Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Clinical trials Medicine

Update: An antivax preprint is now antivax propaganda disguised as a peer-reviewed publication in…Vaccine!

In order portray COVID-19 vaccines as dangerous, Peter Doshi has now managed to get poorly designed and performed “reanalyses” of the clinical trial data used by the FDA to grant emergency use approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines published in two reputable journals, The BMJ and Vaccine? What happened?

While contemplating the lessons thus far from the COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot help but emphasize how starkly the pandemic has revealed the shortcomings in scientific publishing. Before the pandemic, I expected to see poorly designed studies designed to stoke fear about vaccines by exaggerating adverse reactions (or even making them up) only in bottom-feeding and predatory journals and generally viewed it as a rare to nonexistent occurrence to see such papers published in reputable journals. Obviously, the publication of Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent case series linking the MMR vaccines to “autistic enterocolitis” published in The Lancet in 1998 was one huge exception, but in general reputable journals did not traffic in what I like to refer to antivaccine disinformation disguised as legitimate scientific studies. Since the pandemic, there has been one exception, The BMJ, which has published enough dodgy vaccine articles that I once asked, “WTF happened to The BMJ?” My post was in response to a deceptive “exposé” by Paul Thacker published in The BMJ about Ventavia Research Group, a Texas contract research organization (CRO) subcontracted by Pfizer to run three out of its 153 clinical trial sites for its COVID-19 vaccine trial in 2020. Thacker’s report was based on a single “whistleblower” briefly employed at Ventavia but with little to no actual evidence of alleged data falsification, patient unblinding, and worse, with Thacker attempting to generalize these problems (again, without evidence) to the entire Pfizer clinical trial. In my post, I also listed a number of other examples of The BMJ‘s failures with respect to reports and studies on vaccines, a pattern that, unfortunately, did predate the pandemic and has been traceable to one of its editors, Peter Doshi, who has a long history of antivaccine-adjacent and outright antivaccine stylings going back at least to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Indeed, one of his “reanalyses” resulted in what I like to call the “slasher lie” about the Pfizer vaccine that it is only 12-19% effective against COVID-19.

Last week, Peter Doshi managed to expand his penchant for deceptive “reanalyses” to Vaccine, one of the foremost journals about vaccine science, in a study titled “Serious adverse events of special interest following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in randomized trials in adults“. The article had previously made a huge splash in antivaccine social media in June as a preprint, where its PlumX Metrics showed (as of yesterday) over 584,000 abstract views, over 109,000 downloads, and over 29,000 Tweets about it, with its download rank being 7th for the SSRN preprint site. Now that the paper, whose flaws and misleading nature were discussed in great detail by many scientists (which I will discuss in a moment), as well as Dr. Jonathan Howard and Dr. Harriet Hall, has somehow inexplicably went from preprint to peer-reviewed publication in Vaccine, the onslaught started again. Here are some examples:

Jeez, not this guy again!

Does this one look familiar? It’s Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the Florida Surgeon General who was previously a member of the COVID-19 minimizing, “natural immunity” touting, hydroxychloroquine– and ivermectin-pushing, antivax quacks known as America’s Frontline Doctors before being tapped by Governor Ron DeSantis to be his Surgeon General.

Here are some more. Here’s the study’s first author:

Orac will have more to say about this fool later in the post.

Who in response to criticism said:

I suppose it can be called “science” (just barely and certainly not “The Science”), but passing peer-review does not mean that it’s actually good science.

Seriously, peer review isn’t some magical talisman that makes a bad paper “science”. I like to paraphrase Winston Churchill about democracy by saying about peer review that it has been said that peer review is the worst method of deciding what should be published in the scientific literature except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

In particular, they cited this “finding” from the paper, which reinforces an antivax narrative that the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease:

Actually, no there wasn’t, as I will discuss again my update. Come on, this is no better than the preprint!
Maybe, but only if you do some statistical prestidigitation and torture the data until they confess.

