Drs. Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya are the scientific director and a senior scholar, respectively, at the Brownstone Institute, a right wing “free market” think tank founded by Jeffrey Tucker, who left his previous position as editorial director at another right wing think tank, American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), to found Brownstone as the “spiritual child of the Great Barrington Declaration.” I’m writing this post because last week I noticed an article by the two of them that repeats a common antivaccine trope that dates back to long before the pandemic, namely the claim that “vaccine fanatics” are turning people into antivaxxers (excuse me, “vaccine skeptics”). Where did they first publish their little missive? Believe it or not, they first published it on the conspiracy theory and antivax website The Epoch Times under the title How Vaccine Fanatics Fueled Vaccine Skepticism. Then, a week later, they republished it on the Brownstone Institute website under the title Vaccine Fanaticism Fuels Vaccine Skepticism. Let’s just say that publishing an article like this on The Epoch Times—which is a lot like Mike Adams‘ Natural News, only with slicker graphics, fewer ads, and only somewhat less histrionic headlines—is not a good look if you are “not antivaccine,” and both Kulldorff and Bhattacharya really, really, really don’t like being called “antivaccine,” even though both oppose COVID-19 vaccination for children, with Kulldorff even having recently written an article Should I Vaccinate My Child Against COVID?, which, predictably, concludes that the answer is no. Of course, I’ve never called either of them “antivaccine”; rather, I’ve pointed it out when they parrot—apparently unknowingly—antivaccine talking points. That doesn’t stop them from whining about being called “antivaccine.”
Before I discuss the article and its particularly annoying antivax trope, here’s a bit of background. Those of you who’ve been regulars here for a while will understand what I just described and why it’s important, but I realize that newbies might not know the history. In brief, the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) is a statement published by Drs. Bhattacharya and Kulldorff, plus Oxford scientist Dr. Sunetra Gupta in early October 2020 that, boiled down to its essence, claimed that (1) COVID-19 wasn’t that dangerous to “healthy” younger people and (2) “lockdowns” (i.e., apparently any COVID-19 mitigation instituted by governments that wasn’t completely 100% voluntary, such as business closures and mask mandates) were doing far more harm than good, both through economic and health damage, but also by slowing down the process of reaching “natural herd immunity,” a point at which enough of the population is immune due to previous infection that huge outbreaks can no longer happen. As a result, the GBD argued, all COVID-19 “lockdowns” should be stopped, society (and business) “reopened,” and those vulnerable to severe disease and death from COVID-19 shielded through a strategy of “focused protection.” Never mind that at this point there were no vaccines available to the public yet.
Unsurprisingly, the GBD was always more of an ideological document designed to provide the false appearance of scientific authority to an ideological narrative arguing that protecting the population against a pandemic costs too much, rather than a scientific one. After all, “focused protection” of the vulnerable is not really possible when a highly transmissible virus is spreading through a population, and “natural herd immunity” is impossible to reach, when variants like Delta and Omicron emerge and can evade “natural immunity” (more properly called post-infection or infection-induced immunity) almost as well as they can evade vaccine-induced immunity, making “natural immunity” apparently no more robust or durable than vaccine-induced immunity. Remember, reaching “natural herd immunity” requires that post-infection immunity be lifelong or at least very long-lasting, and clearly, given the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to mutate to become more transmissible and evade post-infection immunity, that prerequisite doesn’t apply to COVID-19. It’s not as though scientists didn’t know in October 2020 that, given the behavior of prior coronaviruses, that the emergence of more transmissible variants that could evade prior immunity was a very distinct possibility.
As has been described in detail, “focused protection” was more a rebranding than anything else of some public health interventions that were already being done, while other parts of “focused protection” were wildly impractical. As we like to say about, for example, naturopathy, what was good about the GBD was far from unique to the GBD, and what was unique to the GBD was definitely not good. None of that stopped the GBD and its authors from beoming hugely influential “merchants of doubt” with access to the highest levels of government and massive press coverage amplifying their message of, in essence, doing nothing to slow the spread of COVID-19, while likening COVID-19 public health mitigations to historical atrocities like the Chinese Cultural Revolution and slavery.
But what about us “vaccine fanatics”?
Superficially, you might think it very odd how the the Brownstone Institute has embraced antivax views to the point of spreading antivaccine disinformation, oppose childhood vaccination against COVID-19, and, now, parrots common antivax tropes in its war against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. (Again, the GBD was published before vaccines were available to the public at a time when it was expected that it would be months, if not over a year, before vaccines started finding their way into arms on a large scale.) You’d think that the GBD and Brownstone Institute would recognize that there’s no better tool for the “focused protection” of the vulnerable than safe and effective vaccines. Yet it didn’t take long for the Brownstone Institute to start to oppose vaccine mandates as vociferously as it had opposed “lockdowns” and mask mandates before, which leads us to Kulldorff and Bhattacharya’s take in The Epoch Times (I will keep reminding them that publishing in The Epoch Times is one of the best ways conceivable to kill off any scientific credibility that they might have had left):
The development of COVID-19 vaccines is one of the few successes during a pandemic that saw major failures in public health strategy and treatments. While the vaccines can’t prevent transmission, they have reduced mortality. Before the pandemic, there was almost universal trust in vaccines, and vaccine skeptics were a small but vocal minority.
With a life-saving vaccine during a major pandemic, one would expect more vaccine enthusiasm, but instead, it collapsed. What happened?
Ironically, the problem is vaccine fanaticism, which has caused vaccine skepticism, with problematic consequences extending beyond COVID-19 to trust in other vaccines. Vaccine fanaticism comes in many forms.
In their drive to increase uptake, the vaccine fanatics denied basic scientific facts, such as immunity provided by COVID recovery. This, despite numerous careful studies that showed that COVID-recovery provides better protection versus both infection and severe disease than the vaccine. Nevertheless, vaccine fanatics insisted that natural immunity shouldn’t “count” in the vaccine mandate schemes. By denying science, the vaccine fanatics created further public skepticism about the vaccines.
First, let’s address some of the revisionist history behind Kulldorff and Bhattacharya’s introduction. There was almost “universal trust in vaccines” before the pandemic? Clearly Kulldorff and Bhattacharya hadn’t been paying much attention before the pandemic to the rising influence of the antivaccine movement. While it is true that those who are outright antivaccine were (and still are) a pretty small minority, usually estimated to be in the low single digits, percentage-wise, of the population, their influence had been growing and contributing to vaccine hesitancy. This influence was amplified by social media and increasingly adopted by the right, which was seduced by the message of resistance to vaccine mandates as an issue of personal and parental “freedom” versus government overreach. By five years ago, vaccine mandates, which had previously enjoyed wide bipartisan support and were viewed as about as apolitical (or at least as nonpartisan) a policy as you can imagine, had already become hopelessly politicized. As a result, more and more “anti-mandate” conservatives were exposed to antivaccine pseudoscience and conspiracy theories and started to drift into antivaccine territory themselves. The result has been a strong rightward shift in the antivaccine movement that’s led to the Republican Party more and more openly pandering to and even embracing antivaccine conspiracy theories and more and more affinity between the far right and antivaxxers.
I also can’t help but note that Bhattacharya and Kulldorff have cleverly misstated the situation when it comes to vaccines and the prevention of transmission. A common antivaccine narrative is that COVID-19 vaccines don’t prevent infection or transmission at all, which is incorrect. They are, of course, imperfect at preventing transmission, particularly since the rise of the Omicron variants, but that does not mean that they “can’t prevent transmission,” as this not-so-dynamic duo claim. They do, just not as well as we would like, and, unfortunately, they have waning efficacy. They are, however, still highly effective at preventing severe disease resulting in hospitalization and death. I suppose I should be grateful that Kulldorff and Bhattacharya admit at least this.
It’s also not true that “vaccine fanatics” are unwilling to count “natural immunity” in vaccine mandate schemes. It’s more that antivaxxers ascribe magical properties to “natural immunity” that it doesn’t have, such as its being lifelong, to the point of touting policies based more on magical thinking than on the more complex reality that postinfection immunity is as imperfect as vaccine-induced immunity and that hybrid immunity (vaccine plus prior infection) is probably most efficacious and long-lasting, but that it is still better to avoid infection with the vaccine, if possible, and thereby avoid potential complications up to and including death due to COVID-19.
Here’s what really grates Kulldorff and Bhattacharya, though:
When these tactics failed, the public health establishment embraced vaccine coercion. They instituted vaccine passports to exclude the unvaccinated from participation in civil life, including access to libraries, museums, and restaurants. The federal government went further, using its vast regulatory powers to mandate vaccines as a condition of employment. These coercive actions effectively cast the unvaccinated into second-class citizenship. As they watched the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike contract COVID-19, they undoubtedly began to wonder whether public health truly had their best interests at heart.
