Russians accuse US of making COVID-19 bioweapon, testing on Ukrainians

Russians accuse US of making COVID-19 bioweapon, testing on Ukrainians

From Cossack Colonel YURI KOMONYISKI military correspondent

Covid-19 was created in the US, exported to the Ukraine and tested on Ukrainian Soldiers. The RF has undeniable proof and is preparing to make a formal submission at the UN. Our scientific experts have identified the structural changes made to the DNA. The Americans have been collecting DNA from the various nationalities living in the Ukraine and Russia for some time and the data was being utilised in the bioweapon’s laboratories established by the USA in the Ukraine.

We believe the bioweapons were being manipulated to target specific gene sequences ie., the genome that makes an Englishman, English. The operation was primarily funded by NATO and the US and the appearance of CV-19 conveniently blamed on the Chinese. The first stage was to reduce the immuno-efficacy of the body, introducing it in small virulent doses. The intent was to systematically reduce the body’s natural immunity, the body’s ability to fight disease and infection. The RF was able to capture American and French researchers during the special operation. They have been very informative by extrapolating upon their experimentation and bioweapons advancements. Currently our scientists are working on developing a tablet to counter the effects of the bioweapon.

In 2018 at a Lvov military base located in the Ukraine approximately 100 soldiers died of typhoid experimentation. The local population became concerned as people were becoming sick and dying. Back then it was a lot easier to acquire information. This intel eventually reached the Russian authorities and our medical experts concluded it was typhoid or something that was not native to our part of the world. The incident was swept under the carpet by the Ukrainian authorities and their American co-conspirators. 

In the meantime, the RF struck a Ukrainian base of operations in the Nikolaevka region liquidating two Ukrainian generals and numerous officers and their staff – a total of 18. This transpired on July 9th. In a separate incident our forces shot down a chopper. It crashed and burned from the wreckage and we were able to retrieve the pilot’s helmet. It was NATO issued; such helmets are for single use by the individual owner. Typically, they are never shared or loaned and it appears that the Ukrainians are experiencing a deficit of helicopter pilots. In my mind and the minds of my colleagues NATO has entered into the battle unannounced. It appears that NATO is now hands on. Similarly, we took out a fighter plane (сушка). We were unable to save the pilot who died in our arms. He was neither Russian or Ukrainian and we couldn’t place him, but he was wearing a NATO uniform.

Recently the US delivered a batch of ammunition for the MLRS, HIMARS, M777 to the Ukrainians in the Nikolaevka region. A single shot from one our airborne MIGs destroyed the lot. Within four hours of this event our air power destroyed numerous howitzers. I find it comical, but it seems the Ukraine’s US friends are being a little disrespectful. They promised advanced munition (self-guiding) for the howitzers. Such munition has GPS controllers that allows them to hit targets highlighted by lasers. However, the Americans delivered stock standard munition. It’s a shame we were looking forward to reverse engineering those shells. On that note the German howitzer was dissected by our specialists and found wanting, ours are superior.

You may have heard that the UK has taken on board 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers and have started to train them, hoping to turn them into fighting machines. Recently we captured one of these trained fighters, the intel he provided was comical, the level of training being provided to the Ukrainians was of a preschool level.

Recently a friend asked about Alaska and what the situation pertaining to it is all about, so we asked the colonel. As it turns out an agreement to transfer the ownership of Alaska was reached by both parties and the contractual process was partially enacted, whereby a contract was signed. But for the contract to become a legally binding document and meet the obligations of the contract the second part of the contract needed to be fulfilled. This was the delivery of payment, payment in the form of a ship load of gold. No proof of payment exists in the Royal Russian archives and the US cannot produce proof of payment. International law states that if the buyer cannot produce the original contract with verifiable signatures, stamps and proof of payment then said contract is null and void. During this period, we believe that the monies owed Russia were used to finance the American war. Similarly, at that time Russia was fighting enemies on multiple fronts and Alaska had to take a back seat.

The Americans tell a fable of how a ship filled with gold was sent to the Russians meeting the purchase price. The odd thing is that no such ship bearing gold ever arrived. If such a ship laden with gold existed then delivery receipts, purchase receipts, ships logs, American government records should exist as proof of purchase. The US suggests that Alaska was sold to them (we’d like to see their proof) under the premise that Russia was unable to manage/support its Alaskan territories. In those days no support was needed and in fact to this day people still uncover barrels of Russian vodka hidden away in Alaska. We regularly observe the Americans’ uncontested exceptionalism in the fabrication of fables.

If my memory serves me correctly in 1776 the US Declaration of Independence was ratified. But in 1278 Russia had dominion over Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Alaska with an established outpost in Canada. At that time the US was the home of the native American Indian and the US did not exist. So, I would argue that Russia was more than capable of managing its own affairs including international affairs.

Not many are aware but during the American civil war between the north and south the Russians were in the background supporting the north, providing logistical support, weapons, artillery. The support was limited but occasionally the Russians would make direct contributions to the battle as participants.


Pfizer Vaccines: Not Only Are the Side Effects Multifarious, but Its Death Rate Is Also Jaw-Dropping

Pfizer Vaccines: Not Only Are the Side Effects Multifarious, but Its Death Rate Is Also Jaw-Dropping

By Nicola
May 5, 2022



  • Pfizer vaccine has multifarious adverse side effects.
  • Pfizer document shows natural immunity works.
  • Fully vaccinated are more likely to be infected, hospitalized and die.
  • Almost half of the cases are missing [from the Pfizer Report].

The pandemic has been raging worldwide for more than two years with no end in sight. What’s the most vigorous promotion by governments around the world is the COVID vaccination for the control of the pandemic (one dose after another, but saw spikes in cases, hospitalizations, and death, such as Israel, U.S., etc.). More unthinkably, some effective and inexpensive treatment options, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, etc., have been wildly suppressed.

Obviously, compared with ordinary people, health care workers who are on the front line of medical care know the truth best. They stood up and spoke out despite tremendous pressure. They repeatedly explained the truth about COVID (CCP-Virus) and “vaccines” to the public in the plainest language. (Dr. Malone And Dr McCollough Issue Warnings About Vaccine Deaths And WEF Control)

As a doctor with the most basic medical common sense, you can sniff out too many unusual things here. Historically, the birth of any vaccine has gone through several years or even dozens of years. Yet, in this pandemic, Big Pharma has gone so far as to push their COVID vaccines in just a few months. This left a big question mark in people’s minds.

Finally, a turnaround came. FDA was forced by a judge to release clinical data on the COVID vaccines back in January, but it wasn’t until early March that they released the 55,000-page documents.

What is most horrific among these documents, hiding out in one appendix, is the clinical data for Pfizer’s vaccine — which lists 1,291 adverse side effects in alphabetical order. (The Pfizer Vaccine Only Has 1,291 Side Effects!). It means nearly all organs in the body may be injured by the “vaccines”. This makes even the most ordinary people without a medical background have to think: Could this stuff be counted as vaccines yet?

More unfortunately, with another batch of Pfizer’s documents released in early April, bombshells were dropped once again. Not only are the side effects multifarious, but its death rate is also jaw-dropping. (Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine had a shocking DEATH rate of 3.7% during early trial – but the FDA approved it anyway) Meanwhile, the Pfizer document shows that natural immunity works, and Pfizer knows it.

Initially (even now), according to the CDC, people who were unvaccinated and did not have prior COVID-19 infection remain at the highest risk of infection and hospitalization. But the clinical trial data showed there was no difference in outcomes between those with previous COVID infection and those who got the shot.

With the concerted efforts of the governments and the media, at least half of the world’s population has been vaccinated with two shots. But sadly, data shows fully vaccinated are more likely to be infected, hospitalized and die.

Big Pharma, like Pfizer, knew exactly what they were doing in promoting the so-called “vaccines” but still made endless propaganda on how safe it was for all groups. Now that U.K. government data shows that, compared to the unvaccinated, those who have received two doses are:

  • Up to three times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Twice more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19
  • Three times more likely to die of COVID-19

The Pfizer documents acknowledged a temporary decline in immune function after the first dose, but real-world data showed an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection and death among the double jabbed, which suggests that ADE may indeed play a role later.

The National Library of Medicine defines ADE as the enhancement of virus entry and replication. (About “ADE”, see link: GETTR | @Lonestarangle · Apr 11, 2022)

According to Michael Nevradakis’s report, “Pfizer hired about 600 additional full-time employees to process adverse event reports during the three months following authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine, with plans to hire 1,800 more by June 2021.”

Dr. Naomi Wolf @drnaomirwolf also revealed the same fact in Steve Bannon’s @WarRoom: “Almost half of the cases are missing [from the Pfizer Report].”

More crazily, in March 2022, the FDA further authorized doses 4 and 5, based on a preprint study that “found a fourth Moderna shot was 11% effective and caused side effects in 40% of recipients, and a fourth Pfizer shot was 30% effective and caused side effects in 80% of people.”

More Truth about COVID-19 (CCP-Virus) and vaccines can also be explored on GETTR | @WarRoom · Apr 23, 2022:

Sources include:

[1] FDA and Pfizer Knew Covid Shot Caused Immunosuppression

[2] Fully Vaccinated nearly 3 times more likely to die of Covid-19 than the Unvaccinated as Vaccine Effectiveness against Death falls to MINUS-166%

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Disclaimer: This article only represents the author’s view. Gnews is not responsible for any legal risks.


Malaria Parasites In “Vaccines” Target Placenta, Kill Babies In Utero

Malaria Parasites In “Vaccines” Target Placenta, Kill Babies In Utero

By Dr. Ariyana Love, N.D.

In a recent interview with Maria Zeee on Zeee Media, I discussed another very troubling discovery about the mRNA bioweapons technology. Maria Zeee asked me to shed more light on the Doherty Institutes involvement with the US biolabs in Ukraine.

Russian reports revealed that 350 cryocontainers with blood serum samples were transferred from the Public Health Centre of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to a reference laboratory for infectious diseases at the Doherty Institute in Australia.

Under the guise of tackling Placental Malaria, the Doherty Institute has been directly involved in research using insects such as mosquitos and tics as bioweapons carriers. The Doherty Institute also developed a “vaccine” that uses a parasite to target the placenta of pregnant women to abort their babies in utero, under the pretext of “antibody research”.

During the testing of this novel technology, mosquitos were developed as carriers of a genetically attenuated parasite called the P. falciparum which is the most deadly of the 5 Malaria causing parasites. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Government were also directly involved in this research to “immunize” via mosquito bite using radiation-attenuated Sporozoites.

In May of 2021, a Bill Gates-funded firm began releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the wild.

Clinical trials conducted by the WHO in 2020, used 11 human volunteers who were “immunized” with more than 1000 bites by irradiated mosquitos infected by Sporozoites (Spz) from the P. falciparum NF54 strain or 3D7/NF54 clone.

The female Anopheles mosquito inject a minimum of Sporozoites (Spz) (~ 100) during its bite. It was tested on adolescents, children and infants aged 6 months old. 1 out of the 6 volunteers developed parasitaemia 12 days after exposure. Parasitaemia means parasites in the blood.

The parasite “vaccines” use radiation-attenuated Sporozoite, administered under drug coverage. Genetically-attenuated Sporozoite “vaccines” and recombinant protein “vaccines” (RTS,S and R21) and recombinant viral vectors “vaccines” (Chad63 MVA ME-TRAP, CSVAC, ChAd63 METRAP and MVA METRAP with the matrix-M adjuvant) are all used.

Sporozoite recombinant proteins, DNA or viral vectored protein fragments (mRNA) and attenuated Sporozoite “vaccines” induce malaria reactive CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocyte counts. Radiation-attenuated Sporozoite (RAS), genetically-attenuated parasite (GAP) and Sporozoite are administered under drug coverage, according to the WHO study. Here’s another WHO study from 2021.

By 2021, they had a P. falciparum Sporozoite (PfSPZ) “vaccine” as the main candidate containing live, radiation-attenuated, whole, aseptic and metabolically active Sporozoite which have been isolated from the salivary glands of mosquitos infected by P. falciparum. They tested their novel “vaccine” on infants in Kenya.

Another study conducted by the NIAID in 2022, used Malian children 6-10 years old and injected them with three doses of the PfSpz “vaccine” to induce an “infection” by “parasitic disease” of a “vector borne disease” using the P. falciparum.