The study was also misrepresented as being an “independent” randomized controlled clinical trial when in fact it was merely a “reanalysis” of the trial using different definitions of adverse events:

No, it was a “reanalysis” of old clinical trial data published first in a preprint that was widely derided (and rightly so) before it inexplicably went from preprint to publication in Vaccine.

Then, of course, there were the conspiracy theories about a “coverup”:

Yeah, that’s been Doshi’s schtick dating back to long before this preprint. Basically, he figured out ways to make it look as though the vaccines are dangerous even though they are not.

I realize that I wrote about the preprint rather extensively when it came out. However, I can’t help but wonder how this dreck managed to go from preprint to actual publication in a usually-reputable peer-reviewed vaccine journal; so I thought an updated and expanded discussion was in order. This publication also affords me the opportunity to ask how a highly eminent statistician (Sander Greenland), one whose work on Bayesian statistics both retired SBM contributor Kimball Atwood and I have cited before in talks and blog posts, sullied his name by associating itself with this exercise in revisionist science. It turns out that there’s history there dating back 14 years that I had totally forgotten about. Worse, I strongly suspect that there’s no way Vaccine would have published this dreck had Prof. Greenland not put his name on it.

The Vaccine article: from preprint to peer-reviewed article

Let’s follow the path from preprint to peer-reviewed article in Vaccine. The first thing I wondered when I read the preprint for the first time is more of a meta issue, specifically: Why was this study even done in the first place? In the introduction to the preprint, Fraiman et al. wrote:

We sought to investigate the association between FDA-authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and serious adverse events identified by the Brighton Collaboration, using data from the phase III randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials on which authorization was based. We then use the results to illustrate the need for formal harm-benefit analyses of the vaccines that are stratified according to risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes, as well as contextualize the findings against post-authorization observational data.

What is the Brighton Collaborative? (I’m actually surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before.) It’s a group dedicated to vaccine safety and improving the scientific rigor of vaccine science. Learning that, to be honest, made me a bit annoyed at some criticisms of the study that the serious adverse events (SAEs) had been pulled out of someone’s nether regions. That the Brighton Collaborative is involved doesn’t absolve Doshi for his chicanery in this paper, but we should be careful regarding criticisms we make.

Back to my meta question, though: Why does this study exist? I’ll preface my answer by pointing out a simple observation. It’s been 21 months since the randomized clinical trial (RCT) results for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were first reported. Both of them involved only ~43K and ~30K participants, respectively. Next, I will point out that even large randomized clinical trials used to approve drugs and vaccines miss less common adverse events (AEs), including serious AEs (SAEs). That’s why we do postmarketing surveillance studies, particularly for vaccines. Less common AEs sometimes don’t show up until after a vaccine is rolled out and distribution goes from a population of tens of thousands to administration to millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and even billions, as has happened with the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines over the last 21 months. In other words, if you are truly interested in the actual real-world safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines right here, right now, in September 2022, then the original RCT data are not the best data to use to estimate rates of adverse events. After all, well over 12 billion doses have been administered since then, and numerous countries have safety and efficacy data. Say what you will about Peter Doshi’s “reanalysis” of the clinical trial data in January 2021 that falsely concluded that the Pfizer vaccine had only demonstrated 19% efficacy, in January 2021 the randomized clinical trial data for the vaccine was all that there was. It made sense to look at those data then. Today? Not nearly as much.

So, given that background, why reanalyze the original RCT results from Pfizer and Moderna at all now? There’s one reason, and one reason only, that scientists might want to reanalyze data from a completed and long ago published clinical trial, and that’s if they suspect some sort of serious flaw in the RCT design or how the RCT was carried out. They might even suspect outright fraud. Doshi and his colleagues don’t explicitly say this, but if you know Doshi’s history you’ll understand that the real reason he undertook this analysis was almost certainly because he thought that the RCTs for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine didn’t show what they claimed to show and were analyzed in such a way to exaggerate efficacy and hide adverse events. It’s not as though he’s made a secret of this belief, given that he’s a senior editor at The BMJ who’s been allowed to use the journal as his own soapbox to argue just that going back to January 2021.

