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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

NYT plugs US vaccines, quotes discredited Indian ‘expert’ in article on Omicron threat

New York Times has time and again displayed its anti-Bharat bias, and that has come to the fore once again in an article titled Most of the World’s Vaccines Likely Won’t Prevent Infection From Omicron. In fact, the article seems to be a thinly-veiled promotion for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which come from the US.

Some of the relevant portions of the article read:

A growing body of preliminary research suggests the Covid vaccines used in most of the world offer almost no defense against becoming infected by the highly contagious Omicron variant. All vaccines still seem to provide a significant degree of protection against serious illness from Omicron, which is the most crucial goal. But only the Pfizer and Moderna shots, when reinforced by a booster, appear to have initial success at stopping infections, and these vaccines are unavailable in most of the world. The other shots — including those from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and vaccines manufactured in China and Russia — do little to nothing to stop the spread of Omicron, early research shows. And because most countries have built their inoculation programs around these vaccines, the gap could have a profound impact on the course of the pandemic…

…The Pfizer and Moderna shots use the new mRNA technology, which has consistently offered the best protection against infection with every variant. All of the other vaccines are based on older methods of triggering an immune response. The Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac — which make up almost half of all shots delivered globally — offer almost zero protection from Omicron infection…

A preliminary effectiveness study in Britain found that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed no ability to stop Omicron infection six months after vaccination. Ninety percent of vaccinated people in India received this shot, under the brand name Covishield; it has also been widely used across much of sub-Saharan Africa, where Covax, the global Covid vaccine program, has distributed 67 million doses of it to 44 countries…

…But some public health experts say they believe that countries that have already been through brutal waves of Covid, such as Brazil and India, may have a buffer against Omicron, and vaccination after infection produces high antibody levels. “The combination of vaccination and exposure to the virus seems to be stronger than only having the vaccine,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, an epidemiologist. India, he noted, has an adult vaccination rate of only about 40 percent but 90 percent exposure to the virus in some areas. “Without a doubt Omicron is going to flood through India,” he said. “But hopefully India is protected to some extent because of vaccination and exposure”…

…Dr. Laxminarayan said the Indian government, to which he is an occasional adviser, was considering booster shots, but the Delta variant still poses a significant threat in India, and two vaccine doses offer protection against Delta. That presents the government with a difficult choice between focusing on getting people who remain unvaccinated, or only partly vaccinated, to two doses, or trying to get boosters to older people and those with high-risk medical conditions as protection against Omicron.

At the outset, it appears amply clear that an attempt is being made to push US vaccines while slandering those manufactured by other countries. It must be noted that Pfizer is in the dock for its unethical practices. Dr. Amit Thadani had explained why conventional vaccines would at present be a better option as boosters than the mRNA ones manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.

It is also pertinent to note that there is no mention of Covaxin, Bharat’s indigenous vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech. Covaxin has been the target of hit jobs by the anti-Bharat media brigade. It must also be mentioned here that the ‘epidemiologist‘ quoted by the New York Times is not even a doctor but holds a Ph.D. degree in economics.

OpIndia had revealed that Ramanan Laxminarayan was being pitched as an ‘expert’ on diseases and epidemics by the media so as to create Chinese Virus panic. The so-called health expert had predicted that Bharat would be facing close to 300 million COVID-19 infections and 2.5 million deaths due to the coronavirus outbreak by last year itself.

The OpIndia report on ‘epidemiologist’ Laxminarayan and his claims stated:

Ramanan Laxminarayanan actually claims to be an economist and has worked for a little-known not-for-profit organisation named Public Health Foundation of India for the last four years.

Ramanan Laxminarayan is also founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) in Washington DC, and also senior research scholar and lecturer at the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University. His claims of being an economist are also disputable.

According to BJP leader Vijay Chauthaiwale, Laxminarayanan while working with PHFI in India, had launched two private companies without taking appropriate PHFI permission. Later, PHFI did not renew his contract in 2016 and also sued him for stealing the NGO’s intellectual property…

…In a classic case of speculation, Ramanan Laxminarayanan said that India could be facing close to 2.5 million deaths if we are unprepared for the upcoming future. The so-called disease expert, however, failed to authenticate his numbers and did not reveal the source of data before inventing such fanciful numbers.

Moreover, his claims are basically a statistical modelling assumption and not clear facts. He did not even clear much about inputs he used to derive at such higher numbers of mortality. Rather, he has resorted to useless fear-mongering to create undue panic.

It is, however, not at all surprising that the New York Times touts such a person whose credibility can certainly be questioned as an ‘expert’. The article appears to be an attempt to make a case for Pfizer and Moderna rather than an objective analysis of vaccine efficacy in dealing with the new Covid variant.

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