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Correcting this week’s misinformation: week of September 28, 2023

Do COVID vaccines do all that?

The Claim:

cardiologist is making a whole laundry list of claims about the COVID vaccines, including cardiovascular diseases, neurologic diseases, and immunologic abnormalities.

The Facts:

The laundry list better describes what COVID, the disease, can do to the human body.

As we have covered before, these claims are often made in the absence of any evidence, hoping merely pointing to the existence of something like cardiac arrest will allow people to assume the vaccine caused it. At our most generous, we would call this sloppy science.

We have taken the list and provided the research explaining that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks:

Cardiovascular Disease

Neurologic Disease

Immunologic Abnormalities

  • Vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (This was adenovirus-bases COVID vaccines no longer available in the US)
  • Multisystem inflammatory disorder (MIS-C)

Did a CDC whistleblower admit vaccines cause autism?

The Claim:

What’s old is still around! A video of a so-called CDC whistleblower discussing vaccine-autism studies is circulating once again.

The Facts:

In the before times, this video was published as part of the marketing for Andrew Wakefield’s movie and for Brian Hooker’s reanalysis of the work described in the video.

The reanalysis was published in the Journal of Translational Neurodegeneration, and then–notably–retracted. The new publishing journal is an arm of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons–a small group that takes make spurious positions.

The original publication was part of an anti-vaccine publicity campaign by the defrocked doctor Andrew Wakefield, which included his controversial film VAXXED

Experts criticized Hooker’s re-analysis, saying it was flawed and didn’t consider other variables that could influence the results. They questioned how he used the CDC data set and argued that the study design was inappropriate for his analysis.

Brian Hooker used a cohort design to analyze a dataset originally intended for case-control analysis. Subsequently, he performed multiple subset analyses, which can be susceptible to false positives.

When evidence is excessively segmented or divided into smaller subsets for analysis, there is a higher likelihood of observing apparent correlations that may not actually be meaningful or valid. This phenomenon is often called the “multiple comparisons problem” or “data dredging.”

Hooker’s reanalysis concludes that African-American males who receive the MMR between ages 24 months and 36 months were more likely to the diagnosed with autism. These were children who received the vaccine late. It is possible that they received the vaccine after diagnosis and when their parents were seeking early childhood special education services which may have required immunization.

In scientific research, it is crucial to be cautious about interpreting correlations. And about taking medical advice from environmental lawyers.

Were tetanus vaccines spiked to cause infertility?

The Claim:

An old myth is going around claiming that HCG was added to tetanus vaccines in Kenya in order to cause infertility.

The Facts:

This rumor is based on a tiny bit of truth. Scientists did create a vaccine that could also work as birth control in the early 1990s. It didn’t cause infertility and wasn’t even effective enough as birth control to go public. Only about 80% of women in the test made enough antibodies to prevent pregnancies.

In Kenya, in order to combat neonatal tetanus, The WHO and UNICEF worked to improve vaccination rates among women of child-bearing age.

Because of the persistence of the old rumors, testing was done on these vaccines. These tests detected a low level of “HCG-like activity,” thus launching the idea that the HCG was purposely placed in the vaccines to sterilize women.

The testing done was not to the standards that regulatory agencies such as the FDA would demand. If the HCG-positive results held, the amount of HCG that was detected would be far too low to affect fertility.

In the end, retesting was completed, and no HCG was detected in any vaccine.

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