Vaccine Scrutiny Dies Where Institutional Indifference Reigns

January 24, 2022 Updated: January 30, 2022


A recent trip to a local hairdresser’s shop exposed the tensions that are straining the bonds of social cohesion and institutional trust in today’s Australia.

Working in a salon in Western Australia, the chatty, young hairdresser paused to flex an aching arm before unleashing a torrent of discontent. She said her arm was killing her; she felt awful and wished she was home in bed.

She hadn’t wanted “the jab” but succumbed to keep her job. She had disliked the frosty treatment received at her local medical centre. Her equally hesitant sister accompanied her and was feeling similarly unwell 48 hours after their shots.

Just four or five days later, I encountered a mate from my distant undergraduate past during an evening commute. I hadn’t seen him in over two years.

He seemed glad to see me, knowing I teach university students about the safe use of medicines for a living. “What’s going on in your neck of the woods,” he asked, “and what’s the story with these vaccines?”

He then recounted some unpleasant experiences endured by people in his downtown office after their COVID-19 vaccine shots, with one requiring hospitalisation for cardiac symptoms and another losing an unborn infant.

“Flu vaccines don’t do stuff like this. Why are the mRNA vaccines still in use?” he asked.

Epoch Times Photo
A researcher works on a vaccine against the new coronavirus COVID-19 at the Copenhagen’s University research lab in Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 23, 2020. (Thibault Savary/AFP via Getty Images)

After 35 years of conducting research and teaching toxicology within universities, the same question has entered my own mind more than once.

The adverse effects profile of currently available COVID-19 vaccines has certainly lowered the bar on what we institutionally recognise as acceptable treatment-induced side effects in perfectly healthy people.

It’s as if we’ve shredded the toxicology handbook that guided the pharmaceutical innovation sector since the 60s thalidomide disaster and thrown it’s remains to the four winds.

Perhaps people seek me out because the sign over my office door reads “toxicologist in residence,” but I have heard many troubling stories from trustworthy people in my extended circle involving nasty experiences after their COVID-19 shots.

Those involving symptoms suggestive of neurotoxicity or temporary disruption of key brain functions are of special concern.

Intense, crippling headaches that confine people to their beds for days are not uncommon, while others report temporary vision disturbances, hearing disruption and even difficulties in initiating speech.

According to the classic toxicology handbooks I’ve long relied upon in my daily work, experimental drugs that elicit such overt neurological symptoms as severe headaches during “Phase 1” testing in healthy volunteers should promptly be sent to the trash can. Or at least back to the medicinal chemistry lab for a structural re-design.

Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine Melbourne, Australia, on Feb. 12, 2021. (David Caird/Pool/Getty Images)

But many thoughtful Australians are troubled by the nihilistic mindset that so swiftly swamped our public life during the COVID-era. This outlook simply lacks the insight or willingness to engage in a public discussion concerning possible harms hastily developed vaccines have inflicted on some unfortunate people.

We Aussies don’t do the critical self-evaluation thing well, but I am reminded of a punchy conversation I participated in about a decade ago while attending a major conference of the International Union of Toxicology (IUTOX), held in Seoul, Korea.

Toxicology, of course, is the branch of science that concerns itself with understanding and minimising the harmful effects of chemical substances on humans and other species.

IUTOX is the major global body that attracts toxicology researchers worldwide to discuss scientific responses to the complex challenges posed by modern economic activities, which potentially expose humans and other species to thousands of synthetic chemicals.

My highlight of the Seoul gathering involved an opportunity to represent Australia at the IUTOX General Assembly. Held under conditions that mimicked formal proceedings at global bodies such as the U.N. or WHO, delegates from many national toxicology societies were present.

There were six chairs at the table containing the sign “Australia,” yet other than the one I occupied, the others were painfully empty of delegates. It was simultaneously the proudest and most humiliating moment of my unremarkable academic career.

During a break in proceedings, I was approached by a giant in global toxicology, a gruff Midwesterner whose personal list of scientific publications resembles a phone book and who authored several textbooks that make my office bookshelves groan.

It was a little like a rural priest from the outback Parish of Australia being approached by the Pope while snapping selfies at Saint Peter’s Basilica during a Rome vacation.

“It sure is nice to someone from Down Under at IUTOX,” he growled. “But why do we never see Aussies at toxicology conferences anymore? Why isn’t toxicology considered an important field in your country? What sort of country is Australia becoming?”

He didn’t stick around to let me answer his questions, yet I’ve been revisiting them often since the COVID-era exposed the problem of institutionalised Australian indifference towards potential harms caused by compulsory vaccines to a wider view.

If you spend an hour or two perusing the websites of Australian universities, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any professors of Toxicology, Departments or Schools of Toxicology, or even institutions offering Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degrees in Toxicology.

Many people struggling with vaccine side effects are reaching similar conclusions to the intuitions of the elderly U.S. professor, namely that modern Australia is a country that invests little scientific or clinical resources and intellectual energy to understanding or mitigating the harms accompanying the human use of synthetic substances, and especially mRNA vaccines.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Phil Burcham is an associate professor in the School of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia. Burcham has over three decades of experience in pharmacology and toxicology, completing postdoctoral work in molecular toxicology at Vanderbilt University in the USA. His research interests mainly focus on acrolein and he is currently looking at identifying novel drugs that block acrolein toxicity. Burcham serves on the editorial boards of Toxicological Sciences and Biochemical Pharmacology, and was a foundation member of the Toxicology subsection of Faculty 1000 (Biology).