Another study in 2021 carried outby the U.S. Government, experimented on 336 infants aged 5-12 months, in Kenya, inoculating them with the P. falciparum “vaccine”. This is not in fact a “vaccine” but a weapons system for the murder of babies in utero and this is a bioweapon which is transmissible to others, according to the WHO research.

In addition, the WHO’s P. falciparum research helped in the development of monoclonal antibodies. In fact, the P. falciparum parasite is a critical component in the monoclonal antibodies bioweapon system.

Please also see: Monoclonal Antibodies Is Experimental Gene Therapy – Patent Review


The PRIMVAC “vaccine” candidate was in government trials in 2016. By 2020, the PRIMVAC “vaccine” adjuvanted with Alhydrogel was in clinical trials. The Alhydrogel patent shows unsafe levels of aluminum and other heavy metals.

A VAR2CSA plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) patent for a synthetic protein was registered in December, 2014. The VAR2CSA “vaccine” is owned by the U.S. Government.

The CDC is also involved in this VAR2CSA bioweapons development.


Children’s Health Defence reported in August that the Covid-19 injections are dangerous for mothers and babies. According to former Chief Scientist of Pfizer, Dr. Mike Yeadon, the injected ingredients is building up in the ovaries and attacking the placenta of pregnant women.

A preliminary findings of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine safety in pregnant persons found that 4 out of 5 pregnant women are loosing their unborn baby to spontaneous abortions.

A recent report released in March of this year, shows that fetal deaths due to “covid vaccines” are almost 2,000% greater than deaths associated with other vaccines.

Below are a few highlights from the WHO study Plasmodium falciparum pre-erythrocytic stage vaccine development that I want to draw your attention to.


“Viral vectors represent promising tools for vaccine development, because they enable intracellular antigens to be expressed by increasing the ability to generate robust cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses and proinflammatory interferon and cytokine production without the need for an adjuvant. However, there is great concern regarding their genotoxicity due to possible viral genome integration; this has led to many efforts aimed at finding a high level of safety and efficacy.”

Several viral, bacterial, and parasite vectors have been used in anti-malarial vaccine candidates; currently, many clinical trials are exploring their advantages to increase their potential and accelerate their use in vaccines.”


“This anti-malarial vaccine was developed using chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (Chad63) and modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) into which were inserted genes encoding the thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (TRAP) multiple epitope (ME) chain.”

“The ME-TRAP hybrid is thus a 2398 base pair (bp) insert encoding a single 789 aa-long peptide, covering the complete P. falciparum TRAP sequence, fused to a chain of 20 malaria T- and B-cell epitopes (14 targeting MHC class I, 3 MHC class II and 1 murine).”


“A trial involving adults in Senegal to assess vaccine efficacy using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was able to detect > 10 parasites/μl blood. PCR was positive for 12 out of 57 participants vaccinated with ChAd63 ME-TRAP with a booster dose of MVA ME-TRAP and 13 out of 58 control patients who received an anti-rabies vaccine were positive by PCR, giving 8% efficacy (which was not statistically significant). They thus grouped the results with the 67% efficacy obtained in a study in Kenya and, using Cox regression, showed 50% overall vaccine efficacy in both populations.”


“CSVAC, a vaccine from Chad63 and MVA to encode the P. falciparum CS protein, continued such line of research into plasmid DNA anti-malarial vaccines; the CS insert was a codon-optimized cDNA encoding the CS protein truncated at the C-terminal extreme thereby lacking 14 C-terminal aa and thus omitting the GPI anchor.”


“Nanovaccinology” with Self-Assembling Protein Nanoparticles (SAPNs)… The next major challenge concerns the host’s genetic variability and parasite proteins’ interaction with the human immune system.”

“The choice of antigen to be used is quite complicated due to factors such as the parasite’s complex life-cycle involving two reproduction cycles (sexual and asexual), different development stages and two hosts (the Anopheles mosquito and human beings). All this can be added to the multiple invasion routes described so far for each of its target cells (hepatocytes and/or erythrocytes), the parasite’s ability to modify its gene expression and the genetic variability between P. falciparum circulating strains.”

“The next major challenge concerns the host’s genetic variability, particularly major histocompatibility class II (MHCII) complex molecules exerting their mechanism by synthesizing proteins encoded by the HLA-DR regions β1*, β3*, β4* and β5* where the HLA-DR β1* region encodes more than 1500 genetic variants grouped into 16 allele families called HLA-DRβ1*01, *03, *04, *07, etc. Parasite proteins’ interaction with the human immune system should be analysed by predicting B and T epitopes (using NetMHCIIpan 3.2 or other predictors).”



“Pandemic Treaty” Will Hand WHO Keys To Global Government

“Pandemic Treaty” Will Hand WHO Keys To Global Government

“Pandemic Treaty” Will Hand WHO Keys To Global Government

Suggested clauses would incentivize reporting “pandemics”, and see nations punished for “non-compliance”

By Kit Knightly

The first public hearings on the proposed “Pandemic Treaty” are closed, with the next round due to start in mid-June.

We’ve been trying to keep this issue on our front page, entirely because the mainstream is so keen to ignore it and keep churning out partisan war porn and propaganda.

When we – and others – linked to the public submissions page, there was such a response that the WHO’s website actually briefly crashed, or they pretended it crashed so people would stop sending them letters.

Either way, it’s a win. Hopefully one we can replicate in the summer.

Until then, the signs are that what scant press coverage there is, mostly across the metaphorical back-pages of the internet, will be focused on making the treaty “strong enough” and ensuring national governments can be “held accountable”.

An article in the UK’s Telegraph from April 12th headlines:

Real risk a pandemic treaty could be ‘too watered down’ to stop new outbreaks

It focuses on a report from the Panel for a Global Public Health Convention (GPHC), and quotes one of the report’s authors Dame Barbara Stocking:

Our biggest fear […] is it’s too easy to think that accountability doesn’t matter. To have a treaty that does not have compliance in it, well frankly then there’s no point in having a treaty,”

The GPHC report goes on to say that the current International Health Regulations are “too weak”, and calls for the creation of a new “independent” international body to “assess government preparedness” and “publicly rebuke or praise countries, depending on their compliance with a set of agreed requirements”.

Another article, published by the London School of Economics and co-written by members of the German Alliance on Climate Change and Health (KLUG), also pushes the idea of “accountability” and “compliance” pretty hard:

For this treaty to have teeth, the organisation that governs it needs to have the power – either political or legal – to enforce compliance.

It also echoes the UN report from May 2021 in calling for more powers for the WHO:

In its current form, the WHO does not possess such powers […]

To move on with the treaty, WHO therefore needs to be empowered — financially, and politically.

It recommends the involvement of “non-state actors” such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation and International Labour Organisation in the negotiations, and suggests the treaty offer financial incentives for the early reporting of “health emergencies” [emphasis added]:

In case of a declared health emergency, resources need to flow to countries in which the emergency is occurring, triggering response elements such as financing and technical support. These are especially relevant for LMICs, and could be used to encourage and enhance the timely sharing of information by states, reassuring them that they will not be subject to arbitrary trade and travel sanctions for reporting, but instead be provided with the necessary financial and technical resources they require to effectively respond to the outbreak.

It doesn’t stop there, however. They also raise the question of countries being punished for “non-compliance”:

[The treaty should possess] An adaptable incentive regime, [including] sanctions such as public reprimands, economic sanctions, or denial of benefits.

To translate these suggestions from bureaucrat into English:

  • If you report “disease outbreaks” in a “timely manner”, you will get “financial resources” to deal with them.
  • If you don’t report disease outbreaks, or don’t follow the WHO’s directions, you will lose out on international aid and face trade embargoes and sanctions.

In combination, these proposed rules would literally incentivize reporting possible “disease outbreaks”. Far from preventing “future pandemics”, they would actively encourage them.

National governments who refuse to play ball being punished, and those who play along getting paid off is not new. We have already seen that with Covid.

Two African countries – Burundi and Tanzania – had Presidents who banned the WHO from their borders, and refused to go along with the Pandemic narrative. Both Presidents died unexpectedly within months of that decision, only to be replaced by new Presidents who instantly reversed their predecessor’s covid policies.

Less than a week after the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, the IMF agreed to forgive almost 25 million dollars of Burundi’s national debt in order to help combat the Covid19 “crisis”.

Just five months after the death of President John Magufuli, the new government of Tanzania received 600 million dollars from the IMF to “address the covid19 pandemic”.

It’s pretty clear what happened here, isn’t it?

Globalists backed coups and rewarded the perpetrators with “international aid”. The proposals for the Pandemic treaty would simply legitimise this process, moving it from covert back channels to overt official ones.

Now, before we discuss the implications of new powers, let’s remind ourselves of the power the WHO already possesses:

  • The World Health Organization is the only institution in the world empowered to declare a “pandemic” or Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
  • The Director-General of the WHO – an unelected position – is the only individual who controls that power.

We have already seen the WHO abuse these powers in order to create a fake pandemic out of thin air…and I’m not talking about covid.

Prior to 2008, the WHO could only declare an influenza pandemic if there were “enormous numbers of deaths and illness” AND there was a new and distinct subtype. In 2008 the WHO loosened the definition of “influenza pandemic” to remove these two conditions.

As a 2010 letter to the British Medical Journal pointed out, these changes meant “many seasonal flu viruses could be classified as pandemic influenza.”

If the WHO had not made those changes, the 2009 “Swine flu” outbreak could never have been called a pandemic, and would likely have passed without notice.

Instead, dozens of countries spent millions upon millions of dollars on swine flu vaccines they did not need and did not work, to fight a “pandemic” that resulted in fewer than 20,000 deaths. Many of those responsible for advising the WHO to declare swine flu a public health emergency were later shown to have financial ties to vaccine manufacturers.

Despite this historical example of blatant corruption, one proposed clause of the Pandemic Treaty would make it even easier to declare a PHEIC. According to the May 2021 report “Covid19: Make it the Last Pandemic” [emphasis added]:

Future declarations of a PHEIC by the WHO Director-General should be based on the precautionary principle where warranted

Yes, the proposed treaty could allow the DG of the WHO to declare a state of global emergency to prevent a potential pandemic, not in response to one. A kind of pandemic pre-crime.

If you combine this with the proposed “financial aid” for developing nations reporting “potential health emergencies”, you can see what they’re building – essentially bribing third world governments to give the WHO a pretext for declaring a state of emergency.

We already know the other key points likely to be included in a pandemic treaty.

They will almost certainly try to introduce international vaccine passports, and pour funding into big Pharma’s pockets to produce “vaccines” ever faster and with even less safety testing.

But all of that could pale in comparison to the legal powers potentially being handed to the director-general of the WHO (or whatever new “independent” body they may decide to create) to punish, rebuke or reward national governments.

A “Pandemic Treaty” that overrides or overrules national or local governments would hand supranational powers to an unelected bureaucrat or “expert”, who could exercise them entirely at his own discretion and on completely subjective criteria.

This is the very definition of technocratic globalism.


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2 Questions to Keep the Vaccine Wars from Dividing Your Church

2 Questions to Keep the Vaccine Wars from Dividing Your Church

The ethics of receiving a vaccine for coronavirus are hotly debated, but that does not mean we can allow these disagreements to fracture our church communities.

While the Omicron strain impacts our world, differing views of vaccines and vaccine mandates are impacting our churches.

Disagreement bubbles along beneath the surface, breaking out online and occasionally offline. Many vaccinated Christians shake their heads at the unvaxxed: ‘How can they be so misguided?’ While many unvaxxed Christians shake their heads at their churches: ‘How can you obey a government that is so draconian?’

Both vaxxed and unvaxxed have strong feelings.

At worst, it’s leading to the fracturing of Christian fellowship. I’ve recently heard of people leaving churches over this issue. But less dramatically, there’s a sense of suspicion toward those who think differently — even when they’re longstanding Christian brothers and sisters in Christ.

But should the ‘vaccine wars’ playing out across our culture break Christian fellowship? 

Or is there a better way for Christians and churches to handle such a contested issue: one that will maintain the Biblical command to meet together (Hebrews 10:28), not least as a witness to our fracturing world (John 13:35)?

I think there are two key questions we should ask with the Bible open, which will help us maintain fellowship.

And the reason we need to ask these questions is because of a common temptation we face:

The Temptation We Face: Making ‘Jagged’ Lines’ Straight’

Vaccinations and vaccine mandates are issues many Christians feel strongly about (either for or against). We may believe our point of view is right, and those who think differently are misguided or wrong.

And it’s OK to have strong opinions about such issues. 

