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US vaccine sceptic challenges Health NZ, hoping  for groundbreaking vaccine data

In brief

  • Steve Kirsch challenges Health NZ/Te Whatu Ora to publicly analyse and share COVID vaccine data.
  • He argues that hiding data harms public health. 
  • New Zealand’s unique COVID vaccination timing allows for insightful research on vaccine efficacy.
  • The recent government change supports the possibility of a comprehensive, unbiased inquiry into the pandemic response.

Leaked records fuel vaccine efficacy debate

American vaccine sceptic Steve Kirsch says NZ is missing a world-leading research opportunity that would answer the covid vaccine efficacy question once and for all.

Kirsch’s challenge to Health NZ is an opportunity to collect vital world-class data on the vaccine’s efficacy, because of NZ’s unique experience with COVID.

A leak of four million vaccination records in late 2023 from NZ’s “pay per dose” vaccine program detailed individual patients’ vaccine doses administered at various healthcare facilities. 

The government’s reaction to the leak and the arrest of Barry Young, who leaked the data, sparked further controversy. 

Steve Kirsch’s challenge

Kirsch’s challenge to Health NZ is to publicly analyse and share their COVID vaccine data to prove that the vaccines saved lives. 

He believes that public health data should be accessible to the public and argues that hiding such data is detrimental to public health. 

Kirsch offers to remove the leaked data from his site if Te Whatu Ora publishes their analysis and engages in a live, public discussion about the findings. 

He suggests that the refusal to analyse and share the data indicates the vaccines may not be as safe as claimed, implying that the health authority has something to hide.

NZ’s unique situation in regards to COVID vaccinations

New Zealand’s situation during the pandemic is unique because the vaccine was introduced before COVID became widespread. This allows researchers to gain insightful data on the effects of vaccination with fewer variables. 

Vaccine efficacy can be assessed in a naive (in a good way) population

By vaccinating a population that had minimal prior exposure to the virus, researchers can observe the direct effects of the vaccine without the confusing influence of natural immunity from prior infections. 

This helps in determining the true efficacy of the vaccine in preventing infection and severe disease.

Examine public health outcomes

Researchers can analyse the immune response generated by the vaccine in individuals who have not previously been infected.

By comparing health outcomes (such as infection rates, hospitalisation rates, and mortality) in NZ to those in countries where the virus was already widespread before vaccination, researchers can assess the broader public health impact of preemptive vaccination.

NZ’s situation allows for the study of the population-level effects of vaccination in achieving herd immunity. Researchers can observe how vaccination coverage correlates with the control of virus spread in a previously unexposed population.

Political timing improves the chances of a comprehensive inquiry

The new government was not responsible for the response to the pandemic or the vaccine roll out. This political context may make it more feasible and unbiased to conduct a thorough investigation. 

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