Operation “National Guinea Pig”? (You Should Excuse the Expression!)

“To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them?” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, lines 57-61)

We deal with a multitude of choices every day. For drivers: Can I make the light before it turns red? For shoppers: Should I buy this, because it’s on sale, even though I don’t need it right now? For the fashion minded: Will this match with that? For computer users: Should I open this attachment or not? For present life in Israel: To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is The Question! 

It started with a virus and rapidly spread to become a pandemic. People were getting sick. Some were dying. The race was on. The world needed to find a solution, a vaccine to protect against becoming infected with the virus. Pharmaceutical companies were challenged. Time was of the essence. Who would be the first to develop and to market a vaccine.

In November, 2020, Israel signed a deal with Pfizer, Inc., for 8 million doses of that company’s potential Covid-19 vaccine. According to Pfizer’s C.E.O., the same would be supplied after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (“the FDA”). The dose supply was supposed to be enough to inoculate almost half of the population of Israel with a two-dose application. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted the agreement as “a great day for Israel”, adding that the goal was to receive the vaccine within two months (January, 2021). Israel already had a deal with Moderna, Inc., to receive a future supply of its potential vaccine. 

Things moved swiftly from that point on. Pfizer received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA and the promised doses of vaccine began to arrive in December, 2020, a month earlier than planned. The media took over and pushed the need for the country to be vaccinated and the process began. Then the Prime Minister announced on Thursday of last week that as a result of its deal with Pfizer, all Israelis over the age of 16 would be able to be inoculated by the end of March and that “We are going to be the first country to beat the coronavirus.” He added that “Israel will be a model for the world for the vaccination of an entire country in a campaign called “Back to Life” and that the authorities here would share our “data” with Pfizer in an effort to help develop strategies to defeat the coronavirus.

It is important to understand what P.M. Netanyahu declared to the public, as it was the basis for Israel being able to get millions of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, that will exceed 10 million by mid-March, in addition to the half million doses of the vaccine produced by Moderna. As reported by Globes news service on 8 January, Israel would serve “as a giant testing trial lab for Covid-19 vaccinations” and that Israel would supply Pfizer with “data and details especially gathered for them, including the consequences of the inoculations, side effects, efficacy, amount of time it takes to develop antibodies. according to different types of population, age, gender, preexisting conditions etc.”. Put into colloquial language, “giant testing trial lab” is “guinea pig” (please excuse the expression!).

Obviously, not everyone was happy with the “deal” made with Pfizer, or the push to inoculate the entire country. Opposition began to develop in different circles, medical, immunological, epidemiological and legal. In order to quell the concerns, the Ministry of Health issued a statement, declaring that “The data is shared with the public on a daily basis and this is the same data to be conveyed to Pfizer” and that there was no concern of violating rights to privacy. One would have to be truly gullible to accept the claim that Israel committed itself to share data with Pfizer that was made public. If it was already in the public domain, why would it be necessary for Israel to make a deal concerning it? Pfizer could readily obtain whatever information it wanted by via the internet.

From a pharmaceutical-industry perspective, Israel plays a relatively minor role. Nevertheless, it is a preferred location for clinical trials of treatments and drugs for various reasons. Israel has digitized medical documentation on all of its citizens, which represent a very diverse population of some 9 million people. Its health system is small, but quite efficient, together with a strong research and development infrastructure. The data that has been accumulated, along with all of the statistical data that will become available following the inoculation of the masses, can be of major benefit for pharmaceutical companies. 

The big issue now is transparency and making available to the public the contents of the agreement with Pfizer. One such concern was expressed by Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, who expressed concern that Pfizer was promised “personal data rendered anonymized – that is citizens’ medical files from which names, addresses and ID numbers are removed.” In short, it is a person’s entire medical history. However, according to Shwartz Altshuler, the state of technology is such that “even data that has been rendered anonymous can be ‘de-anonymized’ [making it a] huge risk. But, the issues are more involved than simply being concerned about a violation of privacy.