But as I’ve written about elsewhere, we need to distinguish between issues the Bible speaks to directly (e.g., salvation, murder) versus issues the Bible doesn’t address directly (e.g., political issues such as vaccine passports and public health orders). Or, in other words, ‘straight line’ issues versus ‘jagged line’ issues.

As theologians Jonathan Leeman and Andrew Naselli point out:

Most political issues are not straight-line issues. Most are jagged-line issues. Think of everything from trade policy to healthcare reform to monetary policy to carbon dioxide emission caps. These are important, and Christians should bring biblical principles to bear when thinking about them.

But the path from biblical text to policy application is not simple. It is complex. For such issues, none of us should presume to possess “the” Christian position, as if we were apostles revealing true doctrine once and for all time.’

When we make ‘jagged line’ issues such as mask mandates into ‘straight line’ issues, we raise a barrier between ourselves and other Christians who think differently. Instead of seeing such ‘jagged line’ issues as ‘opinions’ over which Christians should be free to disagree (Romans 14, Romans 15:7), we judge others as unbiblical and unchristian (Romans 14:10).

As a result, we dishonour God and compromise our Gospel witness to a fracturing world.

But if we maintain genuine, loving fellowship despite our firmly held and opposing ‘jagged line’ views, we glorify God (Romans 15:7) with our Gospel unity (John 13:35).

So how do we maintain Gospel unity in the face of such disagreement? 

Here are two questions that will help:

1) Is it possible to have a different opinion on vaccines and vaccine mandates and still be godly?

Is it possible for those who think differently on vaccines to still be godly? Could they still be faithful to God’s Word, even though they have different ‘opinions’ (Romans 14:1) about these matters?

In my understanding, the critical issue of whether people are for or against vaccines and vaccine mandates is trust. Do you trust the government? Do you trust Big Pharma?

Now, is it possible for a Christian to be godly and trust the government and Big Pharma?

I think the answer is ‘yes’.

Conversely, could a Christian be Biblically faithful, yet be sceptical of government and Big Pharma when it comes to vaccines and vaccine mandates?

Again, I think human history and a robust doctrine of human sinfulness (not to mention human fallibility) would lead us to answer ‘yes’. (While the Bible commands submission to governments (Romans 13:1), it never commands us to trust everything governments do or say.)

Thus, it’s possible to come to different conclusions on vaccines and vaccine mandates and still be faithful and godly. 

Christians must therefore be free to disagree on this matter without being judged as ungodly or heretics. It’s a disputable matter, an opinion that Christians are free to hold (Romans 14:1). And so, passages such as Romans 14:4 should govern our relationships with Christians who disagree with us:

Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another?
It is before his own master that he stands or falls.
And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

2) Could my Church’s decision on COVID policy be made from good Christian conscience?

Most churches I know of have submitted to public health orders. They wear masks indoors. They have check-in procedures. And when directed, they’ve ceased meeting in person.

But for some Christians in the anti-vax camp, this is giving into government overreach. They might struggle with their church’s decision to the point of not wanting to gather with them anymore.

And so, this raises the second question: could your church leadership think differently to you about public health orders and still be Biblical?

It’s worth pointing out that church leaders must land somewhere regarding public health orders: even doing nothing is a response.

When it comes to Scripture, we’re commanded to submit to governments (Romans 13:1-6), although there are exceptions. But these exceptions, Biblically speaking, are serious. These include bans on preaching the Gospel (Acts 4:19, Acts 5:29) or partaking in idolatry (Daniel 3:18).

(Thus, the question Christians and Churches should ask is not ‘why should we submit to the government?’, but rather, ‘why shouldn’t we submit to the government?’ Submission is the default in Scripture: if we choose not to, there needs to be a good reason why).

Now, does wearing masks at church, for example, fall into the same category of rules the Bible encourages us to disobey, such as bans on gospel preaching (Acts 5:29)? I fail to see how it does — the Gospel is not compromised through mask-wearing (although banning the unvaxxed from church might well fall into that category).

And so, if your church leadership is acting Biblically when it comes to relating to government — even though they might have a different opinion to you on of public health orders — Scripture would command us to submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:17), and keep gathering at church (Hebrews 10:28).

Caring for the Unvaxxed?

Another implication of Christian freedom is caring for those who think differently on ‘jagged line’ issues.

While it’s tempting for the vaxxed to write off the unvaxxed as ‘reaping what they sow’ when it comes to losing jobs because of vaccine mandates etc., the Bible doesn’t call us to make such judgements. Instead:

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up… Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 14: 2,7)

Gospel Unity to a Divided World

Like so many political issues, Christians are free to come to their own decisions on vaccines and vaccine mandates. But as we do so, we mustn’t compromise the Gospel through disunity that’s unbiblical.

Instead, we have an opportunity to be witnesses to the risen Lord Jesus Christ, who can unite Jew and Gentile, male and female, rich and poor… and those who think differently about politics.

Even the politics of vaccines.


Originally published at Image by Lakshmi Prasad at BigStock.

Thank the Source

George Christensen’s Podcast and the Political Pile-On

George Christensen’s Podcast and the Political Pile-On

Is there justified uproar about the podcast interview by George Christensen on the topic of coronavirus vaccines? Let us examine the facts.

Federal MP for Queensland George Christensen’s podcast Conservative One is back, but not everyone is happy about it.

In his new series called Pandemic Unmasked, Christensen interviews some of the biggest names in the vaccine world, including Dr Robert Malone and Dr Peter McCullough. But because both experts have voiced criticism of blanket vaccine mandates and raised concern about the safety profile of mRNA vaccines for the young and healthy, Christensen faced fury in Canberra this week.

Political Pushback

Speaking to reporters, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said of the podcast, “it is promoting vaccine hesitancy, it is promoting activity which is a danger to people’s health.”

“Mr Morrison should have kicked George Christensen out of his government by now,” Labor Senator Penny Wong tweeted, in remarks that were echoed by talking heads in the legacy media.

Not one to waste an opportunity for an insult, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd complained that “this anti-vaccine nut job” was allowed to “remain in [Morrison’s] political party propping up his government”.

“Listen to the Experts” — except when they don’t match the narrative?

Had Christensen’s critics listened to the Pandemic Unmasked series, they would have learned that both Malone and McCullough are some of the most qualified medical experts in the world.

Robert Malone is an internationally recognised scientist — a virologist, immunologist, and molecular biologist who has more than thirty years of experience in vaccines. Malone was part of the team that discovered and patented mRNA vaccine technology, having ten patents in his name. His publications have been cited some 7,000 times.

Peter McCullough is a consultant cardiologist with over 1000 publications, making him the most published scientist in the history of his field. He is also Vice Chief of Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and one of America’s leading physicians on the early treatment of COVID-19.

Tilting at Strawmen

It is clear from their interview that neither Malone, McCullough nor Christensen are ‘anti-vaxx’.

But this didn’t stop the Canberra press pack and the political pile-on. Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly felt the effects of the faux-outrage and sought to distance himself from the matter.

“Don’t listen to George Christensen,” he told cameras. “He’s not a doctor. He can’t tell you what to do with vaccines… He is allowed to speak his mind, but Australians shouldn’t be listening to him.”

As Dave Pellowe put it in The Spectator this week:

On Wednesday a ‘journalist’ asked the Prime Minister, ‘Why have you allowed him the freedom…?’

A so-called journalist wanted to know why the leader of the government allowed a popularly elected Member of Parliament to: question the status quo (like a journalist should); survey and publish alternative views of concerned, eminently qualified experts (like a journalist should); and to critique the excesses of governments and bureaucracies around the nation (like a journalist should)…

George Christensen has become a litmus test, a gauge revealing the character and integrity of those who comment on him. Do they blow with the winds of populism, or do they hold fast to the first principles which should have guided us all through the initial unknowns of the Wuhan Flu?

The same day, Morrison told the media that he was ‘discussing’ George Christensen’s Committee Chairman role with Barnaby Joyce. By the afternoon, Christensen had announced that he intends to “stand down as the chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth,” adding that it was “a decision of my own making and not a demand or request from any third party”.

Dying Democracy

Disappointed in the antics in Canberra this week, another Queensland Senator weighed in. Gerard Rennick posted on Facebook:

You know free speech and genuine debate is dead in this country when an elected official cannot express a valid opinion that is actually based on credible information without being piled on by the jackals in the media and his own government.

Why is it okay for politicians to tell people to “take the jab” but it’s not okay for politicians to say “don’t take the jab”?

As I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions there are serious quality assurance issues around the Pfizer trials for children (and adults for that matter).

Genuine Concerns

Rennick’s post was accompanied by an image that captured the irony. It quoted Scott Morrison urging Australians, “Go to the credible sources of information on vaccines, and George Christensen is not one of them.” Directly following were words taken directly from the World Health Organisation’s website:

There are currently no efficacy or safety data for children below the age of 12 years. Until such data are available, individuals below 12 years of age should not be routinely vaccinated.

As I wrote earlier this week:

The Pfizer vaccine trial, which is not testing enough children below the age of 12 to detect rare adverse events, is scheduled for completion in May 2023. In other words, children who take the Pfizer vaccine before this date are effectively part of the drug trial.

Christensen doesn’t have to be an expert in vaccines for you to listen to his podcast. His most prominent guests are — and they have a lot of sensible things to say that should be engaged with, not censored.

To listen to Pandemic Unmasked, visit George Christensen’s website here.


Thank the Source

Jordan Peterson Finally Shares His Views on the Pandemic

Jordan Peterson Finally Shares His Views on the Pandemic

World-renowned psychology professor Dr Jordan Peterson has provided a well-considered response to the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. See what he has to say.

Since the COVID-19 virus escaped from the Wuhan lab in late 2019, the response of China and the rest of the world can only be described as shambolic in the extreme. I have been studying this pandemic from day one, and I am not alone in my opinion. Professor Dr Peter McCulloch and Dr Robert Malone share my concerns.

Dr Jordan Peterson has not spoken out about this subject in such detail before. This recent video is a much-needed contribution to the ongoing discussion on the Covid-19 pandemic response, which has been riddled with corruption by Big Pharma, Big Tech, Big Media and Big Government. Watch Jordan’s video now and make up your own mind.

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Professor & Explorer

Dr Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, #1 for nonfiction in 2018 in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Brazil and Norway, and now slated for translation into 50 languages.

Raised and toughened in the frigid wastelands of Northern Alberta, Dr Peterson has flown a hammer-head roll in a carbon-fibre stunt plane, piloted a mahogany racing sailboat around Alcatraz Island, explored an Arizona meteorite crater with a group of astronauts, built a Native American Long-House on the upper floor of his Toronto home, and been inducted into a Pacific Kwakwaka’wakw family.

Jack of All Trades

Jordan Peterson has been a dishwasher, gas jockey, bartender, short-order cook, beekeeper, oil derrick bit re-tipper, plywood mill labourer and railway line worker. He’s taught mythology to physicians, lawyers, and businessmen; worked with Jim Balsillie, former CEO of Blackberry’s Research in Motion, on Resilient People, Resilient Planet, the report of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability; helped his clinical clients manage the triumphs and catastrophes of life; served as an advisor to senior partners of major Canadian law firms.

Jordan Peterson penned the forward for the 50th anniversary edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago; lectured to more than 250,000 people across North America, Europe and Australia in one of the most-well attended book tours ever mounted; and identified thousands of promising entrepreneurs in 60 different countries for The Founder Institute.


Thank the Source

COVID Vaccines – Effectiveness, Safety, Conscience and Mutual Love

COVID Vaccines – Effectiveness, Safety, Conscience and Mutual Love

There is a lot of conflicting information about coronavirus vaccines. Here is an in-depth examination of various studies on the effectiveness of the vaccines, along with an analysis of the scriptural basis for considering vaccination, and whether it is a matter of conscience.

I haven’t written about COVID vaccines previously — it seemed that everything that could be said has been said. However, I’ve noticed an increase in several prominent opinions from believers on multiple sides of the political spectrum that I think are incomplete — not wrong, but incomplete.

I suspect I’m too late to the party and most people have a fully formed, unchangeable opinion about vaccines. However, I hope that I can help provide some clarity on how Christians may approach these vaccines.

This is not meant to address everything about COVID, including whether government responses and messaging have been appropriate or whether alternative treatments work. I may touch on some of these issues, but I don’t want them to distract from my focus on four specific questions:

  • Do the vaccines work?
  • Are the vaccines safe?
  • Is taking/not taking the vaccine a commandment or matter of conscience?
  • What should our response look like as a church?