Interestingly, this paragraph underwent some…changes…in the final version published in Vaccine:

We sought to investigate the association between FDA-authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and serious adverse events identified by the Brighton Collaboration, using data from the phase III randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials on which authorization was based. We consider these trial data against findings from post-authorization observational safety data. Our study was not designed to evaluate the overall harm-benefit of vaccination programs so far. To put our safety results in context, we conducted a simple comparison of harms with benefits to illustrate the need for formal harm-benefit analyses of the vaccines that are stratified according to risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes. Our analysis is restricted to the randomized trial data, and does not consider data on post-authorization vaccination program impact. It does however show the need for public release of participant level trial datasets.

I note that in the first paragraph, a sentence was added touting the Brighton Collaborative as a “a global authority on the topic of vaccine safety”. In any event, it’s tempting for me to claim that because a paragraph was revised from preprint to paper in order to tone it down, that means I can dismiss everything in the preprint. After all, “lab leak” conspiracy theorists did exactly the same thing recently based on the removal of a single word from a preprint to finished paper. I will, however, refrain and note again that most likely peer reviewers demanded that Fraiman et al. tone it down.

There’s another “tell” in the Methods section regarding what this study is really about:

Pfizer and Moderna each submitted the results of one phase III randomized trial in support of the FDA’s emergency use authorization of their vaccines in adults. Two reviewers (PD and RK) searched journal publications and trial data on the FDA’s and Health Canada’s websites to locate serious adverse event results tables for these trials. The Pfizer and Moderna trials are expected to follow participants for two years. Within weeks of the emergency authorization, however, the sponsors began a process of unblinding all participants who elected to be unblinded. In addition, those who received placebo were offered the vaccine. These self-selection processes may have introduced nonrandom differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated participants, thus rendering the post-authorization data less reliable. Therefore, to preserve randomization, we used the interim datasets that were the basis for emergency authorization in December 2020, approximately 4 months after trials commenced.

The definition of a serious adverse event (SAE) was provided in each trial’s study protocol and included in the supplemental material of the trial’s publication. [2], [3], [4] Pfizer and Moderna used nearly identical definitions, consistent with regulatory expectations. An SAE was defined as an adverse event that results in any of the following conditions: death; life-threatening at the time of the event; inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization; persistent or significant disability/incapacity; a congenital anomaly/birth defect; medically important event, based on medical judgment.

Here Doshi is echoing a common antivax talking point, in which it is claimed that the unblinding was carried out to hide AEs and much lower efficacy than reported based on the data used to obtain EUAs for the vaccines. Of course, the question of whether or not to unblind a clinical trial is a complex issue and depends on the intersection of bioethics and science. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, after efficacy and safety were demonstrated in the first analyses, it became unethical to leave the control groups of those studies unprotected against COVID-19, which was surging around the world and causing mass illness, disability, and death. I won’t go into more detail, as I discussed the issue of unblinding the trials in detail over a year ago. Moreover, multiple assessments of the trials have concluded that both were rigorously conducted.

To accomplish the task of making the vaccines look bad, instead of looking at all AEs, as the papers and reports analyzing the data from the clinical trials did, Doshi and his colleagues decided to focus on “serious adverse events of special interest” (AESIs). The first version of this list was published early in the pandemic based on five reports from China and has undergone a total of four updates, the most recent of which was published last September. These SAEs were determined in the following manner described by Fraiman et al.:

We used an AESI list derived from the work of Brighton Collaboration’s Safety Platform for Emergency vACcines (SPEAC) Project. This project created an AESI list which categorizes AESIs into three categories: those included because they are seen with COVID-19, those with a proven or theoretical association with vaccines in general, and those with proven or theoretical associations with specific vaccine platforms. The first version was produced in March 2020 based on experience from China. Following the second update (May 2020), the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) adopted the list, and Brighton commenced a systematic review process “to ensure an ongoing understanding of the full spectrum of COVID-19 disease and modification of the AESI list accordingly.” [7] This resulted in three additional AESIs being added to the list in December 2020. The subsequent (and most recent fourth) update did not result in any additional AESIs being added to the list. [1].