Making Israel a “giant testing trial lab for Covid-19 vaccinations” is problematic also from a legal point of view. Without getting into the fine points of the law, medical experimentation in Israel on individuals is against the Public Health Regulations, unless there is compliance with very strict guidelines. Injection of an experimental drug into the body falls into the above category and is mentioned in the Regulations. A specific objection is that the experimental drug is still being tested in the U.S., and the testing period is supposed to end on 29 January, 2023. In other words, there is no final certification from the FDA, only an “Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)” of the Covid-19 vaccines for both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The reports relating to the “Emergency Use Authorization” of the vaccines from both of those two companies contain similar language, which includes, among other things: “The (name of the company) COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent COVID-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.” Other objections, among many, relate to the unknown effects of the vaccination on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or how it affects reproductive capability of both men and women. For a copy of the study performed by Pfizer “To Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability, immunogenicity, and Efficacy of SARS-COV-2 RNA Vaccine Candidates Against Covid-19 in Healthy Individuals”, see here, particularly pages 40-44, dealing with the Study Population. With all that being said, why did the FDA grant “Emergency Use Authorization” to both companies? The FDA can issue an EUA when, in its opinion, in the case of a vaccine, “the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks.” That, apparently, was the determination of the FDA with regard to both of the vaccines presently being marketed during the present pandemic.

As of this writing, over 1.9 million people here have been vaccinated with the first dose, with many thousands having already received the second. It is almost a given: people are expected to be injected. The “Start-Up Nation”, “Innovation Nation” is on its way to quickly becoming the “Inoculation Nation”. 

At the present time, the decision of whether or not to be inoculated is a matter of one’s personal opinion. But, with the numbers of those testing positive to the coronavirus spiking to over 9,500 yesterday alone, it would not be beyond the realm of reasonable thought to conclude that not only will the present lockdown be extended, but the pressure on the population to be vaccinated will increase. Eventually, the government may attempt to compel vaccination, indirectly, as a means of making it possible for people to be allowed to travel or to enter into certain facilities. Enter the “green passport”. When one’s livelihood is on the line, there is a tendency to yield to the pressure, even if the person is originally against doing so. Most of Israel, however, will agree to be inoculated and will volunteer to be part of Operation “National Guinea Pig” (my designation). The data regarding how the population will be effected by the drug will be accumulated and passed on. How it will be used and what benefit it will bring to pass remain open questions.

This is voluntary medical experimentation on a national level of an entire population. And the country agreed to pay an exorbitant cash price for the privilege of having an experimental drug injected into our bodies. Of all places, here, in Israel! 

First a crisis. Then the media steps in creating no small degree of panic. Then the government steps in and tells everyone that they need to be inoculated for the public good and their own benefit. What is next?

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is The Question! A remedy that is good for one is not necessarily good for all. This post is not intended to persuade you to not to take the vaccine. Rather, it is to inform, so that you can make an intelligent and informed decision should you choose to be vaccinated, as many have already done and many more will do, trusting that the benefit of being inoculated outweighs the potential harm. God grants wisdom to know how we are to live and what we are to do. Each of us should pray and be assured in our own minds and hearts whether to agree to be inoculated or not.

Whatever decision you make, may you be healthy and may the virus, in any of its forms, be kept far from your doorstep.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah … saying, “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ “For thus says the LORD God of Israel … ‘Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel …’ “Thus says the LORD, ‘Yet again there will be heard in this place … in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem … the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, “Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting”. (Jeremiah 33:1-4, 6-7, 10-11)

I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2).

And remember: Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Marvin

6 thoughts on “Operation “National Guinea Pig”? (You Should Excuse the Expression!)

  1. Marvin
    For some people being inoculated is never an issue. For others it goes right against their grain of thought. So yes it is a intelligent decision that we all will have to make.
    Vaccines have eliminated different viruses (eg. small pox, measles) over the years and others would say to let it run its course (common cold different influenza.)
    As our bodies are the temple of His Spirit then should we not look after our bodies. There are not words to describe our deep gratitude to God, the author of all truth We should and are overcome by sheer wonder that God has given us not only salvation but also a basis for living out all of life in the grace of His presence . God’s Word is not only Truth; it is surely also Goodness and Beauty. A question that I have asked myself plenty of times is: How now shall I live.
    Shalom Shalom Marvin
    Hello to the land and the people of Israel

    Like

    1. Reg, hi.
      Thanks for the comments. Indeed, each one needs to be careful how we treat this vessel of clay. The best thing about it is that we have an incredible treasure inside!
      Blessings always.