Some vaccine fanatics have adopted the repellant tactic of falsely labeling people they disagree with as anti-vaccine. For instance, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a tabloid-style slander that epidemiologists and vaccine experts at Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford are opposed to “mass vaccination.” How might readers interpret that statement? “Well, if Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford professors are against the vaccines, maybe I should be too.”
Such false claims fuel vaccine hesitancy by putting the BMJ imprimatur on the lie that medicine and epidemiology professors are anti-vaxxers, when they aren’t. This damages vaccine confidence.
Once again, word to Bhattacharya and Kulldorff: If you don’t want to be called “antivaccine,” let me just suggest that publishing articles like this in an antivaccine rag like The Epoch Times is not a good way to counter that accusation. Just sayin’. Also, I’ll mention that that “slander” to which our duo refers happens to be an article by Gavin Yamey and myself that described the links between AIER, the driving force that recruited Kulldorff as its useful idiot, fired him up with enthusiasm for the project of opposing “lockdowns,” and set him loose to recruit Bhattacharya and Gupta to the weekend conference at AIER headquarters in Barrington, Massachusetts that ultimately birthed the GBD. The results appear to have exceeded AIER’s expectations.
More importantly, do Kulldorff and Bhattacharya understand that they are repeating a longstanding antivax trope that goes way, way back to many years before the pandemic? (I’ll assume for the moment, in the interest of charity, that they do not and that they will stop repeating this trope now that they know it’s an antivaccine trope.) Sometimes, I call it the “vaccine bully” trope, in which antivaxxers portray vaccine advocates, public health officials, and pediatricians as “bullies” whose hostile, “bullying” reactions drive those with “questions” about vaccines into the arms of antivaxxers. Let me just quote a woman named Dara Berger wrote in 2015:
Bullying is a horrible thing to live through especially when it involves a child. It can leave lasting physical and emotional scars. Children have even lost their lives to bullying as some get pushed over the edge and commit suicide. We here these stories everyday. Luckily there is more awareness and parents have some recourse. They can sue the school or do something more drastic like move or change schools to protect their child.
But what happens when an entire country is bullying individuals? I find that this is the case for Vaccine Bullying.
The Vaccine Bully is comprised of our entire government who doesn’t even accept that vaccines are hurting adults and children even though they secretly pay out billions of dollars in their not well disclosed Vaccine Court. Most Americans barely know that it exists.
This sounds rather similar to what Kulldorff and Bhattacharya are arguing, doesn’t it? While it’s not entirely unreasonable to be concerned that mandates might provoke a backlash, I note that it is almost always only the hard core antivaxxers, not the vaccine hesitant, who portray vaccine advocates as “bullying” and vaccine mandates a violation of “civil rights” akin to slavery, the Holocaust, and Jim Crow. Apparently, it’s just fine for them to use vile slanders to describe proponents of vaccine mandates, but if anyone calls them out for echoing old antivaccine talking points it’s an affront so awful that it will turn everyone antivax.
Here’s an example, apparently, of how “vaccine fanatics” have done harm:
Vaccine fanatics have politicized the vaccine, using it to paint political opponents as science-denying troglodytes by falsely claiming that they’re against vaccines. If a person trusts a particular politician that’s falsely accused of being against vaccines, that person may only hear the false accusation and therefore reject the vaccine. In a public health crisis, such political gameplay has devastating consequences. What should have been a bipartisan achievement of a vaccine being developed and deployed in record time during a pandemic turned into just another tool for a political food fight, fueling vaccine skepticism.
Again, as I pointed out above, formerly bipartisan school vaccine mandates had already been hopelessly politicized before the pandemic hit, the culmination of a process that had preceded the pandemic by at least a decade. It wasn’t the “vaccine fanatics” who politicized vaccine mandates; it was antivaxxers appealing to right wing ideas such as “parental rights” and “medical freedom.” The kindling had already been set ablaze. The pandemic just provided an abundant fuel source. Meanwhile, apparently Bhattacharya and Kulldorff don’t think it’s “polarizing” or “politicizing” to describe lockdowns or mask and vaccine mandates as incipient fascism, slavery, or a new “Cultural Revolution,” all of which are comparisons you can easily find on the Brownstone Institute website. As is always the case with cranks, it’s civility for thee but not for me and, when I use harsh language it’s truth but when you do it it’s horrible “politicization” and ad hominem. Of course, this is an effective strategy for trying to discredit your opponents.
I’ve also observed over the years that the “vaccine fanatics” line of ad hominem attack against vaccine advocates, besides parroting antivaccine talking points dating back decades, tends to be a favorite of those who are “vaccine skeptical” but so very, very desperate to portray themselves as “reasonable” as they delude themselves that they are not parroting antivaccine propaganda. For example, seven years ago, Alice Dreger was using the same schtick, although she chose a different word than “fanatics,” instead falsely portraying vaccine advocates as frenzied, self-righteous “zealots” who view vaccines as beyond criticism, as she invoked false equivalence between antivaccine pseudoscience and vaccine science in a manner that reminded me of these cartoons:
Before that, historian Mark Largent did the same thing ten years ago in which he strangely equated respecting parental concerns with pandering to antivax fears. It’s also been a longstanding antivax talking point to counter charges of being antivaccine by dismissing the term as a meaningless attack word applied to anyone who “questions” the narrative around vaccines—and a word that also somehow drives parents to become antivaccine. That’s why Kulldorff and Bhattacharya so strenuously object to any characterization of them as apologists for the antivaccine movement (even unwitting ones), but, as much as they deny it, that’s what they’re functioning as when they write articles like this for The Epoch Times that portray vaccine advocates as “fanatics” and their efforts as “fanaticism” that drives people into the arms of antivaxxers and turns them vaccine hesitant. Above all, antivaxxers crave legitimacy and to have their concerns, no matter how bizarre and based in pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, be taken seriously and viewed as “reasonable” (or at least as not unreasonable). Note that I’ve never said that Kulldorff and Bhattacharya are antivaccine. I have said a number of times that they are—I assume unwittingly—using the same arguments that antivaxxers have used for a long time.
After all, when you refer to vaccine advocacy as a religion, as both Kulldorff and Bhattacharya have, you are not exactly contributing to toning down the rhetoric:
Whether Kulldorff and Bhattacharya are just useful idiots or true ideologues who know that they are echoing and amplifying longstanding antivaccine talking points but don’t care because it serves their ideological goals probably doesn’t matter much any more at this point. They, and the GBD that they wrote, are now part of the right wing anti-public health disinformation machine. If they whine about being called out for promoting antivaccine talking points, such as trying to paint vaccine advocates and public health officials as “fanatics” or “zealots,” I really don’t care any more. By writing for The Epoch Times, they have basically shred any last vestige of scientific credibility that they ever had. It’s not an ad hominem attack to say that, and pointing out that they are parroting old antivax talking points while trying to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are doing it unknowingly is not calling them antivaccine. However, if they persistently fail to learn from those of us who have warned them that, by repeating hoary old antivaccine tropes repurposed against COVID-19 vaccines, they are sounding antivaccine and keep doing it, there’s really only one conclusion that I will be reluctantly forced to come to. There’s only so long I can keep giving them the benefit of the doubt after so many have tried to educate them.
117 replies on “The Brownstone Institute vs. “vaccine fanatics” in The Epoch Times”
How is it not an ad hominem attack to say that there is a fallacy of the middle ground in regards to vaccines? There are zealous fanatics and ignorant antivaxxers at the extremes, but why can’t someone be slightly skeptical without fully endorsing them?
Good article in NatGeo if you haven’t seen it;
The fallacy of the middle ground is that truth lies equidistant between the extremes. It does not. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 vaccines for example is not half way between low teens (CDC) and 150,000 (Jessica Rose). It is in fact low teens.
We know myocarditis is a rare side effect of COVID-19 vaccines that normally resolves itself quickly. We also know myocarditis is a relatively common side effect of catching COVID-19 and does not resolve itself nearly as quickly.
Kulldorf and Bhattacharya are not slightly sceptical of COVID-19 vaccines. The posit the vaccines should not be used for children, boosters are not required and that it is better to catch the disease than be vaccinated against it (with their caveat of so long as you are not vulnerable – a term they have never accurately defined).
Exactly, and these are all OLD antivax talking points:
The GBD is inherently eugenicist in that it discounts the “vulnerable” by saying that concern for their well-being shouldn’t get in the way of “opening up” society and that they can just be shunted away in a “focused protection” strategy.
Actually, there is sort of a “middle ground”, but not the way pseudo-scientists/ anti-vaxxers think:
they tend to view most situations as black-and-white, good or evil, when in reality, things are much more subtle shades of grey which they can’t see at all.
Vaccines aren’t perfect/ 100% effective/ with no side effects/ ever.
