Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Dec. 7: mRNA Jabs Caused Unintended Immune Response in Some, SAG-AFTRA Members Feel Thrown Under the Bus

The Story of Three University Presidents Who Went Up the Hill, A Cautionary Tale

By Jonathan Spira on 7 December 2023
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Corpus Christi, Texas

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,366th day of the pandemic


The Story of Three University Presidents Who Went Up the Hill, A Cautionary Tale

     Gay, Kornbluth, and Magill went up the hill
     To quell the flames of racism
     They all fell down and risked their crowns 
     While the left and right came charging after

Today, class, we will cover literature and philosophy.

The Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde is credited with the phrase, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It is a cynical and mocking commentary on the frequency with which acts of kindness blow up in someone’s face.

Please hold that thought while reading the remainder of this column.

John Stuart Mill, an English philosopher, political economist, politician and civil servant who walked this earth from 1806 to 1873, was one of the most influential thinkers in the history of classical liberalism. As such, he contributed greatly to social theory, political theory, and political economy.

In particular, he believed in a moral theory founded by Jeremy Bentham dubbed utilitarianism, a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all.  In other words, actions that lead to people’s happiness are right and those that lead to suffering are, well, wrong.

Furthermore, the balance of suffering for some and happiness for others, particularly if the happiness causes suffering, can be calculated in utils so as to decide what is the right course of action.

Wednesday brought America a rare spectacle when the presidents of three of the most prestigious universities in the country appeared to have become follows of Mill, refusing to condemn racist, antisemitic, hate rhetoric because, well, it was creating happiness for some, in this case supporters of the terror organization Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, or Hamas, its acronym, for short.

The three – Harvard University president Claudine Gay, MIT president Sally Kornbluth, and University of Pennsylvania president Elizabeth Magill – must have pulled an all-nighter together the night before, each bringing college textbooks such as Cassidy’s Guide to Everyday Obfuscation, Maimonides The Guide to the Perplexed, and Hiding Truth in a Sea of Cover and Fog.

Their appearances, demanded by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, were remarkable for one reason in particular: Rarely has a congressional hearing generated this much rage on both sides of the aisle.

In answering – if one can even extend that term to what the responses were – questions from various representatives, largely Elise Stefanik of New York, the three mealy-mouthed women presented a mixture of persiflage, circumlocution, and badinage.

The answers given by the three – as well as the concerned facial expressions and poses – were worthy of an early presidential election debate.

The question from Stefanik was clear enough: Were students who call for “intifada,” which literally means a “shaking off” but is understood to be a “civil uprising” against Israel or shout “from the river to the sea” acting “contrary to Harvard’s code of conduct?”

Anyone with a moral compass could provide a far simpler answer to Stefanik’s question, perhaps with a “Yes,” “Ja,” “Si,” or even a “да.”

But that doesn’t’ describe the replies by our trio. Harvard University president Claudine Gay made it clear she could have used a pocket version of Harvard’s code of conduct as well as a refresher course before replying.  Clearly, the all-nighter bestowed no benefits to the participants.

She steeled herself and channeled her inner Mill.

Such “hateful, reckless, offensive speech,” she insisted, was “abhorrent” to her personally, and “at odds with the values of Harvard.” But she could not in good conscience move to do anything about it, given Harvard’s “commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful.”

Before I go on, I should add that I am a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and that my brother, Greg, graduated from Harvard, just for context.

It behooves the reader to review the criticism from all sides that the merry trio received but I can sum it up in one sentence, made by Stefanik, who was clearly dissatisfied with the replies she heard.

“This is why you should resign,” Stefanik said to Gay, although it was equally applicable to the two other Mouseketeers. “These are unacceptable answers across the board.”

The three presidents went to the Hill to attempt to quell the backlash over antisemitism on the campuses of major universities.  But they should have consulted with Oscar Wilde first.  After all, no good deed goes unpunished.

