Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Medicine Science Skepticism/critical thinking

About that magical mystical “natural immunity” against COVID-19

Those opposed to public health interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19, including masks, “lockdowns,” and vaccine mandates, are hyping “natural” immunity again as somehow “superior” to vaccine-acquired immunity. It’s a deceptive simplification of a complex issue.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed the resurgence of messaging that emphasizes “natural immunity” as being superior to vaccine-induced immunity to COVID-19, particularly for the more recent variants of SARS-CoV-2, such as Delta, Omicron, and, most recently, the Omicron subvariant BA.2. For example, Jeffrey Tucker published an article at the Brownstone Institute website asking “Are They Finally Admitting Natural Immunity?”, as though public health officials have somehow been “covering up” this “natural immunity”, the better to keep enforcing “lockdowns” and masking and vaccine mandates. (Translation: “Natural immunity” is the way out of the pandemic that “they” don’t want you to know about.) Meanwhile, conservative-leaning mainstream media outlets like Fox News and The Wall Street Journal have had a number of stories and articles touting “natural immunity”, with, as just one of many examples, Johns Hopkins surgical oncologist Dr. Marty Makary having tried to portray a “high cost of disparaging natural immunity to COVID-19” and claiming that public health officials have “ruined many lives by insisting that workers with natural immunity to Covid-19 be fired if they weren’t fully vaccinated”. This narrative has, in particular, been deployed to defend the Canadian trucker convoys that recently besieged Ottawa and, just across the river from me in Windsor, blocked the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit in order to protest Canadian vaccine mandates.

Before I get to the science, in the interests of transparency I like to make my position clear. The term “natural immunity” is a very poor descriptor whose very use of the word “natural” has made it very easy for ideologues and antivaxxers to weaponize to argue against COVID-19 vaccines and restrictions. I’ve discussed beforeas has Alan Levinovitz, how scientists made a huge mistake in adopting the term “natural immunity”. The reason is that it is an inherently misleading term; people often view naturalness as synonymous with purity and goodness. Moreover, vaccine-induced immunity is every bit as “natural” as post-infection immunity (the more appropriate term to describe immunity after an infection), with the added huge advantage of not having to suffer through the disease and risk its potential complications, up to and including death, to acquire immunity. Worse, advocates of “natural immunity” not limited to antivaxxers frequently describe this immunity as having quasi-magical properties, implying that it is lifelong, far better against everything, and even beneficial, with some even going so far to argue that it’s better, for instance, to let children become infected. (Of course, even though children do have a much lower risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19, there are those pesky large—for children—COVID-19 death tolls that rebuke this argument every bit as much as the death toll in the US that is now approaching one million rebukes previous predictions that we would achieve herd immunity soon.)

Sadly, it’s not just antivaxxers and antimaskers who have started promoting the “natural immunity” narrative in which letting COVID-19 rip through the “healthy” population and children will get us to “natural herd immunity” faster than just vaccination campaigns. It’s doctors who should know better. As a result, increasingly activists, pundits, and politicians—sadly, including some doctors and scientists—opposed to vaccine and COVID-19 mandates of any kind are co-opting the term “natural immunity” to give anyone previously infected and recovered a free pass from any restrictions, sometimes taking the idea to ridiculous extremes.

Leaving aside my contention that “natural immunity” is a horrible term (which is why I never use it except with scare quotes), what is the real situation? As is often the case with such issues, it’s complicated. We cannot discuss this question, however, without taking a look at the dominant narrative with respect to “natural immunity”, in particular because the science is not consistent with this narrative.

The Great Barrington Declaration

I debated about whether to bring up the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) yet again, having done so just last week in the context of John Ioannidis’ awful “study” that attempted to argue that the GBD was somehow overwhelmed in the social media narrative by “science Kardashians” with far more Twitter firepower than scientific contributions. It is an article that is being used by GBD advocates to cast opponents as unserious social media creatures. However, it is appropriate, given how the GBD, its authors, its signatories, and its boosters have dominated the media narrative on “natural immunity” and “natural herd immunity”.

The ideas behind the GBD, which was first published in October 2020 (before safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were available to the public anywhere except in clinical trials) were threefold. First, “lockdowns” (however you define “lockdown”, and GBD proponents seem to define it as any government public health edict closing or restricting businesses or placing any restrictions whatsoever on private individuals) do far more harm than good. Second, “natural herd immunity” is inevitable, and, therefore third, we should adopt a “let ‘er rip” strategy with respect to COVID-19 and the “healthy” and “young” population and use “focused protection” to keep those at high risk of serious disease, complications, and death from COVID-19, safe. Moreover, contrary to their penchant for describing themselves as “silenced“, GBD authors and advocates have long had preferential access to media and government officials. Indeed, as Stanford PhD student Mallory Harris has noted, the recent release of a book by Scott Atlas, President Trump’s COVID-19 advisor, basically confirmed this preferential access:

Problems abounded with the GBD with respect to all three ideas behind it. First, its adherents tended to vastly exaggerate the harms of “lockdowns” and minimize the ability of “lockdowns” and other mandates, such as masks (collectively known as nonpharmacological interventions, or NPIs), to slow the spread of COVID-19, an issue still debated today, while promoting a caricature of public health officials as completely ignoring any negative consequences of such policies in relation to potential benefits.

Second, the assumption that “natural herd immunity” was inevitable was just that, an assumption. “Natural herd immunity” is the epidemiological principle that over time an infectious disease will infect enough of the population to produce enough post-infection immunity to result in herd immunity, the level of immunity at which the number of new infections reaches a steady state and there are no longer large spikes in incidence and epidemics. Because such immunity required that a huge fraction of the population suffer through the disease, GBD adherents had to bend over backwards to portray COVID-19 as a “mild disease” by lowballing death estimates and portraying it as “harmless” to children. More importantly, “natural herd immunity” also requires that post-infection immunity be long-lived, if not life-long. If immunity wanes too quickly in individuals or virus variants crop up that can evade the immunity from previous infections, “natural herd immunity” will likely never be reached. I can only cite Omicron and the new Omicron subvariant BA.2 as evidence that this has been the case with COVID-19, but even 16 months ago given how the Omicron variant has led to a massive surge in reinfections, despite all we didn’t know, we did know that post-infection immunity to coronaviruses is often transient and that variants that evade immunity commonly develop. Even as long as a year ago, scientists were beginning to fear that herd immunity even as a result of post-infection immunity plus vaccine-induced immunity was probably out of reach because too high a percentage of the population would need to be immune, waning immunity (both vaccine- and infection-induced), insufficient prevention of forward transmission of the virus, and new virus variants, all the failed predictions of academics like Dr. Makary about how soon we will have “herd immunity” notwithstanding.

Finally, the concept of “focused protection” in the GBD was ill-defined to the point of being basically meaningless (and remains so today). It ignored the incredible difficulty—if not impossibility—of protecting the large segment of the population that is at high risk of severe disease and death, including the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, while a respiratory virus is ripping through the young, “healthy” population, while seemingly arguing just keeping the elderly and high-risk population locked away from society indefinitely to “protect” them while not unduly inconveniencing everyone else. It was a profoundly ableist and, dare I say, even eugenicist idea couched in terms of claiming that letting the young be infected would somehow also protect the vulnerable. It was always nonsense, a politically motivated faux proposal given that it originated in a conference organized by a right wing think tank opposed to “lockdowns” and other COVID-19 restrictions.

The political use and misuse of “natural immunity,” particularly by GBD-linked sources like the Brownstone Institute notwithstanding, it is worth reviewing recent evidence to evaluate the relative value of post-infection immunity. It’s also worth doing so in the context of the narrative of GBD-linked sources, such as the Brownstone Institute, whose founder recently asked the question about “admitting” to “natural immunity”. Why? Because Tucker references a recent CDC study to make his claim:

In late January, the CDC published a report that made what might have been regarded as a shocking claim. If you have had Covid, the CDC demonstrated in a chart, you gain robust immunity that is better than that of vaccination, especially concerning duration. 

That should be nothing surprising. Brownstone has chronicled 150 studies making that point. What made this new chart different was that it came from the CDC, which has buried the point so deeply for so long as to amount to a near denial. 

So there: the CDC says it. So nonchalant! So uneventful! 

If people had understood this two years ago, plus been made more completely aware of the dramatic risk gradient by age and health, lockdowns would have been completely untenable. 

The society-wide mandates and lockdowns depended on keeping the public ignorant on settled points of cell biology and immunology, plus pressuring social media companies to censor anyone who didn’t fall in line. Here we are all this time later and the truth is coming out. 

Had the knowledge of risk gradients and immunities been in the forefront of policy makers’ minds – instead of wild fear and obsequious deference to Fauci – we would have focused on protecting the vulnerable and otherwise allowed society to function normally so that the virus would become endemic. We would not only have saved thousands of lives; we could have avoided the vast economic, educational, cultural, and public-health wreckage all around us.

Those poor, “silenced” advocates for “natural herd immunity”! Note the way that Brownstone writer Paul Alexander—yes, that Paul Alexander, the HHS science advisor who once wrote in an email that we “want them [infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions] infected” to reach “natural herd immunity”—conflates number of studies with quality of data – a favorite tactic among antivaxxers as well. Note also how he blamed Anthony Fauci for it all, even though many months went by in 2020 when Trump barely spoke to Fauci because he didn’t like what Fauci had to say.

But what about that study? The narrative lately appears to be a tale of a couple of recent studies, which starts with the CDC study.

Did the CDC really say that “natural immunity” to COVID-19 is superior?

The study referenced by Tucker was published in late January in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report(MMWR), the chief scientific outlet of the CDC, and he is quite taken by a video “analysis” written by Dr. Vinay Prasad. Before the pandemic, Dr. Prasad was known for critiquing the sometimes poor quality of clinical evidence used in oncology and other medical specialties, although even before the pandemic he had little but contempt for those of us who take the time to refute quackery and antivaccine misinformation. It’s ironic, then, how since the pandemic he’s pivoted to becoming a rich (and, to the public, an unfortunately seemingly authoritative) source of such misinformation, even describing public health interventions as potentially the first step on the road to fascism.

His entire claim is based on this graph from the paper:

"Natural immunity"?
This graph does a lot of work in “natural immunity” land.

This figure represents data from California and New York (which account for 18% of the U.S. population) in order to assess what happened as the Delta wave became predominant, with the CDC stating in the discussion:

Across the entire study period, persons with vaccine- and infection-derived immunity had much lower rates of hospitalization compared with those in unvaccinated persons. These results suggest that vaccination protects against COVID-19 and related hospitalization and that surviving a previous infection protects against a reinfection. Importantly, infection-derived protection was greater after the highly transmissible Delta variant became predominant, coinciding with early declining of vaccine-induced immunity in many persons (5). Similar data accounting for booster doses and as new variants, including Omicron, circulate will need to be assessed.

So what we have is a snapshot of what happened as the Delta wave ramped up but before Omicron crashed onto the scene, which led to different results than what were observed with the original COVID-19 strain, for which vaccine-induced immunity was more potent than post-infection immunity. Is this slam-dunk evidence that “natural immunity” is superior? Not exactly. As the CDC notes, these data don’t come close to taking into account the Omicron variant and the effect of the increasing number of people receiving boosters. Indeed, the CDC noted at least seven limitations, among them no stratification of the analysis by time since vaccine receipt; misclassification of persons with undiagnosed COVID-19 infection as having had COVID-19, which would decrease apparent differences between the vaccinated and unvaccinated; unmeasured confounding due to differential risk; no information on severity of initial infection; lack of ascertainment of receipt of additional or booster COVID-19 vaccine doses, given that the study was conducted before many persons were eligible or had received additional or booster vaccine doses; lack of precision in some samples due to sample size limitations; and the fact that the analysis was carried out before Omicron.

Indeed, another analysis that tries to do that (referenced in the article) is not nearly as clear:

"Natural immunity"?
The data don’t look quite as clean when presented this way.

That’s why the CDC concluded:

Vaccination protected against COVID-19 and related hospitalization, and surviving a previous infection protected against a reinfection and related hospitalization during periods of predominantly Alpha and Delta variant transmission, before the emergence of Omicron; evidence suggests decreased protection from both vaccine- and infection-induced immunity against Omicron infections, although additional protection with widespread receipt of booster COVID-19 vaccine doses is expected. Initial infection among unvaccinated persons increases risk for serious illness, hospitalization, long-term sequelae, and death; by November 30, 2021, approximately 130,781 residents of California and New York had died from COVID-19. Thus, vaccination remains the safest and primary strategy to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections, associated complications, and onward transmission. Primary COVID-19 vaccination, additional doses, and booster doses are recommended by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to ensure that all eligible persons are up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, which provides the most robust protection against initial infection, severe illness, hospitalization, long-term sequelae, and death.

So, basically, yes, in this one study looking at the original COVID-19 strain and the Delta variant, post-infection immunity appears to be more robust, but with a lot of caveats, none of which stopped GBD adherents from claiming that this study was slam dunk evidence that “natural immunity” is “6x better than vaxx.” Again, let’s just say that it’s way more complicated and nowhere near that clear, even if you look at just this CDC study.

