• Heather Caslin

Rebuttal to Frank Shallenberg "dissertation" circulating on Facebook

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

I refuse to link to the 14 point post, but I have no issue refuting here.


First, always check your sources. Frank Shallenberg has twice had his medical license revoked for actual medical malpractice (http://faculty.uml.edu/sgallagher/california_medical_board_case_ag.htm ). He also claims to experiment on his own patients using therapies that have not shown to be effective in his defense?!? (http://www.truthaboutshallenberger.com/). While he uses his likeability by colleagues and love for "natural remedies" as a selling point, I really need to stress that we should hold both medicine and "natural remedies" to the same standards of safety and efficacy and he has no history of doing that. Additionally, let's talk conflict of interest. If this guy convinces you not to take the vaccine but to use "natural remedies" like vitamins and ozone, he can make money on that. That's absolutely a known conflict of interest. If you’d prefer more trustworthy sources, please check out the bottom on this document.


But anyways, let’s go point by point.

1) Just because we haven’t licensed mRNA vaccines does not mean “we have absolutely no idea if they’ll work or if it will be effective or safe.” We’ve been developing mRNA vaccines for 20 years or so now, and we’ve had many in clinical trials over the past 5 years. I’ll provide a few examples below. Here’s data from an mRNA vaccine for influenza. Additionally, Moderna’s site lists their clinical trials for vaccines for the Chikungunya virus, CMV, Zika, and specific cancers. And we specifically run clinical trials (3 phases after completing animal testing- all of which were done on the COVID vaccines) to test for safety and efficacy. The data from both Pfizer and Moderna is public knowledge and it looks so much more promising than we had even hoped. The efficacy is incredible (with the vaccine reducing ~95% of symptomatic infections) and no concerning side effects or adverse effects beyond beneficial immune responses (soreness, redness, swelling, fever, fatigue within 1-2 days). Moreover, we are continuing to monitor all ongoing studies and have many many mechanisms to study community safety (VAERS, CISA, VSD, etc).


2) We know a whole lot about the process by which DNA is transcribed to RNA which is translated into protein. This is called the central dogma in cell biology. And we also exploit this process for many many many lab techniques. We know that mRNA is like a snapchat message and is available for translation for about a day, after which it’s degraded, and proteins have a limited lifetime as well. In the case of the spike protein, we know that it goes to the cell surface where the immune system can “see” it and start to develop a response.


3) PEG lipids have been shown in rare cases to cause anaphylaxis as they are in some processed foods and products, but this is very rare, is specific to the PEG molecule, and can be handled in a medical facility by trained professionals. This is why many practioners will have you wait ~15 min prior to leaving the office prior to getting a vaccine. If you have many severe known drug and food allergies, please discuss the vaccine with your medical provider. See some of these citations for more: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27196817/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4508945/, https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-019-0327-4


4) It is misinformation to list adjuvants and additives like aluminum, mercury, and formaledehyde or to say that we don't know the vaccine ingredients. The ingredients are as follows: 4 lipids to make an envelope, one mRNA sequence, salts to maintain the salinity/ pH, and a sugar to stabilize) for both Moderna and Pfizer.


5) Viruses all mutate at drastically different rates so we cannot use HIV and the flu to fearmonger about how SARS-CoV-2 will mutate. HIV and the flu mutate very quickly which is why we have not cured HIV yet and have not yet made a universal flu vaccine. However, SARS-CoV-2 is very different, it has not mutated much, and the mutations have not substantially impacted it’s functions or the vaccine efficacy. While we cannot yet say how long this vaccine will have efficacy against all strains of SARS-CoV-2, it will absolutely help to mitigate the spread now. And hey, if we really had to get a new vaccine annually, that’s so much better than the alternative- going through a pandemic with substantial loss of life annually!


6) We have no evidence that vaccines themselves cause cancer, heart disease, allergy, or autoimmunity, and in some cases like the HPV, vaccines actually prevent cancer. In cases like Guillian-Barre Disease, the flu itself actually causes the disease at a rate that's 17x higher than the vaccine, so the vaccine actually reduces your likelihood of the disease. Vaccine side effects occur within hours to weeks- which is why testing had to reach the 8 week mark in all participants before an EUA could be authorized. Patients were enrolled in phase I trials in March for both Moderna and Pfizer, so we already have ~8 months of safety data and will likely have close to a year of data before a vaccine can be widely distributed. Other mRNA vaccines have also been in phase I trials since at least 2015, and we have not seen adverse effects from those vaccines. Additionally, the phase III trials included not only healthy participants, but they also included both elderly individuals and those at increased risk for severe COVID-19, including participants with diabetes, severe obesity and cardiac disease for both Moderna and Pfizer. There have been no severe adverse effects reported in any of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine trials (~40,000 vaccine participants total). Moreover, Safety will continue to be tracked for 2 years in all studies, and phase IV trials may track longer. Additionally, every vaccine batch is tested for potency, purity, and sterility and we have many systems to record and evaluate safety data and concerns following distribution (VAERS, VSD, CISA + more)


7) I think it’s good that the public and scientists alike are asking if these vaccines are safe and effective. We should always worry about safety until we see actual data which is why you didn’t see scientists or physicians promoting the vaccines with full confidence until after the safety and efficacy data was released!