This will require a LOT of words, but if you can stick with me, I hope it can help us to find a way for the church to exemplify the mutual love and unity that marks us as followers of Christ.

Part 1: Do the vaccines work?

Suspicion about the vaccines often references reports of lower efficacy against infection, case spikes in highly vaccinated countries, or large numbers of vaccinated individuals being hospitalised. Others point to studies that show similar viral load between vaccinated and unvaccinated to suggest that transmission is not reduced.

As I said earlier, it’s not that these reports don’t exist, or that the raw data is wrong or falsified. Rather, these reports don’t consider the full story and looking at them in isolation leads to incomplete conclusions. Proper context is needed on each point to properly interpret it.

Do the vaccines prevent infection?

The early evidence for protection against infection was excellent. As time went by, we noticed a concerning trend as the extent of protection decreased – down to 74% for Pfizer and 67% for AstraZeneca in the UK, while Pfizer was just 39% effective in Israel at one point.

At the same time, vaccines appear to be >80% effective in Canada. Unvaccinated people in Virginia have an infection rate 5.6 times higher than fully vaccinated people, similar to trends in America as a whole. This is slightly higher than the 2.5 fold increase for unvaccinated Indian healthcare workers and 1.7-1.9 fold increase in unvaccinated close contacts in the UK, most likely because these latter studies involved looking at participants in high-risk settings.

Does this conflicting data mean it can’t be trusted?

How can the evidence of vaccine efficacy suggest both high and low efficacy in different studies?

Some may be reflected in study design, as different study populations and conditions can cause variability in results. As one of many examples, unvaccinated people in America tend to be less worried about catching COVID and so may be more willing to engage in “risky” behaviours, artificially increasing their risk. However, in countries like Israel which had vaccine passports, there is likely a bias in the opposite direction as unvaccinated people are prevented from interacting in as many high-risk situations.

This is why the best studies are the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, which account for these differences by randomly selecting participants from a pool of patients with well-defined characteristic.

Trials conducted in this manner showed VERY good vaccine effectiveness, but were conducted before the rise of the latest COVID variants hence why we need to rely on more population-level data and lab-based studies to keep monitoring effectiveness.

Of the studies above, I think the UK study (1.7-1.9 fold reduction in infections) is the best to look specifically at vaccine effectiveness, as it only investigated close contacts, minimising confounding variables such as behaviour.

The other major difference between studies showing high/low effectiveness is time, as multiple studies from America, Qatar, and the UK show that immunity against infection decreases over time.

This may be one of the reasons for better-than-expected outcomes for NSW in October – as our vaccinations were quite recent their effectiveness at preventing infections was at their peak during the worst of the outbreak.

Incomplete protection and waning immunity is not unique to COVID vaccines. Efficacy of whooping cough, hepatitis B, and influenza vaccines start ~80% according to some studies but wane over time. Influenza and COVID are both respiratory viruses, and the efficacy of influenza vaccines wanes at a rate of ~7% per month. This is comparable to the ~4%, ~8%, and the ~5% rate of waning observed for the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

Waning immunity doesn’t make the vaccines useless. For one, they still have SOME effect, even if it is lesser. For another, we may just need to optimise doses to get a more sustained effect (Hepatitis B requires 4 doses) or we might need annual doses to target new variants, as in the case of influenza. We need to acknowledge the limits of our current knowledge.

Most importantly, protection against infection is just one aspect of vaccine efficacy and we need to include an assessment of protection against severe disease and against transmission. This is especially true as, of these three measures of protection, preventing infection will be the most susceptible to waning and thus may not be the most appropriate measure of effectiveness (Appendix 3).

Do the vaccines prevent severe disease and death?

There is very compelling evidence that, even if a vaccinated person still contracts COVID, vaccines do offer protection against the severity of disease. Vaccinated individuals are less likely to develop symptomatic disease, including reduced risk of chronic symptoms (long-COVID). So even if they catch the disease, it has less impact on the vaccinated for both the short and long term.

When it comes to severe disease, multiple studies in the UK show much lower rates of hospitalisation and death in vaccinated patients, as do data from the USA (and again), Malaysia, France, Singapore, Qatar, and Israel, including some studies cited as evidence that vaccines have poor efficacy against infection.

According to some data, the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die from COVID, and we consistently see results that demonstrate effectiveness of >90% against hospitalisations.

Crucially, these findings hold true even after 6 months, and as far as I know there is little sign of them slowing down (except in the case of immunocompromised individuals). So even though there appears to be a waning protection against infection, the protection against disease is much more sustained, which again reflects the functioning of our immune system (See Appendix 3).

So why the high numbers of vaccinated hospitalisations and deaths in some countries?

Part of this is a feature of the waning protection against infection – even with protection against severe disease, more infections overall leads to more deaths. This is a limitation that needs to be acknowledged and considered for personal and public health policies.

There are also at least two other reasons that are less concerning – the base rate fallacy and Simpson’s paradox.

The first is easy to explain – we need to take into account the starting proportions or ‘base rate’ of a group. For example, if I had dice that rolled “6” once every six rolls you would say that was normal. If you knew they were 20-sided dice you would say that was much higher than expected because the “base rate” is 1 in 20.

The question is not whether the number is high or low but is it “disproportionate”. Similarly, even if the vaccines work, a highly vaccinated population will expect many hospitalisations/deaths in vaccinated people but at disproportionately low rates, which is what the studies cited previously show.

Simpson’s paradox is a little more complicated, but effectively it builds upon the base rate to look at different categories. The idea is that the “average” between two groups may appear similar even if there are real differences, because one subset of people is “biased” to a particular result and overrepresented in one of the groups.

For example, if I compared shopping bills from two hypothetical communities’ (100 people each) and they average $200 per week for a family, we might conclude they had a similar cost of living. However, if community A had twenty 4-person families and ten 2-person families (100 people, 30 families), while community B had ten 4-person families and thirty 2-person families (100 people; 40 families) it makes a difference.

Community A Community B
Average cost Number of families Average cost Number of families
Whole community $200 30 $200 40
4-person families $250 20 $300 10
2 person families $100 10 $166.67 30

The cost of living in community B is higher for both 4 person families and 2 person families, but the average cost is the same because there are more 2-person families in community B.

How does this work with vaccine efficacy? Well, there is an excellent explainer here using data from Israel. The vaccine only looks ~67.5% effective (at the time of the article) because young people who are at lower risk of hospitalisation are less likely to be vaccinated. However, the vaccine is over 90% effective at preventing severe disease (hospitalisation) in most age groups.

The conclusion — the vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness and death.

Do the vaccines reduce the spread of disease?

Perhaps this is the most controversial issue for vaccines because it is the main justification for mandates, or even just social pressure to be vaccinated. If vaccines just reduce the risk to yourself, it’s your choice. If vaccines affect the spread of disease, it carries broader implications.

The data here gets a little bit messy and technical, so I want to go through it slowly and with detail. There are studies supporting both arguments, but I will state from the outset that I think the studies that suggest it does reduce spread are MUCH better designed, more reliable, and more convincing (Note: I said REDUCE spread, not stop).

High case numbers in heavily vaccinated countries have prompted questions about whether the vaccines had any impact on transmission. One widely circulated study suggested no correlation between vaccination rates and new COVID cases, seeming to put the nail in the coffin.

However, this study was anything but conclusive. They only assessed transmission rates in a seven-day period. This is far too short to accurately measure transmission of a disease where we have good evidence that there is a seasonal component and for which we see waves peaks affecting different countries at different times.

Even in Australia, if I compared COVID cases in NSW and Victoria I could draw completely opposite conclusions about which state had fewer cases just based on the week that I chose to examine.

Additionally, it ignored other important factors which could contribute to differences between countries and counties– herd immunity from previous waves, testing rates, which variant was circulating, population density, other precautions/restrictions, etc.

Instead of comparing whole countries/counties over a very short window, a much better study looked at COVID patients and their close contacts. Here, the question is not just “how many cases are there”, but we’re specifically asking the question of “if I catch COVID, how likely am I to pass it on to a person I’m around”. By focusing on comparable populations, in comparable settings this focused study is a much better investigation of what the vaccines are doing.

This study found that people vaccinated with AstraZeneca and Pfizer were 35% and 65% less likely to infect close contacts, respectively, than unvaccinated people. However, it’s worth noting that this effect waned over time. So even though the two studies conflict, the better-designed and more reliable study shows that vaccination does reduce transmission.

Similarly, a recent study suggested that vaccinated people were just as likely to spread disease to household contacts as the unvaccinated. However, this study was very small and didn’t account for immunity from prior infection.

In a much larger study that accounted for prior infection (that is, a better and more reliable study, they found that someone without immunity was less likely to contract COVID in households with more immune family members – the more robust study showed that the vaccines helped reduce transmission.

We see this pattern repeat in mechanistic studies too. One early report stated that vaccinated COVID healthcare workers had 251 times higher viral load than unvaccinated counterparts making them more dangerous. However, vaccinated workers were infected with the Delta variant while the unvaccinated workers had previous, less infectious variant and thus direct comparisons could not be made.

Other studies found no difference in viral load between the vaccinated and unvaccinated when all patients were infected with the delta variant, but these studies were relatively small and didn’t correct for other factors such as age, BMI, or smoking history that can impact the differences vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. They also only really give us a snapshot of one point in time, rather than comparing what happens over the course of disease.

In contrast, a much larger study with a randomised cohort (better design that reduces the impact of confounding factors) suggested that vaccinated individuals did have lower viral load.

Part of this may relate to the time of sampling, as studies from Singapore and the UK found that even though initial viral loads are similar, they drop faster in vaccinated subjects making them non-infectious quicker, which also helps to reduce disease spread.

Additionally, the PCR tests used in most of these studies analyse genetic information. They are very accurate at telling us what we’re looking at but doesn’t tell us as much about its condition. As an analogy, if you found my DNA at a crime scene, you’d know I was there, but you couldn’t tell how healthy I was at the time.

Similarly, the viral load tells us if the virus is there and how much, but multiple studies have shown that even where viral load (by PCR) is similar, virus from vaccinated patients is less infectious. That is, even if there is the same number of virus particles, they are weaker and less transmissible.

Finally, the lower airways and lung are responsible for generating more and smaller aerosols. Viruses are typically enriched in these smaller aerosols which travel further and penetrate deeper into the recipient’s lung than larger aerosols, making them a greater danger of transmission.

Since moderate and severe COVID is associated with greater involvement of the lower respiratory tract, reducing disease severity through vaccination likely reduces the spread of infection. Given that most studies only investigate the upper airways (using nasal or oral swabs), this data is not being captured in the above studies but is a reasonable conclusion.

Overall, there are studies that say vaccines help reduce transmission, and studies that say that don’t. However, the former are much, MUCH stronger studies and have far fewer limitations.

The limitations don’t make the studies against vaccines reducing transmission useless, but it severely limits the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn. This was my original point – citing these studies is not “wrong”, but many times we are not using them correctly which leads to inappropriate conclusions.

Therefore, we should give far more credibility to the well-designed, controlled studies that provide compelling evidence that the vaccines do reduce spread of disease. Emphasis needs to be made that this is REDUCING spread, as it doesn’t stop it completely, but it does help and neglecting the good in the hope of the perfect would be unwise.

Summary: Do vaccines work?

  • Vaccines are quite good at reducing risk of infection. This wanes over time, but still retains some protective effect.
  • Vaccines are very good at reducing risk of severe disease/death. This is robust and preserved over time.
  • Vaccines are very good at reducing the risk of transmission.
  • Vaccines are not perfect in their effects, and do not prevent any of these things entirely.

Part 2: Are the vaccines safe?

What does safety mean?

A 2005 study estimated that aspirin (or similar drugs) cause 15.3 deaths per 100 000 people, while there is an estimated 1 death per 7.9 million commercial airline passengers.

Few of us would characterise aspirin or flying “unsafe”, nor would we hesitate to make good use of these activities even though the relative rewards (pain relief or quick travel) are low compared to the risk of dying.