We matched SAEs recorded in the trial against an expanded list of AESIs created by combining Brighton’s SPEAC COVID-19 AESI list with a list of 29 clinical diagnoses Brighton identified as “known to have been reported but not in sufficient numbers to merit inclusion on the AESI list.” [7] Sensitivity analysis was used to determine whether use of the original versus expanded list altered our results.

So right away when I first read the preprint, I wondered how these diagnoses were being combined, mixed, and matched. The new version of the paper doesn’t alleviate my questions. If you look at the Brighton Collaborative document, you’ll see a lot of unremarkable standard AEs and SAEs, but you’ll also find ones that require interpretation. Here is the table defining its AESIs in Brighton’s Safety Platform for Emergency Vaccines (SPEAC):

Brighton AESI for Doshi preprint

The AESIs included because they have a theoretical or proven association with specific vaccine platforms are interesting, mainly because none of them are associated with the mRNA platform, but rather platforms that existed before the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines were released. Also note how the AESIs are (mostly) listed as broad categories, rather than specific diagnoses. Exceptions include, of course, myocarditis, which is associated with COVID-19 and has been associated in safety data with COVID-19 vaccines, but mapping the AEs in the clinical trials to these categories requires some subjectivity. There are more than just what’s listed above, delineated in a number of charts under each organ system. For example, colitis is listed in Annex 6, which encompasses the gastrointestinal system.

Indeed, here’s a passage that suggested the subjectivity to me:

We matched SAEs recorded in the trial against an expanded list of AESIs created by combining Brighton’s SPEAC COVID-19 AESI list with a list of 29 clinical diagnoses Brighton identified as “known to have been reported but not in sufficient numbers to merit inclusion on the AESI list.” [7] Sensitivity analysis was used to determine whether use of the original versus expanded list altered our results.

I note that in the original preprint, this passage read rather differently in that it used an example that really stood out as subjective:

We matched SAEs recorded in the trial against an expanded list of AESIs created by combining Brighton’s SPEAC COVID-19 AESI list with a list of 29 clinical diagnoses Brighton identified as “known to have been reported but not in sufficient numbers to merit inclusion on the AESI list.” Sensitivity analysis was used to determine whether the original versus expanded list had an effect on identifying a safety concern. For SAEs that described symptoms, not diagnoses, the clinician reviewers independently judged whether each SAE type was likely to have been caused by an AESI. For example, the SAE “abdominal pain” is a symptom based diagnosis, which was judged as fitting within the SPEAC clinical diagnosis of “colitis/enteritis.” Disagreements were resolved through consensus; in two cases, consensus could not be reached and were resolved by the judgment of a third clinician reviewer (PW) to create a majority opinion. For each included SAE, we recorded the corresponding Brighton Collaboration AESI category and organ.

Here’s a hint: Not all abdominal pain is due to colitis (inflammation of the colon) or enteritis (inflammation of the intestines). True, these are common causes, but there are so very many others. Similarly, what mapped to myocarditis and pericarditis? There are lots of causes of chest pain other than myocarditis and pericarditis. Also, in the supplemental data (which are in a Word document that can download and look at for yourself using a link at the end of the paper given that the lists are rather long to reproduce here), there are two lists, a list of “Included SAE types (matching AESI list)” and a list of “Excluded SAE types (not matching AESI list).”

Admittedly, many of the SAEs in the excluded list do make sense given that they include fractures, gunshot wounds, head injuries, and the like, but a number do not, such as viral pharyngitis, volvulus, vomiting, and others. When the preprint was published, Dr. Susan Oliver has posted a video discussing the problems with it, which I include here:

Let’s just say that in the transition from preprint to peer-reviewed publication in Vaccine, Fraiman et al didn’t change anything sufficiently to invalidate any of Dr. Oliver’s criticisms.

