French ethics committee advises against rush to vaccinate teenagers
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June 11, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) -- One week after the French government announced that youth between ages 12 and 18 will be able to receive the experimental COVID vaccines starting June 15, the National Ethics Advisory Board (CCNE) published an answer to a question submitted by the Ministry of Health regarding the ethics of giving the jab to minors, stating in an official notice published Wednesday that the CCNE “regretted” that the decision to vaccinate adolescents had “been made so quickly” without waiting for its opinion.
The 19-page notice poses many questions regarding the benefits, or absence thereof, of the “vaccine” for young people and also underscores the imperfect knowledge both of the disease the jab is supposed to protect against and of its effects on young people because the phase III testing of the experimental vaccines is incomplete, and particularly so regarding teenagers.
The report also states that while parental consent is required for minors to receive the jab, adolescents should receive proper information about the benefits and risks in a form adapted to their own capacity of understanding. It also warned that COVID restrictions and the fear of further lockdowns could “pressure” them into accepting the vaccination.
Such a show of caution is almost unheard of from public governing bodies since the beginning of the COVID crisis, making the fact that the government has not overturned its hasty decision regarding vaccinations for adolescents appear all the more reckless.
Ironically, CCNE president Jean-François Delfraissy, who was reappointed to that position last April, is also the head of the so-called “Scientific Council” that has been steering government responses to SARS-CoV-2, including lockdowns, masking mandates and vaccine policy. To be sure, he decided to reserve his position on this particular question within the Ethics Advisory Board because of his role in public choices, including vaccinating the young. Be that as it may, he is now in a place where he is formally contradicting the advice of the Ethics Board he presides over.
The report makes clear that there are two types of benefits from vaccines: the personal benefit of the receiver and the collective benefit where vaccination aims at protecting the population at large (in this case, the elderly, through what it calls “intergenerational solidarity”). Interestingly, it recalls that the collective benefit can be invoked when vaccination protects the larger population from serious illnesses of which there is good medical knowledge. “We can agree that this is not the case for Covid-19, for which new characteristics are being discovered every day,” he said.
In the report, the CCNE underscores that if “collective immunity” can only be reached when 80 percent to 85 percent of the population have received the experimental vaccine (no clear studies exist regarding this proportion), the fact that only 78 percent of the population is over 18 years old and that some 20 percent of adults have said they will not take the vaccine, according to recent surveys, means that vaccination will not suffice.
At present, approximately 52 percent of the adult population in France have received the jab, and reports suggest that while more vaccines are available, there are now fewer appointments being made to receive the first shot than in recent weeks.
The report also affirms that “natural immunity” after an infection is a factor that favors collective immunity – something that is rarely stressed in official communications – even if it says its duration and efficacy are at present uncertain. However, it adds that in the group of 20- to 49-year-olds, seropositivity after a natural infection is higher than in the older groups, reaching more than 30 percent instead of 22.7 percent in the total population, and that this higher rate is probably also true for adolescents.
The CCNE even talks about “cross-protection” from other seasonal coronaviruses.
According to its report, it is necessary to take into account that very few youngsters actually die from COVID-19. The risk only exists in children over 10, and then, in the rare cases that it did occur, usually at least one serious underlying condition is present. There is a “very limited” personal benefit associated with coronavirus vaccinations for teenagers, it states.
The CCNE then goes on to describe the multiple negative effects of COVID restrictions that particularly affected young people and adolescents. It adds that the adverse psychological effects are lasting and will probably not disappear with the pandemic. “Children are vulnerable members of society who will possibly have new forms of post-COVID,” the report warns. Already, “anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression and sleep disorders” were higher during the long months when older teenagers followed classes at home on their computer screens. The report adds that masking and social distancing are not natural to children and teenagers, and states:
“The deleterious repercussions on the pediatric population of all the measures taken needs to trigger a reflection on the preservation of global health that cannot be limited to the imperative of non-contamination, especially since this specific population represents the reserve of energy, commitment and initiative for the common future.”
It even asks whether “the policy of prevention applied to the whole population could not be considered as excessive regarding the young.”
In another section, the CCNE stresses that while the phase III and IV trials of the “vaccines” are benefiting from the feedback related to “millions” of vaccinations, pharmacovigilance has not reached the same kind of precision for children, stressing that vaccinal reactions can be different in newborns, children, adolescents and adults. It adds that as young people have less severe forms of COVID, it is difficult to correctly evaluate the efficiency of the vaccine in preventing those severe forms in the adolescent population.
“The existing experience does not allow ensuring the full safety of these new vaccines in adolescents (…) and in children no data is available, although it can be noted that several tens of millions of adolescents have been vaccinated in the USA,” it notes, adding that “a few cases of mild, post-vaccination myocarditis in adolescents are beginning to be published.”
Do children and adolescents actually spread coronavirus? The CCNE warily replies, “The decision to vaccinate children and adolescents must therefore take into account their role in the spread of the virus. Although controversies persist, more and more publications show that children, especially those under 10-12 years of age, are not the most frequent source of contamination.” The risk is higher in teenagers, it remarks. It also stresses that infections most often occur at home in the adolescent population, even though schools have been at least partially open throughout the second and third lockdowns in France.
