I am responding to Mr. Dumais’s letter (“Editorial unfair to vaccine skeptics,” Feb. 8). Space limitations prevent me from responding in detail to all his assertions, but I will do what I can.

The first paper referenced, regarding differences in illness levels between conventionally vaccinated children and delayed/non-vaccinated children is marred by multiple study designs, including non-randomization and generalizing to the general population from a limited set of patients (just to name two). The other paper referenced was published online on Oct. 10, 2019 (pre-COVID), while the data was collected a couple of years before that. One cannot conclude from this paper that receiving the flu vaccine increases the risk of COVID-19. (The coronaviruses looked at were viruses that cause the common cold.) Therefore, neither paper is a good argument against any vaccination, including COVID or influenza.

Regarding placebo controlled trials and vaccines, the polio vaccine, the first measles vaccine, the HPV vaccine, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, just to name a few, have undergone double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled studies. Once a vaccine is proven effective, it is unethical to do a randomized placebo controlled study of a new vaccine to replace said vaccine. Such a study requires clinical equipoise, meaning the researchers running the study do not know which treatment arm would work better. In this case, the placebo arm is known to be inferior, negating clinical equipoise. Also, it is unethical to leave a treatment arm totally unprotected against known vaccine preventable diseases.

As to the vaccines being gene therapy, both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. In both vaccines mRNA (different than DNA, which is genetic material) acts outside the nucleus (where the DNA is) of the transfected cell and causes the production of proteins that mimic the spike protein portion of the COVID-19 virus. This mimicking protein (which cannot cause COVID or COVID symptoms) causes the immune system to make antibodies to the actual virus, setting the recipient’s immune system up to fight the virus. The vaccine’s mRNA is destroyed within hours by the cell (see https://nyti.ms/2LElyUT for an explanation of how the vaccine works). At no time can the mRNA cause an alteration in the recipient’s DNA; it cannot change a person’s genome. So, by definition, the vaccine is not gene therapy. Calling the vaccine gene therapy is at best misleading, at worst, outright lying.

Based on the above, I believe Mr. Dumais’s logic and arguments against vaccination are invalid.