My point here is not to compare these activities to COVID vaccines directly, but to highlight a couple of important points:

  1. Nothing in life is free of risk. It’s important to keep everything in perspective. Our actions are basically saying “I am willing to accept this risk for the sake of this reward”. In the case of flying, “I am willing to accept a one in 7.9 million chance of dying for the sake of a quick, convenient journey”.
  2. Avoiding risks has consequences. The consequences may be simple consequences of convenience (e.g. avoiding flying means the trip takes longer), or they may be consequences that actually increase risk (e.g. your risk of death from driving is much greater than from flying – avoiding one specific risk increased overall risk).
  3. We’re not always the best at judging risks. Many factors determine our willingness to accept risks, including emotions, experiences, familiarity, level of trust, and whether the risk is voluntary or involuntary. Aspirin may feel safe because it’s familiar and we used it before, but that doesn’t change the ACTUAL risk.
  4. Different people will have different risks and tolerances for those risks. Different medical conditions are associated with a greater risk of adverse event from aspirin, which will impact a patient’s decision whether to take it. One person may be comfortable flying while another feels unsafe, even though the actual risk is the same.
  5. Even when unlikely, the consequences of a risk are real. The fact that aspirin and flying are incredibly safe comes as little comfort to those who have lost loved ones to either one.

Vaccine adverse events

With this understanding, we can look at vaccine safety in a bit more detail. Vaccine side-effects do happen and are real. There are families feeling the pain of this and may very well be regretting their decision. It’s a horrible situation, and I have nothing but compassion and sympathy for those families.

Nevertheless, despite these events (and without minimising them at all) I would conclude that the vaccines are safe for two reasons.

  • Severe adverse events are rare.

Many people hesitant about the vaccines know people or have heard stories about those who had severe adverse reactions. I want to reiterate that these instances occur, and I do not want to diminish the pain of those people.

However, to add my own anecdotal story, I work in a building with >1500 employees and >97% are vaccinated. I do not know of a single severe adverse event.

More importantly, we can look at the data. In one study, the greatest risk after vaccination was lymphadenopathy (a non-severe symptom of swollen lymph nodes) at a rate of only 78 per 100 000 (0.078%).

More severe adverse events were even less likely, including myocarditis (3 per 100 000; 0.003%). Another study had an even lower estimate of only 1 per 100 000 (0.001%), although some people may have only received one dose of vaccine. Even in the highest risk group (young men), the risk of myocarditis was only 67 per million (6.7 per 100 000; 0.0067%).

To put this in perspective, the incidence of myocarditis globally in 2013 was estimated to be ~22 per 100 000 (0.022%), though that reports an annual rate and can’t be compared directly to the numbers from the above studies.

Similarly, at the height of concern about the AstraZeneca vaccinae and blood clotting, rates were reported as high as 14.9 per million (1.49 per 100 000; 0.00149%), compared to an annual rate in the general population of around 1 in 1000 (0.1%).

In an incredibly large study of 10 million participants, there was no increased risk of 18/19 severe adverse events monitored compared to unvaccinated counterparts. Some were even lower risk in the vaccinated group, and only myocarditis/pericarditis was observed at a mildly higher rate (1.39 cases in vaccinated for every 1 in unvaccinated group).

None of these rates of severe adverse events should be considered high. While severe adverse events are serious, we rarely base our decision making on “worst case scenario”. More typically, we base it on “risk-reward” and I would argue that these vaccines pass that test.

Again, none of this is meant to minimise the real pain of people and families affected by adverse effects of vaccines. The point is that most of us would engage in far riskier activities willingly, and often with far less benefits than the vaccines provide.

Crucially, the rarity of these cases feeds into the second reason why I would consider these vaccines safe.

  • Practically every risk associated with the vaccines is worse for COVID infection.

One argument against certain COVID measures is “why should we be afraid of a disease over 99% of people survive”? I certainly have some sympathy for that argument for many aspects of the COVID response.

However, it doesn’t really make sense in the context of vaccines because the same argument can be made for vaccines – “why should we be afraid of a vaccine that over 99.99% of people survive?”

Consider this study of the Pfizer vaccine from Israel. It estimated the absolute risk of myocarditis at 3 per 100 000. Not common, but also not zero. However, the risk of myocarditis after catching COVID was 11 per 100 000 – nearly 4 times greater.

The same trends were seen for kidney injury, arrythmia, deep-vein thrombosis, intracranial haemorrhage, myocardial infarction, pericarditis, and pulmonary embolism. Only herpes zoster infection (shingles) and lymphadenopathy (swelling of lymph nodes) were higher risk in the vaccinated, both of which are comparatively mild side effects.

The same patterns are evident for neurological adverse events and blood clotting. Given that the vaccines reduce the risk of symptoms and severe disease, the vaccines represent a safer option than risking COVID infection.

Avoiding one form of risk is not avoiding all risk. In the case of COVID vaccines, avoiding the risk of an adverse event exposes us to a greater risk of those same dangers if (or when) we contract the infection. Just because the risk of infection feels familiar because we’ve been sick before, doesn’t mean it is actually less risky – we are often poor judges of risk.

Even if we were to calculate the individual risk difference of one adverse event is worth avoiding the vaccine, I’d suggest that the cumulative effect is even more substantial. That is, we might justify the risk myocarditis after infection to avoid vaccination, but I do not think we could justify the risk of myocarditis, and pericarditis, and pulmonary embolism and… so on.

I strongly argue that, in a risk-reward calculation, the slight increase in risk an adverse event from a vaccine is more than offset by the dramatic reduction in risk of severe COVID symptoms that the vaccine provides for the vast majority of people who take them.

What about VAERS?

People will often point to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in the USA or the Therapeutic Goods Administration vaccine safety monitoring and reporting data in Australia.

The argument against vaccine safety is phrased as “there are X number of deaths reported” or “there are more reports for these vaccines than any others”. However, such concerns are generally overwrought by exaggerations of what the data means and how it is collected.

For one thing, reporting to VAERS is voluntary. Some point out that this can lead to undercounting of adverse events, a fact acknowledged by the CDC. However, it is a mistake to assume that all adverse events are underreported equally.

People may not bother to report a fever, but few would fail to report a hospitalisation or death of a loved one. In fact, healthcare workers administering COVID vaccines are required by law to report serious adverse events.

Similarly, consider the changes in information over the last few years. I have studied Biomedical Science, been vaccinated for overseas travels, vaccinated my child, and been involved in medical research for years. I knew there was post-market surveillance of vaccines/medicine but it was only during COVID that I learnt of this voluntary reporting system.

I suspect I am not alone. How much of the “higher reports” are due to increased knowledge of the database? Is the underreporting factor lessened due to improved participation? This is especially true given that, in Australia, people who are vaccinated are sent a survey to monitor adverse events and this does not happen for other vaccines.

Moreover, high numbers alone need to be put into context. For example, the CDC reports ~4 billion doses of ALL vaccines administered between 2006 and 2019, or ~308 million per year. In the USA, there have been more than 520 million doses of COVID vaccines given since the vaccines were approved, or ~480 million per year.

You may argue about the wisdom of vaccinating so many so quickly, but the fact remains that 55% more COVID vaccines are being given annually than ALL other vaccines combined. That is going to skew report numbers higher.

This skewing to a higher number of adverse events is also more likely when we consider who is getting vaccinated. Most of our vaccines (apart from annual flu shots or boosters) are given in childhood. COVID vaccines have had greater uptake in the elderly and middle aged. Compared to children, these people are much more likely to NATURALLY suffer from serious health problems, including death.

Why is this important? Because the VAERS and TGA both track adverse events AFTER vaccination, not caused by. These reports are investigated to determine causality, but it can’t be assumed immediately.

As an analogy, if I followed a million people who ate toast for breakfast and 10 people died from heart attacks in a month, should I conclude toast caused heart attacks? Or should I look more closely at the data to determine what is happening? The same holds for vaccines.

Now, for an article where I’ve tried to be data-heavy, you may notice this section is quite light on hard facts and is mostly speculative explanations. So let’s try to explore some of this data looking at the most serious adverse event — death.

Sample study — VAERS deaths

In the USA there were reported 10 688 deaths after 496 million doses of vaccine, a rate of 0.0022% of people receiving at least one dose (at time of writing data only updated to 20/12/21). To reiterate, the “FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause”, so we can be fairly confident that this is not a dramatic undercounting.

Already, the death rate is nearly 10 times lower than that of the LEAST susceptible people infected with COVID (younger women), further strengthening the argument that vaccines are safer than the alternative.

However, even this calculation is assuming that every single death is directly caused by the vaccine, but that may not be the case. To account for the ‘natural’ death rate, we can compare to earlier statistics.

For example, in 2019 there were 715.2 deaths per 100 000 people in the US population, or approximately 1.96 deaths per 100 000 people per day. Based on these numbers, we’d expect that of the 247 million people receiving COVID vaccines (at time of writing) we would see approximately 4841 deaths per day just by chance.

I don’t have access to the timing of every single one of those COVID deaths, but this means that if every single death occurred within 3 days of vaccination, we’d consider those numbers statistically “normal”.

Most studies reporting on adverse events in vaccines use at least a 21-day window, a far greater span of time and clearly indicating that the vaccines aren’t associated with a greater risk of death compared to the “normal” population.

You see the same pattern if you do the calculations based upon the TGA reported deaths in Australia from vaccines compared to all-cause mortality in 2019. The raw data of deaths can be confronting, but the numbers are not abnormally high compared to the general population and in no way indicate that COVID vaccines are causing death.

In fact, people receiving COVID vaccines were less likely to die from non-COVID causes than those who didn’t. This doesn’t mean that the vaccines protected against non-COVID disease (the data wasn’t corrected for other factors that might contribute), but there is no evidence of a non-COVID uptick in deaths among the vaccinated.

What about long-term side effects?

Some people are concerned about long-term side effects. If the vaccines were only developed in 2020, we can’t possibly know what impact they will have in 10-15 years.

This is absolutely a true statement, and a concern that needs to be taken seriously. However, I would argue that the balance of risk weighs in favour of being vaccinated for several reasons:

  • As stated above, all the evidence we currently have suggests the risks from COVID infection outweigh the risks from the vaccine for every serious side-effect. It is reasonable to suspect this is true for long-term side effects also.
  • We’re gradually getting longer term data which appears to confirm that the greatest risk of adverse events is immediately after vaccine, not with extended long-term effects. The longest I’ve found published is 6 months, but others are ongoing and have seen no compelling reason to publish their results early (bearing in mind that many of these studies will be from researchers like myself who have no financial incentive to hide data if it was inconvenient).
  • History suggests that few vaccines are removed from the market after approval, and the majority of these are because they are replaced with better products or eradication of the disease, not because of safety. A review of 57 vaccines over a 20 year period found only one was removed for safety reasons, and this was done almost immediately (i.e. not for long-term effects.
  • More generally, in a study of 72 countries, only 133 drugs were withdrawn for safety concerns in the 20 year period from 1990 to 2010. This is hardly a common occurrence and one that suggests the balance would suggest long-term side effects are unlikely, particularly as long-term side effects from vaccination appear to be even rarer than from conventional medications. To the best of my knowledge, no vaccines have ever been withdrawn due to long-term safety concerns that are only discovered years later.

What about antibody-dependent enhancement?

The concept of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) is that the antibodies produced by the body can facilitate either easier entry to the cells (more infection) or excessive immune responses (more severe disease). This was a legitimate concern when developing the vaccines, but I don’t think it should be a major concern for us now.

If ADE was occurring currently, it should be evident in a disproportionate number of vaccinated people in hospital. As I outlined earlier, there is no evidence that these vaccines are causing increased risk of infection, or more severe disease. In fact, we see the opposite – the vaccinated are less likely to be infected and develop less severe disease.

People may be concerned about developing ADE against future variants. I don’t believe this should preclude us from getting the vaccine though, as this is seeking to minimize a hypothetical, possible risk in the future at the expense of minimising a real, present risk.

Furthermore, ADE can be observed in COVID-19 patients even if they aren’t vaccinated, so avoiding a vaccine does not eliminate this risk entirely. You’ll still be exposed to a similar risk of ADE in the future with this hypothetical new variant, so why not protect yourself from the current variant anyway?

Again, I would weigh the balance of evidence to say that taking a COVID vaccine is the safer option.

Do the vaccines cause an increase in variants?

The rationale for this concern is that the vaccines lead to a highly specific immune response against the infection. A vaccinated person quickly eliminates the “original” strain the vaccine was developed to target, but it allows new variants to escape.

Over time, this would lead to the more dangerous variant becoming dominant. While this reasoning may seem logical, it rests upon some assumptions that are not consistent with what we’re observing.

For a start, it assumes that the new variants are equally likely to arise in both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. However, new variants appear due to mutations occurring during viral replication. More replication, more mutations, more likelihood of a new variant.