The real “middle ground” is a scientific, cost/ benefit analysis/ percentages etc. Various different vaccines can be measured for how effective and beneficial they are, how much they cost, how they measure in comparison to other vaccines or treatments. We know that some vaccines require more doses than others, some have longer periods of effectiveness. Some cost much less. Some are not recommended except in special circumstances ( e.g. places where certain diseases are common). Right now, several Covid vaccines are being compared on these measures. No SBM supporter views vaccines as all good or all bad: only anti-vaxxers see them as believing in perfection.
I guarantee I’m vaccinated against more diseases than you are. I’ll bet your yellow fever and anthrax are not up to date. Probably because you’re anti-vax.
That’s your logic here, thrown back at you.
Children and young adults under 26 are at less risk from the Covids than plain old flu. It’s a statistical non-issue. Double digit deaths in a population of 30 million, most of them with severe comorbidities.
Pfizer’s own records show 1200+ deaths in their study group. It took fewer than 30 adverse reactions to remove the Swine Flu vaccine from the market. Was that “anti-vax”?
Given my own demographic risk of dying of the Covids is somewhere below .001%, I see no point in bothering with a vaccine for it. I do have flu and this year the pneumovax vaccines.
The vaccines confer no significant reduction in spread, per the mfrs, only reduce severity in varying percentages in individuals (“efficacy”). So the cost-benefit analysis is entirely individual.
The shrieking hysteria about a cold that has pretty much the same side effects of other coronavirus colds is bizarre. You keep insisting that people are falling over dead, incapacitated into nursing homes for life, yet the available evidence, and almost everyone’s personal experience, is that a few people got sick and recovered, and occasionally someone died. The one friend I lost was already suffering obesity, heart disease, respiratory distress, and probably undiagnosed diabetes. Plain old flu would have killed him, as it killed another friend of mine.
And a significant percentage of the people I know who got the vaccine have had physiological reactions from neuropathy to joint inflammation to sloughing skin. The only reaction I’ve ever noted with the flu vaccine is my wife, who is specifically allergic to the set, and has been advised not to risk either of those going forward.
Pfizer’s own released data show more than “a tiny number” of adverse reactions. VAERS shows millions. Why would ordinary people who have received plenty of other vaccines suddenly make fake reports? Answer: the reports are not fake.
Our children have all the requisite childhood vaccines. There’s no reason for them to get this one, and they won’t.
And the more you shriek and froth, the more they still won’t.
My wife’s first degree IS epidemiology. I did HAZMAT control in the military. We know more about this subject than you have displayed, and apparently more than the quack conspiracy nut writing the blog, who seems to have no grasp how vaccines actually work, and certainly no grasp of human psychology.
Once again, you do realize, don’t you, that the current number of deaths per year among children from COVID-19 is roughly the same as the population-adjusted numbers of deaths from measles in the decade or so prior to the measles vaccine, right? You do realize that your argument is exactly the same as that antivaxxers made about the MMR vaccine, right? So why do you think vaccinating children against measles is a good idea but it’s not a good idea to vaccinate against COVID-19?
By first degree, I assume your wife has only a BS in epidemiology. If I’m correct, that doesn’t make her an epidemiologist, particularly if she hasn’t functioned as one professionally, and even epidemiologists who don’t do infectious disease have been getting COVID very wrong over the last two years. As for you doing HAZMAT control in the military? That doesn’t make you an epidemiologist, scientist, or physician either and makes me laugh that you would think that it makes you some sort of expert.
I’m just wondering how you cope with the cognitive dissonance of being a typical antivaxxer regurgitating typical antivax propaganda with respect to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines while simultaneously being pro-vaccine for every other vaccine?
Halfway between right and wrong is still damn wrong
We can convict Jussie Smollett for false racism and hate crimes allegations and send him to prison for that. Sure his crimes didn’t kill anybody but he made real victims of racism a target of retaliation.
However we cannot impeach, censure or convict anti-vax politicians for making false medical abuse allegations because of election reasons. This is while the anti-vaxxers have made false medical abuse allegations at it resulted in people being abused such as immunocompromised people and the rest of the general public denied access to COVID-19 vaccines in some parts of the country resulting in deaths.
Technically his crime was wasting the police’s time, not being a liar and a moron.
Yeah, and originally bringing him up in this thread was off-topic—annoyingly so, as well. Whoever it was, stop it or I might view it as an attempt at threadjacking.
I read Bob’s reference to Smollett as a lament of the fact antivaxers face no significant consequences for the harm they cause. “Why does this get punished, when this skates free.” That case may not be the best example for comparison, and the comment could have been clearer in intent, but I didn’t take it as threadjacking. Just maybe an odd way of facepalming at the latest wtf from the Brownstoners. (?)
Maybe, and perhaps I overreacted. These days my detectors might be hypersensitive to any indication of threadjacking.
I didn’t expect to thread jack at this part but its my anger directed at people I once supported in the past yes I used to support Andrew Wakefield at one point before I left. I myself used to fall for anti-vax talking points but left around the time the measles scare was going to be a candidate to killed the same amount of people as COVID-19 is today.
GBD and UofN sounds very intellectual on the surface until ts been proven to abuse and kill people who are immunocompromised.
The Epoch Times? That is where young Jake had his column before he was unaccountably booted as a contributor. There is definitely something to be said for you will be known by the company you keep.
If you don’t want to be thought of as anti-vaccine, don’t go around parroting anti-vaccine talking points.
IKR? Publishing regularly in The Epoch Times is about as good a way to shred whatever vestige of scientific respectability you might have had left. The only things that would be worse would be publishing in Natural News or Infowars or going to work for RFK Jr. Worse, the article I discussed in this post was not some Brownstone article that was republished in The Epoch Times. It was published on The Epoch Times FIRST.
You know who else writes for the Epoch Times?
None other than, the Professional Ignoramus Lawrence Solomon!
Still denying global warming and, of course, disparaging COVID vaccines.
I expect he has a lot more time to write since his Hipster Coffee Shop went bust.
Lawrence Solomon? Sadly for Solomon, the honorific of wrongest man on the planet is already taken by Alex Berenson.
Solomon sure does give Berenson a run for his money for that title, though.
Bhattacharya’s been spreading vaccine denialism for awhile in the service of his ideologically-motivated stance on infection-based herd immunity, as per his co-authored Great Barrington Declaration. Take his following claim from July 30, 2020:
“I mean, so I think it’s not clear in India that the lockdowns actually did, I mean, it’s pretty clear it didn’t do anything. It certainly didn’t suppress the disease long enough to stop it from spreading. I don’t see any policy in India outside of herd immunity. I really don’t. I think the question is protection of older people. How do you do that in a setting where there’s a lot of intergenerational cohabitation and the striking thing though, is, is the death rates are lower in India, less than in the United States. The infection fatality rate seems like it’s one of the thousand in India.”
And place that alongside his claims in the Great Barrington Declaration on October 4, 2020:
“As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.
People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”
Let’s set aside the fact that his IFR estimate (infection fatality rate, or the proportion of SARS-CoV-2-infected people who die of COVID-19) there is an under-estimate because, for example, he doesn’t account for massive under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths in India:
Another large issue is that he’s talking about infection-based herd immunity in the absence of vaccination. That leads into his January 11, 2021 article in the Indian press where he greatly over-estimated the number of infections of India, and thus over-estimated how close India was to infection-based herd immunity. That article came weeks before India suffered a massive COVID-19 wave, and came with the following instances of vaccine denialism:
“Majority Indians have natural immunity. Vaccinating entire population can cause great harm
As we start 2021, the Covid-19 epidemic in India has progressed to a point where a near majority of the population has developed immunity to the virus.
[…] mathematical models imply that more than 50 per cent of the Indian population may have developed natural immunity to the virus. […] Though this may sound like bad news, since it implies that nearly a billion Indians have already been infected, the silver lining is that the vast majority have recovered from infection and have lasting immunity to reinfection.
Furthermore, those who have already developed immunity to Covid through natural infection are extremely unlikely to develop additional immunity from vaccination. For instance, in the Pfizer randomised trial, the vaccine was tested in previously infected patients to check for its safety in that group. But those same patients were excluded from the analysis of efficacy, presumably because the scientists understood that the vaccine would confer no additional benefit to them.
Every vaccine has some side effects, and though the approved Covid vaccines are safe, they are no exception. Most of the side effects are mild – soreness at the injection site, aches and pains from the immunological reaction – but very rarely, severe adverse events do occur. For recovered Covid patients, then, the vaccines provide no benefit and some harm. It is thus unethical to vaccinate them.”
The antibody-based (seroprevalence) infection rate in India was actually ~24% – ~30%, around half of what Bhattacharya claimed:
[ https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3810375 ]
Bhattacharya went to medical school, so he should know basic immunology. That immunology includes the fact that vaccination following infection would induce a stronger neutralizing antibody response than infection alone. Also, study inclusion and exclusion criteria are methodological points about a study, not a claim about what the results would have been if people were included. So Bhattacharya’s inferences from “the Pfizer randomised trial” were nonsense. Instead evidence confirmed that vaccination following infection induces a stronger neutralizing antibody response than infection alone, contrary to Bhattacharya’s tripe:
He owes India an apology for his ideologically-motivated, vaccine denialist misinformation.