      Like

  2. Alon Barak

    The “INVITATION & ENCOURAGEMENT” to get vaccinated is daily. It comes from our community information posts, our regional posts, phone calls and messages from our medical provider. Maybe the most powerFULL tool is that repetitiously fear driven question. AND, this is from our friends and neighbors.

    “Did you get your vaccine yet?”

    Like

    1. Alon, shalom.
      Indeed, that is the question of the day. Everyone is asking it and wanting to know how others behave. This is a private matter for each individual. But, many people act out of fear resulting from lack of knowledge and because of peer pressure. Their decision to be inoculated should be the result of informed consent, which requires basic knowledge of the benefits, drawbacks and risks of being vaccinated.
      Blessings!

      Like

  3. I worked with a hospital and discussed my options with several established immunologists, one of whom I work together with, and with whom I’ve had opportunity to share the gospel with. I felt that, at least, for me, for now, being immunized was the right thing to do. This vaccination is far different from the flu vaccine, which I STILL refuse to take because I always get quite sick a couple of weeks afterwards. I also prayed that I would not be a “statistic” in terms of side effects and God answered my prayer. First shot, no pain, a bit tired, then OK. Second shot, arm hurt for a couple of days, slight tiredness, and 2 days later – fine. I know that it is not the same for other people, and for ALL vaccinations, everyone responds differently.

    I don’t know if one size will fit all… but knowing the numbers of sick people at Rambam and other local hospitals — with COVID-19, and that people are dieing from it, that it is starting to strike younger age groups with more severe illness… I am hoping that the vaccine is an answer to prayer and a demonstration of God’s common grace to help a hurting world.

    Having said that – I am horrified by the way this virus has also drawn out evil at a scale I never imagined, with political power, control, deception, and BAD science along with tons of fake news invading our lives like never before.

    All I know, is that each of us must shine brightly for our Lord whether or not we take the vaccine, and whatever our political persuasion…

    All we can do is act according to what the Lord lays on our hearts and trust Him… He will not lead all of us in the same direction, and so we must also have grace for each other…

    Nevertheless, your post presents a side I was quite unaware of… One thing I do believe though, is that this drive for immunization is truly being conducted out of a concern for the welfare of the society and to get us all back to a semblance of normality (whatever that will be in the future – because I don’t think anything will ever be the same). Perhaps that is naive of me, but I do hope that this is the heart of the people behind this drive, and am convinced that, at least for the people I work with, that is their motivation.

    Like

    1. Debbie, sincere thanks for your comments and for the time you invested in sharing. Genuinely appreciated. I am absolutely delighted that you came through the two inoculations with relatively mild side effects. May you remain healthy and protected, not only from Covid-19 and any of its mutated relatives, but from all harm of all kinds at all times.
      You are correct – one size does not fit all. Some, like you, made it through with few complaints. Others have been severely affected by the vaccine. Some were vaccinated who should not have been. I believe that most health professionals are truly hopeful that the push to vaccinate will help to stem the tide of growing morbidity, which has reached over 18,500 in the last two days.
      Still, there are concerns over committing the country to be a national testing ground for a pharmaceutical company. We didn’t get the vaccine for free. In addition to the financial consideration for receiving the vaccine, which is far from being chump-change, the effort is being made to get “everyone” vaccinated for statistical purposes. This places some people at risk and the population is not being given the proper information concerning the vaccine, so that people can give an informed consent. In addition to those who choose to be vaccinated, others will at some point be compelled to do so, as it may soon become a condition of receiving employment, or continuing to be employed. The “green passport” is about to be issued. It may be required to entire a government building or a public square. It will definitely be required in order to leave the country and may be required at places that cater to the public or to stimulate the return of tourism at some point. The fact that it is being designated as a “passport” means that people will be able to come and go if they have it.
      There are a lot of unknowns, not the least of which is the content of the agreements with Pfizer and Moderna. The bottom line is that we need to pray, as you did and do, for successful outcomes to the vaccination program. God is still the Great Physician and He can heal our land as easily as He can heal our bodies.

      Like

Leave a Reply to coasterride Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s