As I outlined above, vaccinated individuals are less likely to transmit the virus and have less internal viral replication as they clear the virus quicker. This is why highly vaccinated populations have FEWER, not more mutations.

Second, this assumes that natural immunity will be more effective at neutralising new variants than vaccine-induced immunity. However, the existing variants of concern for immune evasion (beta, omicron) are capable of evading both natural- and vaccine-induced immunity. This suggests that there is little, if any, gain to avoiding the vaccines for the sake of inducing a broader immune response.

Indeed, there is increasing evidence that the most versatile immune response is obtained through either mixing vaccines or through hybrid immunity (previous infection + vaccination), as we develop a capacity to respond to multiple different stimuli.

Finally, I need to re-iterate the point – avoiding vaccines to protect against variants is creating a greater current risk in the hopes of avoiding a future hypothetical risk.

We have the capacity to protect ourselves and others against the current variants. It seems reckless to refuse that protection for the sake of avoiding a variant that MIGHT appear later.

Reaching herd immunity through infection alone will lead to a greater number of deaths, hospitalisations and long-term consequences than doing so through vaccination because the vaccines reduce the risk of all of those compared to catching COVID.

Summary — are vaccines safe?

Overall, with the current state of our knowledge, I would draw the following conclusions about the currently approved vaccines:

  • The risk of serious side effects in the short term is very, very low.
  • The risk of long-term side effects (including antibody-dependent enhancement) is also low, though it will still be some time before we can say that definitively.
  • Vaccination is highly unlikely to cause any increase in the development of new variants or more severe disease.
  • For any serious side-effect of the vaccine (real or potential), the risk is much, much greater for infection.

Therefore, I conclude that the vaccines should be considered safe and the prudent decision, in most cases, would be to get vaccinated.

Part 3: Should we treat vaccination as a command from Christ?

The science of vaccines is not actually my main purpose in writing this article. My concern is much more about what scripture says and how this should inform our interactions as believers.

However, it is helpful to have some understanding of what vaccines do since their impacts will relate to how we understand them in the light of scripture. Summarising the science as briefly as possible, I conclude that the vaccines are effective and safe, but not perfect in either regard.

Some readers may disagree about exactly how safe and how effective, or whether the risks outweigh the rewards, but I hope this wording is broad (and accurate) enough that we can all approach this next section with at least some degree of agreement.

Commands and conscience

Vaccines are not mentioned in scripture directly, but we can still draw one of three possible conclusions (as we do for many other issues):

  • Based upon the general principles and commands of God, we MUST get vaccinated
  • Based upon the general principles and commands of God, we MUST NOT get vaccinated
  • Vaccination is neither commanded nor forbidden. This does not mean it is never right/wrong to be vaccinated, or there is never a better/worse decision. Rather, it is an issue of an individual’s wisdom and/or conscience to determine based upon the general biblical principles and commands of God.

I’m going to make the argument for point (3) –  that, based upon scripture, the church should treat vaccination as an issue of conscience (1 Cor 8:1-13; 1 Cor 10:14-33; Rom 14:1-23).

Essentially, this would mean that vaccines are a good thing that is both permissible and beneficial. If your conscience permits you, you should take them. However, if your conscience does not permit, you do not sin by not taking the vaccine (and in fact, if your conscience condemns you, don’t take it).

In either case, that decision MUST be based on our understanding God’s commandments, principles, and Spirit-led direction for our life. Whether we take it or not, our motivation should not be primarily dictated by other motivations (social acceptance, fear, compulsion, etc).

Finally, though we may disagree with each other’s decision, as Christians we should seek to love and accommodate one another without creating unnecessary division.

Reasons to get vaccinated

Given what the science shows us about vaccines, I think there are good and godly reasons why Christians should be vaccinated, if their conscience permits. I don’t mean that you MUST be vaccinated, but rather that this should be our default position in the absence of a compelling issue of conscience.

For example, caring for our own physical health is important, exemplified in the command that we “Love the Lord your God with all your…strength”, and general principles such as “our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” and that we should be good stewards of what God has given us.

Additionally, we are also commanded to “Love your neighbour as yourself” and, biblically, we know that “[love] always protects”. Paul also sets an example that he wanted to avoid being a burden to others.

I would humbly suggest that reducing transmission, reducing the length of our infectious period, and reducing our chances of taking up hospital resources is ONE WAY we can fulfill these commandments.

If the balance of evidence suggests that the vaccines are likely to protect me from harm, I would consider it prudent, wise and good for Christians to participate.

So, doesn’t that mean scripture commands us to get vaccinated?

I wanted to emphasise that vaccination is ONE way to honour God with our bodies and love our neighbour. I do not believe it is THE way to do these things. If it were THE way, then we would be right to say we are commanded to be vaccinated.

Furthermore, if being vaccinated were commanded, then even the real, but rare, risks of serious side effects would not absolve us of our responsibility. Our commands from Christ are to be willing to lay down our lives for our friends, and that love “bears all things”. We do not neglect His commands for the sake for physical health or comfort, so we could not disobey out of concerns for safety.

However, before we start poking at the specks in the eyes of our unvaccinated brothers and sisters, we should consider our own logs.

For example, let us make a VERY rough spectrum of what we can do to reduce our chances of catching/transmitting COVID, at one end we say

  • “do nothing”

and at the other end of the spectrum, we say:

  • “Have 3 doses of a vaccine (mixing varieties). Wear an N95 mask, surgical mask, face shield, AND surgical gown at all times (changing regularly). Wash hands every 15 minutes and disinfect every surface/object you go near. Never, ever leave the house except in the gravest emergency. Never have anyone enter your house. Never engage in any social interaction or any unnecessary activity around people.

In between those two would be different levels of protection, depending how much detail you want to break things down into. My question is – what biblical reason would we have to draw the line for what is/isn’t a sin?

More specifically, if you advocate that being vaccinated is a commandment imperative for Christians, what other ‘risky’ behaviours are acceptable? Wherever you draw the line, why is THIS standard exactly the right amount to not be sinful, but any less is?

Are we sinning by taking Astra Zeneca, which has a more rapid waning of protection? If people previously infected or vaccinated must get boosted to develop more robust and/or sustained immunity, does that not apply to the type of vaccine also?

Even though it is not currently approved in Australia, should a doctor in Australia be mixing different types of vaccines to give better protection? After all, we should disobey civil authorities if it means obedience to God?

If I rushed to take my vaccine early in 2021, was that sinful because my protection had waned by the time we had a major outbreak? Conversely, if I go to get a booster shot am I failing to love my neighbour, since there’s a real concern that wealthy countries seeking booster shots are reducing first dose access to developing nations.

If I am vaccinated but go to a concert or a wedding, I am a greater risk to those around me than an unvaccinated person staying at home. Why is the former acceptable but the latter not? Surely your “right” to go enjoy music or celebrate a marriage is not more important than my health?

If I wear a surgical mask, am I more sinful than someone wearing an N95 but less sinful than someone wearing a cloth mask? What if I choose to dine indoors at a restaurant instead of outdoors? If I order food delivered, am I sinful for creating a risk of infection for the person who delivers to me?

Those speaking loudly or singing are more likely to spread viral particles, so are we sinning when we sing? If so, how does that square with our command to sing to God with gratitude in our hearts?

What about non-COVID examples? Certain contraceptives can reduce immune responses to viral infection. Are women who take these sinning by increasing their risk of transmission?

Do we need to repent for all those times that we left the house when we had a runny nose, knowingly exposing other people to our germs (even if they are less threatening than COVID)?

Is it sinful for a believer to not be an organ donor since this is beneficial to others and comes at no cost to the person? Air pollution accounts for ~3000 deaths annually in Australia and there are over 1000 deaths from traffic accidents — do you sin whenever you drive your car by increasing risk to others?

Cooking with gas can increase the risk of developing or exacerbating asthma, and poor diet is the leading contributor to early death globally. Did I sin by cooking bacon and eggs for my family on a gas stove?

If the argument is that the risk of COVID is greater than these examples, what is the exact cut-off for when “risk” becomes “sin”? Do we have a rationale for that?

If the argument is that doing all of this is too difficult to uphold, that can’t be justified based upon the same verses that would suggest we can’t avoid godly commands simply based on issues of practicality or risk to ourselves.

If we argue that the inconvenience of these measures outweighs their benefit, we’re saying our convenience trumps the safety of others based only on our subjective idea of what is “enough”.

If there is a clear biblical reason to draw a distinction between these examples and vaccination, then I cannot find it. If our standard is that it is not just unwise but wrong to be unvaccinated, then we need to either accept that we are just as wicked, repent and change our behaviour, or else we need some explanation for why our behaviour is not sinful.

Are you suggesting that we all need to start doing these things?

To be clear — I think there are reasonable objections to these points and examples. As I said, I believe vaccination is an issue of conscience and of wisdom, and I would include these examples in that same category.

The point of my examples was to prompt us to consider whether there is a biblical justification to elevate vaccines to a higher moral level, and whether we have a right to pass judgement based on someone else’s decision.

Most of us would consider that even though the examples I cited above may increase risk to others, a prudent use of godly resources may, at times, creates risks without being inherently sinful.

Being a good steward means using our resources well, and that may include sacrificing some beneficial actions for the sake of a higher purpose. Rather than being sinful, such risks are a consequence of living in a fallen world. Could we extend the same grace to those who choose not to be vaccinated?

If these examples (and vaccines) are all examples of practicing godly wisdom in obedience, and are a matter of conscience, then we need not condemn those who decide differently and instead choose to bear with one another in love.

Are there any similar examples in scripture of activities that risk the safety of others?

As a word of caution — we do need to be careful drawing conclusions from the comparisons I made above, based exclusively on our own feelings about what is and isn’t “too extreme”. Our standard must be based upon what God reveals in scripture, not what we interpret as being acceptable.

Fortunately, there are references which I believe support my position:

  • At the Council of Jerusalem, the apostles resolved that they would not burden the Gentiles with the Jewish law. This included measures of quarantine against the sick, and unlike other commandments, these are not reiterated in the New Testament. (though most of us would acknowledge that these are wise and good measures to have in place for managing disease).
  • In fact, Jesus regularly violated these restrictions to demonstrate that His Kingdom had power over life and death, and He did so without sinning (though we need to acknowledge the special circumstances of His role as Messiah and the miraculous healing that accompanied it).
  • Jesus failed to wash before some meals, which can increase the risk of infections. To be clear, the criticisms levelled against Jesus were concerns about his failure to follow man-made traditions and not hygiene, so we should not over-interpret this. However, He could have washed Himself anyway and still addressed their hypocrisy, and therefore the unhygienic act was not sinful.
  • Jesus delayed his healings of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus. While this did not cause physical harm, it was a deliberate choice that led to emotional “harm” for those who loved these people.
  • Ezra appears to unilaterally (or at least, only with a small group of leaders) decide that the people returning to Jerusalem do not need a protective escort, thereby exposing them to greater danger on their journey.
  • Both King Amaziah and Gideon were instructed by God to reduce the size of their armies which, by all human reckoning, put their remaining men at greater risk.

I’m not claiming that these examples suggest we should not get vaccinated, or that they are widely applicable to every situation. Often they were specific instructions from God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, but given to specific people, at specific times, for a specific purpose. I also acknowledge that they aren’t direct comparisons to vaccines.

Rather, I suggest that these examples indicate that in SOME circumstances people can be obedient to God while doing things that are irrational and seemingly put others at risk. Such circumstances are not binding on all believers but are rather an example of a Spirit-led obedience even when the decision appears unwise.

Therefore, I argue that those who choose not to be vaccinated are not necessarily sinful and we should be very, VERY careful to mark someone else’s decision as sinful for fear of creating an unnecessary burden for other believers.

Reasons why Christians may not get vaccinated

Just because it is an issue of conscience does not mean that all decisions on the matter are acceptable —  we can still be motivated by sinful intent. Nor does it mean that we MUST neglect prudent decisions meant to keep ourselves and others safe.

Rather, it should mean that our reasons for not following prudent caution (such as I would argue in the case of vaccines) should be more than just ‘I don’t want to”. Whatever we choose, acting with wisdom should be founded on acting in faith, with a good conscience, and directed towards our ultimate purpose of glorifying God.

I can’t speak to what may lead a specific individual to avoid vaccination, but it will be helpful to outline some of the possible reasons why a faithful Christian may reject vaccination below. I’ll also explain why these issues don’t particularly prick my conscience, since it’s helpful for people to understand my perspective.