It then comments that “keeping schools, colleges and high schools open ensures equal access to education and a balanced diet for some, and allows for the social ties that are essential to the construction of the individual, especially for adolescents. These arguments could be in favor of opening vaccination to 12- to 18 year-olds. However, if vaccination were presented to them as their only chance to return to a normal life, this effective pressure would raise the question of the validity of their consent.”
Elsewhere, the report worries that “pressure on the part of society can implicitly oblige adolescents to receive vaccination” even though it is of no particular benefit to themselves. Refusing the jab may lead adolescents to be “stigmatized,” it underlines.
That is true, but also what is what is happening in many countries with pressure put on the adult population to get the vaccine so as not to be “anti-social” and to enjoy the “reopening” of society.
In its ethical considerations, the CCNE stresses that the well-being of the young is every bit as important as the protection of the old, even suggesting that it is more so:
“The vast majority of the adolescents showed real self-sacrifice in respecting the successive confinements, which were nevertheless the cause of a significant loss of opportunity for them in terms of learning at school, but also of a deprivation of social relations.
“After more than a year of constraints weighing on their morale and their psychic health, the question of their own vulnerability emerges and deserves increased attention. A society that leaves its youth in a situation of long-term suffering is a society that runs the risk of damaging its energy, its hopes and its future. It is in the light of this singular context that one of the ethical questions of the extension of vaccination to minors arises.”
It then asks, unfortunately, whether it is “ethical” to make the young bear the brunt of the refusal of adults to receive the “vaccine,” suggesting in substance that there should be more government propaganda in favor of adult vaccination.
But the French CCNE is conscious of the uncertainties surrounding the experimental jabs:
“Compulsory vaccination, especially in the adolescent population, is not a relevant issue at this time, but the motivation induced by the possible freedom regained through vaccination, particularly in the adolescent population, must ensure that such a practice is not harmful in the short, medium and long term. It also questions the notion of free consent.”
The CCNE also warns against possible future contamination in widely-vaccinated populations because of variants and less vaccinal prevalence in other countries, adding:
“Adolescents, like the general population, are at risk of being re-confined even though they will be vaccinated. This information must be made known to the young people who choose to be vaccinated and is at the heart of the process of obtaining their consent.
“The risk here is significant: if adolescents go for vaccination with the certainty that it will allow them to return to normal life and this motivation ends up being disappointed in reality, it is their trust in institutions that risks being shaken in the long term.”
Or perhaps even faster than that …
The CCNE concludes that it’s clearly advisable to avoid vaccination of children under 12, and given the absence of personal benefit, is wary of the vaccinating 12- to 16-year-olds, repeating that the American FDA greenlighted the practice based on its faith in only one study and that possible harmful long-term effects will only be known after the vaccination of “several million adolescents.”
“Is it ethical to solicit the participation of young people in order to achieve a collective benefit, knowing that this benefit concerns them, but that other measures could avoid it? According to the CCNE, it seems desirable, given the difficulties encountered and the specific issues related to a population for which social ties and learning are essential resources for life, to agree to vaccinate adolescents who request it against Covid-19, but after having received clear information adapted to this age group on the uncertainties related to the disease, to the vaccine itself and to its medium- and long-term effectiveness, as well as on the other alternatives available for preventing the disease.”
In a clear warning to the government regarding future restrictions, the CCNE concludes:
“Ensuring that adolescents over 12 years of age have free and informed consent to the vaccine implies assuring them at the same time that other strategies are implemented, in the event of an epidemic rebound, taking into account the evolution of the health situation, so as to spare their way of life, education, relationships and freedom, which, as all French people, whatever their age, they need for their vitality, and which are then considered to be proportionate with regard to the risk posed by the virus in this section of the population.
On Thursday evening, an “Independent Scientific Council” created in France by medical professionals and academics held its ninth online conference during which Dr. Eric Menat, a general practitioner, welcomed the CCNE’s official advice to the government and commented on the unethical nature of giving the experimental jab to young people “up to age 30” in his opinion.
Menat recalled that by May 18, 2021, of the more than 100,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in France, only 88 occurred in people below age 29, of which four in the 0 to 9 age group and nine in the 10-19 age group. The overwhelming majority of cases involving young people who died had congenital malformations, severe cancer or other serious diseases. No healthy teenager died of COVID, he insisted, concluding that “vaccination of the young is of no benefit to them, while its benefit for public health has absolutely not been demonstrated.”
On the other hand, public health statistics reveal a large number of severe adverse reactions. More than 600 deaths after the Pfizer jab alone, and thousands of serious side effects, with more than 1,100 of these affecting people in the 16-49 age group, even though they have received 10 times fewer jabs in absolute numbers than the elderly population, according to Menat, leading him to fear that the number and gravity of adverse reactions will be higher in the younger age groups than in the rest of the population.
Menat added that widespread vaccination of those younger than 30 would probably lead to some deaths of otherwise healthy individuals who are at no risk whatsoever of dying of COVID-19.
He concluded with a question: “Is it ethical to sacrifice people whose life is in front of them, to save the lives of people aged over 84?”