Sure. Even in October 2020, with no vaccines, we knew that “natural herd immunity” would likely not be achievable for this coronavirus and herd immunity couldn’t be reached without vaccines because of (1) the likelihood of new variants that could evade postinfection immunity and (2) the low likelihood, based on experience with previous SARS coronaviruses that postinfection immunity would be sufficiently long lived to allow for achieving a sufficiently high percentage of the population with immunity to allow for the development of herd immunity from infection alone. These two factors made the Great Barrington Declaration problematic, at best, even in October 2020. Now that there are safe and effective vaccines, even if they are imperfect and require boosters, advocating a natural herd immunity approach is madness.
And the pretense that there wasn’t vaccines hesitancy going in is unfounded. There was a lot of it.
In fact, vaccine hesitancy decreased in many communities over time – and no thanks to them. As you point out, they’re promoting hesitancy for, for example, vaccinating children.
People who don’t vaccinate aren’t likely to have read your BMJ piece (sorry). But they are likely to have read some of the GBD claims downplaying the virus or calling for natural protection, or the recent Florida take.
This annoys me especially because you have, among other things, responded to antivaccine talking points while they amplify them, as you point out.
What really bugs me is also their claim that vaccine mandates weren’t politicized until COVID-19 mandates started popping up. They really are incredibly ignorant of some basic recent history, just the last decade, and particularly the last 5 years immediately before the pandemic. As I emphasize in this post, vaccine mandates had already been horrifically politicized BEFORE the pandemic hit in early 2020. My guess is that before the pandemic Kulldorff and Bhattacharya paid little or no attention to issues of vaccine hesitancy, antivaccine misinformation and its effects, and the increasing politicization of public health and vaccine mandates and have only started harping on these issues because they can weaponize them to argue against public health mitigations for COVID-19 and blame “vaccine fanatics” for the vaccine hesitancy that they and their allies have done so much to encourage.
The idea that anyone working in this field at STANFORD would be ignorant of vaccine politics after Disneyland and all the action around SB277 strains credibility. I don’t recall if any Hoover people were involved in public discussions of those mandate exemptions, but you have to imagine that would at least draw some attention from the uber-Libertarian there internally.
I concur. I mainly mention this simply to give Bhattacharya and Kulldorff the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I’m being too generous. While I find it possible that perhaps Kulldorff was unaware of the politics of SB 277 and the pre-pandemic politicization of school vaccine mandates given that he was at Harvard and primarily functioned as a biostatistician and not a public health scientist and that likely that Gupta was unaware because she’s based at Oxford (although the UK’s experience post-Wakefield should have clued her in), it strains credulity to the breaking point to accept that Bhattacharya at Stanford wasn’t aware before the pandemic of how politicized vaccine mandates had already become before the pandemic.
I remember State Senator Richard Pan who is behind California’ Vaccine Mandates during the Disneyland measles scare said stuff on the lines of protecting the rights of immunocompromised children by removing personal beliefs and religion exemptions in the state mandates. However that got hijacked by politicians in other parts of the USA as “Forced Vaccinations” even though there’s no evidence of forrced vaccinations in California as of this posting
We seem to miss that there is an inverse relationship between hesitancy and mandates.
I would love to live in a world where everyone gets vaccinated by choice. But that’s not the case, and thanks to the people like those at Brownstone, we may need mandates. It would be obvious that in a world with +95% of the population vaccinated, mandates would be a waste of time.
BTW, some countries do count infection (and recovery) for purposes of determining immunity status (usually counted as a single shot).
Yes, Israel counts it for 6 months.
I think it’s reasonable to count natural immunity – though not as a complete pass – but in the U.S.. I suspect policy makers worry about opening that door because of implementation issues. With our testing problems, many people were not tested, and sorting out self-diagnoses and willing doctor diagnoses adds an unfortunate dimension. It’s not just about whether there’s immunity; it’s also about can you plausibly police this.
Well, yes. Exactly. To count “natural immunity” when determining vaccine requirements is difficult to implement, which is why it’s not really done for any vaccine other than perhaps, determining if you need a measles or hepatitis B booster as an adult, where titers are sometimes used.
Because they are correct. Vaccine fanatics are pushing mandates for what is still largely is an experimental vaccine for a disease that doesn’t warrant mandates and a vaccine that does not stop transmission in any meaningful way. This causes a negative reaction to the whole thing in those of us that were (I’ve decided against the vaccine for the time being) still considering things. The vax fanatics pushing the mandates – and how quickly we went from no mandate to vaccine passports – and ignoring the risks of the vax (unlike many of our European peers which appear to be paying attention to reactions more closely) itself just make the whole thing smell off and like the prudent thing to do is wait. For those that claim “Science!”, you’re wrong. Until there are independent labs doing controlled experiments of the vaccine that aren’t run by Pharmaceutical companies it’s still about trusting those companies. Trusting that there are good people doing these trials that haven’t been tempted to fudge numbers here and there, trusting that the company execs and the FDA aren’t working together to block the information getting to the public (which appears to be the case) (https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/well-all-be-dead-before-fda-releases-full-covid-vaccine-record-plaintiffs-say-2021-12-13/) . Pfizer and the FDA are still trickling out documents that are showing more reactions and thus more risk was represented to the public and are likely still fighting a court order to release those docs. The big picture is that nothing said about the vaccine has actually held much water and the vaccine pushers have had to back off claim after claim -old enough to remember when they were 95% effective, and still also largely ignore that there is significant risk to the vax, particularly to younger people who are in very little danger from the disease. Oh sure you can try to weasel out of the 95% figure saying that new variants blah blah blah but were viral variants really that new to science that they had no idea? Or did they instead take the rosiest statistic that they knew wouldn’t hold up and repeat it/propagandize it. TLDR; You reap what you sow,
I’m guessing that, as an antivax conspiracy theorist yourself, you illustrate my point quite nicely in that you also oppose school vaccine mandates for MMR and the varicella vaccine, which is why you have no problem deploying this argument. That’s in contrast to doctors using the same argument, whom I assume not to be antivaccine and who hopefully will be shocked to learn the provenance of the argument they’re repeating.
In fact, I hope that Drs. Kulldorff and Bhattacharya, if they read this post, see your comment. You help make my point.
You are just retreating to a false equivalence here. This is not the MMR vax. Though the health authority approach is probably rubbing off on that one and making people question it as well.
Funny how the point just flew right by you. No, it’s not the MMR vaccine, but the arguments against vaccinating children against COVID-19 are exactly the same arguments made by antivaxxers against vaccinating against measles.
I’ll bite, though. There’s only a difference if you believe the MMR to be safe and effective. Do you believe that the MMR is safe and effective enjoy to recommend that in general children without legitimate medical contraindications should receive it? Yes or no?
I think the data is that it’s much safer than Covid vax, but could perhaps be safer. It isn’t made safer because mandates remove that incentive. Therefore I don’t think it necessarily should be given unless there is a risk of contracting the virus(es), currently.
And…thank you for responding more or less the way that I predicted. My point in this post stands. Your argument is that MMR is more dangerous than the disease.
Also, the reason that the risk of contracting measles is currently so low is that vaccine uptake is over 90% in most parts of the country. Herd immunity, baby, and from vaccines, not “natural immunity” to measles!
I never argued that MMR vax is more dangerous than the disease. I argued that’s the bar only because there are mandates and thus less incentive to make it safer.
That is a variation of the “vaccines aren’t safe enough/are worse than the disease” trope. You think I haven’t heard the claim that pharmaceutical companies have no incentive to “make MMR safer” (or any vaccine safer) because of mandates? I’ve heard that one before, and it’s BS as well.
Only if you regard elementary economics as BS.
Another predictable reply that I’ve heard since 2004. Seriously, you aren’t even interesting in your antivax tropes, and this isn’t my first rodeo.
@john labarge Pharmaceutical producta are approved by FDA after clinical trial. Do you think that this is not an incentive.
Regulation by lawsuits is very much an US phenomenon. Do you think that products outside US are totally unsafe ?
I’m guessing, as a vaccine conspiracy theorist yourself, you are choosing to ignore the documented vanishingly small risk of the disease to children, and the stated and observable fact that the vaccines do not prevent transmission, and are therefore irrelevant other than on an individual basis, for a disease with a mortality below .087% in the US, and an IFR below .16% last I checked.
See how effective name calling is?
Your math isn’t very good. As of my last check of the most recent statistics, there have been approximately 970K deaths from COVID-19. That’s 0.3% of the US population, not 0.087% and means that the very LOWEST estimate of IFR for COVID-19 in the US is 0.3%, assuming that every single individual in the US has been infected. You really aren’t very good at this.