The “natural immunity” wars continue

There are, of course, a number of other studies, and, taken together, what they say about post-infection versus post-vaccination immunity is…confusing, at best. For example, here’s one study, published in JAMA, that GBD proponents were touting last month. It’s from Dr. Makary’s group, which isn’t a good sign, and it examined only antibody levels. Worse, get a load of its recruitment methods:

Healthy adults who reported no SARS-CoV-2 vaccination were recruited via 1 public Twitter post and 1 public Facebook advertisement between September 11, 2021, and October 8, 2021. Participants completed an online questionnaire about demographics, COVID-19 status, and mask use. Using weighted random sampling (relative weights based on the estimated unvaccinated US population by age, race and ethnicity, and education1), we created 3 equally sized sample groups among those who reported a test-confirmed COVID-19 infection (“COVID-confirmed”), believed they had COVID-19 but were never tested (“COVID-unconfirmed”), and did not believe they ever had COVID-19 and never tested positive (“no-COVID”). These groups were invited to undergo antibody testing at LabCorp facilities nationwide.

Yes, you read that right. There’s no control group, and recruitment was by a highly dubious method. Yet Makary misrepresented his paper on Twitter thusly:

I am simply going to go right to the Discussion section to quote Dr. Makary and colleagues themselves:

Study limitations include lack of direct neutralization assays, the fact that antibody levels alone do not directly equate to immunity,4,6 the cross-sectional study design, a convenience sample with an unknown degree of selection bias due to public recruitment, self-reported COVID-19 test results, the study population being largely White and healthy, and lack of information on breakthrough infections. Participants were given only 1 month to complete antibody testing, which may have contributed to the 52% rate among those invited to test.

Plus this rather…harsh…takedown that is, in my opinion, entirely justified:

Another study was published as correspondence to the New England Journal of Medicine from Qatar suggested that previous infection also protected against the Beta variant (B.1.3510), just not as much as against the original Alpha variant up to a year later, while earlier data from Qatar found that those who were reinfected were 90% less likely to be hospitalized or to die. Still more recent data from Qatarfind that infection with a previous variant is only 56% protective against Omicron.

Then there is another recent Nature paper that used both antibody quantification and functional neutralization assays for antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD), which is responsible for binding to the ACE2 receptor on cells in order to facilitate the entry of the virus into the cell to do its dirty work, to assess the immune responses in convalescent plasma after infection compared to plasma from vaccinated individuals against various SARS-CoV-2 variants. To boil it down:

In this study, we showed that mRNA vaccinated blood donors have a median of 17 times higher RBD antibody levels when compared with those who became seropositive due to prior COVID-19. Our results indicated an exceptional strong association between high RBD antibody levels in and the ability to biochemically neutralize RBD binding to the cellular ACE2 receptor. The N501Y mutation, while did not alter the neutralizing antibody binding, presented with a fivefold greater affinity to ACE2, which resulted in a drastically reduced ability of COVID-19 convalescent antisera to neutralize its ACE2 binding. Fortunately, the vaccinated blood samples, due to their much-elevated RBD antibody levels, were far more effective in neutralizing both the WT and N501Y RBD from binding to ACE. With an average of 16-fold greater potency than convalescent blood, the vaccinated blood samples were more than sufficient to compensate for the fivefold increased affinity of N501Y RBD, resulting in the highly effective inhibition of both the WT and N501Y RBD from binding to ACE2.

That last part is important. The mutation that results in Omicron’s immune escape doesn’t so much decrease antibody binding to RBD as it results in an RBD that is a lot “stickier” to the ACE2 receptor, which means that it’s more likely to bind to the ACE2 receptor before an antibody can bind to it and neutralize it than is the case for the RBD of previous variants of SARS-CoV-2. Again, this study is preliminary, involving only 33 donors with previous COVID-19 plus 38 samples obtained from the Department of Laboratory Medicine of NIH as diagnostics samples and 28 people who received mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. Moreover, this study also suggests waning antibody levels after vaccination at 6 months, consistent with recent prior studies.

From my perspective, boiling it all down from the studies above and the ones cited in the above Twitter discussion, for now it does appear that infection-induced immunity is roughly as efficacious as the mRNA vaccines, not including boosters, and, like the vaccines, not as effective against later variants, an entirely expected finding that just needs quantification of how much less effective “natural immunity” is against later variants. Regardless of whether one views this “natural immunity” as superior or more robust than immunity from the vaccines, contrary to the claims made by boosters—if you’ll excuse the term—of “natural immunity” and “natural herd immunity,” even by the most optimistic metrics post-infection immunity is nowhere near lifelong and probably doesn’t last a lot longer than post-vaccination immunity, particularly for new variants. Indeed, even if post-infection immunity were to be found to persist two or three times longer than post-vaccination immunity, that would still be nowhere near good enough to make “natural herd immunity” a viable strategy to end the pandemic, particularly with the emergence of new variants and the variability in immune response after infection.

Again, it’s simplistic to look only at the “natural”/vaccine-induced immunity dichotomy, which brings me to “super” immunity and hybrid immunity. A better question is: How do we optimize protection against COVID-19, regardless of prior infection status and variant?

“Super-immunity” (a.k.a. hybrid immunity)

There are now a number of studies looking at what is known as “hybrid immunity,” or immunity to COVID-19 produced as a result of the combination of infection and vaccination, whether it’s as a result of a “breakthrough” infection after vaccination or of vaccination after a previous COVID-19 infection. Unfortunately, there’s another term that is being used for this type of immunity:

Another study, conducted by Oregon Health & Science University, found that a breakthrough infection in a vaccinated person leads to “super immunity.” The study compared blood samples from 52 Pfizer-vaccinated employees of the university infected with different strains of the virus—Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.

The study found that antibodies measured after breakthrough cases were more abundant and more effective than antibodies generated two weeks after a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “You can’t get a better immune response than this,” said Fikadu Tafesse, the author of the report and an assistant professor at the OHSU School of Medicine.

Regular readers likely could easily have predicted that I would absolutely detest the term “super immunity,” even more than I detest the term “natural immunity.” I realize that it’s probably an attempt from public health officials and scientists to counter the term “natural immunity,” but, if anything, “super immunity” is more misleading than “natural immunity,” which is why I prefer the more neutral term “hybrid immunity.” But what about that study and a number of others either published or in the pipeline of pre-prints? It’s possible that I might have missed a study, but let’s look at a quick rundown of what I did find.

There is a recent Israeli study published in Annals of Internal Medicine that’s a retrospective cohort that compared incidence rate of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection in previously infected persons to that of previously infected persons who subsequently received a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine using the centralized database of Maccabi Healthcare Services in Israel. This study has the drawback that the data used were largely from before the rise of the Omicron variant; and so nothing about non-Delta variants could be inferred. Nonetheless:

A statistically significant decreased risk (hazard ratio, 0.18 [95% CI, 0.15 to 0.20]) for reinfection was found among persons who were previously infected and then vaccinated versus those who were previously infected but remained unvaccinated. In addition, there was a decreased risk for symptomatic disease (hazard ratio, 0.24 [CI, 0.20 to 0.29]) among previously infected and vaccinated persons compared with those who were not vaccinated after infection. No COVID-19–related mortality cases were found.

There was no statistically significant difference in hospitalizations, though, likely because only 10 patients were hospitalized. That’s why a certain doctor whom we’ve met before and who should know better is claiming that this study shows no additional benefit from vaccination after infection, while labeling it the “best” study (because, of course, any study that reinforces your prior beliefs is the “best”). Let’s just say that it’s not the best (although it is good), but the point is taken that, in this study, both groups did so well that the numbers of hospitalized patients were too small to determine if there was a statistically significant difference between them, while the hazard ratios for infection and statistical disease revealed an impressive decline in the risk of Delta in those recovered from prior infection who received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine that would lead me to predict that a larger study would have found differences in hospitalizations, too.

More interestingly, there were two studies published in last week’s NEJM addressing this question as well, one from the SIREN (SARS-CoV-2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation) study group and another from an Israeli group. The SIREN study is a multicenter, prospective cohort study involving health care workers in the United Kingdom and consisting of asymptomatic adults who underwent polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) testing every 2 weeks, among whom more than 30% of the participants were seropositive for SARS-CoV-2 at enrollment. The Israeli study is another retrospective cohort study using two databases maintained by Clalit Health Services. Both suggest the same thing, that hybrid immunity is superior to either post-vaccination or post-infection.

The SIREN study was begun in June 2020 and for this NEJM publication included 35,768 participants, of which 27% (9,488) had a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the prospective nature of the study, it was possible to follow these participants over time and determine infection and reinfection risk for various cohorts. The study found that, although the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided excellent short term immunity, its immunity waned after 6 months, while immunity from prior infection was waning after a year. The very best immunity came from a combination of prior infection and vaccination, which remained robust after a year.

The second study, from Israel, also found that the cumulative risk of reinfection was much lower in those who were vaccinated after recovery, including those over 65 years of age, a high risk group. In brief, reinfections were more than four times more likely in those who remained unvaccinated afterwards:

Israeli "natural immunity" study

This study also found that there was no significant difference in vaccine effectiveness between those who received one dose or two doses after infection, in line with other studies suggesting that one dose of vaccine is sufficient in people preventing reinfection in people who recovered from COVID-19.

There are also laboratory studies that support the concept of hybrid immunity. Steve Novella wrote about one of them last month; so I won’t retread the same ground, other than to say that human immune sera following breakthrough infection and vaccination following natural infection (which contains the antibodies that neutralize the virus), broadly neutralize SARS-CoV-2 variants to a similar degree, implying that the order (infection, then vaccination, versus breakthrough infection after vaccination) doesn’t matter as much as the hybrid nature of the immunity and that the robust hybrid response was not diminished with age.

More recently, a recent study out of OHSU suggests that breakthrough infections work much the same way, finding substantial boosting of humoral (antibody-mediated) immunity after breakthrough infections after vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, including against the Delta variant. A preprint from a different group suggests that the same occurs for Omicron after breakthrough infection. The limitations of these studies are that the numbers are small (52 in the first study, only 23 participants in the second, of which only 10 were breakthrough cases), but the studies did measure virus neutralization by immune serum from participants rather than just antibody titers. It won’t surprise me if larger studies confirm these observations about hybrid immunity, but I’ll wait until, at least, the second paper is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Why does hybrid immunity appear to be more potent against SARS-CoV-2 and possibly longer lasting? According to one of the investigators of the SIREN study:

According to Crotty, hybrid immunity allows the body to create more diverse antibodies to neutralize a wider variety of variants. This also happens with full vaccination and a booster, but it happens much faster with infection followed by vaccination.

“Hybrid immunity has got a whole bunch of additional bonuses to it. One, that these studies are showing quite presently, is durability. Durability is quite robust,” Crotty said.

This makes intuitive sense, of course, although I always hasten to add that what is “intuitive” in science does not mean that it will turn out to be true. I will, however, point out that I really do not like one narrative that is coming from these studies, particularly the study that found enhanced immunity to other variants after breakthrough Omicron infection, that the Omicron variant could be “Mother Nature’s way of vaccinating the masses and curbing the pandemic, even going so far as to speculate that “omicron mimics these live attenuated vaccines because it causes milder infection and trains the body to trigger a strong immune response against the delta variant”. My response: Define “milder.”

And the beat goes on…

I started by asking whether “natural immunity” (a.k.a. postinfection immunity) was “better” than vaccine-induced immunity, which, it turns out, is the wrong question. Neither are “better”, but there are differences. Think of it this way. Given the risk of death and complications such as long COVID-19 and increasingly recognized cardiovascular complications from even mild disease, it is better not to get COVID-19. Thus, vaccination is preferable because it confers immunity without those potential risks and complications. However, contrary the narrative promoted by advocates of “natural herd immunity”, there’s nothing magical about “natural immunity”. It might or might not be more robust. It probably lasts longer, but, contrary to the magical properties ascribed to it those touting a “natural herd immunity” narrative, it is definitely not anywhere near lifelong, particularly against new variants, which means that “natural herd immunity” is almost certainly not achievable, although herd immunity might be achievable through a combination of vaccines and post-infection immunity. Moreover, if you have been unable to avoid getting COVID-19 and are fortunate enough to have recovered, it’s best to augment your “natural immunity” with vaccination because emerging evidence strongly suggests that hybrid immunity is the most robust immunity of all and helps protect more against new variants as well.

Contrary to the narrative being promoted by those who oppose vaccine mandates and advocate a “natural herd immunity approach”, no one in public health—and I mean no one—”denies natural immunity”. That part of the “natural immunity” narrative is one that I find profoundly insulting to physicians, scientists, public health officials, and vaccine advocates. It’s a massive straw man, which is why I’m going to quote this here:

Indeed, I would counter that the absolutists are the ones who tout post-infection “natural immunity” and “natural herd immunity” as being magically superior to vaccine-induced immunity to the point that it is the preferred way out of the pandemic, don’t recognize (or do their best to downplay) hybrid immunity, and minimize the harm and deaths that COVID-19 has caused—and continues to cause. In reality, scientists see nuance that the ideologues behind efforts of the GBD do not as they falsely portray their preferred solution and their contortions of science to justify it as “nuance” versus “vaccine absolutism”. They struggle to synthesize the flood of data—more often than we’d like, conflicting—into a science-based set of interventions that will minimize suffering and the loss of life and yet still be achievable without inflicting too much other harms. If that involves treating a prior COVID-19 infection like one course of vaccination (which might well be reasonable), so be it; contrary to how we are portrayed we are not dogmatically opposed to that. We merely want good evidence that this is a sound strategy in terms of minimizing the harm of the pandemic. In contrast, GBD proponents start from the idea that “lockdowns” do more damage than COVID-19 and, along with mask and vaccine mandates, are unacceptable assaults on individual freedom and then use motivated reasoning to find evidence to support their desired conclusion. Indeed, ask yourself why the same “anti-lockdowners” and antimaskers have aligned themselves with the antivaccine movement, given that no more powerful tool than the vaccines exists to implement an actual policy of “focused protection”.