Dr. Oliver didn’t really discuss the meta problems with it and Doshi’s history, but she did note many of the same things that I did, in particular the odd choices of what was and wasn’t included as SAEs. For example, Doshi included diarrhea, but not vomiting (or, as the surgeon in me can’t help but note, intestinal perforation or volvulus, the latter a known complication of a certain vaccine); hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) but not hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); gastrointestinal hemorrhage but not duodenal ulcer hemorrhage (which is a form of gastrointestinal hemorrhage); and coronary artery disease but not atherosclerosis (which causes coronary artery disease). It’s all very curious. Perhaps the most important issue is that “events related to COVID-19” were excluded, which on the surface makes sense, but, given that COVID-19 cases were much more common in the placebo controlled group, automatically biases the results for the remaining SAEs to the vaccine-group.

That’s not all, though. Instead of comparing the number of people who had SAEs, they did this:

In their review of SAEs supporting the authorization of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the FDA concluded that SAEs were, for Pfizer, “balanced between treatment groups,” [15] and for Moderna, were “without meaningful imbalances between study arms.” [16] In contrast to the FDA analysis, we found an excess risk of SAEs in the Pfizer trial. Our analysis of Moderna was compatible with FDA’s analysis, finding no meaningful SAE imbalance between groups.

The difference in findings for the Pfizer trial, between our SAE analysis and the FDA’s, may in part be explained by the fact that the FDA analyzed the total number of participants experiencing any SAE, whereas our analysis was based on the total number of SAE events. Given that approximately twice as many individuals in the vaccine group than in the placebo group experienced multiple SAEs (there were 24 more events than participants in the vaccine group, compared to 13 in the placebo group), FDA’s analysis of only the incidence of participants experiencing any SAE would not reflect the observed excess of multiple SAEs in the vaccine group.

To put it briefly, they compared number of SAEs, not the number of patients who suffered an SAE. This sort of analysis is guaranteed to double count SAES—at least!—because some of the SAEs or groups of SAES will be linked. For example, as Dr. Oliver originally pointed out, abdominal pain often goes along with diarrhea, to which I would add that colitis or enterocolitis can lead to gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Moreover, formal reporting systems for clinical trial AEs require that all AEs be entered, even when they are related, which is why analyses are usually done at the patient-level, as in “number of patients who suffered this AE”, rather than in total AEs reported in each group independent of the number of patients. I’d be willing to bet that if the same statistical analysis were done using per-patient-level data rather than SAE-level data the statistical significance would likely disappear.

Let’s look at the new version of the “money table,” which summarized the results and was being shared from the preprint on social media. I’ll cite David Grimes’ Tweet about it:

You can argue about the use of p-values and frequentist statistics, but this is pretty damning.

At this point, I can’t resist mentioning that defenders of the preprint claimed that this paper wasn’t “p-hacking” because no p-values were used. Personally, I’ll give that one to them and call the paper an exercise in data-dredging instead. (Of course, p-hacking is just a subset of the broader category of data dredging.) Or one can call it inflation bias if you like. It’s all the same thing in concept, namely when researchers try out several statistical analyses and/or data eligibility specifications and then selectively report those that produce significant results—or in this case seemingly significant results. In any event, whether you call it p-hacking, data dredging, or whatever else you might want to call it, it has been a widespread problem even under normal circumstances in the scientific literature, but a less known aspect of it is that it can be weaponized in the service of portraying vaccines, in this case the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, as more dangerous than they are and the RCTs used to garner their EUAs in December 2020 as flawed and not showing the “true extent” of serious AEs attributable to them.

