COVID-19 vaccines have been available since December 2020 under emergency use authorization. Many people have already rolled up their sleeves to take a shot or two, but the pressure is mounting for more to comply.
At a recent White House press conference, President Joe Biden said as many as 98 percent of citizens would need to be vaccinated for the country to get back to normal. He indicated that those who are still holding out are not merely stalling our recovery, but harming public health.
“The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Over 77 percent of adults have gotten at least one shot. About 23 percent haven’t gotten any shots, and that—that distinct minority is causing an awful lot of us an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country,” Biden said. “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That’s why I’m moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can.”
Considering all the promotion and promised incentives that come with the new shot, it seems odd that anyone would choose to decline. Products from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson are all available for free, and endorsed by numerous experts and health agencies as safe and effective protection from COVID-19.
But not all experts agree. Several doctors and scientists say there is a dark side to the vaccines that isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
On Aug. 20, internist, cardiologist, and epidemiologist Dr. Peter McCullough discussed his concerns with a presentation at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
“We have a situation where the vaccines don’t work well enough in everyone, and it looks like they’re not safe enough either,” he said.
In a world where health experts are desperately trying to overcome vaccine hesitancy, McCullough’s statement is dangerous. It smacks of the kind of crazy conspiracy theories public health agencies and social media companies routinely warn us about. We’re advised to avoid such misinformed hearsay and instead follow the science and advice of genuine medical professionals.
The problem is that McCullough is one of the most credible medical experts you’re likely to find, particularly in regard to treating COVID-19. He’s a journal editor, has published more than 650 peer-reviewed papers indexed in PUBMED, and is president of Cardio-Renal Society of America studying the interface between heart and kidney disease.
No Initial Treatment
While the vast majority of medical personnel have followed recommendations from health agencies such as the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a growing number of doctors and physicians’ organizations are taking issue with the official response.
A major point of contention among this group of skilled, rebel doctors is the strategy to avoid treating sick patients. Until the vaccine, health officials didn’t have much to offer people who were sickened by COVID. The disease was so new, and no treatment had been properly tested, so nothing was recommended if anyone contracted the disease. Sick patients were instructed to stay home and quarantine, but were admitted to the hospital if symptoms became severe. The only care that severely ill and hospitalized patients regularly received was a ventilator and oxygen.
This shocked McCullough. At the beginning of the pandemic, he imagined COVID would become a kind of medical Super Bowl, with courageous doctors all trying their best to tackle an incredible challenge. He never expected hospitals would simply sit on the sidelines and wait for a vaccine. He said it was the first time in his career he ever saw doctors not even try to treat their patients in the prehospital phase.
“It became clear within a month or two that the bio-medical complex was not going to treat COVID,” he said. “Something got into the minds of doctors and nurses and everyone to not treat COVID-19, and I couldn’t stand it.”
Despite the no-treatment strategy offered by health agencies, McCullough said he couldn’t see patients die on his watch without at least attempting to save their lives. So he began working with colleagues in Italy to determine what drugs and treatment strategies might work. The team looked at all the features of the disease: how the virus replicates like crazy and sparks inflammation that eventually leads to micro-blood clots in the lungs impeding oxygen intake. Then, they turned to remedies that were known to address such symptoms, and that had proved clinically successful with doctors attempting to treat COVID-19.
In August 2020, McCullough’s landmark paper, “Pathophysiological Basis and Rationale for Early Outpatient Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Infection,” was published online in the American Journal of Medicine.
“It went viral. It’s still the most downloaded and heavily relied upon paper for COVID-19 for outpatient treatment,” he said.
His follow-up paper, titled “Multifaceted Highly Targeted Sequential Multidrug Treatment of Early Ambulatory High-Risk SARS-CoV-2 Infection (COVID-19),” was published in Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine in December 2020. It became the basis for the COVID-19 Home Treatment Guide available from the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.
These documents spread around the world among health workers seeking answers in treating COVID patients but were censored on social media because they promoted unproven and therefore potentially dangerous protocols. In some countries, doctors were threatened with losing their license or being arrested for using these treatments.
In France, for example, Dr. Didier Raoult was put under severe restrictions for promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)—a drug that was previously available over the counter in France until officials made it prescription only last year.
In South Africa, another doctor was put in prison for prescribing ivermectin.
For McCullough, it was just one more puzzling feature of the COVID-19 response.
“Since when does a doctor get put in prison [for trying] to help a patient with a simple, generic drug?” he asked.
To ensure patient safety, health agencies have insisted that potential treatments for COVID-19 undergo large, randomized trials for at least two to five years. The vaccines, however, were given a fast track toward public distribution. In just a few months after being manufactured, the shot was plunged into millions of arms around the world.
The official story is that these new vaccines have been a resounding success. But in many instances, the numbers don’t add up.
Consider the CDC’s own database of adverse reactions. According to the most recent numbers from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), more than 16,000 fatalities and almost 24,000 cases of permanent disability have been linked to COVID-19 vaccines.
Yet not one of these cases seems to spark any official concern. The CDC said on its website that the two health agencies sponsoring the COVID-19 vaccine program (CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration) had doctors review the deaths reported to VAERS and determined that none of them were related to the vaccine.
In the latest statement, the CDC stated on Oct. 6 that “a review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”
But McCullough doubts that regulators did an honest review.
“It takes a half an hour to do a report, and after you get through all the pages, it says, ‘Warning, falsification is punishable by federal fines or imprisonment,”’ he said. “You better believe every single one of these reports is done by somebody who really really thinks it’s serious.”