As I’ve always said, we call it science-based medicine because medicine (and its related specialty public health) can never be purely science. Science can provide the parameters of what we can do by giving us interventions to combat the pandemic and telling us what the risk-benefit ratio of those interventions are, but in the end value judgments over the trade-offs involved are based on a given society’s values. Those behind the GBD have made it very clear what their values prioritize, and it’s definitely not the minimization of suffering and death. Unfortunately, they have also wielded outsized influence compared to their numbers, particularly among actual public health scientists.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

146 replies on “About that magical mystical “natural immunity” against COVID-19”

It must suck for you and yours, to have all that excess “vaccine” inventory sitting on the shelves, waiting to expire, as uptake falls off a cliff and people realize that they were hoodwinked by the federal government and its pharmaceutical bedfellows. You keep on pimping this product that offers very short term, very narrow protection against symptomatic SARS CoV 2, despite the fact that this product did not pass basic clinical research and is associated with a sharp spike in all cause mortality.

Of course natural immunity is superior; it is longer lasting and broader based. Natural immunity is what is finally pulling us out of this pandemic that YOU have ruthlessly prolonged. The only way the mRNA jabs could stay on par with natural immunity is if they are re administered every 3-6 months (and if the darn spike protein stopped mutating). Of course, the dose makes the poison. And big pharma including federal public health agencies have an obvious moral hazard in recommending this approach. Huge financial incentive and zero liability. The fact is, the jabs had a very limited scope of efficacy to begin with, and thanks to the mutations on Omicron, this efficacy has been decimated. So had your credibility. Now you only have your clearance sale to console you.

Good luck! Maybe you can start offering free jabs in boxes of breakfast cereal.

Silly antivaxxer. I just cited evidence that “natural immunity” is not broader based and that, even if it is longer lasting (arguable), it is not that much longer lasting and certainly nowhere near lifelong, not to mention that the Omicron variants appear to bypass it as well as they bypass vaccine-mediated immunity, hence the value of hybrid immunity in those who couldn’t avoid catching COVID-19. But do go on and parrot the very points that I addressed in my post and thereby demonstrate to me that you either didn’t read the post, that you didn’t understand the post, or that you’re misrepresenting the post (or a combination of the three).

Personally, I don’t give a f@#k if there are unused vaccines. Easy enough to make more.

I just wish there were a straight-forward way to get them to countries in Latin America or Africa to get more of their people vaccinated. And of course get our children vaccinated.

What @squirrelelite said. My only concern about unused vaccines is that there are people who need them and have no access.

As a reminder, big Pharma makes a lot of money when the anti-vaccine activists and their friends end in the hospital because they did not vaccinate.

True. I made the mistake of responding in a manner as narrow as the original.

If you’re signing up to get omicron, at least stay out of the hospitals. At least if I get it odds on my side.

Amazingly, I 100% agree with your title–“natural immunity” (or “vaccine immunity”) to a non-existent virus is a “magical and mystical” concept–just as it was 200 years ago, when the “virus” they were injecting was also known as “horse pus.” Apparently, virologists don’t understand that changing the definition of a word like “isolate” does not change reality.

The message that it confers to me is that Gin-gin has zero basic knowledge of biology and is willing to expend rather a lot of words to prove it.

“willing to expend rather a lot of words”

That’s a feature, not a bug. It is better for the world that the cray-cray spend their excess leisure time laboring at harmless tasks that keep them out the way of others. RI performs a commendable service to society by keeping some of them so employed in the comment threads with their, uh, research and creative writing.

@ rs: That has to be the calmest and most productive way to think about our resident contrarians/trolls.

My blood pressure thanks you for this helpful reframing.

How does your denial of reality change things? Or is this all part of your satirical artwork?

Oops, sorry to aairfccha, Lawrence, David and the Squirrelly–I thought I posted my comment on a science blog, but apparently it’s actually a playground. A playground filled with kids who forgot their juice box.

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize your remarks were a scientific critic of the post. I must have been confused by the ‘non-existent virus’ remark. Did you consider your blog-post a scientific citation, used to prove your point?

But lawyers do like to make an issue of definitions, especially any changes in the definition of ‘vaccine’. An expert like you must know that scientific definitions change as we learn.

I’ll leave the “magical and mystical” to you. Just save me my juice box…

David asked, “Did you consider your blog-post a scientific citation, used to prove your point?”

The blog post is not a scientific citation–those are contained in the paper. Kindly open the link provided and at least skim it–particularly the “Notes” section at the end, where you’ll notice every point made in the paper is carefully referenced—often with screenshots of the data from the source.

Good luck in your search for truth, such as it is.

You posted something so over the top crazy that it’s not even worth dissecting, because it’s literally the work of a person who is divorced from reality.

It’s like trying to speak to someone who claims that the sky is red, not blue.

Lawrence said, “You posted something so over the top crazy that it’s not even worth dissecting, because it’s literally the work of a person who is divorced from reality.”

That’s really persuasive–as long as your audience doesn’t read. Maybe they won’t notice you couldn’t post a single example to support your ‘point’.

Well this is a science blog. It is a pity you posted a conspiracy theory, rather than something addressing science.

You have yet to point out how the change in meaning is anything but an example of linguistic shift and possibly a minor annoyance for historians of medicine. And then there is the minor issue of relevance for the point you are pretty much incomprehensibly attempting to make.

Isolation of SARS CoV 2 virus (first in US):
Harcourt J, Tamin A, Lu X, et al. Isolation and characterization of SARS-CoV-2 from the first US COVID-19 patient. Preprint. bioRxiv. 2020;2020.03.02.972935. Published 2020 Mar 7. doi:10.1101/2020.03.02.972935
Virus was originally pathogen that pass bacterial filter. This could indeed be literally poison (thus name) but Wendell Stanley crystallised TMV already in 1935. You are about hundred years behind.

Oh here we go. First it was “NUUUUH UHHHH! That’s not a “Photo!!” You guys are dumb look me so smart!

Now we get “That’s not isolation!!!”

So tell us, NWO, step by step…how is a virus isolated from cell culture? Have you ever done it? I have. Several others here likely have.

I’ll ask a question we asked our intro to immunology students: “Can you cultivate viruses in liquid medium alone?” You being an expert you can certainly explain why or why not without breaking a sweat.

Different troll, MedicalYeti, but same conspiracy theories. One of the things about science is that it moves on. New methods become available that allow us scientists to address new questions.

Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories are so last century – and often the century before. I mean germ theory was first proposed in the 16th Century, viruses were first identified in the 1890s. It is not as if these are new-fangled idea.

@NWO Reporter What is, then, normal meaning of isolation ? To continue history, Enders grew poliovirus in cell culture 1949.
Crystaallographic structure of poliovirus:
Hogle JM, Chow M, Filman DJ. Three-dimensional structure of poliovirus at 2.9 A resolution. Science. 1985 Sep 27;229(4720):1358-65. doi: 10.1126/science.2994218. PMID: 2994218.
So poliovirus has been isloated, and it is known atom by atom.

Aarno, I asked you for the “virology definition” of “isolate.” It’s obviously nothing like the usual definition–anyone familiar with virology would have to admit that. It has something to do with mixing a soup in the lab with the sample believed to contain the virus, along with a variety of other genetic materials and chemicals…maybe you can set me straight with a good, solid definition.

Here’s the usual definition from the Cambridge Dictionary:

ISOLATE (verb) to separate something from other things with which it is connected or mixed

Oh goody. She thinks she’s a virology expert now. Here’s a hint: This argument doesn’t mean what she thinks it does.

Orac, you use the “doesn’t mean what she thinks it does” line all the time–that’s a hint you don’t have any actual answer.

All I did was ask for a definition of “isolate” as it is used in virology. Why is that even slightly controversial, or grounds for criticism? Just post the definition and enlighten me, while demonstrating your superior expertise.

Easy. Misuse of the word “isolate” applied to the isolation of SARS-CoV-2 is a common trope used by germ theory deniers to falsely claim that SARS-CoV-2 was never “isolated” (and therefore never identified and probably doesn’t exist) or to falsely argue that, at the very least, no pure isolate of SARS-CoV-2 exists.

Are we seriously having “argument from dictionary”? For a technical term that also has non-technical use?

Good grief.

Fine, you want to play the dictionary game, NWO?
Give me one, singular definition for the noun “jumper”.

JustaTech you are well aware that the public widely believes that virus “isolation” does in fact mean to separate the virus from other things with which it is connected or mixed. You are also aware (because you are obfuscating) that “isolation” in virology doesn’t mean anything like that.

You can’t seriously think it is perfectly reasonable not to share a basic definition of “isolation” in the field of virology. Agreeing on definitions is the first necessary step for the application of logic.

@NWO Reporter Did you read the paper ? They had a sequence (100% similar to SARS CoV 2), electron micrograph (showing a coronavirus) a panel excluding other common viruses, hardly a witch’s broth.
I mentioned that Wendel Stanley crystallised TMV in 1935 and there is crystallographic structure of poliovirus. If you knew anything, you would know that crystals are very pure stuff. This is why people are irritated: you do not know anything, but make a very confident noise.

@NWO Reporter If you actually read my link, you would notice that there were !00% sequence similarity. I cannot imagine anything better, can yoiu ?
Crystallizing is ia very good from of isolation, too. Crystals are very pure stuff.

“JustaTech you are well aware that the public widely believes that virus “isolation” does in fact mean to separate the virus from other things with which it is connected or mixed”

What the public widely believe is their problem. Everyone knows that the only real meaning of the word ‘isolation’ is the disconnection of all electrical power to X.

@NWO: No, I am not aware of what the general public thinks that “viral isolation” means. How could I possibly know that, I’m not a polling company surveying the nation about what exactly they think “isolation” means in virology.

Second, is something stopping you from looking this up yourself? Of course not. You just want to argue, as usual.

I’m still waiting for that definition of “jumper”.

Thanks for this in depth analysis of “gnatural immunity” post infection immunity.
It is obviously a “grasping at straws” attempt to justify the ghoulish and idiotic “let ‘er rip” strategy.
One merely has to look at the death toll from COVID and understand that there are very dangerous sequelae to show how idiotic this concept is:
COVID has currently killed ~934,146 in the US of which ~851 were children 0-17.
Virtually all were unvaccinated and died attempting to gain “natural immunity”.
What a great strategy… Kill off 1,000,000+ of your citizens instead of intervening and preventing the great majority of the deaths since the vaccines have become available. /sarc
BTW – That 851 child death number looks quite like the ~450-500 deaths per year from measles pre-vaccine.
I can’t wait for some of these functionally illiterate doctors to start recommending that we stop measles vaccination because ‘kid’s really aren’t in danger from this mild disease’…

Measles gave my granny’s older sister “eternal” Natural immunity. It Is also the reason why my Granny carries the slightly creepy name of Rinata Maria Francesca, which translates as “the Reborn Maria Francesca”. Guess what happened to the first Maria Francesca.

I enjoyed the post Orac, Thx.

MJD’s 2 cents,

Vaccine-induced immunity diminishes the intensity and duration of a cytokine storm; inherent in natural immunity. So, if one wants to avoid death from a cytokine storm get the vaccine in that natural immunity can quickly kill you.

@ Sue Dunham

mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

I did a search of PubMed, National Library of Medicine’s online database for mRNA, mRNA vaccines, and Spike protein. My search was before 2020 to ensure any possibility of papers on current COVID-19 pandemic not included:

For mRNA, going back to 1960s when first discovered = 658,015 results
For mRNA vaccines = 83 results
For Spike Protein = 16,359 results

So, prior to Pandemic we knew a hell of a lot about mRNA and Spike Protein and some research on mRNA vaccines. In fact, vaccines had already been developed, but once developed the pandemics of SARS and MERS died out, so impossible to conduct phase 3:

Kirtikumar C. Badgujar et al. (2020 Sep). Vaccine development against coronavirus (2003 to present) – An overview, recent advances, current scenario, opportunities and challenges. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Review; ; 14(5): 1361–1376.

Yen‑Der Li et al. (2020 Dec 20). Coronavirus vaccine development: from SARS and MERS to COVID-19. Journal of Biomedical Science; 27(1): 104.

So, warped speed? FDA approval requires four steps: animal studies, phase 1 (testing various doses for adverse events), phase 2 (based on phase 1, smaller range of doses for immune response and adverse events), phase 3 large placebo-controlled randomized trials. Normally each phase is completed, written up, and submitted to FDA. In turn, FDA takes its time, approves, then next phase. Under warped speed, Moderna and Pfizer ran animal studies, phase 1, and phase 2 overlapping, began phase 3 before FDA approved first three. So, the risk was ONLY to those who volunteered for the Phase 3 clinical trial. I was one of them. The FDA gave Emergency Usage Authorization after they had reviewed first three phase and Phase 3 had a minimum of two-months follow-up for each and every volunteer after the 2nd shot. And these studies were published in peer-reviewed journal, New England Journal of Medicine, each with ca.30,000 participants:

L.R. Baden et al. (2020 Dec 30). [Moderna] Efficacy and Safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine. New England Journal of Medicine.

Fernando P. Polack et al. (2020 Dec 31). [Pfizer] Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine. New England Journal of Medicine

Everything we know about immune system, vaccines, etc. clearly finds that if a serious adverse events is going to occur, it will be within a few weeks of vaccination, so two months follow-up quite adequate. However, I won’t completely reject the possibility of some extremely rare serious adverse event; but compared to the literally millions of lives saved, millions of hospitalizations prevented, etc. sad, if happens; but no one in their right mind would sacrifices millions for, perhaps, a dozen or two dozen. And the few serious adverse events so far from COVID vaccines; e.g., myocarditis, have almost all resolved with no long-term problems and keep in mind that the actual virus causes the same in much much large numbers.