“Your math isn’t very good.”
In my experience the anti-vax folks cannot seem to operate a calculator.
“disease that doesn’t warrant mandates”
Continue ignoring all that has gone before, why don’t you?
Hey guys, lots of people get maimed and killed by these exposed drive belts in this industrial mill. How about we install guarding to protect them?
Several decades later….
It’s health and safety gone mad. Drive belts aren’t dangerous. When was the last time you heard of someone’s arm getting ripped off by one?
Apologies to the farmers of the Mid West. If I believe Bill Bryson, it’s a regular occurrence for farmers to turn up with an arm in a bag to be sown back on.
More false equivalence.
Not really. Since the start of the pandemic there have been improvements in treatment methods and hard earned experience. Even without immunity and less dangerous variants, there would be fewer deaths from Covid. So looking at a disease NOW, after all the lessons learned, plus various levels of immunity, measures to reduce spread etc, and saying ‘Oh, it’s not that dangerous’ is a conveniently dishonest ploy. It’s less dangerous BECAUSE, in part, of the control measures instituted before.
You could claim that some of those control measures are no longer needed. Here, in the UK, many measures are being eased or eliminated. It may be good. Or it might well bite us in the arse.
johnlabarge: “Trusting that there are good people doing these trials that haven’t been tempted to fudge numbers here and there, trusting that the company execs and the FDA aren’t working together to block the information getting to the public (which appears to be the case)”
What’s really shocking is that those researchers, peer reviewers, journal editors, pharma execs and FDA/CDC staffers (we’re talking thousands of people here) have been getting the vaccines, exposing themselves to horrific risks and having their DNA irrevocably altered, all to ensure Giant Pharma profits! Talk about lemmings jumping off the cliff!
Thank gawd we have john I’m-not-an-antivaxer-but-vaccines-are-horrible labarge to remind us of the machinations of the Pharma-Fauci-Gates-Masonic plotters.
What is this jibberish? Group think and Masonic plots are two different things fella.
Maybe I don’t want your ‘papers please’ society and don’t want to feed into it.
“What’s really shocking is that those researchers, peer reviewers, journal editors, pharma execs and FDA/CDC staffers (we’re talking thousands of people here) have been getting the vaccines, exposing themselves to horrific risks and having their DNA irrevocably altered, all to ensure Giant Pharma profits! Talk about lemmings jumping off the cliff!”
What’s really shocking is that people like labarge are stupid enough to believe (or want others to believe) that those thousands of people have all been trained to march to the same drummer and give the same message.
The desire to appear as the brave outsider standing up to authority must be so strong in science deniers like him that they don’t care how foolish they look or how dishonest their comments are.
@john labarge Masonic plots and groupthink are exatly same thing. Certain groups believe masoni plots.
johnlabarge said, “What is this jibberish? Group think and Masonic plots are two different things fella.”
Quite right, john.
DB and all the other debunkers just don’t understand the danger our freedoms and very existence are in from teh Masonic/Jesuit/Zionist Aluminutty NWO working for the Reptilian Galactic Overlords!!!!11!!!
I knwo it’s twoo… I read it on teh internets from sites like Gnatural Gnus, David Icke, InfoWarts, etc.
I’d love to see your library… /s
(PS – Masonic Plots are soooo 18th century)
i still like The Magic Flute.
Which ‘independent labs’ are doing the trials and who’s paying?
Still these FDA records ? Court ordered 8 months. Does released papers contain anything interesting ?
Do Google Scholar search for mRNA vaccines. I found four ones before COVID one, after a little search. Do you actually accept adjuvanted spike protein vaccine ?
What do you mean meaningful (at least yiu do not say at all anymore). This has been studied:
Booster dose (first) recovered protection
Do you think that million deaths are not enough ?
The Epoch Times?
The Epoch Times?
What was the matter? Had the filing deadline for Alex Jones’ InfoWars or RFK Jr’s CHD blog expired leaving only The Epoch Times kooksite available for publishing such an important screed?
This is a neat lesson by Kulldorff and Bhattacharya on: “How to destroy your credibility and become a laughing stock in one move…”
Sheesh! What a clown show.
(How soon before a very important oncologist joins them… maybe on Sherri Tenpenny’s kooksite?)
The Brownstoners keep surprising me with their descent. Until now, my paradigm for a “legitimate scientist” jumping the shark by choice of propagandistic right wing venue was John Ioannidis appearing on Fox with Mark Levin. But, yeah, Epoch Times is even farther out there. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but IMO it’s almost unfair to lump CHD in there since it’s kook is narrowly focused, and thus limited in a way, while Epoch Times — kinda like Alex Jones — kooks staggeringly far and wide.
Sure, that’s why I compared it to Natural News, which started out as a “natural health,” pro-quackery, antivaccine website and then expanded its purview to include all manner of kook and conspiracy theories going even beyond QAnon.
Being fair, at least it wasn’t CNN or MSNBC.
Fox news would be worse
Kulldorf and Battycharya exclaim “We’re not anti-vaccine!” while simultaneously doing all the heavy demolition of the US childhood vaccinen program that would have taken those craze AF AVers at least another 5-10 years to destroy.
Don’t you see why waiting until there is increased risk of infection ( e.g. for measles) won’t work out so well?
!. Let’s say only 80% of kids in a certain city have been vaccinated, then kids from another country visit, bringing measles infection with them. How can the city vaccinate enough kids to reach herd immunity ( c. 90%) quickly before the virus spreads amongst the unvaccinated? Something like this happened a few years ago near LA.
Plus, it takes time for the vaccine to work and some vaccines require more than one dose.
Measles is highly contagious; people travel within the area; it’s hard to tell who is infected or not until they become ill so there is a longer time when they can transmit the virus. While we’re waiting, the virus spreads.
2. Certain countries vaccinate routinely for diseases that are common. If you travel to these places, you might need to be vaccinated for a disease not required at home HOWEVER, in this case, you have time to be vaccinated and wait for increased immunity because you choose the time to travel.
Except colds and flus are not like measles. Measles is human specific, thick-walled, and slow to mutate. Immunize the population and it goes away.
Cold and flu vaccines reduce severity to varying degrees in varying recipients, but do not reduce spread notably. And, the disease are thin-walled, mutate fast, and have an animal reservoir. So it is literally impossible to vaccinate enough creatures to reduce spread notably anyway.
Hence the millions of people on Twitter reporting that they have the Covids, but are so thankful for the vaccine that didn’t stop them catching it, and in most cases does very little to reduce the illness in a meaningful fashion, particularly with later variants.
And let me know when you have your yellow fever immunizations, you anti-vaxxer.
“…but are so thankful for the vaccine that didn’t stop them catching it, and in most cases does very little to reduce the illness in a meaningful fashion, particularly with later variants.”
BTW: I have been vaccinated for yellow fever twice, plus several times for smallpox, along with typhus and typhoid.
Also, you “yellow fever” gambit is very silly. It is not on the present American pediatric vaccine schedule. It is only required for travel in certain places.
Try to stop being so foolish.
You write: “Vaccine fanatics are pushing mandates for what is still largely is an experimental vaccine”
IT IS NOT AN EXPERIMENTAL VACCINE. Below is an earlier comment I posted some time ago. And we are approaching one million dead in US and more and more children. So, either you are TOO STUPID to understand the following or just plain DISHONEST to further whatever sick agenda you have.
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 double-blinded 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, the Moderna vaccine trial had 30,420 volunteers (Baden, 2020) and the Pfizer vaccine trial had 43,548 participants (Polack, 2020):
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. Mainly significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and death. If I, as an old man, get infected with OMICRON and suffer mild flu-like symptoms for a week, better than severe illness and even death. And I don’t see world in black and white. While the vaccine together with booster provides significant protection, not 100%.
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 will be out soon.
YOU ARE A FRIGGIN ASSHOLE ! ! !
“valid studies have found the current vaccines to confer a significant level of cross-immunity, including to Omicron. Mainly significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and death. If I, as an old man, get infected with OMICRON and suffer mild flu-like symptoms for a week, better than severe illness and even death.”
This has just been put to the test for me.
I had 2 doses of the AZ vaccine followed by the Moderna booster. Three weeks after the booster I came down with COVID-19. Good timing. The infection spread from my son who contracted it as part of his job in IT keeping medical clinic computers running during the pandemic. The illness for me was a bad as the worst flu I have ever experienced, putting me in bed for three days and only now after 6 days starting to recovery my strength. And I have a normal BMI, no other risk factors, and I run 10-12 km most days of the week, so i’m pretty fit. I would hate to have gone through the infection without the protection afforded by the vaccines.
BTW, excellent comment, especially the last sentence 😉
Honestly, after two years fighting ignorance about the mRNA vaccines, I’ve about had it with polite responses as well. They are literally killing people with their misinformation. If I was susceptible to their lies I could be dead now myself.
