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A popular article by Steve Kirsch on his substack discusses the following:

A worldwide Bayesian causal Impact analysis suggests that COVID-19 gene therapy (mRNA vaccine) causes more COVID-19 cases per million and more non-Covid deaths per million than are associated with COVID-19 [43].

An abundance of studies has shown that the mRNA vaccines are neither safe nor effective, but outright dangerous.

[citing:] 43. Beattie, K.A. (2021) Worldwide Bayesian Causal Impact Analysis of Vaccine Administration on Deaths and Cases Associated with COVID-19: A BigData Analysis of 145 Countries. Department of Political Science University of Alberta Alberta, Canada

This excerpt is itself from a peer-reviewed study COVID-19 vaccines – An Australian Review by Conny Turni and Astrid Lefringhausen, which was published in the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Immunology. Is this an accurate reading of the peer reviewed study? Furthermore, is that study an accurate analysis of facts?

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    An interesting fact: the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Immunology by OPAST is similarly named but not the same as the Clinical and Experimental Immunology by OUP. And of course OPAST is on this list beallslist.net Mar 8, 2023 at 1:53
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    Calling it "gene therapy" is already very, very suspicious.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 9, 2023 at 0:48
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    @CGCampbell: well, getting a peer review completed two days after submission does look a little fishy, which correlates with being on that list. ("Submitted: 10 Sep 2022; Accepted: 12 Sep 2022") Mar 9, 2023 at 12:31
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    @CGCampbell Publishers who are predatory exist to publish anything easily. While it is possible and common for "good" journals to publish bad science, it is pretty much the publishing model of predatory journals which makes the likelihood of their content being good pretty low. they don't attract content by rigorous quality control, which would completely undermine their business model.
    – matt_black
    Mar 9, 2023 at 12:59

3 Answers 3

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In essence this is all based on the self-published (November 2021) paper by political scientist Beattie. To quote the main problem with it:

Beattie claimed to have analyzed the “causal impact” of COVID-19 vaccines on COVID-19 cases and deaths. To do this, he obtained data from Our World in Data, a public COVID-19 database, for the total cases and deaths in more than 140 countries for the past 12 to 16 months before vaccine administration began in those countries. He then used the data to create projections of what the numbers of cases and deaths at the current period would have been like without the vaccines. He then compared these numbers with the actual cases and deaths after COVID-19 vaccines came into use. This type of analysis, which uses aggregated data at the population level, is also known as an ecological study.

Because his analysis showed that countries had a higher number of cases and deaths after COVID-19 vaccines came into use, relative to the projected numbers based on the pre-vaccine period, he concluded that the vaccines were the cause of these increases.

But this conclusion is erroneous. Beattie’s analysis is fundamentally flawed because he failed to account for other variables that also directly affect cases and deaths (confounding factors), such as the spread of virus variants with increased transmissibility like Delta, public health measures that were applied at different times, and healthcare capacity.

There's a more detailed analysis/refutation at that link (based on vaccinated vs unvaccinated from a few countries), but here I'll provide the part most obvious to me.

Beattie essentially attributes deaths due to the spread of Covid-19 to the administration of vaccines themselves. This is most obvious when considering he calculates the highest increases for countries like Seychelles and Mongolia. Beattie attributes:

Seychelles: +10680% Vaccine Causal Impact on Total Deaths Per Million

Mongolia: +19015% Vaccine Causal Impact on Total Deaths Per Million

Arguably the spread of Covid-19 wasn't that well prevented by the Chinese (and Russian) vaccines compared to other vaccines used in the West. As the case of Seychelles would tell you, where they almost exclusively used Chinese ones. Mongolia also used some Russian ones, but saw high spread among the vaccinated too. But even these vaccines hardly caused any deaths themselves, from data that does distinguish between death by actual cause and vaccination status. Even in Mongolia, if you compare deaths among the vaccinated and unvaccinated in the same time period, you get totally different results than Beattie's, e.g. in July 2021 [when I could find a snapshot]:

Mongolia has fully vaccinated 53% of its population, with 80% of those people receiving Sinopharm, according to Enkhsaihan Lkhagvasuren, the Ministry of Health’s head of public health policy implementation. A fifth of Mongolia’s Covid-19 cases have been fully vaccinated, but 96% of Covid-19 deaths were in people who were either unvaccinated or had received just one dose, Lkhagvasuren said.

But Beattie's analysis attributes such deaths to the vaccine anyhow. He also considers any Covid-19 vaccine (mRNA or not) to be "gene therapy". So this is double cluelessness/dishonesty, if you like.

The analysis began with an inaccurate assumption by labeling [all] COVID-19 vaccines as “COVID-19 gene therapy injections”. [...]

(The Chinese & Russian vaccines widely administered were not mRNA-based. The vastly used Sinopharms vaccines used inactivated virus.)

In contrast Beattie finds that

China: -20% Vaccine Causal Impact on Total Deaths Per Million

which is 2nd lowest result he's got (only Vanuatu had a more negative result). He says something about possibly different batches explaining such different results between countries seemingly using the same vaccines. He doesn't seem willing to consider that quarantines/lockdowns may have had any (confounding) effect, which is another interesting/glaring omission from his model. On the other hand, Beattie is very excited about ivermectin. (China didn't use/approve ivermectin for Covid, as far as I know.)