Finally, Orac, comments by me and others have clearly explained that VAERS reports are “suspected vaccine-caused adverse events”. Together with Vaccine-Safety Datalink and teams investigating serious adverse events reported to VAERS, in essence, only a minuscule number of serious adverse events were caused by the two mRNA vaccines and a mass of peer-reviewed journal articles, reports from FDA, CDC, WHO, and numerous other nations health authorities have found the two to be highly effective with minuscule risk of serious adverse events, data now having followed the two vaccines for well over a year.

Just to be clear, I repeat, mRNA Covid-19 vaccines are NOT experimental since they have gone through ALL required FDA phases. And, I won’t bother giving references; but valid studies have found the current vaccines to confer a significant level of cross-immunity, including to Omicron.

And if I were required to get a booster every 3 – 6 months, so what? Better than the disease. In fact, I was hoping an Omicron booster would be out by end of March.

Finally, you have made it clear that you base your INFINITE STUPIDITY on RFK. I and others have torn his book apart. His dishonesty is legion. For instance, he claims he takes no position on whether HIV causes AIDS or not; but only cites people, etc that say no. And the studies he cites are mainly early studies and the books he cites are, for instance, by journalists who subscribe to a variety of conspiracy theories. And finally, he even cites a book that denies germ theory.

So, Sue Dunham, welcome back. Always nice to have the village idiot onboard.

Sue Dunham: “despite the fact that this product did not pass basic clinical research and is associated with a sharp spike in all cause mortality”

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines succeeded at reducing symptomatic infection, and serious infection, in double-blind controlled studies with about 40,000 subjects each. Efficacy for each was ~90%, and the data is publically available for any honest person to scrutinize. Since authorization, extensive data show that hospitalization and death are vastly more likely in unvaccinated people, compared to fully vaccinated.

As for all-cause mortality, even a brief glance at real data (available at scroll down for plot) shows that the “sharp spike” follows the time course of waves of coronavirus infection, rather than following the rollout of vaccines.

“and the data is publically available for any honest person to scrutinize. ”

Total lie.
Data might be available someday due to a law suit.

“extensive data show that hospitalization and death are vastly more likely in unvaccinated people, compared to fully vaccinated.”


“shows that the “sharp spike” follows the time course of waves of coronavirus infection, rather than following the rollout of vaccines.”


“Total lie.
Data might be available someday due to a law suit”

So…..the only data at all showing vaccine effectiveness and safety is unavailable? You do realise that there have been billions of vaccine doses administered now don’t you? You do realise that monitoring the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines isn’t just in the hands of the vaccine manufacturers now don’t you? Any original safety data is practically irrelevant. Useful to beat up the manufacturer if some clear safety signal was hidden. Otherwise completely overwhelmed by existing publicly collected data around the world.

“extensive data show that hospitalization and death are vastly more likely in unvaccinated people, compared to fully vaccinated.”


Your link is related to Omicron. Probably the best you could take away from it is an indication of broader immunity from covid infection as opposed to vaccination in the case of the latest variant. It certainly doesn’t negate all the previous evidence of vaccinated individuals suffering less than unvaccinated.

“”shows that the “sharp spike” follows the time course of waves of coronavirus infection, rather than following the rollout of vaccines.”

Lie. ”

Well, here was your chance. You could have picked out the spikes and dated them and then shown that those spikes didn’t coincide with increases in covid cases in various waves. To paraphrase the immortal words of Mike Skinner (and Nietzsche), It’s hard enough remembering your opinions, without remembering the reasons for them eh?

The best of the three is probably the Omicon newspaper article. Although, the same paper and author go into the whole thing in other articles and even say that the Omicron data is the first time that unvaccinated case percentages have been lower than vaccinated.

Clinical trial results are avaiable, so are any number of follow up studies. Read them
You cite a journo, not a dure way to establish a fact.There are actual studies:
Whittaker R, Kristofferson AB, Salamanca BV, Seppälä E, Golestani K, Kvåle R, Watle SV, Buanes EA. Length of hospital stay and risk of intensive care admission and in-hospital death among COVID-19 patients in Norway: a register-based cohort study comparing patients fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine to unvaccinated patients. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2022 Feb 24:S1198-743X(22)00086-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2022.01.033. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35219807.

@Naturally Annoying

Lawsuits! Lies! My goodness! Tell us more!

Despite what those ads for 1-800-BAD-DRUG might lead you to believe, you need cause to bring an action against someone. I suppose you believe in the tooth fairy, too, along with these lawsuits about to come and get the big bad vaccine makers, eh?

“Troll Hard 2: Troll Harder”

@ Naturally Immune

Too bad you don’t understand or intentionally cherry-pick even what is written in newspaper articles. The HeraldScotland article made it clear that the unvaccinated were, among other things, younger and we know that the risk of hospitalization and death is lower among younger people. The article also made clear that they did not distinguish between those hospitalized because of covid and those who were hospitalized for other reasons; but also tested positive for covid. And the last sentence in the article stated: “The vaccination status of cases, inpatients and deaths should not be used to assess vaccine effectiveness because of differences in risk, behaviour and testing in the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.”

@ Naturally Immune

You write: “and the data is publically available for any honest person to scrutinize. ”
Total lie.
Data might be available someday due to a law suit.”

Yet, you then refer to a newspaper article that obviously publicly discusses the data, though you misread the article.

So, you contradict yourself ! ! !

Yeah this is getting more amusing by the minute. When people didn’t just start dropping dead in droves the way they predicted from the vaccine they really started to squirm. Now? They throwing spaghetti against the wall.

( Orac’s choice of imagery for this post reminded me to make hotel reservations along the Redwood Highway – although a more populated section- Thanks! )

The Naturalistas I survey endlessly recommend products that are all-natural and untampered which contain pure, unadulterated phyto-nutrients that can replace the toxic products of Pharma factories and repair the chemical ravages of modern life: organic foods/ herbs treat serious conditions and prevent others. So many alties/ anti-vaxxers/ woo-meisters post splendidly composed photos of fruits and vegetables as meaningful replacements for drugs. ” Let food be your medicine”, they proclaim.

HOWEVER there is never mention of the dangers of drinking all natural water found in those scenic brooks deep in the forest or why many seeds and pits contain 100% natural poisons as part of Nature’s plan. Covid and its spike proteins are all natural too.

Ah yes, the joys of raw water and unpasteurized dairy. The good old days.


Why do you expect other people to do your research for you? I didn’t see a link for ‘non-existent virus is a “magical and mystical”’. But you are free to believe anything you want, just don’t try and present it as science.

If you want to present a scientific argument, please do. If you want to sow disinformation and confusion…

My observation of altie “thought leaders” and trolls at RI leads me to believe that perhaps
they share an inability to integrate complex information such as research and how it changes over time. People who study developments in children’s thought as it reaches adolescence have learned that they increasingly use qualifying statements and note exceptions as they also continue to learn to generalise which is a form of abstraction, a higher order skill and there is less use of black and white examples.

Obviously, we often see the exact opposite. Using words like “some” and “mostly” are a clue that they know that ‘things are not so simple’. I wonder if they communicate this way because of cognitive or emotional issues- such as not being able to accept what research illustrates or anger and hatred of actual scientists- since they are not part of the “club”. They cosplay but are easily outed as being insufficiently grounded in the basics. Self-taught contrarians usually lack the skill to surmise the basic findings of a discipline on their own and instead gravitate to the parts that suit their fancy ( see Katie Wright). Formal education side steps this common fallibility by providing synopses and overviews that guide the student towards eventual independent expertise.
Sometimes they precisely display their level of comprehension when they present a mind shatteringly outre example ( there is no hiv or Covid virus).

What’s interesting is that even young children can recognise “levels of expertise* in others such as when instructed to “teach” either younger kids or a parent how to play a new game because they tailor their instructions to the learner’s level of ability. HOWEVER many alties and trolls can’t seem to harness that sensitivity when they interact with Orac, Joel, Yeti, DB, Justa, Aarno, Dorit and many others and “talk down ” to them.. Research shows that generally anti-vaxxers and CT believers have problems as well in this area.

Possible Rare Natural Immunities to Specific Microbes

Before elaborating, a few important points: a) the following are basically rare, so vast majority don’t have them; b) while they confer protection, it is NOT absolute, so possible for even these people to become infected, even seriously; c) we only discover such after a major epidemic/pandemic when afterwards can look at survivors; e.g., those who we know were exposed and testing showed no COVID-19 or asymptomatic, that is, no severe illness, etc;. d) as Orac has made quite clear, in regard to current COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccines are extremely safe and confer additional level of protect, quite simply, even if one knew had a rare genetic immunity, the vaccine would bother confer more protection, including possibly less transmission with minuscule risk.

Many years ago I remember reading that some promiscuous gays, known to have had unprotected sex with HIV positive partners, either had NO signs of HIV infection or was held to a minimum.

“A small proportion of humans show partial or apparently complete inborn resistance to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The main mechanism is a mutation of the gene encoding CCR5, which acts as a co-receptor for HIV. It is estimated that the proportion of people with some form of resistance to HIV is under 10%.” [Wikipedia. Resistance to HIV] For other genetic variations: Martin (2013 Jul). Immunogenetics of HIV disease. Immunological Review; 254(1): 245–264].

What is fascinating is that some research traces this immunity to people who survived bubonic plague and/or smallpox. [Bettinger (2007 Mar 29). Are you immune to HIV and smallpox? The Genetic Genealogist; Sanders (2003 Nov 18). Smallpox selected for genetic mutation that today confers
resistance to HIV. Berkeley News]

Rare genetic immunity has also been found for tuberculosis [Möller (2018 Sep 27). Genetic Resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection and Disease. Frontiers in Immunology; 9(2219)] and Influenza [Influenza [Rumyantsev (2006 May 26). Genetic immunity and influenza pandemics. Federation of European Medical Societies Immunology and Medical Microbiology;48: 1–10; Koch (2022 Feb). Impact of genetic ancestry on viral infection response. Nature; 23.]
And there is a possibility than some people are resistant to current COVID-19, only a possibility as the search is ongoing [Mallapaty (2021 Nov 11). The Search for People Who Never Get Covid. Nature; 509.]

However, there is another possible explanation, different from a genetic one. In the 15th Century Paracelsus said: “the dose makes the poison.” If someone is exposed to a person recuperating from some microbe, chances are they may still be shedding microbes; but a lot fewer. If few enough, then our innate immune systems can often take care of them. Our adaptive immune systems have to be actually exposed to a microbe or a very similar one in order to rev up which takes 7 – 10 days, regardless of how healthy we are. So, if we were exposed to very small doses of a microbe, then our innate immune systems can often stop it; but our adaptive immune systems will still be exposed enough to elicit a response. Quite simply, antibodies that can recognize the particular microbe and if exposed a second time to a much higher dose, can back up the innate immune system [e.g., Lauren Sompayrac (2019). How the Immune System Works (6th Edition)

So, in a world of so many genetic variations, there is always a possibility that some small subgroup will have a stronger immune protection against specific microbes, a protection not absolute; but good to have. However, I repeat: a) such genetic variants currently can only be ascertained after an epidemic/pandemic which has resulted in a large number of hospitalizations and deaths, so researchers can then begin to look for genetic differences and b) even if one were to know, not possible today, one has such genetics, the current COVID-19 vaccines are extremely safe and confer additional immunity. Quite simply, if one has a genetic variation that reduces risk, the vaccines reduces it further, both to self and to innocent third parties.

As I’ve written umpteen times in comments, we don’t live in a perfect world, a world of extremes of black and white. I simply look at what is known about vaccines in general, the immune system, and a specific vaccine, its effectiveness, its risks and weigh the benefits vs costs. I don’t worry about minor severe adverse reactions; e.g., sore arm, low grade fever, general malaise, etc. And given that the current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been through ALL FDA required clinical trials with Moderna’s involving over 30,000 volunteers and Pfizers over 40,000 volunteers, have been given to literally 10s of millions of people around the world with reports on effectiveness and safety from multiple nations, for me it is a no-brainer to get the vaccine and if another booster becomes available, get it as well.

Joel: related to you note about the rare people who have a natural (innate? Inborn?) immunity to specific microbes:
My mother was vaccinated against smallpox many times (by her counting about 8 times) and the vaccine never “took”, ie, she never developed the scab or scar (which is why she was vaccinated so many times, because she didn’t have evidence of vaccination).

I’ve always wondered if this meant she was already immune to smallpox before her first vaccination, or if she was somehow only immune to the vaccina (the vaccine itself).

I mentioned this once to a researcher who was measuring my viremia after my smallpox vaccination and he was tremendously excited to have my mom come in, do some titers and then re-vaccinate her. I said no, I was not volunteering my mother to satisfy his curiosity (and she was neither interested nor available), but I have always wondered.

Is this something you’ve seen in your medical experience?

Yeah. Some people won’t seroconvert. Not sure about variola but it happens with some frequency with Hep B.

@ JustaTech

I found this online: “we conclude the failure to take in responders correlates with preexisting immunity of unknown etiology that may attenuate the skin reaction in a way similar to previous
smallpox vaccination.” [Tan (2012 Mar). Failure of the Smallpox Vaccine To Develop a Skin Lesion in Vaccinia Virus-Naïve Individuals Is Related to Differences in Antibody Profiles before Vaccination, Not After. Clin Vaccine Immunol.; 19(3): 418–428.]