Also good on you for volunteering. I was inclined to volunteeer myself but, in Australia, we haven’t had enough community spread to make it worthwhile to do any clinical trials here.
Really sorry to hear about your bout with COVID. As I’ve written the vaccine reduces significantly risk of severe disease, etc. I wish it had completely protected you; but three unpleasant days vs hospitalization, etc., while extremely unpleasant, is still better than potential alternatives.
On another note, I watched for the second time a documentary: Austraiian Bushfire Rescues. While I cheered all the Aussies involved in rescues, I cried over all the precious animals lost. Don’t know if you’ve seen it. I know Austraiia is already the driest continent and global warming, just horrible.
In any case, I wish you well.
This whole thing where people get covid after their third shot and have the same level of symptoms as myself and credit the vaccine is similar all the alternative medicine explanations you folks tend to hate. I am unvaccinated and took ivermectin for 5 days after testing positive. I was over the disease in 6 days. Should I be thankful for Ivermectin? Also I took quercitin, vitamin c, vitamin d, zinc and olive leaf. Maybe those did it. Same logic. I am relatively fit, though I don’t run as far or as often as BillyJoe – kudos to him. (more like 10 miles a week with some lifting and a fair amount of cycling thrown in when the weather is warm). By day 8 or so I started exercising again though I still had a bit of phlegm to clear. I’m not that young and probably fatter than you.
You may as well raise an argument about dragons. This has been looked at thoroughly. People who have been vaccinated are a fraction as likely to have breakthrough infections, if they have breakthrough infections are a fraction as likely to need hospitalisation, and if they need hospitalisation a fraction as likely to die.
You are just making things up.
“This whole thing where people get covid after their third shot and have the same level of symptoms as myself and credit the vaccine is similar all the alternative medicine explanations you folks tend to hate”
There’s this little branch of mathematics called ‘statistics’. So, when scientists say that vaccinated people have an easier time with covid, they mean that they have compared vaccinated and unvaccinated groups and found a statistical difference in severity of disease.
They aren’t a bunch of amateurs relying on anecdotes like the anti-vaxxers. Just because you don’t understand the background doesn’t mean the background doesn’t exist.
johnlabarge: “This whole thing where people get covid after their third shot and have the same level of symptoms as myself and credit the vaccine is similar all the alternative medicine explanations you folks tend to hate.”
Nope, wrong again.
Alties, including antivaxers like you, cling to dubious anecdotes, since evidence contradicts their beliefs. For instance, have a look at data from this recent study showing how the vaccinated have a much lower risk of contracting Covid-19 and being hospitalized:
“As of January 8, 2022, during Omicron predominance, COVID-19 incidence and hospitalization rates in Los Angeles County among unvaccinated persons were 3.6 and 23.0 times, respectively, those of fully vaccinated persons with a booster, and 2.0 and 5.3 times, respectively, those among fully vaccinated persons without a booster. During both Delta and Omicron predominance, incidence and hospitalization rates were highest among unvaccinated persons and lowest among vaccinated persons with a booster.”
“What are the implications for public health practice?”
“Being up to date with COVID-19 vaccination is critical to protecting against SARS-CoV-2 infection and hospitalization.”
Deaths rates are dramatically higher among the unvaccinated.
While unvaccinated John is bragging about “only” being sick for six days with Covid-19, I have been thus far able to avoid illness entirely, having been fully vaccinated and observing other evidence-based precautions. Only a fool would disdain proven protective measures.
Your experience with Covid-19 is just one data point Joel’s experience is another. Mine is yet another. One data point alone doesn’t tell us anything. Even adding in my two sons, my grandson, my brother and sister-in-law is barely a start.
You need a large study on thousands of patients to tell if the vaccines protect against hospitalization and death and how well they do so.
Something like this.
And what that tells us is that the experience of my unvaccinated brother who spent 5 weeks in the hospital and came home with sequelae is far more common among the unvaccinated while the experience of my vaccinated sons and I, a week or so of moderate cold symptoms, is far more common among the vaccinated who nevertheless get infected.
Or as the others have mentioned, statistics.
“This whole thing where people get covid after their third shot and have the same level of symptoms as myself and credit the vaccine is similar all the alternative medicine explanations you folks tend to hate”
Except that I am not using my personal experience to come to conclusions about the vaccines. I am using known facts about the effectiveness of the vaccines to come to some reasonable conclusions about what my personal experience would have been like without the vaccine. See the difference?
“I am unvaccinated and took ivermectin for 5 days after testing positive. I was over the disease in 6 days. Should I be thankful for Ivermectin? Also I took quercitin, vitamin c, vitamin d, zinc and olive leaf. Maybe those did it. Same logic.”
No, that’s not the same. Because there has never been any reliable evidence that supplements do anything useful unless you are deficient. And all the evidence regarding ivermectin is that it does not help to prevent or treat COVID-19. So you are using your personal experience to support the use of supplements and ivermectin for which there is no reliable scientific evidence. See the difference?
“I am relatively fit, though I don’t run as far or as often as BillyJoe – kudos to him. (more like 10 miles a week with some lifting and a fair amount of cycling thrown in when the weather is warm).”
Well, I run a mountain trail marathon and a 200 km road cycling event every year and the evidence is that being fit and healthy also helps protect you from the worse effects of a viral illness. So, based on the scientific evidence, I think it is reasonable for us both to conclude that we would most likely have been worse off with COVID-19 without our level of physical fitness.
Yeah, no worries, I’m fully on board with the vaccines. Given the evidence for the effectiveness of the vaccines, including the booster for Omicron – which is the dominant variant here – it is very possible I could have ended up in hospital or worse without them.
And, yes, Australia is likely to suffer increasingly from the extreme weather events associated with climate change in the form of extreme droughts and bushfires alternating with severe flooding. At the moment it is severe flooding all along the east coast due to consecutive La Nina events in the Pacific and a dominant Southern Annular Mode in the Southern ocean. It’s just one extreme weather event after another while our politicians dither. We’re still opening up new coal mines!
@john labarge The whole thing is that you do not understand probability. Not 100% (which means somebody can get COVID) is not same thing as 0% (hat everyboy will get it),
If you want a personal testimony, I do not a booster yet (will have it soon) but nerver get COVID.
@Billy Joe Where are these “known facts” ? You can acually study breaktrough infectiobn rate. Have you read these ?
John, walk with me while I tell you a story. A True story.
Imagine, if you will, a standard 1940’s suburb. In it we find a middle-class family of five, father, mother, and three teen/tween children. All in good health.
Then one summer day the oldest boy arrives home early from summer camp. There was a polio outbreak at camp and so the boys were all sent home. Sadly, the oldest boy is infected, although he doesn’t know it yet.
And what is the outcome of these five related people living in the same environment?
Parents: no sign of illness.
Younger son: no sign of illness
Older son: hospitalized, suffers permanent weakness in one leg.
Here’s what this story is illustrating to you, John. That people’s response to viruses can be widely variable, even when those people are healthy, even when those people are closely related, even when those people share an environment.
Some people will, for reasons of pre-existing immunity, or low viral load, or just simple luck, shake off an infection pretty easily. And other people, for reasons of higher viral load, or minute differences in their existing immune repertoire, or just simple luck, will get very, very sick.
So sure, maybe your cocktail of hopefully correctly manufactured supplements and ivermectin helped. Or maybe they did nothing and you just got lucky.
It’s impossible to tell. That’s why scientists do very large studies, so the random chance evens out and you can see the signal for the noise.
Agree 100%, AND
if I recall correctly, the Pfizer vaccine is now fully authorized under a standard BLA, no longer under an Emergency Use Authorization.
Any suggestion that these vaccines are “experimental” is an outright and shameless lie.
But it still is irrelevant to herd immunity, so it’s entirely an individual matter to engage in risky behavior.
Other risky behavior CDC recommends against include:
Steak below well done.
Eggs cooked soft.
Raw seafood sushi.
Alcohol use, especially by any female of child bearing years.
Obesity is a health risk, and statistically, 50% of you suffer from it.
Various “studies” claim meat is harmful to health.
Should we mandate all these things, too?
And I’ll continue to consider you anti-vaxx until you document your yellow fever and anthrax immunizations are up to date.
You really are very silly.
If I ever travel to a country for which the yellow fever vaccination is recommended or required before entry, I’ll get the vaccine before going there. If I ever take a position for which the anthrax vaccine is recommended (according to the CDC, laboratory workers who work with anthrax; some people who handle animals or animal products, such as veterinarians who handle infected animals; or certain U.S. military personnel, like you), I’ll get the anthrax vaccine. It’s not “antivax” not to receive vaccines that aren’t recommended for you.???♂️
“Steak below well done.
Eggs cooked soft.
Raw seafood sushi.
Alcohol use, especially by any female of child bearing years.