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    Even the mRNA based ones cannot be categorized as "gene therapy", a term used for agents that affect the genome of the individual receiving the agent. The mRNA vaccines instead provide an mRNA molecule which is transcribed by the recipient's cells, this isn't remotely close to gene therapy.
    – terdon
    Mar 10, 2023 at 12:20
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    A great answer, and I'd go so far as to say that anyone describing covid vaccines as gene therapy is, at best, demonstrating a level of biological understanding far below what I'd expect from a first year undergraduate, and their opinion on it can probably be safely discarded
    – lupe
    Mar 10, 2023 at 14:02
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    @terdon: In fairness, under extremely rare circumstances, bits of the mRNA may be able to infiltrate the nucleus and get incorporated into the cellular DNA (mind you, this happens far more frequently with the actual virus's RNA, what with there being far more viral RNA sloshing around than you get in hundreds of vaccinations). But for the case of vaccination, we're talking about a tiny handful of cells (likely zero in most people), and 99.9%+ of the time, the immune system will kill any cell that actually changed behavior as a result. Mar 10, 2023 at 14:06
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    To be clear, I don't believe reverse transcription of vaccine provided mRNA to DNA has ever been shown to happen, but then, up until a couple years ago, we didn't know RNA of any kind could be transcribed back into DNA in eukaryotes (we thought it was a viral trick). Given we're infected by viruses constantly with none of them killing by DNA damage, it wouldn't explain any rise in deaths. Mar 10, 2023 at 14:09
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    In any case, even if in some cases the vaccine RNA is indeed integrated into the host genome (nice link, that, thanks!), that still doesn't make the vaccine work by gene therapy.
    – terdon
    Mar 10, 2023 at 14:36
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The study is not an accurate representation of facts, nor is it likely to be peer reviewed

A wider meta analysis of all available large COVID-19 safety studies was published by the Cochrane Collaboration, whose main role is large scale, statistical review of things like medical safety. It shows there are not a statistically significant number of serious adverse events after vaccination:

High-certainty evidence found that BNT162b2, mRNA-1273, Ad26.COV2.S, and BBV152 result in a large reduction in incidence of severe or critical disease due to COVID-19 compared to placebo

The article is unlikely to be peer reviewed:

  1. Predatory Journal - Journal of Clinical & Experimental Immunology's parent company, OPAST shows up on predatory publishing lists. The journal name closely matches Clinical & Experimental Immunology, a well regarded journal. This is a common tactic used by predatory journals.

  2. The paper had an extremely short turnaround between submission and publication.

    At the top of the paper:

    Submitted: 10 Sep 2022; Accepted: 12 Sep 2022; Published: 21 Sep 2022

    (Thanks to @Fizz for this observation.) This is concerning; it suggests there is unlikely to have been a meaningful peer review process. For context, this Academia.SE post lists some common review times. Biological papers advertise a 30 day turn-around as "fast".

  3. The, frankly, bewildering array of uncited claims and hyperbole in the review, which suggests, again, that no meaningful review or editing was carried out.

    "The question is how many deaths and side effects are we accepting as normal for vaccines and where do we draw the line to say more investigations need to be done before any further vaccines are distributed?"

    "The review is ending with some very critical question that need further discussion."

    "It is an amazing fact that natural immunity is completely disregarded by health authorities around the world"

    " Can we really trust any pharmaceutical drug approval by the TGA after this statement?"

    "Never in Vaccine history have 57 leading scientists and policy experts released a report questioning the safety and efficacy of a vaccine"

    "Medical experts that have questioned the safety of these vaccines have been attacked and demonised, called conspiracy theorists and have been threatened to be de-registered if they go against the narrative."

    "No discussion of new knowledge disputing the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is allowed. Who gave bureaucrats the means to destroy the fundaments of science and tell scientists not to argue the science?"

  4. The authors: Subject Matter Experts are typically invited to produce a review, with the aim of condensing down the current knowledge on the subject into a single paper. Neither author has the expertise to do this: Conny Turni researches antibiotics and vaccines in agriculture. Astrid Lefringhausen does not show up clearly in a research context, but there are references to her being an export manager for a biotech company. Neither work in a research context on human medicine, public health or in any field I'd consider qualified to write a balanced review.

  5. The article makes no attempt to present research which contradicts its own point of view. In contrast, this genuine review of RNA vaccines cites papers with contrasting conclusions throughout, attempting to draw balance between them. This would be the first thing highlighted by a reviewer.

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    The extremely short turnaround is often artifactual for real journals - the first submission is 'rejected' after review, and then the manuscript is revised and resubmitted with a new submission date. It's how journals cook the metrics to make it seem like they're doing fast turnarounds.
    – CJR
    Mar 11, 2023 at 16:47
  • @cjr but those journals often publish the full submission history including the date of any revised submissions.
    – matt_black
    Mar 12, 2023 at 9:41
  • @CJR I think that's why I'd not regard a two day turn around as a red flag, not complete evidence of lack of peer review. If it was a well polished paper, that had clearly been carefully edited, it'd be possible that it was rejected then resubmitted. I think the issues with this one are such that it's pretty clear it hasn't been.
    – lupe
    Mar 13, 2023 at 9:36
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The Australian study is flawed in that instead of looking at everyone that caught covid-19 and then examining the survival rate of these people according to vaccination status it only looked at the people that died from covid-19 and their vaccination status.

The first sample includes the healthiest people. The second sample is biased to mostly look at the oldest and sickest people. Since the oldest and sickest people are the most likely to get vaccinated the study leads to the false conclusion that it is the vaccination itself that increases the risk.

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