Members of the White House Covid-19 Response Team and public health officials have emphatically rejected baseless claims from a guest on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News programme alleging that vaccines are “dangerous and ineffective”.
Asked to respond to Alex Berenson’s remarks on the network, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Rochelle Walensky pointed to data showing that people who are vaccinated and boosted against the disease are “68 times less likely to die than if you are unvaccinated.”
“Our hospitals are full of people who are unvaccinated,” she said on 26 January.
White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci said “the facts are stunningly obvious when you look at the hospitalisation and deaths among unvaccinated versus vaccinated versus vaccinated and boosted.”
“There really isn’t much to say about that but to say that the facts speak for themselves,” he added.
During an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Tuesday night, Mr Berenson claimed that mRNA Covid-19 vaccines “need to be withdrawn from the market now.”
“No one should get them. No one should get boosted. No one should get double boosted. They are a dangerous and ineffective product at this point,” he said.
Such denialism, amplified across right-wing networks and rampant on self-published on platforms like Substack, falls flat against medical research and hospital data.
At the end of 2021, the infection rate among unvaccinated Americans was more than twice the rate of infections among those who were vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Another CDC analysis published last week found that a dose of Moderna or Pfizer shots reduces the chance of hospitalisation by 90 per cent compared to unvaccinated people, and reduces the chance of a trip to the emergency room by 82 per cent.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the deaths of 163,000 Americans could have been prevented if those people had been vaccinated.
On Wednesday, Dr Walensky underscored the continued high overall burden of infections in the US that has strained many local health systems, pointing to the overwhelming number of unvaccinated people in hospitals, and stressing that a more mild infection from the Omicron variant does not necessarily mean milder.
“It is of critical importance that people remain up-to-date on CDC’s recommended vaccinations,” Dr Walensky said. “I know many people are tired, but many of our hospitals are still struggling beyond capacity.”
More than 250 million Americans have received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while 210 million Americans have received at least two doses, and 85 million Americans received a booster dose, according to the CDC.
Roughly half of all eligible adults in the US have received a boosted dose, including 70 per cent of all eligible seniors, officials announced on Wednesday.
Officials announced that Joe Biden’s administration has shared more than 400 million vaccine doses with 112 countries.