However CDC states: “Non-takes can be caused by improper vaccination technique, use of vaccine that has lost its potency, or residual vaccinial immunity among previously vaccinated persons. Do not presume a person with a non-take to be immune to smallpox. Revaccinate anyone with a non-take reaction using a different vaccine lot.” [CDC. Vaccine “Take” Evaluation]

Obviously she has had numerous from different lots. So, either she had some preexisting immunity or she didn’t. Fortunately, the last actual cases of smallpox in U.S. were in later 1940s and if she only travelled to Western Europe, high rate of vaccination. However, they could have done an actual antibody titre.

Personally, I’ve had the smallpox vaccine three times, once as infant, once in 1968, required to travel to Europe, and once in 1975 when worked for US Navy in Far East. To the best of my recollection, I had scar from one in infancy and the latter to also. After 9/11 I was prepared to get again so could volunteer if necessary.

Very interesting, thank you Joel! I know that her last vaccination was with “the new one” (said the Navy doctor), but she was kind of fed up with being a pin cushion so she washed it off as soon as she got home. (Spain in the mid 1970’s, so low risk.)

If I had to guess that last one was probably the MVA (modified vaccinia Ankara), which is the one I got (and had a totally normal reaction).

Some musings from the ICU this week…

We are down to three COVID patients from an average of seven (Small ICU.) All three are unvaccinated. All in their seventies. All three were taking IVM and some compounded vitamin concoction. They are unrelated and don’t know each other but it seems that word spread through the local evangelical community that there was a quack selling a miracle prophylaxis.

Another one just like them died yesterday after having been on decadron and barcitinib at another hospital before developing a massive superimposed bacterial pneumonia thanks, in some part, to those tanking his immune system. His wife threw a massive fit and blamed us for not giving him his miracle IVM. I asked her how long he had been taking it (Three months) and she switched to: “We took him to that hospital because they said they had the monoclonal antibodies!! They didn’t give them to him!! They killed him!”

Never mind the vaccine would have saved his life. Never mind he was waaaaay too sick when he hit their ED for mABs. Never mind he smoked for fifty years and refused to wear a mask anywhere (Per her rant.) She was still unconvinced as she walked out the door. This really is something like a religiously held belief system for some people now.

We don’t see sick patients with covid with anything more than a sniffle if they’re vaccinated, anymore. The whole paradigm has shifted. We see:

1-vaccinated and mildly-ill or caught by accident on a screen, or

2-unvaccinated, older or young and obese, and SICK AS HELL

@NWO reporter

My split pea soup tasted good! You get in my way, I will trucker you!
I’ve never seen much better dumb posted by an ignorant or lackey. Congrats.
Your insinuation is not useful but I like when you hyperventilate and show me by word.

On a beautiful note, thank you, other people, for continued explanation and bibliography about how my body works! Really cool.

I wanted to wait until I had a minute to phrase my reply to this drivel appropriately. I’m an old-school, full-spectrum doctor. A relative rarity in the US nowadays. It gives me a unique perspective since I work from outpatient to critical care and everything in between. I completed a tough, high-attrition physiology undergrad attached to a medical school. Like Dr Joel, I also have an MPH.

I suspect I also speak for him when I say, if it seems like we respond to certain posters with contempt, it’s because they are worthy of such. If you are reading this an are afraid to comment or ask a genuine question based in good faith, I say to you DON’T BE. My ire is aimed at these recurrent, scripted, bad faith attempts to pretend there are two sides to the discussion surrounding, say, ivermectin. Dr. Joel likely has other topics that he might find ridiculous.

I suspect that they are the same person over and over it I have no objective proof. I have no idea how much traffic we get here but I want readers of these comments to know I have NO agenda. I prescribed HCQ and azithro when this started; we didn’t have anything else. There was a chance they could work. There was a plausible mechanism. As it became clear that they provided no benefit? We moved on.

I don’t know what assholes like Koury are playing at. I know from everyday experience he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and he DOES NOT take care of covid patients like he says. They’d have to build a new morgue next to his office if he did what he says he does. Alright, have a nice weekend everyone.

MedicalYeti, the only people you demonstrated your contempt for are the 5244 people who died with COVID19 after getting the COVID19 vaccines–and the other deaths like it that weren’t among the small fraction reported to VAERS.

You didn’t “reply” to jack or explain jack. You’re basically saying “trust my authority” because you are an “old school doctor”–the kind who doesn’t worry about informed consent to vaccination, because you can’t even fathom the idea they are flawed, antiquated medicine. Old school doctors like you are part of the problem.

@NWO Reporter You seems to not understand that people can die without a vaccine, health care prpoviders are mandated to report to VAERS and it is quite impossible to hide a half milloin corpses. Try to answer these points.

Aarno I’ve addressed your points already. Most vaccine deaths are not reported to VAERS in spite of the ‘requirement’, for the reasons I explain on the CVax Risk page on my site in the section called “Deaths involving COVID19 compared to deaths involving vaccination.”

It is very possible and actually quite easy to conceal half a million vaccine deaths–I explain how it’s being done here:

I thought it was only half that number of the VAERS reported deaths that died with Covid-19. Perhaps you’d like to clarify?

Of greater interest at least to me, you seem to be all over the VAERS death reports. I’ve been wanting to ask someone to find 10 or even 5 of those death reports that show a common cause of death that can plausibly be linked to the vaccine other than TTS/CVST or myocarditis/pericarditis which are already acknowledged side effects.

Please list the VAERS numbers so we can look them up directly. Make sure they did not die of an already existing condition like cancer or kidney failure.

With over 2000 people a day dying from Covid-19 over the last 2 or 3 months and the infectiousness of Omicron, I’d be surprised if there weren’t a lot of people who got vaccinated but still died with Covid-19.

Squirrelelite, if the extensive charts and data tables at the link don’t “clarify” the numbers for you, I’m afraid I can’t help you.

I provide all the search criteria I used in VAERS so people who want more information, like you do, can look it up themselves. Go for it–I’m interested in what you find.

I’m just informing people about what the VAERS numbers are — not answering the question of why more deaths and serious injuries have been reported to VAERS from the covid shots than from all other vaccines combined for the last 31 years.

Your investigative efforts in that regard would be most appreciated. The CDC and FDA apparently aren’t interested.

“the 5244 people who died with COVID19 after getting the COVID19 vaccines”


Breakthrough infections? It does seem that you have a problem with comprehension. Vaccination doesn’t protect 100% of the people 100% of the time. Neither does immunity from the wild infection.

Or to put this reply in the way NWO sees the world:

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx? Xx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx.

@NWO Reporter,

Based on a couple forays into your website and the general quality of your comments here, I’m not going to devote a lot of time into digging through your website. If you have something informative to say, you can at least give us the executive summary version here.

I did a quick VAERS search and pulled up a few examples just for curiosity’s sake.
1999762-1 Age 64 Texas

Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA: COVID-19 case resulting in Hospitalization / Death. Patient received Pfizer Vaccines on 3/10/2021 and 4/7/2021. On 12/26/2021 presented to ED w/PMHx DM2, HTN and paranoid pschizophrenia brought by EMS from hospital for +Covid. Admitted for acute respiratory failure with hypoxia, sats in the 70s, Covid pneumonia and metabolic encephalopathy. Tx’d w/steroids, IVF, lovenox and HFNC O2. Condition c/b dehydration w/AKI and hypernatremia, respiratory status continued to decline requiring intubation. Once intubated developed bradycardia and arrested. Full code without ROSC.

So, they got vaccinated last spring, caught Covid-19 8 months later during the Omicron wave and died of Covid-19.

2001789-1 Age 66 Texas

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine EUA: COVID-19 case resulting in Hospitalization / Death. Patient received Moderna Vaccines on 1/23/21, 3/2/21, and 10/27/21. PMHx CKD4, renal transplant, AF, DM2. Presented 12/17/21 for hemoptysis, SOB and AMS. Admitted for heart failure, COVID-19, pulmonary edema, acute on chronic CHF & acute on chronic renal failure. On 12/21/21 transferred due to worsening renal function, intubated 12/26/21 c/b L pneumo. Tx’d w/dexamethasone, diuretics, and antibiotics. Expired 12/31/21. Patient’s respiratory status declined requiring intubation on 12/26/21. Patient subsequently became hypotensive requiring multiple pressors and family ultimately decided to withdraw care. Code status changed to DNR-AND and the patient passed away at 00:48 on 12/31/21.

So they had heart failure, kidney failure and Covid-19. It would be fantastic if the vaccines could reverse kidney damage and protect against heart attacks (independent of the disease itself), but they don’t.

2028341-1 Age 52 New York

Pt.’s Daughter In-Law states that after receiving the 1st dose of Phizer 03/06/2021, started experiencing symptoms 30min with a slight headache lasting 2hrs. 03/07/2021 started experiencing symptoms vomiting until 10:00pm, loose stool lasting 1hr, 03/08/2021 loss of appetite with nausea. 03/242021 Primary visit routine Physical=Normal with Recommendations for 2nd dose of Phizer (03/27/2021). Pt. D.O.D 04/03/2021

This wasn’t reported until Jan 2022. No information on cause of death so hard to tell what might have happened.

2132272-1 Age 72 New York

“The patient had flu-like symptoms; fever, headache and was not able to get out of bed for a day and a half after each vaccine. He also felt a pressure in his chest upon getting vaccinated, like something was there on his heart. He said to me, “”I think the vaccine damaged my heart.”” He said this twice on two different occasions at which time I urged him to see a doctor. He said he could feel it “”more”” when he exerted himself. I believe it was sometime late summer or early fall , maybe October, he again said he believed the vaccine had damaged his heart and said whatever he felt in there, felt like it was moving. On December 9, 2021, he died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He had no history of heart disease and was not being treated for any heart problem, nor did any of his family have a history of heart disease.”

No information about prior health history like BP, cholesterol, etc. There is an ongoing study using the VSD but it has not found a connection between these vaccines and heart attacks.

2136985-1 Age 71 Texas

Pfizer COVID Vaccine EUA: COVID-19 case resulting in Hospitalization / Death. Patient received Pfizer Vaccine on 3/06/2021 and 4/01/2021. Covid + 2/6/22. Presented to ED 2/9/22 w/worsening SOB. Admitted for acute hypoxemic respiratory failure 2/2 Covid PNA, COPD exacerbation and AFib. Was on HFNC 90/60 and also had worsening delirium and confusion. Respiratory status became more labored through admission. Transitioned to comfort care/DNAR. Treated with DuoNeb, remdesivir, cefepime, and decatron. Patient last received Tocilizumab for RA 4mg/kg on 1/28/22. Patient expired 02/13/22.

So again, vaccinated last spring, caught Covid-19 during the Omicron wave almost a year later and unfortunately died.

etc., etc., etc.

So we have 3 people who died of Covid-19 several months after getting vaccinate, 1 sudden heart attack, and 1 case with insufficient information.

Also note that

FDA and CDC medical officers and vaccine safety experts review reports of deaths and other serious events and conduct other analyses to address specific safety concerns and to evaluate trends in reporting. Although all serious reports are reviewed, it is primarily by analyzing all reports in aggregate that possible safety concerns (or “signals”) between vaccines and AEs can be properly detected and assessed.[10] When vaccine safety concerns are detected in VAERS they almost always require further assessment such as the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD)

The simple reason why there are a lot of VAERS reports for these vaccines is that we have vaccinated over 250 million people with multiple doses of these 3 new vaccines. And the people vaccinated first were in the highest age groups who were most likely to die in a given month whether or not vaccinated. And the CDC actively encouraged medical personnel to submit reports even in cases like the 3 Covid-19 cases above where it was highly unlikely that the vaccine could have contributed to the death.

As a result of VAERS follow-up the CDC has found several cases of death due to TTS/CVST linked to the Janssen vaccines and limited their usage. But no other consistent pattern has been found.

Therefore, if you think they missed something, the onus is on you to dig into the data and suggest what that might be.

These 10,000 some reports are a tiny fraction of the people who have died from a variety of causes during the last year. And they are a small fraction of the people who died from Covid-19 itself and who might have been saved if they had been vaccinated.

As I noted, the CDC is VERY interested in these reports and does follow-up investigations looking for patterns that can be researched using more reliable and detailed sources like the VSD.

I suggest you read Klein et al and watch Pubmed for similar research in the future.

Squirrelelite you are spreading disinformation–the volume of VAERS reports is clearly not due to the volume of vaccines. The proof is here:

The massive increase in deaths and serious injuries also applies across all age groups and is not exclusive to the elderly (although the rate of VAERS reports increases with age). Again, the proof is at the above link.

I agree with you that people getting multiple doses of 3 new vaccines is surely relevant to the massive increase in deaths and serious injuries reported to VAERS from the covid shots. It suggests they are exceptionally dangerous, though–it’s hardly a point in favor of the vaccines.

No evidence or analyses to support any of your hypotheses–which you presented as facts.

I’m unclear exactly what the VAERS searches that NWO Reporter did are intended to prove. All I can see from the VAERS searches in the item is that in the last 7 months (not 6 months), of people who’d had a COVID-19 vaccine within an unstated time, 50% (2647 of 5244) had some sort of COVID-19 symptoms at they time that they died of unstated causes.

Also, the claim in the item that “Less than 1% of vaccine injuries are reported to VAERS” links to a report from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc that states the number without any substantiation.

@NWO Reporter Do you know that there is CICP (Countermeasures Injuries Compensation Program). If there is a vaccine injury, why do not claim compensation ? Data is here:
Currently, there 127 vaccine death claims, Ventilator is really dangerous, and there is some HCQ and ivermectin death claims.

@NWO Reporter,

Let’s see if I can summarize a bit here.

Leaving aside your reference to a “non-existent virus” (if so, what is causing Covid-19?), on March 2 you wrote that

Half of the 5244 deaths reported to VAERS in the last 6 months from covid shots indicated the deceased had COVID19.

