Data Deficit: Did ACIP mandate Covid-19 vaccines for children?
- Last week, the Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACIP) met to vote on adding Covid-19 vaccines to the childhood immunization schedule and the Vaccines for Children program.
- Anti-vaccine advocates falsely claimed this would mandate Covid-19 vaccines for school attendance.
- ACIP can only make recommendations; the authority to mandate vaccines for school attendance remains with state governments.
- Vaccine skeptics and medical freedom advocates have long claimed that the federal government will mandate Covid-19 vaccines for public school attendance.
- What is ACIP’s purpose?
- Why does ACIP recommend certain immunizations?
- Who decides which immunizations are required for public school attendance?
Data Deficit: Did Pfizer lie about its vaccine’s ability to prevent transmission of Covid-19?
- Anti-vaccine advocates seized on a Pfizer executive’s comments at an EU Parliament hearing to spread the misleading claim that the pharmaceutical company lied about its vaccine’s ability to prevent transmission.
- This was framed as an “admission” by the company that it had misled governments that then promoted (or, in some cases, mandated) an ineffective vaccine.
- Core to many false vaccine claims is the notion that pharmaceutical companies did not properly research vaccine efficacy — and that governments then pushed ineffective, dangerous vaccines on the public.
- Did Pfizer claim its vaccine would prevent transmission?
- Do Covid-19 vaccines prevent or reduce transmission? If so, how?
- How do pharmaceutical companies test new vaccines for efficacy and safety?
Data Deficit: Is Moderna creating an mRNA vaccine to fix heart damage caused by Covid-19 vaccines?
- Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said during a wide-ranging interview with Sky News Australia that the drugmaker is testing AZD8601, an mRNA therapy to repair heart damage.
- Though the drug’s development predates the Covid-19 pandemic, some anti-vaccine advocates claimed Moderna developed the drug to repair heart damage they say is caused by the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine.
- Anti-vaccine advocates have pushed a number of misleading claims related to mRNA vaccines and cardiac health.
- Skeptics have argued that pharmaceutical companies aim to turn patients into perpetual customers, rather than provide cures.
- What kinds of mRNA therapies were in the development pipeline before Covid-19?
- Do mRNA vaccines cause worse adverse events than other types of vaccines?
Improving contextual understanding
These stories – related to Covid-19 and the pandemic – have high potential to confuse or mislead and contribute to the overall conversation about vaccines:
- New Covid-19 variants drive alarmist, misleading reporting: New Covid-19 variants have appeared in the last several months. Most recently, BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and XBB have caught the attention of public health officials. BQ appears to be driving an increasing number of cases in the U.S., while XBB is currently more prominent in Asia and Europe. According to Fortune, “XBB was first detected in the U.S. on Sept. 15. It is not yet widespread, as only 16 cases have been reported here, mostly in New York.” According to the Washington Post, a winter wave could be driven by “one or more of the multiple versions of the omicron variant that keep popping up,” and it’s difficult to predict which single variant could drive cases. Alarmist reporting over the last week has called XBB a “nightmare scenario,” driving misleading speculation about the risks of specific variants and vaccines’ ability to prevent disease.
- Boston University Covid-19 experiments spur conversations about gain of function research: Last week, NBC Boston reported that Boston University created a “new ‘deadly’” Covid-19 strain. A university representative told NBC Boston that “had there been ‘evidence that the research was gaining function, under both [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] and our own protocols, we would immediately stop and report.’” Additionally, BU researchers say their new “version [of the virus] killed 80% of mice infected. But that’s lower than the 100% that died of the original strain.” Other reporting about BU’s research and the social media conversation around the story focused on questions about gain of function research and how it should (or shouldn’t) be carried out.