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Correcting this week’s misinformation: week of January 12, 2023

Excess risk of severe events

The Claim:

A viral video from a Louisiana emergency physician claims that his re-analysis of mRNA vaccine clinical trial data shows an excess risk of severe adverse events following mRNA vaccination.

The Facts:

The man in the video is an emergency room physician who sits as a member of the Public Health Integrity Committee formed by Ron DeSantis and overseen by surgeon Joseph Ladapo. He believes that the unvaccinated are more educated about vaccines than those vaccinated.

The paper he discusses claims that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines lead to an excess risk of serious adverse events. But Table 2 of the paper shows that in almost every category for both risk difference and risk ratio, the confidence interval includes 0, essentially stating that statistically “no difference was observed.”

Also an author of this paper is an AIDS denier whose position at BMJ flummoxes us all.

The original studies were done by Pfizer and Moderna during clinical trials. These were analyzed by the FDA and led to the vaccines’ approval.

Bacterial meningitis

The Claim:

News of Jeff Beck’s sudden passing has the internet doing what it does.

The Facts:

Sadly, Jeff Beck dies from bacterial meningitisBacterial meningitis can kill a person within a day of symptom onset, and those who survive are often left without limbs or with permanent brain damage. Although we do not know which bacterium caused his meningitis, some forms are preventable through meningococcal vaccines, but he is out of the age range for vaccination.

Still, anti-vaxxers persist in blaming the COVID vaccine for this death. Some are pointing to case studies that suggest the vaccine causes aseptic meningitis, but aseptic is not bacterial meningitis, which is a much more severe and deadly type of meningitis.

It is plausible for the COVID vaccine to cause aseptic (non-bacterial) meningitis because it is reactogenic and can cause inflammatory symptoms. It is implausible for the vaccine to cause bacterial meningitis because those cases are caused by particular bacteria that can be identified and are not part of the vaccine or related to the vaccine at all.

Spike protein cancer

The Claim:

An anti-vaccine environmental lawyer has taken suggestions that COVID spike proteins could affect DNA repair mechanisms and decided this means the vaccine causes cancer.

The Facts:

This article is very badly written and conceived.

While it claims that cancer rates have risen since the introduction of COVID vaccines, according to researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, cancer rates in people under 50 have been rising dramatically since 1990.

And while the leading causes of death in 2021 were heart disease and cancer (which he attributes to the vaccine, of course), the leading causes of death in 2020 were also heart disease and cancer. 2020 was, of course, before the vaccine even came out. Same in 2019. And in 2018. Cancer and heart disease kill a lot of Americans, likely due to our terrible eating habits and other factors not vaccine-related.

The study, which claims that the spike protein from the VIRUS (not the vaccine) impacted the DNA’s repair mechanism, contradicts previous studies which show the spike protein is found primarily outside the nucleus. Additionally, this study was performed in vitro, which can’t necessarily be translated to what happens in the body. And the study has been retracted.

It’s possible this environmental lawyer knows what he is doing by blurring the truth about heart disease and cancer and COVID and that, as with his work in Samoa, he doesn’t care about the people who listen to him.

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