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Vaccines against both COVID-19 and influenza have “deficiencies,” including that they “elicit incomplete and short-lived protection against evolving virus variants that escape population immunity,” Fauci, until recently President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, and top National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials wrote in a recent paper.
The flu vaccines are suboptimal and have not improved in decades, the officials said. As newer strains of the COVID-19 virus have emerged, the problems with the COVID-19 vaccines have become apparent and are reminiscent of the flu shots, they said.
“With the imperfections of these vaccines, it seems a public health imperative to aggressively pursue better vaccines and vaccination strategies,” they added later, before acknowledging that “none of the predominantly mucosal respiratory viruses,” such as COVID-19, “have ever been effectively controlled by vaccines.”
Fauci was joined by Drs. David Morens and Jeffrey Taubenberger, who are top officials at the NIH.
“That is just an amazing admission,” David Wiseman, a former Johnson & Johnson scientist, told The Epoch Times. Wiseman noted that earlier in the pandemic, officials portrayed people as only needing a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine for near-perfect protection. Fauci infamously claimed in 2021 that vaccinated people “become a dead end to the virus” and herd immunity would be achieved when enough people got a shot.
Fauci was the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from 1984 until late 2022. He is reportedly still employed by the government, and was listed as being a government official in the paper, but is no longer listed in the Department of Health and Human Services employee directory. The NIH and the institute have not responded to requests for comment.
Other experts have also been acknowledging the limitations of the vaccines, which are performing worse against the newly dominant strain in the United States.
Dr. David Kessler, who was Biden’s chief science officer for COVID-19 until mid-January, told Politico recently that the vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission.
“Certain of my colleagues said that if you have the vaccine, you won’t infect other people. That might have been pretty true early on. But when the virus evolved and transmissibility changed, it only protected against serious disease and death,” Kessler said.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said at a recent meeting that the administration was looking forward to working with scientists toward “a next generation of COVID vaccines that will hopefully have … the greater depth and breadth and duration of protection that we’d like to see.”
Dr. Heather Scobie, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official, said in the meeting that the vaccines only protect “pretty well” against infection for “up to three months.”
No clinical trial data has been made available for the updated vaccines, which were authorized in the fall of 2022, but studies on the original and updated vaccines show they protect poorly against infection. They may work better against severe illness, the observational data indicate.
The vaccines are authorized or approved for the prevention of COVID-19, and no trials have not shown efficacy against severe illness or death. After the vaccines stopped working well against infection, officials and many experts began focusing on their protection against severe disease.
“Numerous federal officials are quietly trying to walk back their lies and obfuscations from earlier in the pandemic,” Dr. Meryl Nass, an expert on vaccines, told The Epoch Times via email.
Transmission and Infection
The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were not tested against transmission in the clinical trials that led regulators in the United States and elsewhere to grant emergency authorization. Those trials focused on the prevention of symptomatic infection.
In a memorandum explaining why the FDA was authorizing Pfizer’s shot, staffers wrote: “Data are limited to assess the effect of the vaccine against transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from individuals who are infected despite vaccination.” SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19.
“Demonstrated high efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 may translate to overall prevention of transmission in populations with high enough vaccine uptake, though it is possible that if efficacy against asymptomatic infection were lower than efficacy against symptomatic infection, asymptomatic cases in combination with reduced mask-wearing and social distancing could result in significant continued transmission,” they added.
That didn’t stop officials like Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, from falsely claiming that vaccinated people could not spread the virus, a viewpoint that helped lead to the imposition of mandates on members of the military, healthcare workers, and others.
Proponents of the theory point to observational studies, including an April 2021 UK paper that, drawing from two weeks of data, estimated Pfizer vaccination lessened transmission and a July 2021 Israeli paper, based on testing results from a single healthcare center, that concluded the vaccine helped prevent COVID-19 spread. Other papers have found similar viral loads in the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Even recently, experts have tried convincing people to get vaccinated by saying it will help curb transmission.
“It really makes a lot of sense to protect yourself from serious illness and even protecting your family from getting them infected,” Fauci said during a December event urging people to get one of the new shots ahead of Christmas.
Walensky said the vaccines helped against transmission during a congressional hearing this month.
Her press secretary pointed to a CDC-published paper that found the vaccines prevented some infections. The study did not mention transmission.
“Substantial reductions in SARS-CoV-2 infections (both symptomatic and asymptomatic) will reduce overall levels of disease, and therefore, SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission in the United States,” Jason McDonald, the press secretary, told The Epoch Times via email.
Dr. Harvey Risch, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told The Epoch Times that “it’s not unreasonable to think that if you prevent infection, you’re looking to prevent transmission because fewer people would be available to transmit out their infections,” but said the paper in question was done as a cross-sectional study and wrongly analyzed as a case-control study.
“The CDC has been using the wrong analytic calculations for vaccine efficacy,” he said.
Risch also noted that the CDC and other health agencies have claimed that many COVID-19 infections stem from asymptomatic infections and that the vaccines have barely been measured against such infections.
Like COVID-19 vaccines, the influenza vaccines also do not work well or at all against transmission, Nass noted.
“While they might help the recipient (efficacy for flu shots is usually said to be 30–40 percent), they do virtually nothing to stop the spread,” she said.
Fauci and his co-authors said that in developing improved COVID-19 vaccines, goals could include preventing infection and limiting or preventing transmission. They said a “consensus” would need to be reached on which goals were most important.
By Zachary Stieber