Thursday, February 16, 2023

Australian health agencies are inspiring misinformation on Covid vaccine injuries

The issue of Covid-19 vaccination injuries and deaths have been largely ignored by the media. It’s a dangerous business which allows misinformation to flourish.

There have been some notable exceptions.

Last month, Christine Middap’s sensitive article in The Weekend Australian included profiles of people who had suffered serious Covid-19 vaccine injury. And Chris Kenny recently drew attention to the problem in a thoughtful way on his program on Sky News.

The figures on vaccine related injury should be widely available, published by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to the point where even the incurious will have a broad understanding.

The compensation scheme, known as the Covid-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme is administered by Services Australia. The scheme was announced by then health minister Greg Hunt as the vaccines were rolled out in the first half of 2021. Therein lies an acknowledgment that Covid-19 vaccines were likely to cause injury and death in rare cases.

Less than 10 per cent of 3206 claims have been approved. Most of the remainder are still being considered.

These are Australians who have suffered injury as a result of taking the Covid vaccine and they should not be forgotten or cast into a bureaucratic abyss.

Even obtaining an official figure on vaccine related deaths is fraught. My understanding from the often tortured TGA’s reports is that 14 Australians have died from severe adverse reactions to Covid vaccines, nine from Astra-Zeneca and five from mRNA based vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna. One of those five is an extraordinarily harrowing story of the death of a 21-year-old Melbourne woman in March 2021.

Those who suffered injury, and often extended periods of incapacity have been left to deal with the usual bureaucratic exercise that requires medical evidence, which may include but not be restricted to proof of hospital admission, sending the forms in, then sitting and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

In the United States, a similarly convoluted compensation scheme is in place. The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program is known to be a well-intentioned office but under-resourced and not fit for the purpose of dealing with thousands of claims and determining outcomes in a timely fashion.

At the end of 2022, there were more than 7500 claimants to the scheme. Some have been waiting for compensation for more than a year. I’ll leave it to the mathematicians to figure out the percentages of claims for Covid vaccine injury against the more than 600 million doses of the Covid vaccine administered in the US.

A void of information is filled with misinformation and the people perpetrating are armed and ready, bristling with falsehoods and deceit.

Stew Peters is a Minnesotan former bounty hunter who has developed a business model to achieve fame and fortune from the pandemic. He refers to Covid vaccines as “bioweapons”. Peters contends Covid vaccines are a means of global depopulation.

Peters’s pseudo-documentary, Died Suddenly, has been described as a “tsunami of anti-vax misinformation and conspiracy theories” by Science Based Medicine magazine. It has been viewed over 250,000 times on Rumble. The documentary makers were allowed to post the entire 69 minutes on Twitter.

The ersatz doco includes the appropriation of news items reporting on people who had suddenly died, many of which were probably not vaccine-related. Some of the sudden deaths exploited in Died Suddenly occurred before the pandemic.

Retired teacher turned writer in Los Angeles, Dolores Cruz, published an article in the Huffington Post about the grieving process she had undergone and written extensively about in two books. Her youngest son, Eric, had died in a car crash in 2017 at 24-years of age. The fake doco used a screenshot of the headline in the film, portraying his death as vaccine related.

It would be difficult to imagine more ghoulish behaviour. I reached out to Cruz recently, asking how she felt seeing Peters appropriate the death of her son.

“I want people to know that the suggestion that my son died from the Covid vaccine is completely false. I was angered to see that the title of the article I wrote for HuffPost was used in the documentary Died Suddenly. My article was about my grief and healing journey after my 24-year-old son died in a car accident in May of 2017 which was years before the pandemic began and has nothing to do with the Covid vaccine. The documentary has misappropriated how my son died and it hurts to have my son’s story used in this way,” she wrote.

But she was not surprised that it happened. “Though this has made me angry and caused hurt, sadly, false information runs rampant in the world today by way of news media, social media, and film and television.”

This fake documentary watched by a relatively small audience in global terms has now taken on a life of its own as a hashtag that runs across every possible social media platform, republishing every newspaper headline, every media article, small or large, where the phrase ‘died suddenly’ is mentioned and aggregates them to infer people have died suddenly from vaccine-related injury.

