A week after President Biden claimed people vaccinated against COVID-19 couldn't get infected, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky contradicted him and warned Americans that vaccination wasn't even reducing viral loads in infected people, making them vectors of transmission.
To justify his sweeping vaccine mandates for large employers and healthcare workers, the commander-in-chief continued claiming for several months that vaccination stops transmission, getting fact-checked along the way and challenged by data from around the world.
With the fully vaccinated and boosted Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) both contracting COVID in the past week, federal narratives on vaccine effectiveness are in sharp retreat, while the country is progressively souring on each new authorization.
Yale University epidemiologist Harvey Risch theorized on the John Solomon Reports podcast that the antibodies generated by COVID vaccines, based on a long-outdated viral strain, "don't bind so well" to newer variants such as Omicron.
"Those old antibodies are covering up the surface of the virus, keeping the virus from getting attacked by the new antibodies that the immune system is making" in response to newer variants, he said.
Less than 3% of children ages 6 months through 4 years old have received a first vaccine dose in their first month of authorization, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's analysis of CDC figures. Two weeks in, when the numbers peaked, only 1.4% had received a first dose.
This stands in contrast to figures for 5-11 year-olds, 9.3% of whom had received a first dose two weeks after authorization, KFF said. Full-series vaccination has stalled at two-thirds of the population ages 5 and up, and a single booster at 34%, according to CDC data.
Biden's breakthrough infection prompted his predecessor's coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx, to admit she "knew these vaccines were not going to protect against infection," telling Fox News host Neil Cavuto Friday that "we overplayed the vaccines." White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci, who served with Birx, recently made a similar admission.
Expressing such "misinformation" on social media was grounds for removal until recently.
Twitter permanently banned former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson a year ago for saying COVID vaccines don't stop infection or transmission, only reinstating him this month to resolve litigation after an unfavorable court ruling.
The social media company similarly flipped upon receiving a legal warning letter from epidemiologist Andrew Bostom, banned from the platform for sharing peer-reviewed research on vaccine side effects.
Birx nonetheless urged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted to protect against "severe disease and hospitalization," even while telling Cavuto that half of COVID deaths during the Omicron wave were in "older, vaccinated" people.
She claimed that taking Pfizer anti-COVID pill Paxlovid is "going to save your lives" regardless of vaccination or boosters, without mentioning its association with COVID reinfections. Fauci himself had such a "rebound" after taking a course of the antiviral for a breakthrough infection in June, which he followed with a second course in defiance of FDA recommendations.
Yale's Risch is doubtful about the evidentiary basis for the claims about reduced severe outcomes as well.
Fauci offered no evidence "that he would have been worse if he had not been vaccinated," the epidemiologist said, crediting "confirmation bias" rather than science for Fauci's conclusion. The boosters have not been available long enough to confidently declare they work well against recent Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, Risch added.
The failure of Biden's second booster to protect him from infection less than four months after receiving it is provoking wider skepticism of ongoing federal policy.
The U.S. Open cited the "U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens" to bar from this year's tournament unvaccinated Novak Djokovic, who just won Wimbledon and needs just one more Grand Slam singles title to tie Rafael Nadal for the all-time lead.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee blasted the president to the Daily Mail for the "absurd" ban on entry for unvaccinated foreigners.
University of California San Francisco epidemiologist Vinay Prasad questioned the basis for the ban, noting unvaccinated fans will be in the tournament audience.
"In case they don't know, vaccinated people can spread the virus readily," Prasad wrote in his newsletter. "You could airdrop a million Novak Djokovics in the US, and the pandemic will proceed exactly as it otherwise would."
"Covid: so mild that the man on the left can 'work' through it, so dangerous that the man on the right is not allowed into the United States because of it," Berenson wrote in a tweet thread, contrasting the treatment of newly infected Biden to Djokovic, who recovered from COVID last year.
Another user recommended Djokovic cite Fauci himself, sharing an 18-year-old C-SPAN clip where the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director advised against flu vaccines for those who currently had or recovered from infection.
U.S. regulatory agencies "are all corrupted ... from their pharma involvements and control," Risch said, with the FDA and CDC advisory committees using "cherry-picked" data such as "antibody bridging" to demonstrate vaccine efficacy.
Short studies with small populations, as were used to justify the latest emergency use authorization, are "all tricks of the trade that drug companies have perfected to avoid being scrutinized for the harms that their products will eventually cause," he said.