Obesity is a health risk, and statistically, 50% of you suffer from it.
Various “studies” claim meat is harmful to health.”
How many of those (other than the risk of a pregnant woman drinking) involve spreading something to others around you?
You of course do not understand why undercooked food can be dangerous ? Bacteria would not be killed. As for alcohol and pregnant women, there is fetal alcohol syndrome. You really do not your children have it.
Slightly off topic, but I was looking up some other things and came across this article by social scientist Anna Kirkland. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1014.8640&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Kirkland was exploring the failure of the anti-vaccine arguments in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings and the response of the anti-vaccine movement to that failure. She makes a strong point that the anti-vaccine movement failed to move beyond the vaccines cause autism arguments to their own detriment. She also analyses why this is and points to the influence of chiropractors and Joe Mercola who bailed out NVIC in the 1990s. They have steered NVIC towards right-wing libertarian views on health ever since. Much of the rest of the anti-vaccine movement is attracted to health freedom ideas and has run along parallel channels. It is an interesting read in reflecting on how anti-vaccination has become synonymous with conservative libertarianism in the US. The marriage between the anti-vaccine movement and right-wing libertarianism dates from at least the 1990s.
As an aside, one of the things I noticed in my own battles with the anti-science denier brigade was that I would be accused of all sorts of nefarious undertakings and shady deals and, if I wasn’t being paid off by big chemical, I would recognise the truth. I quickly came to realise this was all projection. These people were so sure they were correct, despite the absence of evidence, that the ends came to justify the means. It is how come I had death threats. Given this is their mindset, they think everyone else operates in exactly the same way. So the next time Barbara Loe Fisher accuses anyone of being in the pay of big pharma, just understand she is doing the bidding of big chiropractic and big supplement, rather than trying to position NVIC to recapture its influence on policy.
Yes. It is all about money for many of the main disinformers ( such as CCDH’s dozen): they sell supplements, books, films, seminars on the internet or altie medical services. Del earns money as CEO of ICAN, RFK jr is paid by CHD and may be seeking out clients for his law firmS.
Warrior mothers may not earn large incomes but they make up the difference in street cred, respect and recognition by the like minded although a few try to sell books, make personal appearances or sell products.
Interestingly, I recently looked over a 2007 ( IIRC) paper by Gerber and Offit about different altie theories of autism causation: they list three-
MMR ( how it goes from GI system to brain), mercury and Too-Many-Too-Soon.
What I observe amongst the woo-meisters/ mothers is blaming vaccines for an ever increasing menu of illnesses and conditions beyond ASDs. RFK jr’s and offshoots of AoA like the Canary Party/ Health Freedom groups add many other illnesses such as cancer, allergies, obesity, ADHD as if there were similar mechanisms of action for these problems.
But I think at heart, they believe that vaccines ( and many other things) pollute the natural state of the body which is pure and created by g-d/ nature which allows them to proselytise to conservative religious believers as well as the Gaia faction.
So they started out as vaccines-cause-autism and then added ( in no particular order) vaccines-cause-other illnesses and many unnatural products ( like meds, 5G, gluten, etc) cause autism and many other disorders. I wish I could make a flow diagramme for that but I imagine you catch my drift.
Vaccines don’t cause autism. Wakefield was a fraud trying to cash in, and changed his market after he got defrocked.
Measles is far deadlier than the Covids, and children should be vaccinated for it.
Due to family allergy issues, we split the MMR into three distinct vaccines for the eldest, but the new formulation was safer and we didn’t for the youngest, he got the plain current MMR.
I still have no statistical reason to get any Covids vaccines.
And you anti-vaxxers need to hurry up and get your yellow fever and anthrax series.
At this point the statistical universe of my my professional events exceeds a half million people, up to 70K per weekend. No bodies in the street, no severe illness, one single reportable death. I do wash my hands, however.
A. You seem to think that saying “you didn’t get this vaccine that isn’t recommended for you so you’re an antivaxxer” is a gotcha. It’s not. It shows either lack of understanding – you don’t understand that people should only get the vaccines recommended for them – or insincerity, you get that but think you can win by making an incorrect claim.
B. I’m glad you protected your children against measles, mumps and rubella, but I can’t think of any allergies that would make individual vaccines safer, and the last change to MMR was in the 1990s; are you talking about the 1980s, or is this not the first time you were affected by antivaccine talking points? Or is there something else?
C. COVID-19 vaccines all reduce the risks of deaths, hospitalizations and infections with COVID-19 at very low risk. The risk/benefit ratio is favorable for almost all. So your argument is a bit strange, unless you have a very unusual medical situation. Maybe, but it seems more likely you just bought into some of the claim debunked by our host. I think your approach – coming in with insults, not actually taking on the points in the posts you’re commenting on, making general statements with the confidence of a non-expert who read some things and think he knows a complicated area – would incline me to the latter.
But we will see
“Measles is far deadlier than the Covids”
A disease called “the Covids” does not exist, so I guess technically you are correct.
“I still have no statistical reason to get any Covids vaccines”
There is no reason to get “Covids” vaccines because there aren’t any.
“I do wash my hands, however.”
You should also use mouth wash.
I love you guys!
You just keep making a fool of yourself. You don’t understand immunology, microbiology, epidemiology, etc. You ignore what others write, regardless of how well they document it and you rely on anecdotes. Well, I can give an anecdote of someone who died from a seatbelt, true story. Belt twisted and sliced into abdomen. So, obviously we should abandon seatbelts? The COVID mRNA vaccines, besides NOT being experimental, provide a high level, not perfect level of protection. Simply significantly reduces the chance of getting sick, getting severely sick, getting hospitalized, and even death; but some will; however, based on literally hundreds of studies around the world, exponentially fewer of the aforementioned among the vaccinated compared with unvaccinated. As I’ve written umpteen times, we don’t live in a perfect world, the benefits from vaccines far far far outweigh the risks. YOU ARE JUST TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND THIS.
And, as for ivermectin, etc. there is NO scientific evidence they work; but since many people will recuperate, even without long covid, without doing anything, if they take certain vitamins, certain foods, certain just about anything, they will attribute this to whatever they took/did.
The Japanese government makes ivermectin freely available over the counter. They do not mandate vaccines, but encourage them.
That is a modern, scientific nation.
I hope you’re not going to claim they’re “anti-vaxx.”
The last country one should follow for medical policy is Japan, where the medical community would like politics to take a back seat: Vaccine chronicle in Japan
Last sentences in that paper (that I doubt you will bother reading): “Although issues on immunization should be discussed based on scientific evidence as a third party, it belongs to the political side at present. It may be hard to listen to the clinical needs of general physicians for the improvement of immunization practice. It should be organized for the purpose of promoting public health with a longitudinal vision for immunization policies and prompt responses to the critical issues, without the influence by political changes.”
Japan does not recommend ivermectin for covid.
Reuters, January this year:
“At the time of writing, the drug is not listed as approved to treat or prevent COVID-19 in Japan by the country’s medicines regulator, the Pharmaceuticals and Medicals Devices Agency (PMDA).”
“A list of approved therapeutics and medical equipment to treat the virus ( link in article) includes the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines as well as antivirals like Remdesivir and Molnupiravir. Ivermectin does not figure in the list.
Ivermectin is also not mentioned in the public guidance on COVID-19 from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare ”
Ivermectin is not approved for treatment of COVID-19 in Japan.
Ivermectin isn’t one of their recommended treatments for Covid though. Being able to buy it over the counter is irrelevant. TCM is also available over the counter.
They’re a modern, scientific nation.
“The Japanese government makes ivermectin freely available…”
Probably for pets and farm animals. You seem to be very gullible.
Replace “seem to be” with “are.”
Why you guya are so predictable ? COVID is so mild will always follow with ivermectin is a miracle drug. Do you get your medical advie from Senator Johnson ?
OT but it does involve fanatics..
If you’ve never had the dubious pleasure of viewing VAXXED by Wakefield and Bigtree, it is available free on The HIgh Wire.com/ ** @ high wire talk today instead of Del’s usual broadcast.
** the film starts at 13 minutes in
Oh, goody. Someone sent me a link to a copy of the film six years ago, not long after it had been released to the public. I reviewed it then. I don’t need to see it again, no thanks:
I watched it several times.
You appear to have a stronger stomach than I.
I was doing presentations on why it’s wrong for the immunization community. I knew there would be people who know the science much more listening, and it made me nervous, so I wanted to be sure i at least got the movie right.
I’m very grateful to the people who helped with the science part there, too, including you (via posts), Matt Carey, and Paul Offit.
Off topic; but years ago when I lived in Sweden saw an Australian series with Jon English, “Against the Wind”, about the early settlement of Australia. Watched again on YouTube a couple of years ago. Great series and great ballads by Jon English. Another I liked was “A Town Called Alice”. And many years ago i read book about early Australia “The Fatal Shore” by Robert Hughes. Still own it.