Liberal MP Russell Broadbent is advocating on behalf of the thousands of Australians who have experienced an adverse reaction after getting a… COVID-19 vaccination. “They feel … they are not being heard, they don’t feel like they are being justly treated by governments,” he told Sky News host More
On Saturday February 13, a Belgian goalkeeper, Arne Espeel, died suddenly while playing in the second division league in Belgium for Winkel Sport B. According to reports, Espeel made a save and then collapsed. He was attended to by a doctor at the ground and a defibrillator was used. The attempts to save his life failed and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

And there it was again. A flurry of Died Suddenly hashtags amid anti-vax comments on social media.

Espeel’s sudden death comes after a bogus review announced that 108 footballers had died suddenly in 2021. The original report was published in Hebrew but was subject to a Reuters Fact Check that found that, of the 108, only a few died playing soccer. There were archers, American footballers, hockey players – both on ice rinks and on fields, rugby league and union footballers. Some were not playing at all, including a cricket coach, and a golf caddie.

What the misinfo shouters didn’t account for is that FIFA established a sudden death register in 2014 due to concerns that had risen over decades that men and women playing soccer were dying on the pitch at a fairly high rate.

In the five-year period 2014-2018, the sudden deaths of 617 footballers were registered with FIFA, on average 123 in any year. Elite players were less likely to suffer sudden cardiac arrest due to elevated fitness levels and were more likely to survive these events due to the increased likelihood of being attended to by skilled first aid practitioners and the presence of defibrillators. Nevertheless, the study published in the British Medical Journal and peer reviewed found that five per cent of the 617 deaths came from the elite level.

Misinformation is easy to create and requires ten times the energy to refute. ‘Died suddenly’ should not be a loaded term but that’s where we are now.

The issue of proper and prompt redress to people who have suffered Covid vaccine injury and those who spread misinformation is deeply entwined. Morally, those who have suffered injury should not be pushed into the shadows, collateral casualties of a rush to vaccinate. But more so, the vacuum created by bureaucratic babble and evasion will always be filled by misinformation. The truth gets left dazed and bruised by the roadside.


‘We were all forced’: Mum of ‘healthy’ 21-year-old who died after Moderna blames vaccine mandates

Natalie Boyce was a “fit and healthy” student who dreamt of travelling the world and buying her own home.

The 21-year-old from Rowville in Melbourne’s southeast — a competitive netball player and hardworking student in her fourth year of law and commerce at Deakin University — would have turned 22 on Monday.

Nearly one year ago, on March 27, 2022 — her late grandmother’s birthday — Natalie died of heart failure at The Alfred Hospital, six weeks after receiving a booster dose of the Moderna vaccine.

“You’ll never be the same,” her mother Debra Hamilton, 52, told “No parent should bury their child — especially from medical negligence and a compulsory vaccine.”

Ms Hamilton, a single mother who raised Natalie and her older brother alone, says their tight-knit family group has been torn apart by the “horrific” ordeal, and is now demanding accountability for her daughter’s “brutal, unnecessary death”.

The tax agent is furious at Victoria’s health system for mistreating and misdiagnosing her daughter until it was too late, at the government of Premier Daniel Andrews for “forcing” the vaccines on the public without proper long-term safety data, and the federal medicines regulator for its handling of Natalie’s case.

Blood clotting link

She also alleges that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) should have flagged a risk for antiphospholipid syndrome, an uncommon blood clotting disorder estimated to affect one in 2000 people, mainly young women.

Natalie, who had no other major health issues, had been diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome as a 15-year-old by chance while having her appendix removed.

Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick, a vocal and at times controversial critic of Covid vaccines, contacted the TGA in October 2021 calling for Moderna to be pulled for young people, as it had been in a number of Nordic countries.

“He wrote to them in October 2021 to have Moderna pulled,” Ms Hamilton said. “If they’d done that she’d be alive. A lot of people don’t even know they’ve got [antiphospholipid syndrome]. Had I known what the Senator had said back in October, there was no way in a million years I’d have let her have another one.”

Natalie received two doses of Pfizer in September and October 2021, followed by the Moderna booster on February 18, in order to keep her job at fleet management firm LeasePlan — as well as attend in-person classes at Deakin University — under the state’s sweeping vaccine mandates at the time.

“I don’t blame her workplace to be honest,” Ms Hamilton said.