That actually might be true based on my very limited research since 3 of my 5 recent VAERS reports were for people who had died of Covid-19 several months after they were vaccinated for it. But that would only mean that the doctors were being scrupulous in complying with their status as mandatory reporters to submit a report for deaths occurring after the vaccination even if they did not think the vaccination caused the death.

You then referred to

the 5244 people who died with COVID19 after getting the COVID19 vaccines

And then when I asked you to clarify things really got interesting.
I asked you to help me figure out if there might be some additional factor that the CDC had missed in their reviews of the VAERS reports, but you said that

I’m just informing people about what the VAERS numbers are — not answering the question of why more deaths and serious injuries have been reported to VAERS from the covid shots than from all other vaccines combined for the last 31 years.

But then when I looked up some recent reports for myself and found three cases who had died 8, 9, and 12 months after completing their initial vaccinations (one had a booster), you told me that

Squirrelelite you are spreading disinformation–the volume of VAERS reports is clearly not due to the volume of vaccines. The proof is here

No evidence or analyses to support any of your hypotheses–which you presented as facts.

If that’s what happens when “Your investigative efforts in that regard would be most appreciated”, there is little point my making further attempts to inform you.

And of course you again referred us to your blog which you are unable to summarize for us other than ‘take my word for it’.

Apparently you ignored my reference to Klein et al. This is exactly the sort of follow-up study using a more accurate and reliable source than VAERS that I expect to be done to check on suspected problems that show up in the VAERS reports. And it found that

A total of 11 845 128 doses of mRNA vaccines (57% BNT162b2; 6 175 813 first doses and 5 669 315 second doses) were administered to 6.2 million individuals (mean age, 49 years; 54% female individuals). The incidence of events per 1 000 000 person-years during the risk vs comparison intervals for ischemic stroke was 1612 vs 1781 (RR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.87-1.08); for appendicitis, 1179 vs 1345 (RR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.73-0.93); and for acute myocardial infarction, 935 vs 1030 (RR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.89-1.18). No vaccine-outcome association met the prespecified requirement for a signal. Incidence of confirmed anaphylaxis was 4.8 (95% CI, 3.2-6.9) per million doses of BNT162b2 and 5.1 (95% CI, 3.3-7.6) per million doses of mRNA-1273.

Conclusions and Relevance
In interim analyses of surveillance of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, incidence of selected serious outcomes was not significantly higher 1 to 21 days postvaccination compared with 22 to 42 days postvaccination. While CIs were wide for many outcomes, surveillance is ongoing.

So in conclusion.

You’re not trying to explain why there are so many VAERS death reports but Gosh there sure are a lot of them and there must be some significance to them even if half of them are just people dying from Covid-19 because the vaccine isn’t perfect, antibodies wane and older people’s immune systems don’t work as well, but all the answers are on your website but you can’t share or even summarize your brilliant insights here but my direct look into VAERS reports, the CDC policy on follow-up on suspicious cases including deaths and my example of actual follow-on research are “spreading disinformation” but you can’t tell me specifically what that disinformation is or provide the correct information except of course to go read your website.


Since that is the state of things, there is little reason for me to attempt to continue this discussion. So, unless something strikes me as particularly interesting, TTFN.

A proposed law in Tennessee to mandate recognition of “natural immunity” to Covid-19 as at least equal to vaccination is being considered by the TN House Health Subcommittee.

Among those providing expert testimony* to the subcommittee on “natural immunity” and Covid-19 vaccination are luminaries** such as Pierry Kory, Ryan Cole (the pathologist (shudder) who believes his cancer diagnoses have skyrocketed due to the Covid vaccines), and Richard Urso, a Houston-area ophthalmologist and member of America’s Frontline Physicians who’s been big on prescribing HCQ for Covid patients. No word on whether they or others are showing legislators how people are magnetized by the vaccines.

*sarcasm intended

The more I think about this, the more I see this as a matter of pride for some of these dipsh*ts. “I survived and I’m NATURAL! You all are sissies for not trying it and using your vaccine cop-out!”

Think of it this way…If getting shot somehow made your skin stronger in addition to probably killing or seriously wounding you…These bozos would advocate running through a hail of gunfire over and over sans body armor to develop “NATURAL body armor.”

@ NWO Reporter

You write: Half of the 5244 deaths reported to VAERS in the last 6 months from covid shots indicated the deceased had COVID19. [Virginia Stoner (2022 Mar 1). How to hide thousands of vaccine deaths in plain sight]

Let’s start with Stoner’s: “Less than 1% of vaccine injuries are reported to VAERS.”

Actually a number of studies have found that the “less than 1%” relates to mild adverse events. For serious adverse events, “47% of intussusception cases after rotavirus vaccine, and 68% of vaccine associated paralytic polio after oral polio vaccine . . . VAERS sensitivity for capturing anaphylaxis after seven different vaccines ranged from 13 to 76%; sensitivity for capturing GBS after three different vaccines ranged from 12 to 64%. [Miller (2020 Oct 7). The reporting sensitivity of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) for anaphylaxis and for Guillain-Barré syndrome. Vaccine; 38: 7458–7463.] I have more, so Stoner didn’t do her homework. However, she also fails to recognize the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a real-time program linked to HMOs with around 7 million people, including 500,000 children [CDC. Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD); Wikipedia. Vaccine Safety Datalink] The link includes age, gender, vaccine given, including lot number, any doctor office, emergency room, etc visits following vaccine, etc. And, as discussed by Orac, VAERS serious adverse reports are thoroughly investigated and the results have been found to closely coincide with VSD.

For COVID-19 Vaccines, an example is Shimabukuro (2021 Oct 21). COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Updates. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.]

Stoner writes: “Consider the definition of each word of the description carefully, especially “with” and “presumed”—you can be sure the people who wrote it did. The language is plain and clear—confirmation of COVID19 as a cause of death is not required for inclusion in the tally. If it were, cause would be mentioned in the description, and the tally would be named “Deaths from COVID19” or “COVID19 Deaths;” and it wouldn’t be called “provisional.” Instead, the description just indicates COVID19 was believed to be present, based on either a positive test result or a presumption—that’s all. . .The data for the CDC’s tally of “Deaths Involving COVID19” comes from death certificates . . . There is no exclusion for suspected deaths from vaccination, so it’s reasonable to assume the tally includes deaths reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from the covid shots.

CDC: “Note: Provisional death counts are based on death certificate data received and coded by the National Center for Health Statistics as of March 3, 2022. Death counts are delayed and may differ from other published sources (see Technical Notes). Counts will be updated periodically. Additional information will be added to this site as available. . . Why These Numbers are Different: Provisional death counts may not match counts from other sources, such as media reports or numbers from county health departments. Counts by NCHS often track 1–2 weeks behind other data. Death certificates take time to be completed.. There are many steps to filling out and submitting a death certificate. Waiting for test results can create additional delays. States report at different rates.. Currently, 63% of all U.S. deaths are reported within 10 days of the date of death, but there is signficant variation between states. It takes extra time to code COVID–19 deaths.. While 80% of deaths are electronically processed and coded by NCHS within minutes, most deaths from COVID-19 must be coded by a person, which takes an average of 7 days. Other reporting systems use different definitions or methods for counting deaths.”

However, Stoner also missed or ignored when writing: “confirmation of COVID19 as a cause of death is not required for inclusion in the tally”:

“Deaths 944,662. In at least 90% of these deaths, COVID-19 was listed as the underlying cause of death. For the remaining deaths, COVID-19 was listed as a contributing cause of death.” [CDC (2021 Apr 3). COVID-19 Mortality Overview Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)]

In other words 90% of deaths did give COVID-19 as the underlying cause.

Most open-minded people know that following a crime police often bring in several people for questioning (i.e., potential suspects). Of course, none may turn out to be involved or one). For antivaxxers, given how they look at VAERS, CDC, etc, “SUSPECTED” (presumed) vaccine cause adverse events, they would assume all suspects brought in by police guilty. Or, how about a criminal court trial. Guilty only if evidence shows “beyond a reasonable doubt” but antivaxxers would assume guilty simply because being tried.

CDC: Provisional counts are not final and are subject to change.. Counts from previous weeks are continually revised as more records are received and processed (ibid).”

Antivaxxers, based on seeing world in black and white, don’t understand that public health, based on science, evolves based on ever increasing and changing data.

There is something strange about Virginia Stoner, a website historically focusing on art and having in her paper: “Join our free email list here (”

How are she and NWO Reporter connected???

In any case, bottom line is Stoner, NWO Reporter, and others automatically assume that uses of words like “provisional”, “presumed” mean hiding something rather than standard practice to NOT give a definite cause until “beyond a reasonable doubt.”


Howdy, Joel. Thank you for the detailed and meticulously one-sided review of my paper. It was refreshing to see a comment from someone who actually read it.

I think you skipped some of the more interesting points. Such as the last one:

“Maybe that’s why we never hear about deaths from the millions of experimental vaccines peddled during the Spanish flu—all based on a now-discredited theory of causation: because they were all recorded as ‘Deaths Involving Spanish Flu.'”

What do you think about the idea that history seems to be repeating itself?

That COVID is not actually caused by SARS CoV 2? Read relevant papers, not history books:
Zhu N, Zhang D, Wang W, et al. A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, 2019. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(8):727-733. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2001017
Vaccines were tested even then, so millions of deaths is unprobable, to use understatement. Vaccine against pneumococcal disease would actually protect against a influenza sequala.

Aarno, back then there were no standards for testing vaccines–so the results of those tests were even more suspect than they are today. Back then (from the Eyler paper):

“Mixed vaccines were more common. These typically contained pneumococci and streptococci. Sometimes staphylococci, Pfeiffer’s bacillus, and even unidentified organisms recently isolated in the ward or morgue were included. […] As was the case with Pfeiffer’s bacillus vaccines, most of the early reports on the use of these mixed vaccines indicated they were effective. Readers of American medical journals in 1918 and for much of 1919 were thus faced with the strange circumstance that all vaccines, regardless of their composition, their mode of administration, or the circumstances in which they were tested, were held to prevent influenza or influenzal pneumonia. Something was clearly wrong.”

Whereas, today:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” –Dr. Marcia Angell, Drug companies and doctors, a story of corruption, Jan. 15, 2009, NY Review of Books

I don’t see how any reasonable person couldn’t at least ponder the possibility that these millions of experimental Spanish flu vaccines, based on a now-discredited theory of causation, may have killed or contributed to the deaths of thousands. It’s common sense.

@NWO Reporter You forget the part that they were tested with animals and voluntary lab workers and they were reported to be helpful (no doubt by preventing influenza sequela).
Now we of coiirse have clinical trials and folllow up studies. You may want to read these and report us the problems.

“ Thank you for the detailed and meticulously ‘ONE-SIDED’ review of my paper”

‘One-sided’ —> is where you spelled ‘fact based’ incorrectly.

The “Spanish flu” of 1918-19 spawned a bunch of conspiracy theories not too dissimilar from what we’ve seen with Covid-19.

“As the authors of a 2017 study in Current Directions in Psychological Science observe, conspiracy theories give people quick, easily acceptable explanations for issues that otherwise have no simple answers or solutions.”

“The researchers found that people who believe in conspiracy theories do so for three reasons:”

“epistemic motives — the need for ready-made causal explanations of certain problems or phenomena in order to regain a sense of certainty
existential motives — the need to regain control over one’s situation or environment
social motives — “the desire to belong and to maintain a positive image” of oneself and the society that one inhabits or wishes to inhabit”

And of course there are financial motives – monetizing one’s beliefs (real or feigned) through personal appearances, consulting fees, sale of books, Substack subscribers* etc.

*NWO is missing the boat. She could start her own Substack and easily attract at least a half-dozen followers, instead of casting her pearls before an unappreciative RI audience.

Mr. Bacon, I wrote a paper just for folks who do ‘internet research’ like you do.

A 2010 paper published in the journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service confirms that many different experimental vaccines were developed for the Spanish Flu, and widely administered to millions, including military, employees of large corporations, and residents of state institutions.

The question is, why are the CDC, Reuters, the National Archives and many more flat-out lying about it?

Administered to millions and causes millions of deaths ? Then they would be a perfect poison. Actually they helped, beause they prevented a sequela of influenza (pneumococcal pneumonia).
Conspriracy theory here is that Spanish flu was caused by experimental meninitis vacine, a entirely different thing.

@ NWO Reporter

You write: “Thank you for the detailed and meticulously one-sided review of my paper. It was refreshing to see a comment from someone who actually read it.”

I wrote: “In any case, bottom line is Stoner, NWO Reporter, and others automatically assume that uses of words like “provisional”, “presumed” mean hiding something rather than standard practice to NOT give a definite cause until “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Not one-sided, simply pointed out that I don’t “automatically assume”; but, as CDC and others, adjust as more data/info comes in. It is your paper that is grossly biased and one-sided.

You write: “I think you skipped some of the more interesting points. Such as the last one: “Maybe that’s why we never hear about deaths from the millions of experimental vaccines peddled during the Spanish flu—all based on a now-discredited theory of causation: because they were all recorded as ‘Deaths Involving Spanish Flu. What do you think about the idea that history seems to be repeating itself?’”

And what do you base your claim regarding the Spanish flu? References??? I have several books and 93 papers. Several give quite accurate descriptions of the cases. And how absurd to claim “millions of experimental vaccines”. Yep, there were attempts at vaccines; but, unfortunately most targeted bacteria that was found in patients, not understanding that the bacteria weren’t the original cause. So, at worse these vaccines didn’t do anything. And you continue to grossly exaggerate things. Of course, some of the deaths weren’t caused by the H1N1 flu; but what percentage? So, the only history repeating itself is your unscientific, one-sided twisting of things.