8) For each scientist or physician you can find that says they won’t be taking it, I can find like 20-100 more that will? While Dr. Linial specializes in computational neuroscience, I personally would prefer to hear from those studying vaccine development, infectious disease, and immunology (see bottom of page to hear from them yourselves). We’re all free to assess the risks and benefits for ourselves, and most of us won’t even need to make a decision til late spring or summer, as it will take a long time to roll this vaccine out to people and by then we will have a lot more safety and efficacy data.


9) See 7. I'm really glad healthcare professionals were wary about the vaccine before data was released and before FDA approval. I would not have taken the vaccine outside of a clinical trial without that information. We should always be asking for the safety and efficacy data- which is now released for both Moderna and Pfizer.


10) The flu is actually pretty low this year thus far, likely due to the major lifestyle restrictions in AUS and many countries in the southern hemisphere this summer, high rates of flu vaccination in the US, and measures like mask wearing and social distancing, however you can follow the excess deaths above normal plotted by week at the CDC. You can see we're still above average even considering deaths in a normal flu season, and our case rates, hospitalization rates, and death rates are still climbing. Remember for all new cases, it takes about 2 weeks to see an effect on hospitalization and 1-2 more to see an effect on death, so we have a long winter ahead since hospitals are almost full. Additionally, while PCR rates above 34 are debated from the standpoint of infectivity, they still detect DNA from the virus- and you're thus still a case.


11) If herd immunity were reached you would not see daily new cases increase and we are- everywhere. Even if we're underestimating the total number of infected people, we're well below the at least 60% needed to reach herd immunity.


12) You can't "completely trust what you hear from the media", which is why you should ask for references, and data, and find real experts to help you interpret it all. See below for my short list. Happy to provide many many more.


13) Yes, I'd love to see the Gates, Fauci, and Biden families all get the vaccine too, so that they're protected (assuming they qualify under the EUA which does not include children under 16). I know I'll be getting it, my whole family will get it, I'll post it online... Many people that I've linked below will likely post it online. I cannot wait.


14) Contracting COVID, the known risks are death (fatality rate 1.5-2%), severe illness (14%), critical illness (5%), and many have long term symptoms (see “long haul COVID”), even if you’re young and healthy. And even with a .5% death risk and 330 million people in the US, that’s 1.65 million deaths assuming hospitals do not get overwhelmed. We’ve seen hospitals reach their maximum in the spring and now again in the winter, and this increases the risk of death from COVID when appropriate treatments cannot be administered, and increases the risk of death from accidents, heart attacks, etc, as there isn’t anyone who can treat you when you come into the ER. Additionally, dexamethasone and remdesivir have limited clinical efficacy, but we have no cures and if any physician is saying they have one without the data, we'll they need to prove it. With data! Because that's how science works. So the benefits to the vaccine substantially outweigh the risks in almost all populations. Those who are pregnant or have immunosuppressive disorders or take immunosuppressive medications should discuss your specific risks with your physician.


Additionally, it's possible that the vaccine can provide longer, stronger immunity than natural infection. CDC will likely recommend that anyone that has had COVID also receive the vaccine, though full recommendations are still pending.

For more info:


https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html

https://www.immunize.org/handouts/

https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/topics/immunizations

https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines


Experts with relevant education and experience on Twitter: @virusesimmunity (viral immunologist),@angie_rasmussen (virologist), @epiellie (epidemiologist), @nataliexdean (bio statistics, infectious disease, and vaccine studies), @erictopol (physician-scientist), @ucheblackstock (physician and health equity advocate), @florian_krammer (virologist),


Experts with relevant education and experience on Instagram: @kinggutterbaby (infectious disease researcher), @jessicamalatyrivera (infectious disease epidemiologist), @jesseosheamd (infectious disease physician), @kizzyphd (vaccine development at NIH), @virus.vs.labcoat (virologist), @science.sam (neurologist and incredible science communicator), @dr.martaperez (OB-Gyn), @doctor.darien (physician)


Podcasts: Unbiased Science (Episodes 12-14 vaccines, others on COVID), Speaking of Science (Episode 14 with Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett on mRNA vaccine development),


Webinars: Mark Denison from Vanderbilt University, Kizzmekia Corbett from the NIH vaccine team

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