“My workplace had to check people’s vaccination status. We were all forced by Daniel Andrews. We were forced by government regulations. At my workplace they turned up to audit us and had we not complied it was going to be a $10,000 fine.”

In a heartbreaking account shared with the “Jab Injuries Australia” Instagram page this week, Ms Hamilton described how the morning after her booster Natalie fainted in her bedroom, falling and hitting her head on her ensuite cabinet.

Ms Hamilton rang the Covid vaccine helpline but “they were dismissive, telling me to call an ambulance if I think I need one”.

“Natalie assured me she would be OK so I just monitored her,” she wrote.

“She said she felt sick and tired so she went to bed for the day. Natalie continued to be sick for the next six days with stomach pain, vomiting and a fever.”

Natalie’s condition continued to deteriorate despite multiple trips to doctors and several different hospitals, including a nearly 16-hour stay at Monash Hospital in Clayton, where she alleges health workers failed to check Natalie’s heart despite several warning signs.

On March 5, with Natalie experiencing difficulty breathing and drifting in and out of consciousness, Ms Hamilton drove her to Mulgrave Private Hospital where the emergency doctor “immediately diagnosed” Natalie as being in heart failure and recommended she be transferred to The Alfred Hospital.

“Natalie was transferred to The Alfred in an ambulance about 2.15am Sunday morning,” Ms Hamilton wrote. “While putting her in the ambulance, the AV doctor told me to hop in and have a final talk to her. Little did I know that would be the last time Natalie and I would speak. She never woke up again.”

In September, the TGA confirmed that “a young woman in her 20s” had died as a result of myocarditis after taking the Moderna vaccine — marking the first time Australia’s medicines regulator officially linked a death to heart complications from either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.

Natalie had not been publicly identified until now.

To date, the TGA says it has identified 14 deaths linked to Covid vaccines from 973 reports received and reviewed — 13 after AstraZeneca and one after Moderna.

“The panel agreed with the TGA’s assessment that the myocarditis the woman experienced was likely to have been related to vaccination given the available information, including the absence of other apparent causes of the myocarditis, and the time frame for the onset of symptoms,” the TGA said at the time.

“However, the panel acknowledged there were several other complicating factors that may have contributed to her death.”

But the TGA insisted that “current evidence tells us at a population level, the risk of myocarditis and other heart problems after Covid-19 infection is higher than after Covid-19 vaccination”.

“Given this, the expert group reaffirmed that overall, the benefits of vaccination continue to far outweigh the risks for the mRNA vaccines,” it said. “However, they have recommended that the existing warning about myocarditis be strengthened in the prescribing information for Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna).”


Parents flock to private schools amid public system exodus

Given the chaos at many State schools, any parent who could afford to opt out would want to

Parents are sending their children to the state’s independent schools in record numbers, while the share of students enrolled in public schools has plunged to its lowest level in 15 years.

There were thousands fewer students enrolled in NSW public schools last year as families increasingly opted for a private education.

Official data released on Wednesday showed that 63.7 per cent of NSW students attended public schools in 2022 – a fall from 65.5 per cent five years ago. The proportion of students in independent schools has surged to 15.1 per cent, up from 13.3 per cent in 2017.

Catholic schools have remained relatively steady, with their share of students rising slightly to 21 per cent in 2022.

Families flocking to new housing developments on the city’s fringe are partly behind the surging enrolments in new and low-fee independent schools, according to Helen Proctor, a professor of education at University of Sydney.

“The new private schools are marketing themselves well, and the price point is really attractive to parents. These schools are also heavily subsidised by public funding, unlike the older and wealthier schools,” she said.

The exodus of students from public schools is a longer-term trend that has occurred while the number of private schools with fees between $5000 to $10,000 has grown, said Glenn Fahey, an education research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies.

“It comes as little surprise to see an increasing flight of parents to private schools. This is a trend that had been going for some time,” he said.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the government supported parents’ freedom to choose which school they enrol their children in. “We also support the growth of low-fee non-government schools in high-growth areas through capital funding,” she said.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the state’s independent school enrolments grew by 6570 in a year to reach 187,913 – the highest on record.

Association of Independent Schools NSW chief executive Margery Evans said enrolment growth had occurred in low and mid-fee Anglican, Islamic and Christian schools in Sydney’s newer suburbs.