From Wikipedia. Spanish flu: “Because the virus that caused the disease was too small to be seen under a microscope at the time, there were problems with correctly diagnosing it.[156] The bacterium Haemophilus influenzae was instead mistakenly thought to be the cause, as it was big enough to be seen and was present in many, though not all, patients.[156] For this reason, a vaccine that was used against that bacillus did not make an infection rarer but did decrease the death rate”

So, why would it reduce the death rate? Because Spanish Flu killed directly by eliciting cytokine storms; but also indirectly as other flus by allowing secondary pneumonias from opportunistic bacterias of which H. influenzae was one as Wikipedia article states: “Vaccines were also developed, but as these were based on bacteria and not the actual virus, they could only help with secondary infections.”

So, you write a blog on art; but also consider yourself to have some understanding of infectious diseases, etc. And what do you base this on??? I like art, etc; but I have absolutely NO expertise.

Note. this isn’t the first of your articles that I have torn to shreds. Why don’t you stick to art???

Joel, unfortunately I didn’t get very far in your mega-wordy response when I realized you were once again in the tiresome camp of “I didn’t bother to read your link.” If you had, you would see many of your questions have already been answered. Don’t expect me to waste time copying and pasting for your edification.

@ NWO Reporter

I did read your background, an MA in social psychology and a JD, so a lawyer. So what? Also, it is a joke that lawyers are given degree JD. When I grew up it was LLB. In every nation I know of, add a D means original research carried out. But not your fault. I lived in Sweden for almost 10 years. A good friend who I am still in e-mail contact with earned a law degree, a 5 1/2 year course. Then one has to take additional courses, etc. to focus on civil or criminal law. In U.S. we have so many law schools, including for-profit, that prepares someone to take the bar exam; but not necessarily to be a competent lawyer, though we do have many; but many who basically are incompetent. There is also an old joke: One attorney in a small town starves, two make a good living. History books note that even in colonial times we had a high number of lawsuits, far greater than other nations. In other nations if a company markets a product that knowingly harms people, government gets them, often including monies to victims; but here, private lawyers represent victims and get 40% or more.

You obviously ignored, didn’t read my last comment. So, you don’t really know what I wrote.

So, what area of law do you practice? And, by the way, given your education, your papers are basically poorly written and without references; e.g., Spanish flu. Maybe education has gone down hill since I received mine as almost every course I took as undergrad and grad student included a term paper that required an intro, middle section, and discussion/conclusion AND detailed references.

Joel, are you claiming the CDC & Reuters, et. al., are telling the truth when they say there were no Spanish flu vaccines; and the journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service is lying when they say experimental vaccines were widely administered, including to military, residents of state institutions, etc.?

@ NWO Reporters

You are tiresome. As I explained and you are too much of an ASSHOLE to understand, first, the vaccines used during the Spanish flu were not for the flu virus and second, they were NOT subjected to any credible experimentation. Maybe in law one can play with words; but the bottom line is the reality. One of the reasons I have little respect for law, its focusing on specific terms/words. So, both were in essence telling the “truth”. Your rabid unscientific antivax bias just doesn’t accept that both used the word “vaccine” with a slightly different meaning. Doesn’t prove anything except in YOUR SICK MIND.

And fascinating how you ignore almost all of my points to focus on a trivial one.

@ NWO Reporter

On your webpage: “The focus of her writing is the manipulation of beliefs and behavior, and its impact on humanity”

Yep, except it is you who attempt to manipulate beliefs and behaviors based on your grossly one-sided black and white view of the world and, perhaps, your paranoid conspiracy beliefs.

@ Virginia Stoner (alias NWO Reporter)

Oops! I skimmed and saw that you were addressing Bacon, so didn’t read further. So, now I’ve read your comment, downloaded and read your paper:
Virginia Stoner (2021 Dec 30). Spanish Flu Vaccines — A pro-vax-friendly research guide

So, you cite an article by Peter Doshi. You do know that Orac has written about Doshi; but even long before I was aware that Doshi is a rabid antivaccinationist and having read numerous of his papers, I could tear each and every one apart. Try reading Orac:

Orac (2021 Jan 15). Why is Peter Doshi still an editor at The BMJ?

Orac (2021 May 21). Why is Perer Doshi still an editor at The BMJ? (RFK Jr. and COVID-19 vaccine edition)

So, for sake of argument, let’s use Doshi’s “Every year, hundreds of thousands of respiratory specimens are tested across the US. Of those tested, on average 16% are found to be influenza positive.” [Doshi (2013 May 16). Influenza – marketing vaccine by marketing disease. BMJ.]

According to the CDC; but I could cite peer-reviewed papers and reports from other nations: US illnesses from flu-like symptoms between 9 million and 41 million. Hospitalizations between 140,000 and 710,000. [CDC (2022 Jan 7). Disease Burden of Flu]

So, let’s use the lower numbers: 0.16 x 9,000,000 = 1,440,000
0.16 x 140,000 = 22,000

Thus, even by Doshi’s numbers, flu vaccine that actually is based on particular strains tested for prevents or, at least reduces, almost 1 1/2 million hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths. I won’t go into his entire paper as I’ve made just one point that for most people would be important. And I don’t include how many people suffer, miss work, school, etc. Of course, the above numbers represent the lowest estimates of flu-like symptoms, all of the above numbers could be much higher.

You you write: “But those vaccines weren’t invented until the 1940s.”

Yep, as I wrote, they thought the pandemic was caused by various bacteria, so the first vaccines specifically designed for the flu virus weren’t developed until the 1940s.

You write: “Often, anti-vaccine propaganda looks suspiciously like a scholarly paper; it may contain multiple citations and references, and may even be published in a respected medical journal. Until it’s retracted or disappeared, don’t be fooled by all the trappings of legitimacy.”

Then you give title to an article which wasn’t retracted: Eyler (2010). The State of Science, Microbiology, and Vaccines Circa 1918. Public Health Reports Supplement 3; 125: 27-36.

So, are you contradicting yourself???

You quote from the article: “Many vaccines were developed and used during the 1918–1919 pandemic. The medical literature was full of contradictory claims of their success; there was apparently no consensus on how to judge the reported results of these vaccine trials.”

You then write: “Since we already confirmed with multiple credible sources that there were no vaccines for Spanish Flu, the author is apparently an antivaccine activist, who tricked a respected professional journal into publishing a nonsense paper to discredit vaccination—the greatest medical miracle of all time.”

How is he an anti vaccine activist? He goes into depth, as you quote, development of vaccines against bacteria, that, of course, didn’t work against viruses. And he explains that, at the time, clinical trials were NOT invented/used. He concludes with: “The result of the vaccine controversy was both a further waning of confidence in Pfeiffer’s bacillus as the agent of influenza and the emergence. of an early set of criteria for valid vaccine trials.” So, once again, there were vaccines; but against bacteria believed to cause the Spanish Flu, but not against the actual flu virus. And he concludes with “emergence. of an early set of criteria for valid vaccine trials.” Doesn’t sound like an antivaccinationist, just someone giving a history lesson. Or maybe you didn’t understand the last sentence???

And, as I explained in an earlier comment, the Spanish flu killed with cytokine storms or secondary opportunistic bacterial pneumonias. One article states: “Most deaths in the 1918 influenza pandemic were caused by secondary bacterial pneumonia . . . Findings of 1 military study using hemolytic streptococci also suggested that there was significant protection. . . Although it is important to consider the possibility of unappreciated biases, and the best-quality study (by McCoy et al [20]) with a small sample size suggested no vaccine effect, the data are generally consistent with a protective effect for the 2 types of bacterial vaccines designed to prevent infection with what are now accepted as the major causes of pneumonia and death in the 1918–1919 pandemic: pneumococci and hemolytic streptococci [4, 5].” [Chien (2010 Dec). Efficacy of Whole-Cell Killed Bacterial Vaccines in Preventing Pneumonia and Death during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Journal of Infectious Diseases; 202(11); 1639-1648.]

So, despite what you choose to believe, there is some evidence that some of the vaccines used during the Spanish flu actually did save lives.

In addition, again, despite what you choose to believe in YOUR RIGID BIAS AGAINST VACCINES, there are numerous studies that have found clear evidence that the flu vaccine does prevent severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths. [e.g., Kostova (2013 Jun). Influenza Illness and Hospitalizations Averted by Influenza Vaccination in the United States, 2005-2011. Public Library of Science; 8(6).

NOPE, not even close to 100%; but as I’ve written before, seatbelts only prevent severe injury and death by 50%; but I have always used seatbelts.

And the risks from flu vaccine are minuscule. In 1976 a doctor in Minnesota was listening to a cassette tape on Guillain-Barre Syndrome, probably tired, misunderstood and submitted cases to MMWR. Others followed; but awhile later a group of researchers attempted to get the actual medical records and found most were misdiagnosed, not GB. Yep, vaccine didn’t work because developed on a strain of flu that did NOT break out; but had it broken out since it resembled the H1N1 from 1918, it could have been devastating. Note. I’m tired, so won’t give references. I’m tired because it is clear that you cherry-pick papers, sometimes don’t even clearly understand them, basically that YOU ARE A RIGID BIASED ANTIVACCINATIONISTS and give NO indication you even understand the basics of vaccines; e.g., immunology, microbiology, epidemiology, etc.

p.s. responding to you just a waste of time as I’m convinced nothing will change your mind and it took me from reading a fascinating book by Professor of Law at University of Texas at Austin; Sanford Levinson (2006). The Undemocratic Constitution.

Don’t know if I mentioned it; but my BA was in Political Science with minor in Social Psychology and I took three courses in Constitutional Law and, though not my profession, have read dozens of books and 100s of papers.

@ Virginia Stoner (Alias NWO Reporter).

I did some additional thinking about Doshi’s paper, especially claim that on average only 16% tested positive. However, he doesn’t mention which type of tests were used. If RT-PCRs or viral cultures the tests are quite accurate; however, in most cases offices and clinics use Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests where “false negatives are common, especially when influenza is high . . . Sensitivities of RIDTs are generally 40-70%, but a range of 10-80% has been reported compared to viral culture or RT-PCR.” [CDC (2016 Oct 25). Guidance for Clinicians on the Use of Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests ]

Quite simply the percentage Doshi gives could simply mean a high number of false negatives. Most tests will be rapid because the others are expensive, time consuming, etc. Keep also in mind that studies done usually find that a few specific viruses are responsible for majority of cases. Doshi cherry picks papers, not a systematic review, not even close.

And, Doshi writes: “Since at least 2005, non-CDC researchers have pointed out the seeming impossibility that influenza vaccines could be preventing 50% of all deaths from all causes when influenza is estimated to only cause around 5% of all wintertime deaths.”
I hope you realize that wintertime deaths include cancer, heart disease, car accidents, and a number of others. The question should be how many cases of respiratory viral infection deaths are prevented. One could always pick one particular type of death; e.g., congestive heart failure, its percentage of ALL deaths.

And he writes: “No evidence exists, however, to show that this reduction in risk of symptomatic influenza for a specific population—here, among healthy adults—extrapolates into any reduced risk of serious complications from influenza such as hospitalizations or death in another population (complications largely occur among the frail, older population).”

There have been a number of studies that show flu vaccine reduces risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and deaths in elderly. Just a few:

Chang (2020 Mar). Effect of Influenza Vaccination on Mortality and Risk of Hospitalization in Elderly Individuals with and without Disabilities: A Nationwide, Population-Based Cohort Study. Vaccines; 8(112).

Darvishian (2014 Nov 6). Effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine in community-dwelling elderly people – a meta-analysis of test-negative design case-control studies. The Lancet; 14: 1228–39

Fank (2016). Influenza Vaccination Reduces Hospitalization for Heart Failure in Elderly Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Acta Cardiol Sin; 32:290-298.

Note. I have 60 papers on flu vaccine and elderly. I’m not going to type in all of them. Flu vaccine only reduces risk, maybe only 10%; but risk is minimal of severe adverse reactions and as an elderly person, anything is better than nothing.

And on additional point, as with COVID vaccines, flu vaccine doesn’t end transmissibility but reduces, so some protection to third parties.

@ NWO Reporter (New World Order Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist)

You write: “A 2010 paper published in the journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service confirms that many different experimental vaccines were developed for the Spanish Flu, and widely administered to millions, including military, employees of large corporations, and residents of state institutions. The question is, why are the CDC, Reuters, the National Archives and many more flat-out lying about it?

Are you incapable of simply giving a detailed reference for the 2010 paper?