I’ve already stated that I believe the prudent decision in most cases would be to consider the vaccines safe, and it is wise to make our decisions based on this evidence.

However, for individuals, this may not be the case. It is important that we not minimise the severe side effects when they occur. For a very small proportion of individuals, the consequences of choosing to take the vaccine have been severe and they may have fared better to take their chances without it.

Both wisdom and discernment are listed as gifts of the Spirit, and there are several examples in scripture where the logical, prudent choice was not the same choice that God desired for that specific individual.

Paul going to Jerusalem, being kept from some ministries before going to Macedonia, refusing to escape prison and appealing to Caesar were not logical, but they were right. Sending singers ahead of the army was not logical for Jehoshaphat, but it was correct.

So even as the vaccines are safe in general, we should also leave room that godly discernment may lead some believers to the conclusion that it is not safe FOR THEM. Otherwise, we’re effectively asking them to take a risk for themselves to protect us against a potential risk if they catch COVID.

In fact, I would argue that our acceptance of recommendations for vaccine safety suggests we all implicitly acknowledge this in some capacity.

For example, Australia’s own guidelines for exemptions acknowledge that, at least temporarily, the risks to an individual may outweigh the need to be vaccinated in the interest of public safety.

Few of us would consider someone sinful for applying for such an exemption, but if that is the case is there a precise level of risk at which it becomes “sinful”? How should we define that risk?

When AstraZeneca was the only vaccine available in Australia we did not consider it sinful for those with a history of blood clots to not be vaccinated. Even though the vaccines were still safer than infection and had all the benefits of “loving your neighbour”, we acknowledged that these individuals could weigh their own risks.

Or take the case of some countries that have restricted access to certain vaccines in certain demographics. Several European countries paused the rollout of Moderna vaccines in young people but permitted Pfizer due to concerns over myocarditis, even though the risk of Moderna is only marginally greater than that of Pfizer and both remain low in terms of absolute risk.

It seems strange to suggest that avoiding one vaccine is justified but avoiding the other is completely irrational, especially when the pause included women who have a lower risk of myocarditis than men. I know that if one vaccine is dangerous then alternatives are available, and my point is not to suggest these pauses were either right or wrong.

Rather, if we are willing to grant people an exception in certain circumstances based on a certain level of risk then vaccination CANNOT be a command of God. If we can grant godly discretion to those with one level of risk, should we not also be willing to grant godly discretion to others, even when we disagree?

Concerns about use of fetal cell lines

The specifics of this issue are often muddled. No vaccine contains “parts of aborted fetuses”, and no vaccine requires aborted foetuses to be produced.

Rather, as part of either their production or testing, some vaccines use cell lines such as HEK293. Cells were taken from an aborted fetus and were isolated, modified, and then grown in a lab. Such cell lines are considered “immortalised”, meaning that they will grow continuously and do not require additional sources to replace them. All the cells used today have been grown in a lab from that one original fetus in 1973.

We don’t know the reason why this abortion happened, but this wasn’t a woman who got pregnant just so she could donate her unborn child to science. The decision to get an abortion was unrelated to the donation of the tissues.

Now, how should Christians react to this news, particularly if we are pro-life on the issue of abortion? Suggesting that we should avoid vaccines because they rely on tissues once obtained from an abortion certainly has some scriptural support.

We don’t participate in evil that good may come, and we should have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness. We should not have fellowship with darkness or have anything in common with wickedness, and in some way, we may feel that our participation in using these vaccines would be doing so.

On the other hand, examples of Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, to name a few, demonstrate that God’s people can use resources from ungodly men, often obtained in ungodly ways, to accomplish godly purpose.

This was not a matter of sinning to do the work of God, but rather about not letting the sins of others halt the work of God who “works all things for the good of those who love Him”. Christians can, with wisdom, discern ways to honour God in the midst of evil without endorsing it. However, this may not be true in all cases and sometimes our conscience may prevent us from doing so.

I believe we, as Christians, should abhor abortion and actively oppose it (while loving mothers who feel this is their only option). However, I would not consider the use of these cells in this vaccine to be an endorsement of abortion or “participating in evil”. Since the abortion has already happened, we are not contributing to further sin by using these vaccines.

Therefore, I conclude this is an issue of conscience. Much like meat sacrificed to idols, as believers we can use vaccines as a gift of God, acknowledging that the initial abortion was a case of man intending it for harm and God using it for good. Yet if your conscience is not clear and you feel uncomfortable, do not participate and do not feel judged for doing so.

Some may, quite sensibly, object that many medications use foetal cells in their testing and development, so holding such a standard would exclude all of those. I have two replies:

  • In issues of conscience, we are told that we need not ask questions for fear of going against our conscience in ignorance. Ignorance is not an excuse for disobeying God’s commands but since issues of conscience are not commanded, we do not sin by acting without knowing. The issue is not “can we find a way to conflict with my conscience”, but rather “how does my conscience convict me in this action based on what I know.” So we don’t go searching for a list of medications to find out which ones can/can’t be taken, but we do need to make sure our conscience is clear for the ones we do know.
  • There is value in distinguishing between new developments and established medications. That is, my use/disuse of a medication will have little impact for something developed many years ago, with established use and for which there are few comparable medications. For COVID vaccines, the companies producing these could choose which cell lines were used and established their new vaccine in any format they wished. My choice to use, for example, the Novavax vaccine which does not use foetal cell lines has the capacity to send a message to companies that “I do not endorse this form of research, and if there is an alternative, I will use that”. It is a VERY small stance but one that may help to dissuade from other uses of foetal tissues which are more urgent for the current pro-life movement.

Now as someone who is staunchly pro-life, I wrestled with the consideration of whether to get vaccinated or wait for Novavax to be approved. I decided my conscience was clear when I compared abortion/fetal tissue donation to murder/organ donation.

If someone was murdered, I would not hesitate to accept either an organ donation for transplant or medical research. It does not mean the cause of their death was moral or sinless, and accepting that some good has come out of their death doesn’t mean I participated in that sin.

Similarly, the abortion of the fetus was going to happen regardless of whether it was used for research. That does not necessarily make the abortion sinless (though we do not know the mother’s reason for seeking it) or condone the choice, but it means that my decision did not cost that child its life.

If a new abortion was required each time the vaccines were developed or produced, I would not take them since that would be, to me, participating in evil. But my conscience is clear when I consider that this one child has been able to bless billions of people through decades of medical research in spite of, not because of, their horrific early death.

Therefore, when the COVID outbreak occurred in Australia I decided that the benefit of protecting myself and others by taking the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as possible was greater than the benefit of “sending a message” by waiting for Novavax. This reasoning may not reassure you, but it is possible for both of us to be honouring God in our wisdom and conscience.

Concerns about methods and government

Submission to governmental authorities is an important part of the Christian walk, but at the same time, there are limits to the authority and the roles of government.

For example, Jesus draws a distinction between what is God’s and what is Caesar’s. Authorities are meant to ensure that we have an ability to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness, by punishing those who do wrong and commending those who do right.

Daniel, his friends, and Peter and John all confirm that resisting ungodly government is both acceptable and right. Even though his own obedience was not conditioned upon it, Paul spoke up to appeal against a punishment from one civil authority since it violated a higher civil law.

Nor is this principle only limited to what is done by governments, but also how it is done and with what motive.

None of these examples directly relate to vaccines and we need to be cautious about drawing direct parallels from historical models of government to our own, especially Old Testament theocracies.

However, it is clear biblically that:

  • There are limits placed upon government authority.
  • God is concerned with what, how and why something is done (including by governments).
  • Believers are authorised (and sometimes commanded) to oppose governmental authorities who are doing wrong.
  • Submission to authority does not mean we cannot criticise where it is wrong, or that we are not permitted to appeal against what we consider an unjust ruling through appropriate channels.

Now I’m going to be cautious about approaching our own government authorities in Australia. I believe some things they have done are good, and some are bad. Some may have been good with bad motives or bad with good motives.

Regardless, there are elements of governmental response to COVID that can indicate areas of concern, at the very least based upon the message they send and how that might shape future interactions.

For example, I would argue that governments should preserve our freedoms, but some of the language during COVID has talked about freedoms being granted by governments and given as a reward. The latter suggests that our freedoms don’t exist without government and government can take them away for whatever reason they deem worthy.

As NSW was removing most restrictions there were suggestions that not requiring masks was at odds with recommending masks. I would argue that the idea that what is good and recommended must be mandated by government is not an appropriate scope of government.

Finally, the suggestion that things like in-person schooling and corporate worship of the church are “non-essential” can have significant impact on decisions about these in the future.

These ideas did not begin with COVID, and they won’t go away once COVID is over. I’ll also freely acknowledge that a lot of these concerns could probably be resolved (or at least lessened) by better messaging from the government. In many cases, we’ve been just as guilty of the poor messaging on these issues ourselves.

If you don’t find these examples concerning, perhaps consider some others that might use a similar logic. Some speculate population control may be required to tackle climate change in the future – would we accept a limit on the number of children permitted for the sake of the public good?

More immediately, Victoria legislation that (as admitted by government lawyers) will make it illegal to pray for a same-sex attracted person to help them refrain from living out their desires, even with their permission. This holds implications for the church.

Or what about government surveillance and violations of privacy under arguments of protecting public safety? Might they concern us?

I’m not saying that that we’re facing imminent threat from these examples. I don’t think government sanctioned evil is breathing down our necks unless we’re all marching in the street today.

I do not think that these concerns I have are a ‘line in the sand’ that must be held, lest Australia fall into a tyranny tomorrow. I don’t think COVID vaccines are going to be the make tyrants out of otherwise good politicians.

My argument is that COVID has brought concerns about the proper scope of government to the national attention in a particular way. These concerns are always present, but right now there are a lot more people thinking about them than usual.

IF there are parties that have evil intent in Australian politics, then part of their planning will include “how much can I get away with before people push back”? In such a case, might universal acceptance of COVID restrictions and mandates without question suggest it might be more than we think?

Is there ANY politician from the Greens, or Labour, or Liberals, or One Nation, or any other party that you might look at complete, unconditional compliance on issues of COVID and think that it might justify their own policies that some consider a violation of rights?

As one American commentator expressed:

“Everything you go along with for “public safety” when you’re comfortable with their definition empowers and emboldens them to take action when the definition of “public safety” drifts to something you aren’t comfortable with.”

This does not mean we MUST resist vaccination because of government overreach (if you believe there is some). I’m saying there are government actions which people may have reasonable concerns about, some people may be more perceptive about the implications of these than others.

If we believe that it is prudent, wise and loving to be vaccinated then we should have a VERY compelling reason to suggest that resisting vaccination should be our recourse against such overreach.

This is especially true considering that it is possible to be vaccinated and still speak against inappropriate actions from the government through other methods. Protests, legal challenges, contacting or supporting politicians, choosing to spend money at “pro-freedom” businesses – all of these are ways that we could object to specific issues without changing our stance on vaccination.

However, it is possible that you are unsettled and the only reason you would get vaccinated is because of government coercion that you believe is inappropriate. In that circumstance you MAY feel compelled to take a firmer stand against this imposition and avoid vaccination.

I suggest that this falls under the issue of conscience, and in some ways can be considered an act of love. Even if the danger is not physical illness, for many people their stance is still motivated by a desire to protect others.

I acknowledge that my perception of what is inappropriate (not just regarding COVID) may be wrong and others who see no danger are right. I am also conscious of the fact that I may be too complacent, and I should be listening to those who see a graver danger than I do. Some of you will think I am fearmongering, and some will think I’m underreacting. Probably at least one of you is right, which is why I would suggest that we extend grace to one another.

A Word of Caution – Issues of Conscience are not all equal

I want to make very clear that issues of conscience do not mean “do whatever you feel like”, but rather “do whatever God lays on your heart”.

Getting the vaccine or resisting vaccination because your “political tribe” has done that is not responding to conscience. It is allowing someone other than God to dictate your actions. It may not always be sinful, but it is not being obedient.

Additionally, the passages on conscience (1 Cor 8:1-13; 1 Cor 10:14-33; Rom 14:1-23) don’t just refer to two opinions, they refer to “stronger” and “weaker” believers. This will be controversial, and please, please, PLEASE know that I say this without any judgement – I suggest that choosing to be vaccinated is more in line with the position of “stronger” believers in scripture.

I’m not saying this because it was my choice. I say this because the “stronger” believers, according to God through the writings of Paul, are those who can willingly enjoy those things which are not forbidden and use them to give glory and thanks to God. The “weaker” believers are those who abstain from those things to give glory and thanks to God.