An independent review of VAERS numbers backs up his suspicions.
In an early pre-print, a study published in a journal from London found that 86 percent of the deaths reported to VAERS had no other explanation than the vaccine.
“About half the deaths occurred within 48 hours of getting the shot, and 80 percent occur within a week. There’s been no medical product that’s been so tightly related to death than the COVID-19 vaccines, and it’s biologically plausible,” McCullough said. “The spike protein itself is lethal. It damages organs. It causes blood clots. It causes stroke.”
There’s no clear consensus on how many have actually been harmed by the vaccine, but how many deaths are acceptable to make a treatment worth its risk?
Consider the swine flu vaccine of 1976 as a comparison. During that pandemic, about 20 percent of the country had received the new vaccine created to guard against the swine flu, but President Gerald Ford terminated the program when 25 deaths were linked to the treatment. Eventually, a total of 53 fatalities were related to the vaccine, and 550 people developed a disorder known as Guillain–Barré syndrome, which causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.
“The government offered liability coverage to cover the pharmaceutical manufacturers, and there were hundreds of compensation claims and the program was shut down. This became a standard of acceptability that we would ever accept from a medical product,” McCullough said. “If a product is linked to five unexplained deaths, the standard is to give it a black box warning—‘Warning: May cause death.’ Fifty deaths? It’s yanked off the market. That’s our tolerance for a product: 50 deaths within 30 days, irrespective of causality.”
But according to VAERS reports, by Jan. 22, there were already 182 deaths associated with COVID-19 vaccines.
“We already crossed the day of concern on January 22. And if there was a data safety and monitoring board—and I should know since I do this work—they would be having emergency meetings, saying: ‘Wait a minute. People are dying after the vaccine. We’ve got to figure out why. We have to do an investigation. Is it old people, young people, diabetics, those who previously recovered?’” he said. “But we didn’t hear any concern.”
And McCullough isn’t the only doctor who questions the safety of the new vaccines. For example, the Evidence-Based Consulting Group in England, which is the lead consulting group to the WHO, analyzed the reports from the Yellow Card system (the UK’s equivalent to VAERS) and concluded the vaccines are not safe.
“It is now apparent that these products in the bloodstream are toxic to humans. An immediate halt to the vaccination programme is required whilst a full and independent safety analysis is undertaken to investigate the full extent of the harms, which the UK Yellow Card data suggest include thromboembolism, multisystem inflammatory disease, immune suppression, autoimmunity and anaphylaxis, as well as Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE),” the report states.
Contributing to Infection
But doesn’t the vaccine at least slow the spread of a deadly disease? The unvaccinated are blamed for prolonging the pandemic, but McCullough points to research suggesting that it’s really the vaccinated who are responsible for COVID’s continued spread.
“It makes sense, since the vaccinated now can carry huge amounts of virus and that’s probably what’s fueling our Delta epidemic contributing to infection,” he said. “Our CDC tells us that’s the case. The CDC on July 26 said through spontaneous reports (COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Case Investigation and Reporting), it shows 6,587 hospitalized or fatal vaccine breakthrough cases reported to CDC, 19 percent died.
“The vaccines don’t stop COVID 19, at least not completely. They are not a shield against mortality, and our CDC is telling us.”
While vaccines get all the attention, McCullough offers several other tips he recommends for treating COVID-19. First, self-quarantine at home, contact trace, and ventilate your house.
“Open the windows,” he said. “The virus hates fresh air. In Singapore, they did studies that [showed] if you’re outside, it’s impossible to transmit the virus.”
Another important tip is to treat early. Avoid going into the hospital.
“Early treatment is what decides a severe case or not. Demand it. Ask your doctor, ‘Are you ready to treat me?’ If not, go to a telemedicine service,” he said. “We estimate that 85 percent of Americans who died of COVID died needlessly because they were denied early treatment. We couldn’t save them all, but we could have made a huge impact.”
For early treatment, you can start simple with nutraceuticals: particularly vitamins C and D, zinc, and quercetin. McCullough says they don’t save severely ill patients, but studies show deficiencies in these nutrients put you at greater risk.
“We can’t prove the vitamins are helpful, but the data show they’re supportive. And why not? They’re cheap,” he said.
Other recommendations include hydroxychloroquine (which, supported by 250 studies, is the most widely used drug in the world to treat COVID-19) or ivermectin (a drug supported by more than 60 studies.)
“The only studies that don’t show a great benefit from hydroxychloroquine are late-stage patients on a mechanical ventilator,” he said. “But all the early treatment studies of hydroxychloroquine show it works.”
If you do end up in the hospital, McCullough recommends a monoclonal antibody infusion, such as Regeneron. It’s what President Donald Trump took to treat his COVID. It’s widely available, but it’s not getting to many patients who could use it.
McCullough said many doses of the drug are going unused on the shelf because of this mentality of not treating COVID.
“Demand monoclonal antibodies,” he said.
While there’s still a significant amount of fear surrounding COVID-19, he says all the data suggest it’s a very treatable disease. Unfortunately, the predominant view is one in which every person, even those with natural immunity or a risk for adverse reactions, should be forced to get the vaccine.
“Half the nation is about ready to lose their jobs in the next few months, including me. Really? Since when? A vaccine is going to make us lose our jobs?”
The fact that the vaccine doesn’t work well enough or long enough—and obviously is not safe in everyone—adds to the indignity.
“We’re in a mass psychosis. … COVID 19 is a global disaster, and, unfortunately, the vaccine is making it worse.”