VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI both received their first shots of the ethically and medically contested Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, a day before Norway reported 23 deaths in connection with vaccination.
"I can confirm that, as part of the vaccination program of the Vatican city-state, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and to the Pope Emeritus," Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, told reporters.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which uses the HEK-293 (human embryo kidney) cell line from a 1972 abortion, requires recipients of the jab to receive a second dose of the serum three weeks after the first dose.
In an interview televised Sunday on Italy's Canale 5, Francis accused vaccine agnostics of possessing a "suicidal denialism."
"It is not an option; it is an ethical action because you are playing with your health, you are playing with your life, but you are also playing with the lives of others," Francis insisted. "I've signed up. One must do it."
Vouching for the safety of the vaccine, the pontiff argued, "I don't understand why some say, 'No, vaccines are dangerous.' If it is presented by doctors as a thing that can go well, that has no special dangers, why not take it?"
But distinguished Italian epidemiologist Paolo Gulisano questioned the efficacy of the "sacred vaccine," pointing out that "the history of medicine shows many examples of serious adverse events from vaccines being placed on the market in times of enormous pressure and expectations."
Church Militant asked Gulisano what he thought of the time required to create a jab, after the vaccine's Turkish designer Dr. Ugur Sahin bragged in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) podcast that he had confected the serum "in just a few hours over a single day in mid-January."
"The math behind it just showed me it will happen; it's just a matter of a few weeks," Sahin said.
"It normally takes five to six years — not five to six months, much less five to six hours — to medically create a vaccine," replied Gulisano, former professor of the history of medicine at the Bicocca State University of Milan.
The podcast called the Pfizer vaccine "the fastest vaccine ever developed and approved," admitting that its "development process was unprecedentedly fast — no other vaccine in history has been created and manufactured so quickly."
"On Jan. 25, BioNTech chief executive Ugur Sahin designed 10 candidates himself," the WSJ reported. "Previously, the fastest vaccine ever developed took more than four years."
"We do not know if Benedict XVI wanted this vaccine or if it was a choice of the Vatican health authorities," Dr. Gulisano, a faithful Catholic, told Church Militant.
"Rather, we have been told that the pope emeritus took it, but he himself has not been given an opportunity to say anything about this choice," the epidemiologist remarked.
Thai-German Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, who has published over 300 articles in the fields of immunology, bacteriology, virology and parasitology, noted that the vaccine was not tested on individuals most likely to die of the coronavirus: Elderly people with pre-existing conditions.
Even though the test subjects were "young, healthy people ... half of them had fever, chills, muscle aches, aching limbs, headaches and they felt sick," Bhakdi said.
On Thursday, Norwegian Medicines Agency reported the deaths of 23 elderly citizens in connection with the Pfizer vaccine out of a total of 25,000 Norwegians so far vaccinated.
The gene-altering Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccination "can cause very serious allergic reactions" and is "still unknown scientifically and medically" Bhakdi observed, noting the irony of people who are opposed to genetically modified food but not to a vaccine "that genetically manipulates the human body."
"Strangely enough, this vaccine can contribute an adverse overreaction to subsequent naturally occurring infections — and not just with this virus, also with other viruses, such as a flu virus. It causes an explosive immune overreaction," he explained.
The virologist also noted that tests on animals showed "amplification of the immune system reaction to the disease." Consequently, "the animals that were vaccinated nearly died. This is an immense danger."
Bhakdi also identified the possibility of autoimmune disease from "embolismic disturbance, which can cause death, theoretically, and female infertility."
"And I warn you, if you go along these lines, you are going to go to your doom," he warned.
Confirming Bhakdi's prediction, Florida obstetrician Gregory Michael (age 56) died in the first week of January, days after taking the jab when he suddenly developed the autoimmune illness idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).
"In my mind, his death was 100% linked to the vaccine. There is no other explanation," his wife Heidi Neckelmann said.
Portuguese health worker Sonia Acevedo (age 41) died on New Year's Day two days after receiving the vaccine.
A 32-year-old female doctor in the northern state of Nuevo León, Mexico was rushed to the intensive care unit with seizures, difficulty breathing and a skin rash after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
"The initial diagnosis is encephalomyelitis," the Health Ministry said in a statement. Encephalomyelitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Interestingly, 240 Israelis caught the Wuhan virus days after getting the shot, and a 75-year-old man from Beit She'an died from cardiac arrest two hours after receiving the Pfizer COVID vaccine.
A December report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed that 3,150 persons taking the vaccine were "unable to perform normal daily activities, unable to work and required care from a doctor or health care professional."