Importantly, both are seeking God’s glory and we don’t pass judgement on either group. However, the wording suggests that as we mature in our faith we should become more comfortable with being part of the stronger group on issues of conscience.

With this in mind, I might humbly suggest that our default response as believers should be to get vaccinated as a wise, prudent decision and a way to love our neighbours. We should not be trying to come up with a reason to avoid vaccination or be seeking to drive our conscience in that direction. Rather, we should desire to be “stronger” and partake of these vaccines unless our conscience convicts us.

Summary — Are vaccines commanded, forbidden or a conscience issue?

Given the scriptures I have referenced above, I would suggest that the church treat vaccination as a conscience issue. I believe it is a good thing that can (and should) be joyfully participated in for the good of ourselves and our neighbours.

But if your conscience does not permit you to do so, you should not participate. You should not feel condemnation from yourself or from other believers.

This does not mean we cannot discuss the issue and attempt to persuade one another, or that we should not seek a deeper understanding and a maturing of our conscience. However, it does mean that we do not let it divide us and destroy unity in the church.

Part 4: Considerations and applications for the church

If vaccination is a conscience issue, then how should we respond and interact as individuals and the church?

Be grounded in truth.

Truth and honesty are essential components of our faith. Meaningless speculations are not helpful unless we have evidence. That means looking for accurate information and interpretations, not just those that confirm our opinions.

It means acknowledging the limitations of our knowledge, admitting the flaws in our reasoning, and taking seriously the concerns of others. Whether you support or oppose vaccines, make sure you do so with truth. If we make an error, admit it and correct your opinion if needed.

It also means being honest about our reasons. If you feel like you’re being led through discernment, have no fear saying so. You don’t need to justify it by appealing to obscure (or incorrect) data points that are far from conclusive. If you are willing to be vaccinated but have concerns about the government response, you should be willing to say so even if it doesn’t “fit the picture”. In both instances, your honesty creates opportunities for fellowship with believers or witness to non-believers.

Speak the truth. Vaccines may be an issue of conscience, but spreading falsehood is not. Whichever way you choose, it is still possible to be walking in sin — not because of your choice but because of deceit. Winning an argument is not more important than honouring God with integrity and truth.

Be careful in our accusations

The bible is full of examples of Christians who initially disagreed seeking clarification before rebuke. Where someone does wrong, especially an authority such as a church elder, we should be certain before we pass judgement and we should seek to resolve the issue with a few people before we make a big deal publicly.

Unsubstantiated accusations against one another are not helpful. Unless I can justify it from scripture, accusing others of “ignoring the Holy Spirit” or “being a sheep” is not helpful. I can’t accuse them of being “ignorant” or “corrupt” or “lying” unless I have evidence that is the case.

It is possible to be wrong without lying. It is possible to be cautious without being fearful. It is possible to agree with the government without being a government shill. It’s possible to disagree with the government without being a far-right terrorist.

It is possible to be willingly vaccinated and not want government overreach. It’s possible to be unvaccinated and still care about the health of others.

It’s not helpful to accuse the unvaccinated of being selfish if they have sincere concerns about safety. It’s not helpful to accuse the vaccinated of pitting “science” against “God”, since listening to science is not the opposite of listening to God.

This doesn’t mean we can’t point out where there may be problems with someone’s position, or that there aren’t some people with bad intentions in the debate. But we should consider the implications of our words and extend grace to those who disagree with us as much as possible.

Treat one another with respect and love.

The way we should approach matters of conscience is to say “if what I [do] causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never [do it] again, so that I will not cause them to fall”.

Furthermore, “The one who [gets vaccinated] must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not [get vaccinated] must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them”.

It’s not just about tolerating one another’s opinion. We’re told to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour”.

So ask how you can love your unvaccinated friend maximally? How can you love your vaccinated friend maximally? How can you outdo them in your genuine care and compassion for their concerns, not just your own?

We are grounded in our love of Christ, not separated by our vaccine status and we should be far more concerned about our own conduct than others. If both the vaccinated and unvaccinated are acting according to good conscience we can love one another without judgement and with genuine affection.

Don’t be driven by fear

We are told we should not have a spirit of fear or timidity. Our lives are to be marked by the peace of God, not anxiety since we can cast our anxieties on Him.

Now neither prudence nor discernment leading us to make our decision are the same as fear, and I’m not saying that concern about danger makes your decision wrong. But we’re explicitly told not to worry, meaning it is wrong for us to be driven by fear whether that fear drives us to impose vaccines on the hesitant or to avoid vaccines.

I would not dare to accuse another of their motives in making their decision, and I reiterate that I’m not trying to conflate prudence or discernment with fear. Rather, I would urge honest reflection on what is driving our decision, to see if we are motivated more by fear or by obedience.

Consider what your actions reflect.

Our call, as Christians, is to be Christ’s witnesses, to be salt of the earth and light of the world, and to make disciples. Physical protection or political victories are good things, but they are not our primary goal as the church.

So before you make your decision, consider whether your resistance to vaccines will create a stumbling stone for a non-believer who doesn’t understand your reasons, but only sees you risking their safety and failing to love your neighbour.

Consider how they might perceive your act as an unloving lack of care for their physical health, even as that’s not your intent. Consider that they may see you as unwise, or anti-science, or negligent and uncaring and that perception may impact their view on the whole church. Whether they are right or not is irrelevant if there is now an additional barrier to their salvation.

In the same way, before you treat unvaccinated people with disrespect or hesitate to meet with them, consider that your ambivalence to their concerns, social life and freedoms may also be a stumbling stone to like-minded unbelievers. Consider that your complaints may be seen as unloving scorn, and perhaps suggest to unbelievers that the church is as cruel and vindictive as we are accused of being.

Consider that if you demand that they be vaccinated you may be creating an unnecessary burden that God has not commanded. Consider that, even if your choice is a good thing, making that demand of others for your own safety may be sending a message that Christians fear death rather than that we are “not afraid of those that can kill the body”.

This is not to say that you let others dictate what your conscience tells you to do – we obey God, not men. It doesn’t mean that we change our opinions just based on what we think other people want, or what their opinion of us is.

And I’m certainly not saying that either position can’t be used for God. Unvaccinated people have an opportunity to witness by explaining the role of the Spirit in discernment. Vaccinated people have an opportunity to explain why their love for God and others leads them to meet every Sunday with unvaccinated people that the world fears. Both have an opportunity to proclaim that they care for others but do not fear their physical death because of the promised eternal salvation.

We are called to look not to our own interests, but to the interests of others, and consider that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Our goal is ALWAYS the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ — that He died for our sins and was resurrected to bring us new life so that we need not fear death.

For all our decisions, including our approach to vaccinations, we should consider how we may become all things to all men so that we may win some.


Vaccines are an issue of conscience for the church. Based on the science and biblical principles, I encourage all believers to joyfully receive the vaccines if their conscience permits. If it does not, then do not get vaccinated and I will still welcome you with open arms.

This is an opportunity for the church.  In the middle of the pandemic we, vaccinated and unvaccinated, are willingly giving up our rights, safety, concerns, and hesitancies to love one another.

We are giving up our fear and bending over backwards to make each other feel heard, valued, and respected. We are doing everything we can to be united and worship our God together, regardless of what other differences we have.

And then we are taking that attitude out into the world to love the people of our community.

What a witness that can be.


Appendix 1: Omicron

I’ve been working on this article for a long time, and the arrival of the latest omicron variant occurred just as I was finishing. The data on this is still in the early stages and I don’t think it would be valuable to try to re-write half the article to address it with the preliminary data we have.

With that said, it’s likely to be a burning question for some readers. So for those who feel I’ve earned their trust enough to be interested in how I would interpret the early data:

  • The omicron variant is more infective than earlier variants but seems to be less severe. While this is good at an individual level, from a public health perspective this still has a lot of potential to cause excess burden and overwhelm the healthcare system.
  • The omicron variant is very good at evading existing immunity to cause infection. This appears true for both vaccines and prior infection, though hybrid immunity (infection + vaccine) is more robust.
  • Boosters also appear to improve protection but would likely have more benefit from modified vaccines that specifically target this variant.
  • There is still good protection against severe disease from vaccines (and likely natural immunity also). This is good evidence that transmission is likely still reduced, but not eliminated completely.
  • COVID therapies are also generally still effective, though some will likely be impacted.

I can’t stress enough that this is VERY speculative and could well turn out to be completely wrong. As time goes by data on this will become clearer, so definitely take those interpretations with a grain of salt. As it stands though, I don’t think this substantially changes the conclusions of the article.

Appendix 2: Natural immunity

I don’t discuss natural immunity too much in the article, because it’s not particularly relevant to the questions I’m trying to answer.

To explain, natural immunity is real and is perhaps even more effective than being vaccinated. However, there is significant variability in how well people develop it and the process of acquiring natural immunity requires catching the virus, which is the very thing that we are trying to avoid.

Most importantly, hybrid immunity, developed by being vaccinated either before or after infection, leads to even better immunity so there is still a benefit to being vaccinated regardless.

Therefore, whether a person has/doesn’t have natural immunity may well factor into their personal decision to be vaccinated and should inform a government’s assessment of how much “immunity” is in the population.

However, it doesn’t answer the question of whether vaccines work, are safe, are biblically commanded, or how it affects our response as Christians. Regardless of if we have natural immunity, we’re still faced with the same conscience issue.

Appendix 3: Why do the vaccines wane more against infection than against severe disease?

A very simplistic view of the immune system in the lungs, in the order it is encountered by the invading virus, looks something like this:

  1. Initial barrier – Made up of the mucus layer and cilia that prevent penetration and remove foreign objects, as well as the epithelial cells that forms a physical barrier. Most of this barrier is non-specific (i.e. just prevents anything getting in) although the mucus layer does contain antibodies that may target specific viruses.
  2. Innate immune system – an extra level of non-specific protection. Cells like macrophages and neutrophils just target anything “foreign” and can also produce different molecules that improve general “defence”.
  3. Adaptive immune system – Once the innate immune system detects a virus it activates the adaptive immune system, including B cells and T cells. B cells produce antibodies that both improve the initial barrier (step 1), innate immune effectiveness (step 2), and target the virus directly. T cells also ramp up responses from the innate immune system (2) and can target virus-infected cells directly.
  4. Memory cells developed – once the threat is eliminated the innate and adaptive immune system returns to “standby mode” since our body tends not to waste too much energy and excessive immune responses are harmful. However, a subset of cells is kept as memory cells that can rapidly ramp up the adaptive immune system next time the virus is encountered.

How does this relate to waning immunity? Well, a person becomes ‘infected’ if the virus overcomes the initial barrier (1). At this point, it enters our cells and begins replicating. With more replication, damage occurs through either virus-induced cell death or excessive immune responses.

So to stop infection, we need to have a really strong initial barrier (1), but to prevent severe disease, we just need to prevent too much replication of the virus. Therefore, if we have good innate (2) and adaptive (3) responses we can prevent severe disease.

The process of both infection (natural immunity) and vaccination takes us through all 4 stages of that immune response to leave us with some good antibodies in our mucus layer (preventing infection) and memory cells that are ready to respond next time we encounter the virus.

Over time, we gradually lose those antibodies preventing infection since we shut down the adaptive response after the infection was over. This makes us more susceptible to infection.

However, we still have those memory cells, so the lag between the virus overcoming the initial barrier (1) and our body activating adaptive immunity (3) is a much, much shorter window. So, there is less virus replicating, it does not penetrate as deep into our tissues, and we clear it much faster, which prevents severe disease.

Long story short — our body can only devote so much energy to keeping a virus out, but we can much more readily prepare to get rid of it once it gets here and the vaccines help with that.

This also explains why we see less of a waning effect for vaccines against other pathogens. Bacteria, since they don’t replicate inside epithelial cells, need to establish a niche near the surface of the initial barrier or even break down the barrier to cause a sustained infection. This means, our body has more time to activate that adaptive immune response before we end up with an infection.

A similar principle applies to viruses affecting internal organs, such as hepatitis, which have a greater length of time between the first encounter with the immune system and the establishment of infection. In contrast, the influenza vaccine, which also targets a respiratory virus, wanes at roughly similar rates to the COVID vaccine.

Author’s note: I’ve used COVID to describe both the disease and the virus for simpler reading. Technically, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus and COVID-19 is the disease caused by it.

Thank you to Mitchell Skipsey for your invaluable input.


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