In any case, let’s look at the websites you claim are “flat-out lying”:

A. “1940s: Thomas Francis, Jr., MD and Jonas Salk, MD serve as lead researchers at the University of Michigan to develop the first inactivated flu vaccine with support from the U.S. Army” [CDC(2019 Jan 30). Influenza Historic Timeline]

B. “The vulnerability of healthy young adults and the lack of vaccines and treatments created a major public health crisis, causing at least 50 million deaths worldwide, including approximately 675,000 in the United States.” [CDC (2018 Mar 20).1918 Pandemic Influenza Historic Timeline]

C. “With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections” [CDC (2019 Mar 20). 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus)]

D. “With no vaccine to protect against the virus” [National Archives. The Flu Pandemic of 1918]

E. “A vaccine against the flu did not exist at the time.” [Reuters Staff (2020 Apr 1). False claim: the 1918 influenza pandemic was caused by vaccines. Reuters]

F. “At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain” [History Channel (2020 May 19). Spanish Flu]
Note that A, C, D, E, F, ALL specifically state vaccine against flu. The article that you review in depth by Eyler specifically deals with vaccines developed to deal with secondary opportunistic bacterial infections, NOT for protecting against flu, though their developers believed they did. Many were not only poorly made; but against bacteria not involved. Most of the vaccines were for H influenzae. However, as I mentioned above, some vaccines for pneumoccocal bacteria may have worked. The problem is that 2% of world’s population died from Spanish flu. Chien’s review included less than 10,000 receiving pneumococcal vaccines, so, assuming the vaccines only 20% effective, they might have saved 200 lives. But the results were advances in how we develop and test vaccines. This was 100 years ago. As Alfred E. Newman said in Mad Magazine: “In hindsight we all have 20/20 vision”. Note. as child I subscribed to Mad Magazine. [Eyler (2010). The State of Science, Microbiology, and Vaccines Circa 1918. Public Health Reports Supplement 3; 125: 27-36; Chien (2010 Dec). Efficacy of Whole-Cell Killed Bacterial Vaccines in Preventing Pneumonia and Death during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Journal of Infectious Diseases; 202(11); 1639-1648.]

The above papers also left out that a “successful” treatment against Spanish flu was used. A very few places experimented with convalescent plasma, that is, blood plasma taken from flu survivors and given to current patients. At the time this technologically was a difficult procedure to perform; but it may have saved a half dozen to a dozen lives. So, I guess ALL the papers were also lying about NO treatment available.

I guess if all the above wanted to give every detail they could have added that attempts were made to develop vaccines based on the misunderstanding that bacteria were responsible. Most of these vaccines were for the wrong bacteria; but a few based on H. influenzae used on a small group of people, may have saved a few lives; but they did NOT prevent flu and, thus, the huge number of deaths. There was also one treatment, convalescent plasma, used experimentally at a few places that may have save a very few lives.

The bottom line is you accuse them of lying when they told the truth, no vaccine against the flu. The TRUTH.

While I didn’t go to law school, my understanding is that legal documents must be very exact in their choice of languages, so, in this case, they stated vaccine for flu, not vaccines in general or for secondary opportunistic bacterial infections.

If you weren’t spreading such serious disinformation, you’d be a hoot, Joel: “The article that you review in depth by Eyler specifically deals with vaccines developed to deal with secondary opportunistic bacterial infections, NOT for protecting against flu, though their developers believed they did.”

That is complete nonsense (they believed the vaccines would protect against flu, but that’s not why they developed them?!) and directly contradicts the Eyler paper, which makes it very clear the experimental Spanish flu vaccines were specifically designed and marketed to prevent and/or cure the Spanish flu.

Later on, as belief began to wane that the bacteria Pfeiffer’s bacillus caused the Spanish flu, some vaccines were developed to prevent pneumonia, and were based on other theories–but that wasn’t until 1919-1920.

@ NWO Reporter (New World Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist)

You write: “You’re a real charmer, aren’t you, Joel? And boy, can you dance.”


I went thru three of your papers and shredded them, point by point, and also pointed out how poorly you document them; but you ignore and attempt to focus on one trivial insignificant fact, which I just posted that you were even wrong about it. That is, seemingly contradictions about 1918 vaccines. May take some time for my comment to be posted, sometimes immediately, sometimes takes awhile. Don’t know why; but I have literally NO expertise on web management.

So, I’m NOT trying to be charming and what does dancing have to do with the logic, science, and history of vaccines? YOU ARE SICK SICK SICK

Joel, you haven’t “shredded” jack. You’ve slapped dozens of BS citations on the screen, engaged in childish name-calling and tasteless derision, and danced, danced, danced around inconvenient facts. You’re a dishonest debater and your constant BS is tiresome.

@ NWO Report (New World Order Paranoid Conspiracy Believer)

You write: “Aarno, back then there were no standards for testing vaccines–so the results of those tests were even more suspect than they are today.”

And then quote Marcia Angell: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.”

And once again, you fail to give an adequate reference: Angell (2009 Jan 15). Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption. The New York Review of Books.

Angell writes: “Legally, physicians may use drugs that have already been approved for a particular purpose for any other purpose they choose, but such use should be based on good published scientific evidence.

And this is a problem. Drug companies are NOT allowed to market drugs for purposes not approved by FDA; but some companies get around this by paying doctors to give lectures at seminars. I have nothing against using a drug for a purpose not approved by FDA; but only if law requires doctor to fill out questionnaire giving patients demographics, diagnoses, and prescription protocol. Then doctor should also be required by law to fill in follow-up questionnaire, including, of course, outcome. Actually, we have this for what is called “compassionate use”, a drug not yet approved by FDA at all, so drug can be used for those dying, etc.; but my suggestion is for any off-label usage. FDA can then look at such reports and either give some sort of authorization and/or required the company perform further research or it will be forbidden to use drug for specific off-label usage. However, as opposed to you, I don’t see world in paranoid dimensions of black and white. Some off-label used drugs have caused harm; but others eventually turned out to be beneficial. So, I would want Congress to pass laws/regulations to reduce those harmful.

First, you ignored what I wrote regarding Eyler’s paper”

Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
March 4, 2022 at 3:06 pm

Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
March 5, 2022 at 10:17 am

So, yep, back then there were no standards; but you are wrong about still being suspect, at least, with regards to vaccines. First, yep, about 25 drugs approved by FDA have been removed from market over past 30 years; but, not because of FDA defects; but because companies didn’t supply all their data. By law they are supposed to supply EVERYTHING; but some companies, NOT all, supply FDA with only positive studies, not negative ones. However, I’ve written before that as a long time member of Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog organization, they suggest waiting seven years before using a new drug which gives ample time for independent follow-up studies, not sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and reports from different nations health authorities. Only if there is NO other drug for a life-threatening illness do they suggest you have no choice. And, as it turns out almost all of the 25 drugs withdrawn from market were within less than seven years. And you missed that Angell wrote: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published”

So, even she doesn’t say ALL of the published research is unbelievable. As I’ve written over and over, I don’t trust one or two studies; but if on an important subject I do searches, both PubMed, Google Scholar, both for peer-reviewed papers and reports from various organizations; e.g., WHO, FDA, CDC, Swedish Hälsovårdsnämnden, etc. And by the way, I own and read years ago one of the books she reviews: Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs by Melody Petersen, and have a half-dozen more books on same subject and well over 100 papers. As opposed to you, I neither trust nor distrust any company; but do my own research and I, as opposed to you, especially with vaccines, understand immunology, etc. and research design and, again, the FDA regulations for approval of vaccines exponentially higher and more stringent than other drugs.

I also have Marcia Angell’s book “Medicine on Trials” which basically tears apart just how dishonest many lawsuits against drug companies, etc are; but, as opposed to you, I also believe many of the lawsuits are legitimate. Again, I don’t see world in black and white.

But, I suggest if you are ever seriously ill that you avoid ALL drugs as you can’t be sure. Even drugs that have been on the market for decades. Keep in mind that literally thousands of drugs were approved during time 25 were withdrawn and one can find follow-up studies for most of them. What I do suggest is that our Congress should pass a law that if a drug company withholds any data and the result is a drug that harms people, even kills them and/or is used instead of a drug that would have helped, that there should be not only huge fines for the company; but those drug company employees who were responsible should face criminal penalties including substantial prison times and fines, not either or. But this is a problem beyond just drugs. When company employees knowingly allow products to be sold that result in harm, sometimes companies not even fined; e.g. Ford Pinto had exploding gas tanks. Internal documents obtained from company during lawsuit found that they were aware; but figured cheaper to pay off families with sealed documents than withdraw from market and fix the gas tanks, even though would have cost only a few dollars for each car.

However, as I’ve explained umpteen times, the FDA requirements for vaccines are exponentially greater than for other drugs, including much much larger sample sizes, more stringent requirements for submitting all data, and even unannounced visits to production facilities. And given vaccines are used all over the world, many other nations do their own studies. And since vaccines are used by everyone, only a paranoid conspiracy believer like you would assume that doctors, public health workers, epidemiologists in different nations with different cultures, politics, history, etc. would not do their jobs, not care about their fellow citizens.

So, first you rely on one person’s opinion, though a well-respected person, and two, you, as usual, see the world in black and white and assume that ALL drug companies lie and ALL drugs on market not properly approved and are a risk.

I just go back from donating blood, one unit plasma, one unit platelets, and one unit red blood cells, so while SICK PARANOIDS like you, if people believe you, will cause potential harm, I try to help total strangers. According to blood bank, each unit helps up to three people, so in one day I potentially helped up to nine total strangers.

I suggest you carefully read ALL of my comments; but doubt you will.

@ NWO Report (New World Order Paranoid Conspiracy Believer)

Below is a list of books I have, both positive and mainly negative about our Pharmaceutical Industry; but also how doctors, not paid by industry; but simply to avoid more time-consuming diagnoses and treatments, especially given how current for-profit insurance companies, etc. pay them, write out prescriptions as an easy chargeable way out. Note. that I purchased and read each of the books within year or two of publication, some going back to early 1970s. One of the books is by Marcia Angell. An excellent balanced book is Avorn’s and I have several books by Ben Goldacre and his website bookmarked. finally, if you consider yourself at all open-minded, I recommend Hilts book on history of FDA. I also have over 100 papers, so I have been reading on Pharmaceutical companies for almost 50 years; but, of course, if you find a short paper that confirms your bias, well, that’s all you need.

I should also point out that I have known researchers at CDC, FDA, and various Pharmaceutical Companies. One, a very old close friends has run clinical trials for over 30 years and will only accept job if promised in writing she will get ALL the data and her work will be presented to FDA as written. I won’t name them; but she has made it clear that there are certain companies she won’t work for and others gladly. Another problem is that many of the research departments at Pharmaceutical companies are quite honest and competent; but the “marketing departments” of some companies pick and choose what the researchers found. When the actual research has been revealed; e.g., discovery motions from lawsuits, quite clear that good research was actually conducted.

So, once again, we don’t live in your Paranoid Delusional Black and White world.

p.s. the European Union has its own drug approval agency and they have actually rejected a number of drugs approved in U.S., which is why I also go often to their website European Medicines Agency as well as check out Swedish, Canadian, and UK government websites.

Pharmaceutical Companies & the FDA
Reference List

Abramson J (2004). Overdo$ed America: The Broken Promise of Medicine.

Angell M (2004). The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us And What To Do About It.

Avorn J (2004). Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs.

Brecher, EM & Editors of Consumer Reports (1972). Licit & Illicit Drugs: on Narcotics, Stimulants, Depressants, Inhalants, Hallucinogens—including Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohol.

Brynner R & Stephens T (2001). Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide And Its Revival As A Vital Medicine

Burkholz H (1994). The FDA Follies; An alarming look at our food and drug in the 1980s.

Fried S (1998). Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs.

Goldacre B (2012). Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients.

Hilts PJ (2003). Protecting America’s Health: The FDA, Business, and One Hundred Years of Regulation.

Hughes R & Brewn R (1979). The Tranquilizing of America: Pill Poppint and the American Way of Life.

The Insight Team of the Sunday Times of London (1979). Suffer the Children: The Story of Thalidomide.

Mann CC & Plummer ML (1992). The Aspirin Wars: Money, Medicine, and 100 Years of Rampant Competition.

Marsa L (1997). Prescription For Profits: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Bankrolled the Unholy Marriage Between Science and Business.

Moore TJ (1995). Deadly Medicine: Why tens of thousands of heart patients died in America’s worse drug disaster.

Petersen M (2008). Our Deadly Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Meds.

Seaman B (2003). The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth.

@ NWO Report (New World Order Paranoid Conspiracy Believer)

One last point. I don’t trust nor distrust any company, whether pharmaceutical, automobile, food, chemical, etc. In each industry are horribly dishonest companies; but also honest ones.

But the profession I least trust is the American law profession. We have more lawyers per capita than any other nation and more lawsuits, some valid, many semi-valid and even frivolous and many; e.g., Ford Pinto should have been criminal prosecution by Feds, not finding out in civil lawsuit on discovery.

Having read a lot of American history, we have a long history of lawsuits, far more than any other nation and a fairly recent book documents that the results of legal actions, both civil and criminal, in U.S. worse than many other nations. You should read the book: Robert Kagan. Adversarial Legalism.

I think our Congress should legislate that if any product found to potentially be harming people, etc. the Feds should investigate, bring criminal charges, and include both prison and fines for company and company officers; but compensation to victims. The Feds should keep at most 10% of victim compensation, not the 40% or more that lawyers get currently from civil lawsuits, especially if Feds prove criminal charges, the victim compensation should be automatic.

In U.S. if black teenager found with little crack cocaine, prison sentence, if drug company, car company, etc. market a product knowing it could harm and even kills people, company pays fine only. Remember 2008, bankers, already making extremely good incomes, created fraudulent mortgages that almost destroyed the entire world’s economy. Did they go to jail? Nope. Did they lose their jobs? Nope. They got to collect bonuses from monies, our monies used to bail out the banks. So, a poor teenager, who may be only harming himself or selling drugs to a few others, get max prison; but bankers that caused 10 million people to lose their jobs (some committed suicide) and 6 million to lose their homes got to collect bonuses.

Welcome to “That government of the corporations and super wealthy, by the corporations and super wealthy, and for the corporations and super wealthy.

I like to call it the government of the plutocrats, by the plutocrats, for the plutocrats. But then I haven’t completely accepted the Citizens United mindset yet.

@ squirrelelite

Citizens United ruled that CORPORATIONS are people with same Constitutional protections, so our Supreme Court created “that government of the corporations . . . and one could consider the CEOs of corporations a form of plutocrat. LOL

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