Jomo’s deadly errors measuring risks in the Covid-19 pandemic
by Dr Garrey Michael Dennie and Dr Nneka D Dennie
Jomo Thomas sits atop the bleakest barricade of lies, deceit, misinformation, and disinformation that constitutes the anti-vaxxer movement in St Vincent and the Grenadines. In so doing, he has contributed to the deluge of anti-vaccine propaganda that is overwhelming the medical authorities’ capacity to persuade most Vincentians to take a COVID19 vaccine. In this, he has erred. For death, disease and destruction of the public good are the guaranteed consequences of the unchecked spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Historically, Vincentians have embraced vaccination to protect us from a range of diseases – polio, small-pox, mumps, measles, rubella, and more. Indeed, mass vaccination against childhood diseases has been the single greatest factor responsible for increasing Vincentian life expectancy from 60 years in 1960 to 75 years today. Hence ironically, even as Jomo leads the anti-vaccination campaign in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Jomo’s very generation is, in fact, the first Vincentians to have been the beneficiaries of mass vaccination campaigns.
Jomo’s anti-vaxxing crusade places him within a broader international cult of anti-vaxxers. Leading this deadly crusade of anti-vaxxing ideologies are Jomo’s traditional enemies – the racists, the Trumpists, the religious fanatics, the anti-intellectuals, and of course, the profiteers who produce, promote, and prosper from this gospel of death. Their fundamental position is that populations should allow the virus the freedom to infect anyone and thereby achieve herd immunity through natural infection. But we have another term for such deadly advocacy. It is called mass murder. And four million dead bodies already testify to this.
The propagators of anti-vaccine fallacies are also the very same people who willingly sacrifice society’s most vulnerable for profit. Time and again, they have aligned themselves with charlatans who sell their own books and impostor “health” products to make money from the suffering of the poor. In the United States, the most vocal detractors of vaccines lambast the poor, view Black people as disposable, and call Caribbean nations like our own, “shithole countries.” The white demagogues who cry out that their freedoms are being violated, while denying Black people their freedom in the next breath are nothing but wolves in sheep clothing.
How then did Jomo find common cause with his erstwhile adversaries? The answer is to be found in an astonishing claim that Jomo asserted on the OMG in the Morning program on Boom 106.9 FM, to wit, that the vaccinated and the unvaccinated are AT EQUAL RISK of contracting COVID19, and hence, the vaccinated individual is no more protected from COVID19 than the unvaccinated. Expressed in mathematical form, whether he is aware of it or not, Jomo is making a scientific claim, to wit, that the efficacy of the COVID19 vaccines is zero.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Measuring risk reduction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals is the absolute raison d’etre of the science of vaccinology. This is the irreducible burden that the science confers upon itself. The goal is nothing less than expressing in precise mathematical language the scale of the benefits vaccination confers upon the vaccinated over the unvaccinated. Vaccine efficacy is neither an adjective nor a metaphor. Rather, it is the measured difference the medical scientists derive when they calculate the extent to which vaccinated individuals and unvaccinated individuals contract a specific disease.
The USA’s Center for Diseases Control (CDC) is the world’s foremost authority on this subject and declares the following: vaccine efficacy and vaccine effectiveness measure the proportionate reduction in cases among the unvaccinated. Vaccine efficacy is used when a study is carried out under ideal conditions, for example, during a clinical trial. Vaccine effectiveness is used when a study is caried out under field condition.
Furthermore, the CDC instructs, (VE): vaccine efficacy/effectiveness is measured by Calculating The Risk of Disease among the vaccinated and unvaccinated persons and determining the percentage reduction in risk of disease among the vaccinated person relative to the unvaccinated persons. The greater the percentage reduction of illness in the vaccinated group, the greater the vaccine efficacy/effectiveness.”
In plain language, vaccine efficacy is quantifiable and only available through a clinical trial. And for more than 100 years, this is the scientific and mathematical standards applied to measuring the efficacy of every single vaccine used anywhere in the world. In short, all of the covid vaccines makers must report on their efficacy because without this, they lack scientific merit.
Placed alongside this scientific literature, Jomo’s error is immense, and beyond repair. His declaration that the vaccine confers no benefit to the vaccinated stands in absolute defiance, or complete ignorance, of the sciences of epidemiology and vaccinology. For example, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine claim a 95 per cent efficacy. This means that in their clinical studies, for every ONE vaccinated person who contracted the virus, TWENTY unvaccinated persons did so. Expressed in Jomo’s language, the unvaccinated person is TWENTY times more likely to contract the coronavirus than the vaccinated person.
More crucial still, the clinical studies demonstrated that the vaccines virtually eliminated the vaccinated from being hospitalized, and they provided 100 per cent protection against death from COVID19. This literally means that in the clinical studies NOT A SINGLE vaccinated person died from covid 19. These are staggering numbers, and all of the other vaccines offered similar levels of protection. Jomo therefore errs in failing to recognize the full suite of protection the vaccines confer on the vaccinated.
In the face of this overwhelming evidence of the efficacy of the vaccines, one of two things must be true. EITHER (a) the medical scientists in Cuba, England, Russia, the USA, France, Germany and indeed all of academia are all engaged in a massive conspiracy to generate efficacy studies of the various vaccines that are absolutely false. OR (b) Jomo has no idea of how medical scientists produce and authenticate new knowledge.
Ignorance, indeed, is Jomo’s only excuse. For the design of the clinical studies, repudiates any suggestion of scientific falsehood.
First, all of these studies are double blind, randomized, and placebo controlled clinical studies. Second, our confidence in the outcome of the study is assured through the medical scientists’ absolute fidelity to the scientific protocols, especially the peer review process. Basically, the researchers provide all of their data for review to independent professionals and the regulatory bodies on the conduct and results of the study.
To protect the study from being contaminated by bias, the researchers employ the double blind, randomized, placebo controlled methodology. First, the participants in the study are randomly chosen. Second, it is placebo controlled. That means that half of the study’s participants would be given the active vaccine. And half would be given the placebo – an inactive ingredient. Third, it is double blind. This means that no participant would know whether they received the active vaccine or the inactive ingredient. And neither would the persons administering the injections know who got what. Hence, it is only on the completion of the study the statisticians would then reveal the numbers on the efficacy and the safety of the vaccines.
Medical scientists approach measuring the safety of the vaccines with the same rigour that they approach measuring their efficacy. In fact, the CDC declares, “Before a vaccine is approved by the FDA for use by the public, results of studies on safety are evaluated by highly trained FDA scientists and doctors.” These proceed in three phases. Phase One trials involve 20 to 100 individuals. Phase Two trials involve hundreds of individuals. Phase Three trials involve thousands of individuals. If a vaccine fails the safety protocols in any phase, it never reaches the public. Every single COVID19 vaccine in use today passed every safety test.
As of this writing, 3.73 billion vaccines have been administered globally. No vaccine has 100 per cent efficacy. Neither is any vaccine 100 per cent free of adverse effects. That is scientifically impossible. Thus, when Jomo points to any adverse reaction to the vaccines in SVG, he needs to be reminded that not only is this a mathematical certainty, it is completely accounted for within medical science.
Jomo would also do well to remember that the fight against COVID19 is a global fight. It is not a local fight. Hence, whatever the COVID19 numbers in SVG might be, the presence of COVID19 anywhere is a threat to humanity everywhere.
So what we do know is this, these vaccines are the safest and most effective tools we have in our toolbox to win the fight against COVID19. In the words of the Director of the CDC, “COVID19 is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Any protestation to the contrary is a deadly error. After all, she has measured the risk.