““Against the Wind” … “A Town Called Alice” … “The Fatal Shore” ”
I think maybe you know more about Australia than I do 🙂
The vaccine helps reduce symptoms in most recipients to varying degrees.
Therefore, no individual can assess their symptom load to the vaccine or to anything else. Possibly it had 90% efficacy, possibly it had zero. Relevant factors every “expert” here has ignored include variant, strain, individual race, age, metabolism, etc. “It would have been worse without the vaccine” is a false statement on an individual basis, but it can be assessed statistically, and potentially within a family group of similar demographics.
There are a huge number of documented reactions in both VAERS and Pfizer’s own studies. Either the majority of the population who are routinely immunized are “making up stories,” the classic claim of the abuser, or there really are a large number of reactions. Blowing off the claims will certainly cause rational people to question why. Certainly, statistical analysis can show a net positive to the vaccines. But again, their efficacy varies by demographic factors. If my wife wasn’t violently allergic to the flu vaccine, and has thus been advised not to touch these, she would be a prime candidate–American Indian, previous pneumonia, insulin resistant, several metabolic issues. But she is allergic and can’t. She did get sick, did require brief medical support, and is fully recovered.
Conversely, my demographics put me so low it’s not even a concern. I didn’t get so much as a sniffle even with her being bedridden. As I get older, that analysis may change. I’m asthmatic and got pneumovax for the first time this year.
But sitting here shrieking, BEHOLD HOW SMART WE ARE! IF YOU DISAGREE YOU’RE ANTIVAX! is literally the problem. You’re insolent, and in no way respectful.
The sheer scientific illiteracy amongst people who boast significant degrees is a depressing charge against the education industrial complex.
And until your yellow fever and anthrax series are up to date, I’ll continue to note that you’re the anti-vaxxers.
No response needed and I won’t be back. I’m going to another event with thousands of people as I have the last 21 months, and we’ll all be just fine.
A. Note that there is data about vaccines effectiveness. It’s not actually something you need to make up. Yes, it varies, but having to address complexity is something experts do in many contexts. It doesn’t mean they can’t.
B. Referring to VAERS as a source is exactly falling for antivaccine misinformation. If you use the search box in the blog, our host addressed VAERS in the past in detail and you can learn more about why it’s a mistake.
C. Answering misinformation in detail is the opposite of blowing it off. Try reading the detailed answers in the blog and learning.
D. I’m glad your wife did not get seriously sick. I hope her luck holds, but if she’s vulnerable and can’t get vaccinated – and can get covid again – it’s concerning that you won’t get vaccinated for her sake, even if you – wrongly – think you’re not at risk. Your risk is lower than that of older people or those with comorbidities, but it’s there.
E. Note that you’re using caps lock and aggressive language. It’s a little strange to do so and accuse others of whatever it is.
F. Again, it’s not antivaccine for people not to get vaccines that aren’t recommended for them. If you don’t understand why, I’ll be happy to provide some sources about setting vaccines schedules.
G. Your last comment read like “I am going to bulk precautions, and the almost million dead from covid in the U.S. and millions harmed can kiss my behind, and I don’t care if more join them thanks to me.” I suspect you didn’t actually mean that, but you may want to remember that many were harmed in this pandemic, and childish showing off of efforts to increase harm to others is going to rub many of the people that suffered – directly or through a loved one – wrong. You may want to ask yourself if that’s what you want.
Maybe you do. Maybe you do want to hurt the hurting.
“Either the majority of the population who are routinely immunized are “making up stories” ”
The majority of the population aren’t reporting serious side effects. They just aren’t.
Stick with your anecdotes if you want but my own anecdotes don’t include anyone who’s had anything other than a sore arm and a mild flu type symptoms. So, anecdotally speaking, the vaccines are completely harmless. Now can you see the problem with relying on anecdotes Mr Seagull?
Yep. The worst side effects anyone I’ve known has experienced was a sore arm and a day or so of fatigue. One suffered a mild fever the night after vaccination. That’s it.
There’s this weird assumption from a lot of folks that a VAERS report implies death or a serious adverse event.
I signed up for the post-vaccination survey where I was texted daily, then once a week then once a month then after 6 months asking about side effects. And I reported some. Sore arm (very sore arm). Fatigue (for a day). Chills and muscle aches (for a day). All of these are in a database somewhere to be analyzed.
None of them mean I was harmed in any way by the vaccine.
There’s so much range to adverse events that if they’re not graded then just the raw number doesn’t tell you much.
1) What’s up with the fixation on Pfizer? You know there are two other COVID vaccines in the US, right? And that the Moderna vaccine is also fully approved with a BLA?
2) Are we really going to play “my shots are better than your shots”? What does a yellow fever vaccination tell me? That you’ve traveled overseas. What does an anthrax vaccination tell me? That you are an anthrax researcher (nope), maybe work in livestock, or used to serve in the military.
Fine, here are mine: 3 doses SpikeVax. Standard childhood (except chickenpox, after my time). Hep B. HSV. Typhoid. Smallpox. Tetanus diptheria pertussis. Influenza. And at least one meningitis (don’t remember off the top of my head).
And you know what? It doesn’t make me a somehow better or worse person than you.
My actions are what matters. That I’ve gone out of my way to protect the vulnerable people around me. That I’ve done my level best to protect my goddaughter and her brothers.
Do you not have an iota of sympathy for the parents of the 1400 American children who have died of COVID? For all the parents who sat by their child’s bedside hoping and wishing and praying for their child to recover? Can you not imagine their fear, their terror?
None of the vaccines are perfect (no vaccine is perfect) but for the vast, vast, vast majority of people on this earth they are a damn sight better and safer than the infection. Why would anyone volunteer their body as a host for a virus that has killed a million Americans?
“And until your yellow fever and anthrax series are up to date, I’ll continue to note that you’re the anti-vaxxers”
Weird choice of vaccines. Neither disease is contagious (directly) as far as I can determine. Anthrax no, yellow fever indirectly via mosquitoes. Does Mr Seagull think this is some kind of palpable hit?
It just struck me that VAXXED reminds me of a insane propaganda film from 1936 “Reefer Madness”. Portrayed marijuana use as leading to insane levels of violence, etc. the exact opposite of the effects marijuana has on people. NOTE. I have never personally used marijuana, don’t even like taking aspirin; but many close friends did and I have followed literature for 50 years. Bottom line, like “Reefer Madness”, VAXXED gives a totally opposite portrayal of reality. “Reefer Madness” is available on YouTube to watch for free. I wonder if any of those involved in production of VAXXED are related; e.g., grandkids of those who produced “Reefer Madness”?
You write: “Do you not have an iota of sympathy for the parents of the 1400 American children who have died of COVID?”
Yep, and you left off: “An estimated 149,000 children have lost a parent or caregiver” [Ed Yong (2022 Mar 8). How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal? The Atlantic ]
Note. Ed Yong’s article well worth a read. The title says a lot.
[…] And there you have it: The longstanding trope that science is a religion (a cult, actually) and scientists are its “priesthood.” Just for my own amusement, I looked up how many times I’ve discussed or alluded to this trope over the years, which was harder to do than I thought. I’ve only used the term “priesthood” around a dozen times, starting with, hilariously enough, Dr. Egnor ranting against a “medical priesthood” in 2008—his article was even entitled Advice to an Arrogant Medical Priesthood: Wash Your Hands!— and going up to Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) authors Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya both echoing Dr. Singer’s rant about a scientific “high priesthood” a month and a half ago. Of course, this is very much like the rhetoric coming from aligned groups (like the Brownstone Institute) that liken masks to magic, religion, and slavery and vaccine advocates to fanatics. […]
[…] “spiritual offspring of the GBD,” the Brownstone Institute, has pivoted to spreading antivaccine misinformation, Dr. Bhattacharya pivots to casting doubt on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, […]
[…] I must admit that I’m getting a little tired of writing about the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) and its “spiritual child,” the Brownstone Institute, which was founded by Jeffery Tucker, former editorial director of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), the right wing think tank that brought together the authors of the GBD together. (I did, after all, just write about the GBD and one of its authors Jay Bhattacharya on Wednesday.) Unfortunately, however, the GBD, its authors, its supporters, and its “spiritual child” just keep providing me such a “target-rich” environment for a blogger that I can’t ignore them, whether they’re parroting antivax tropes like fantasizing about a “Nuremberg 2.0” in which “lockdowners” and supporters of vaccine mandates and other public health interventions will be called to account for their “crimes”; likening public health interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19 to slavery, religion, or a Communist dictatorship; or just plain spreading pure, unadulterated antivax misinformation. […]
[…] the Brownstone Institute has also been a main driver of anti-vaccine disinformation this pandemic (here, here, here, here). There are doctors who treat facts as completely mutable by pretending the virus […]