By Jefferey Jaxen

With so little information public, and the information we do have is not genuinely encouraging, a cynical person might suggest the only thing breathless media coverage of Covid vaccine news has done is create pump-and-dump stock opportunities for investors. 

As Bloomberg wrote: There’s ‘a wave of euphoria’ surging through global finance markets. Hooray? Pfizer’s latest stock surge was supported by press release hopium rooted in Science™. Like corporate media’s reporting on vaccine Science™, inconvenient truths are misrepresented, glossed over or outright ignored. 

Just as Pfizer’s recent press release hyped its first interim analysis from its phase 3 study, the company’s CEO Albert Bourla sold 61% of his stock,  netting him a cool $5.6M.

The sale was part of a pre-scheduled 10b5-1 trading plan. So were Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks and their CEO Stephan Bancel,  who made $63,069,210 and $58,591,783 respectively over the last six months with the world’s eyes on their vaccine development milestones. Optics be damned, as the companies simultaneously gobble up taxpayer money while their leadership unload stocks at record pace.

Science™ by press releases get dissected almost immediately nowadays, laying bare their shortcomings. Covid vaccine makers and their front men are throwing out big numbers to grab headlines across corporate media. Operation Warp Speed head contractor Dr. Moncef Slaoui said Friday, speaking from the White House Rose Garden (through a mask), that 20 million Americans could receive the shot by December. Followed up with 25-30 million each month after that. 

Two narratives are running parallel throughout media to direct two different types of consumers. While the ‘pump and dump’ headlines target investors, the ‘vaccine will save us all’ reporting aims at the eventual mandatory consumers. 

Sometimes the two meet in the middle and the veil lifts. For instance,  Reuters recent article Europe ‘must grit teeth’ on COVID-19 as vaccine euphoria fades

Reading between the lines, Reuters might be telling investors to be on the lookout for the next Science™ by press release before making any financial moves, while commoners in Europe under second lockdown, “must grit [your] teeth.” Or perhaps another translation: Don’t mistake our media hype aimed at investors to think you’ll get out of your [second] unscientific lockdown anytime soon, Europe! 

Similarly, Yahoo News ran the headline, Pfizer vaccine could be key to conquering COVID-19 — but don’t throw away your mask yet. One statement message for investors, another for people under authoritarian edicts. 

A recent BMJ analysis by Peter Doshi reviewed Covid vaccine frontrunners. Current trials, hyped at every turn, aren’t designed to save lives. Doshi writes, “None of the trials currently underway are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospital admissions, use of intensive care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.” 

He continues, “In all the ongoing phase III trials for which details have been released, laboratory confirmed infections even with only mild symptoms qualify as meeting the primary endpoint definition. In Pfizer and Moderna’s trials, for example, people with only a cough and positive laboratory test would bring those trials one event closer to their completion.”

So why are we waiting for a vaccine to save us when its basic metrics aren’t designed to do so? In the early days of the coronavirus response, all measures were predicated on things going back to normal once the vaccine arrived. Now headlines have drastically changed. Lockdowns are here and increasing and your masks aren’t coming off when the vaccine savior arrives. 

Yet that’s not stopping Ticketmaster or the airlines. Both are now considering digital vaccine verification to attend concerts or travel. A exclusive reports, “After purchasing a ticket for a concert, fans would need to verify that they have already been vaccinated (which would provide approximately one year of COVID-19 protection)”  Where the claim ‘approximately one year of COVID-10 protection’ comes from is anyone’s guess. 

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum’s CommonPass [for the commoners] is being tested for international flight travel. The CommonPass takes traveler’s vaccine status or Covid test and prints out a scannable QR code used by airlines or border officials.   

Then there’s Microsoft founder and not a doctor Bill Gates who previously claimed countries could be back to normal by “late 2021” if a vaccine is found. The Sun reports that Gates will meet with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “plan a national vaccine rollout plan with the pharma giants.”

Johnson has taken criticism for announcing a second lockdown, a move he deemed a ‘nuclear deterrent’ not to be embarked upon again after the collateral damage and life-years-lost recorded from the first round of UK lockdowns. 

Even the notorious Dr. Fauci’s flip flops are now openly abusive as he ratchets up the rhetoric. Fauci recently stated the UK and US are countries that “have that independent spirit.” But now is the time to “do what you’re told” continued Fauci with an uncomfortable laugh.

Upon Pfizer’s latest press release, The Lancet’s editor-in-chief Richard Horton tweeted: 

Unfortunately for many like Horton, the realization should be arriving that public trust may have never been a primary goal of vaccine-makers. Science™ regularly takes a backseat to profits and ethics [see Pfizer hit with $2.3B largest criminal fraud fine in history by Justice Department]. And even when proper science should be followed, it is often sidestepped. Regularly failing to use inert placebos during vaccine trials, using trial designs with obscenely short observation windows to monitor serious adverse events, refusing to conduct vaccinated vs unvaccinated trials to compare total health outcomes and deep conflicts of interest are all in a day’s work for vaccine makers. 

It should be noted that one of the biggest retractions in modern history by a journal, The Lancet, happened on Horton’s watch. The investigation leading to the retraction wasn’t prompted by some internal watchdogs or misinformation czars, it was driven from public pressure by independent scientists and researchers.

Second waves of lockdowns are upon us. Many who thought the vaccine would return us to normalcy have had a rude awakening. Since we are given no clear exit plan by ‘officials,’ perhaps it’s time to make our own.

Jefferey Jaxen

Jefferey Jaxen is a health journalist and featured in his weekly segment, ’The Jaxen Report’, on The HighWire. As an investigative journalist, researcher, and compelling writer, Jefferey serves as Lead editor of The HighWire News and Opinion Team.