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Correcting this week’s misinformation: November 17, 2022

Why so much RSV?

The Claim:

People have many theories about why we are seeing so much RSV right now, including COVID vaccines, marketing campaigns to sell a new vaccine, and immunity debt. So why is RSV suddenly in the news?

The Facts:

One of the side effects of the pandemic was increased public awareness of infectious diseases and vaccines. So while the Twitter public might feel like RSV is a brand new virus, it’s been a long-standing concern, pre-dating COVID vaccines and the pandemic itself.

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, has long been a concern of public health and providers, as we can see in this 2018 CDC MMWR, where the seasonality of RSV was pinned down in order to help providers look for it and administer immunoprophylaxis, which has been available in various forms since 1995.

RSV is in the news now because the public health measures we took during the pandemic also prevented some RSV spread. And now a bunch of kids and older adults are getting it, and it’s a whopper.

Of note, the hunt for an RSV vaccine began in the 1960s, and only now might we finally have one on the horizon.

Long-term risks of myocarditis

The Claim:

Are there long-term risks from myocarditis after COVID vaccination?

The Facts:

Many are taking announcements by vaccine manufacturers to study the long-term effects of post-vaccination myocarditis as proof that those long-term effects exist, but in reality, this kind of research is really routine. And anyone assuming the outcomes of the studies is really getting ahead of themselves. (Because the studies are starting, the conclusions are not in.)

But currently, the CDC is reporting that “Preliminary data from surveys conducted at least 90 days after the myocarditis diagnosis showed most patients were fully recovered from their myocarditis.”

Bill Gates finally admits something

The Claim:

One self-described pundit found this video of Bill Gates admitting that COVID-19 is not a big deal at all.

The Facts:

When viewing this cherry-picked portion of the video in its broader context, we discover that Bill Gates is discussing with Fareed Zakaria the importance of building better global health cooperation before the next pandemic. Gates goes out of his way to explain that February 2020 was a scary time because the Chinese government had been uncooperative enough that the virus was most certainly already circulating in the United States.

We did get lucky that the mortality rate for COVID-19 wasn’t higher, as the video goes on to point out. Smallpox, for example, had a 30% mortality rate. To potentially lose 30% of our population would be catastrophic, as any fan of dystopian fiction will tell you.

As it stands, this “lower” mortality rate meant that 1.1 million people in the United States died, and 75% of them were over 65 years old. Vaccination status played a clear role in preventing many deaths. The deaths in the U.S. were significant enough that they may have changed the outcome of the most recent mid-term election.

Gates’ real point stands: let’s get our ducks in a row before the next pandemic hits.

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