Long covid piece wins unwanted friends

4 minute read

A Queensland senator has pounced on an AJGP article, forcing its author to deny it is an 'anti-vax manifesto’.

Opponents to the covid vaccinations are clinging to a recent AJGP article as proof that the scientific community is coming around to the “truth” that vaccines can cause long covid, but according to the article’s author they’re misled. 

The article, published in the RACGP’s Australian Journal of General Practice last month, largely focused on the “health management and sociological challenges to Australian society” of long covid, as discussed in a number of the 566 submissions to the recent Senate inquiry, as well as the struggles face by individual sufferers. 

The piece also highlighted, somewhat disparagingly, the conflicting view of the Queensland government. 

“Conspicuously, the Queensland Government has a somewhat different perspective, attributing long covid to a predominantly nocebo effect,” said author Professor Robert Tindle, an emeritus professor of immunology at the University of Queensland. 

Queensland senator and outspoken covid vaccination critic Malcolm Roberts, who has previously referred to Pfizer’s vaccine as the “fakecine”, took to Twitter to tout the paper’s “stunning revelations from an entity that originally pushed the covid injections”. 

Senator Roberts focused on three elements “buried in the middle of the paper” that he claimed “explains the increased disease/deaths and long covid”. 

“There is concern that covid-19 vaccination per se might contribute to long covid, giving rise to the colloquial term ‘long vax(x)’,” the paper says. 

“The spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 exhibits pathogenic characteristics and is a possible cause of post-acute sequelae after SARS-CoV-2 infection or covid vaccination.  

“Covid-19 vaccines utilise a modified, stabilised prefusion spike protein that might share similar toxic effects with its viral counterpart.” 

Mr Roberts also drew attention to the article’s mention of vaccine approval without long-term safety data and increased risk of myocarditis after vaccination. 

Others have jumped aboard including retired nurse educator Dr John Campbell (PhD), who took to YouTube to tout his theory that the article represented doctors “trickling out” the truth about the vaccine, and UK MP Andrew Bridgen, who was ousted from the Conservative Party over a comparison between the covid vaccination and the Holocaust. 

Speaking to Australian Doctor, Professor Tindle refuted interpretations of his piece as an “anti-vax manifesto”. 

“The paper was a bringing together of some of the perspectives of sufferers, doctors, the scientific research community, politicians, health administrators and pharmaceutical companies on the current state of the long covid issue,” he said. 

“In no sense is it valid that the article be construed by anti-vaxxers as proof that the medical literature now recognises that covid vaccines cause long covid, although one can see that Dr Campbell’s interpretation may foster that view. 

“The paper is most emphatically not some sort of anti-vax manifesto for covid or any other condition.” 

Instead, Professor Tindle wrote that he hoped long covid was finally getting the attention it deserved. 

“The Australian Government’s promise of $50 million from the Medical Research Future Fund for long covid research will hopefully foment nationally coordinated long covid and covid research programs encompassing basic science through to models of care. 

“The above initiatives, plus the recent listing of the antiviral drugs, Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the updated Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ guidelines for managing patients, indicate that long covid is, at last, receiving the attention it requires.  

“Over time, the sentiment of those with long covid has become more positive, reflecting increased knowledge, acceptance and awareness of long covid and health system responses to the condition.” 

The RACGP stood by its decision to publish Professor Tindle’s piece.  

“The role of an academic journal is to be a channel for academic discourse, including vigorous debate, and that is what has occurred here,” a spokesperson told Australian Doctor

“We look forward to receiving and publishing any correspondence from readers who wish to engage with this topic and the issues raised within the viewpoint.”  

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