“Demand for places in many independent schools exceeds supply, and schools report having scores of names on their waiting lists and, in some cases, hundreds of students are turned away,” Evans said.

Sydney’s private schools, many of which have increased fees by 4 to 7 per cent this year, have been lobbying to increase student caps, with principals warning restrictive student caps are creating huge enrolment pressures.

The ABS figures reflect a national trend, with independent schools across Australia recording the highest growth rate at 3.3 per cent last year, followed by Catholic schools at 1 per cent. Enrolments in government schools fell for a second year running, down by 0.6 per cent across the country.

Ellouise Roberts, head of education statistics at the ABS, said the proportion of students enrolled in independent primary schools was growing, with about 12 per cent of NSW students in private primary schools.

“This increase in the primary school share for independent schools has been continuing over a few years,” she said, noting that these proportions are much higher for high school, with 18.5 per cent of secondary students in NSW independent schools.

Across all schools, private schools had a lower student-to-teacher ratio (11.7 students to one teacher) than government schools (13.4 students to one teacher) and Catholic schools (13.6 students to one teacher).

Principal Alan Dawson at Richard Johnson Anglican School in Oakhurst said demand was increasing for low-fee private schools in high-growth areas in the city’s north-west. “Our fees are about $6400 for year 12 – parents really see it as value for money,” Dawson said.

“Even just in the past year to this year, we’ve seen a 44 per cent increase in a year at our Marsden Park campus. This is mainly due to a lack of public schools in this growth corridor,” Dawson said.

Leppington Anglican College principal Michael Newton’s school in south-west Sydney opened its doors this year and already has 180 students.

“We’ve got kids who have come from other public schools in the area,” he said. “There are some big open-learning style classrooms – for some parents, their children have found that difficult.”

He said parents who enrolled their children at the $8000-a-year school valued how staff used explicit instruction to explain academic concepts to children and the attention they received from one classroom teacher.

“In our area, parents say they want a disciplined environment,” he said.

Nikki Kapsanis, who lives in Earlwood, chose Rosebank College for her children, Jonas and Alexis.

The Five Dock private school charges $11,400 for year 12. This is significantly below amounts charged at Kambala and SCEGGS Darlinghurst, the most expensive Sydney schools where fees have increased beyond $45,000 for the first time this year.

“For us, the school is up there with the elite schools but not with the cost,“ Kapsanis said. “The co-educational factor was a big plus, and it offers academics, performing and arts. We think the fees are worth it.”

“The kids went to our local public primary school but for high school we wanted a private education. As children get older and they become teenagers, they need discipline.”

ACU senior lecturer and former principal Paul Kidson said there can be a “misguided view” that there is major academic benefit to sending children to private schools. There are many reasons parents select independent schools including social status, religious affiliation and family connections.

“It will be interesting to see what happens with enrolments in low-fee schools as mortgage and cost of living pressures grow,” he said, adding that high-fee schools will be relatively insulated.


Australian supermarket giants have announced huge changes to their plastic bag policies as pressure mounts to reduce waste

The idea that paper and cloth bags are better for the environment is ideological nonsense. Producing both cotton and paper uses huge amounts of both water and bleach

Coles will be binning mesh produce bags introduced as part of a trial in the ACT last year, while Woolworths is disposing of its 15c plastic bags in Queensland and Canberra stores.

Woolworths Queensland state general manager Danny Baldwin said customer habits pushed the supermarket giant to make the move.

“Eighty per cent of our customers currently bring in their own bag, so over the number of years, I think customers have really responded to reusing bags,” he said.

“Also, a number of our customers are electing to actually not use bags at all.”

Mr Baldwin said that by removing the 15c plastic bags across the state and territory, the company would be “removing over 1600 tonnes of plastic from the system”.

It is believed that more sustainable alternatives to plastic bags will be available for purchase in-store, such as those made from paper and fabric.

Meanwhile, Coles will be swapping its trialled mesh produce bags for a compostable alternative after customers in the ACT found the transition “challenging”.

“We acknowledge a significant change of this kind was challenging for both our customers and in-store teams,” a spokesperson said.

“However, we remain committed to working towards appropriate and accessible plastic reduction initiatives for our customers moving forward.”

Originally published as ‘Challenging’: Big changes at Coles and Woolies




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