent. First, they attempt to create a debate whether it is the vaccinated or unvaccinated who are responsible for the fourth surge associated with Delta. Thus, Blaylock writes: “…the rise in cases of the so-called Delta variant is most likely being caused by the vaccinated, not the unvaccinated.” Similarly, Mills states: “people with the vaccination are spreading the virus as much as people without.”
It is clear it is the unvaccinated, not the vaccinated, who have fueled the four surges, including the current one exacerbated by Delta. This last surge is once again overcrowding hospitals and filling morgues. On September 2, Mississippi had 3,850 covid cases, 99% which were unvaccinated. Of the resulting deaths, 87% were unvaccinated (Mississippi Today).
Covid is ripping through the least vaccinated states: Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia. Covid is wreaking havoc also through Mississippi’s counties with low vaccination rates: Wayne, George, Choctaw, Amite, Perry, and Stone among others.
The CDC draws the only conclusion possible for the Delta surge: “…the vast majority of hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19 are in unvaccinated people. … Low vaccination coverage in many communities is driving the current rapid surge in cases involving the Delta variant, which also increases the chances that even more concerning variants could emerge.
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community.”
Second, Blaylock and Mills attack the efficacy of the vaccines against the Delta variant, even after the FDA on August 23 found the Pfizer vaccine safe and effective. Further, they write after the CDC said repeatedly vaccinations are the best means of avoiding hospitalization or death from covid. Blaylock wrote: “they are not vaccines; they are biological agents.” Mills similarly stated: “These latest Covid cases are charging an already heightened battle between the vaccinated and unvaccinated as the efficacy of the Covid Vaccines are called into question against the new variants”. Yet, the CDC stated on August 26: “Fully vaccinated people get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections) less often than unvaccinated people.”
Further, the CDC said: “Fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. However, vaccinated people appear to spread the virus for a shorter time: …like prior variants, the amount of viral genetic material may go down faster in fully vaccinated people when compared to unvaccinated people. This means fully vaccinated people will likely spread the virus for less time than unvaccinated people.”
So, unvaccinated people, infected longer, are infecting many more people than the vaccinated. Further, it is the unvaccinated people who are ending up in the hospitals and morgues.
Third, the anti-vaxxers point to the natural immunity of the unvaccinated who have been infected, implying staying unvaccinated is better. For example, Mills writes: “Instead of vilifying the unvaccinated, let us consider the real possibility that they may have robust natural immunity.” Dr. Lena Wen, the former Baltimore health commissioner (MD, Washington University; Science Masters, Oxford), disagrees. Allow me to quote her at length:
“Now that we have safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus, choosing infection over vaccination runs counter to every principle of public health — and common sense. Even if infection yielded the same or better protection than the vaccine, it makes no sense to risk severe illness and death — not to mention spreading the virus to others.
“Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that those who recovered from covid-19 are better protected if they also get vaccinated. Numerous studies have found that vaccination after infection stimulates a substantial antibody response that’s more robust than either recovery or vaccination alone. A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that such vaccinated people have half the risk of reinfection compared with previously infected people who remained unvaccinated.
“It is clear that those who have neither been infected nor vaccinated should get their shots now. This is not just about their individual health but about the health of the public and bringing the pandemic to an end. Waiting for natural immunity should not be an option, just as it’s not for measles, polio and other diseases for which we mandate vaccines.”
I can go on fact checking Blaylock and Mills’ errors, but these are three good examples. They are not only wrong, but clearly risk leading people away from the safety of the vaccines in the direction of covid hospitalization or death.
Robert P. Wise is a Northsider.