In news we report today, SAG-AFTRA members are suing the union over vaccines, mRNA vaccines caused unintended immune responses in some patients, not all political party labels on Fox are accurate, and BoJo made what he probably considers a sufficient and sincere apology for his (mis)handling of the first years of the pandemic.


Over 100 members of SAG-AFRTRA, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, have sued the union over vaccine mandates, contending the union threw them under the bus and joined forces with movie and television studios in enforcing vaccine mandates.

Over 100 suits have been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

“While Defendants are Plaintiff’s Union representatives, SAG-AFTRA members had a right to expect that its Union would protect them, negotiate with the studios, producers and other hiring officials on their behalf to prevent prejudicial treatment for exerting their philosophical, religious, medical or disability-based reason for not taking the Covid-19 vaccine,” said stuntman Dorian Kingi in a court filing.

A panel that Fox News brought on air to discuss former President Trump’s town hall in Iowa included a lone Democrat, Stephanie Edmonds.  Edmonds was introduced as a Democrat during the broadcast but it turns out that she is actually unaffiliated and also an active anti-vax activist.

Edmonds accused Trump of socialism for having supported the development of  coronavirus vaccines during the pandemic under Operation Warp Speed.

In Texas, the state’s least reputable politician, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a fact-free lawsuit questioning Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, which has helped to save millions of people from hospitalization and death. He alleges that the pharmaceutical house systematically misrepresents the efficacy of its vaccine and has attempted to censor public discussion about it.


Over 25% of people injected with mRNA coronavirus vaccines suffered an unintended immune response created by a glitch in the way the vaccine was read by the body, a study suggests.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Medical Research Council  Toxicology Unit, have at least partially figured this out.

Recipients of the mRNA vaccine suffered no adverse effects, data show, but scientists found such vaccines were not perfect and sometimes led to “nonsense” proteins being made instead of the desired Covid spike protein, which mimics infection and leads to the production of antibodies.

In Britain, former prime minister Boris Johnson issued an explicit apology for his handling of the pandemic on Thursday. He said that his government had been too complacent and had “vastly underestimated” the risks posed by the virus.

In an appearance before an official inquiry into the UK’s handling of the pandemic, Johnson said he took responsibility for all decisions made and he understood the public’s anger after the inquiry heard of government incompetence, backstabbing and misogyny as it battled the biggest health crisis in decades.

In Germany, Gesundheitsminister Karl Lauterbach is urging people to get inoculated against Covid before the holidays are in full swing.  Lauterbach, a trained epidemiologist, said that the take-up rate for the 2023 vaccine was thus far “disappointing.”


Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, December 7.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 698.94 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.06 million from Saturday, and 6.95 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, just over 669.01 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, a decrease of 0.03 million.

The reader should note that infrequent reporting from some sources may appear as spikes in new case figures or death tolls as well as the occasional downward or upward adjustment as corrections to case figures warrant.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday at press time is 22,981,650, an increase of 33,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 22,946,063, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 35,587, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 14 months.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 109.67 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.18 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 45 million, and a reported death toll of 533,305.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July 2022, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat last reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July 2022, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 40.14 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 38.68 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 707,789, has recorded 38.08 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with 34.57 million cases, as number six; Japan, with 33.8 million cases placing it in the number seven slot; and Italy, with 26.42 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.81 million, and Russia, with 23.43 million, as nine and ten respectively.


In the United States, in the week ending November 25, 2023, the test positivity rate was, based on data released on December 4 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was 10%, and the trend in test positivity is +1.2% in the most recent week. Meanwhile, the percentage of emergency department visits that were diagnosed as SARS-CoV-2 was 1.7%, and the trend in emergency department visits is +10.6%.

The number of people admitted to hospital in the United States due to SARS-CoV-2 in the same 7-day period was 19,444, a figure that is up 10% over the past 7-day period. Meanwhile, the percentage of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 was 2.5%, a figure that was unchanged over the past week.


Some 70.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.53 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 6,974 doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 32.9% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.

In addition, with the beginning of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines in any significant number.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

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