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Correcting this week’s misinformation: week of May 30, 2024

Are vaccines a bioweapon?

The Claim:

It’s a little hard to summarize the Joe Rogan video that claims vaccines are bioweapons and Ivermectin is a cure-all. In the video, he interviews actor Terrence Howard, who claims that the spike protein from the COVID vaccine can enter the cell nucleus and deactivate the BRCA1 gene, leading to an inability to repair DNA damage and thus causing cancer to build up. Additionally, he says the spike proteins accumulate in various organs, leading to multiple diseases as the body becomes overwhelmed and unable to defend itself, with more boosters worsening the outcomes.

The Facts:

From the mind that suggests that “harmonic wave resequencing” will prevent cancer comes this wild understanding of the COVID vaccine. Terrence Howard claims that the spike protein (from the vaccine, but not the virus) enters the nucleus of the cell (which it doesn’t) and deactivates the BRCA1 gene, leading to cancer. He may be relying on a study implying the spike protein inhibits DNA repair, which has been retracted.

He also claims that spike protein collects in the ovaries, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. The idea comes from misconstrued data. A study in rats looked at lipid nanoparticles and their distribution in organs over time. The data show that most of the nanoparticles stayed where they were injected, and some went to the liver. In the ovaries, the highest amount of nanoparticles found was very, very small (only about 0.095% after 48 hours). This amount might be even smaller in human ovaries because the dose used in the COVID vaccine is much less than what they used in the rat study. There is no evidence that the COVID vaccine has any negative impact on fertility.

He is correct that spike protein is found in the lymph nodes because that is where a lot of immune function takes place. After injection, antigens are ferried to the lymph nodes, where immune cells are activated and learn to defend against the virus. He is incorrect, however, that this means there is something wrong. This is to be expected.

Somehow, the Joe Rogan Experience is the first or second most popular show on Apple Podcasts. My friends, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Do vaccines cause mouth lesions?

The Claim:

tweet claims that studies show COVID vaccinations cause oral lesions.

The Facts:

A comprehensive study spanning five databases looked for case reports, case series, and observational studies. Out of those, they found just 18 cases. That is a drop in the ocean when you consider that 200 million Americans have received a COVID vaccine.

COVID infection is a different story. Over a thousand instances of oral lesions are associated with COVID infection.

We don’t see smoke here, let alone any fire. There may be a very rare association between the COVID vaccine and some mouth lesions, whereas there is definitely a much less rare association between COVID infection and mouth lesions.

Do people under 50 need COVID vaccines?

The Claim:

In an interview with Chris Cuomo, former CDC head Dr. Redfield suggests that COVID vaccines have significant side effects and that people under 50 do not need them.

The Facts:

“These are important vaccines, We saved a lot of lives,” Dr. Redfield says in the interview. He then goes on to say that they aren’t that critical for those under 50, presumably because they aren’t in danger of acute death.

While it’s true the majority of deaths from COVID was in those over 50, bad outcomes beyond death occur. According to the CDC, Long COVID was more likely in those 35-49 (8.9%) versus those 50-64 (7.6%) and those 65 and older (4.1%).

According to a study looking at the benefits of the vaccination campaigns, in the time between April 2021 and March 2022, COVID the vaccination campaign resulted in 2,576,133 fewer mild COVID-19 cases, 243,979 fewer nonfatal COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 51,675 lives saved from COVID-19 with net benefits of approximately $732 billion.

While side effects do happen, the risks of COVID vaccines are far fewer than the risks of COVID infection, with severe side effects from the COVID vaccines being extremely rare.

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