Fraiman et al. also included this doozy of a comparison in both the preprint and the final paper. Here’s the version from the final paper:

In the Moderna trial, the excess risk of serious AESIs (15.1 per 10,000 participants) was higher than the risk reduction for COVID-19 hospitalization relative to the placebo group (6.4 per 10,000 participants). [3] In the Pfizer trial, the excess risk of serious AESIs (10.1 per 10,000) was higher than the risk reduction for COVID-19 hospitalization relative to the placebo group (2.3 per 10,000 participants).

I notice that the wording was changed from “surpassed” to “was higher than,” but it’s basically the same paragraph in the preprint and the final paper. So what’s the problem? Think of it this way. You can only hospitalize patients, not SAEs (or AEs). An individual patient in the vaccine group could suffer more than one AE, but a patient in the placebo control group could only be hospitalized once (in the context of the limited timeframe of the clinical trial) for COVID-19. Here Doshi is comparing apples and oranges in order to make it look as though the vaccines were more dangerous than actually getting COVID-19, which is a ridiculous contention given what we know. Moreover, in clinical trials in general a lot of the “serious adverse events” are not serious enough to warrant hospitalization. In fact, according to the standard terminology used to rate SAEs in clinical trials grade 3 events and above (on a five-point scale) are rated severe. If you look at the list of specific AEs, you’ll see that some grade 3 AEs require hospitalization; some don’t. Grade 3 is defined as an AE that:

  • Is severe or medically significant but not immediately life-threatening; OR
  • Requires hospitalization or prolongation of hospitalization indicated; OR
  • Limits self care/activities of daily living (ADL)

For completeness, I’ll mention that grade 4 AEs are by definition life-threatening events that require urgent intervention and that grade 5 events are by definition AEs that result in death. Any rigorous evaluation would compare hospitalizations due to AEs in control versus hospitalizations due to AEs in the vaccine group, not AEs (regardless of whether they are AESIs or just AEs). Again, the comparison was deeply intellectually dishonest then in the preprint and remains so now.

There’s another issue here as well. The rate of hospitalizations in the placebo control group would be expected to be highly dependent on the level of COVID-19 that was circulating in the populations tested during the time period in which the clinical trial was carried out, as these trials were not challenge trials, in which subjects are intentionally exposed to the virus. As a result, most people in the placebo and vaccine groups were not exposed to COVID-19, because these trials were carried out in the summer and early fall of 2020, before the really big winter surge hit.

Here’s a graph of COVID-19 cases in the US in 2020-21:

COVID cases vs. preprint
COVID-19 cases in the US in 2020-21.

Enrollment for the Moderna trial ended on October 23, 2020; for the Pfizer trial, November 14, 2020. Note that this was before the winter surge took off. Had the trial started a few months later and ended in, for example, February 2021 or later, you can bet that the rates of hospitalization for COVID-19 would have been much higher in the placebo control group.

The bottom line is that this study is deeply misleading based on what sure looks like data dredging combined with misleading comparisons, further combined with a low enough risk of COVID-19 in the two populations to allow for a low rate of hospitalization when normalized to the entire population in the control group.

This paper is nothing less than antivax misinformation disguised as a “reanalysis” of the original Pfizer and Moderna trials. Worse, it doesn’t even show what it claims to have shown, that the trials were somehow designed and written in such a way as to hide lots of adverse events. As such, it’s no different at its core than Peter Doshi’s back-of-the-envelope “reanalysis” of the Pfizer trial in which he claimed that the vaccine was not more than 90% effective but rather only 19% effective. It just has fancier statistics and a much longer discussion of limitations, including this section, a beefed-up version of what is undoubtedly pure Peter Doshi, given how it echoes what he’s been demanding since January 2021, when he falsely claimed that the vaccines were only 19% effective:

We emphasize that our investigation is preliminary, to point to the need for more involved analysis. The risks of serious AESIs in the trials represent only group averages. SAEs are unlikely to be distributed equally across the demographic subgroups enrolled in the trial, and the risks may be substantially less in some groups compared to others. Thus, knowing the actual demographics of those who experienced an increase in serious AESI in the vaccine group is necessary for a proper harm-benefit analysis. In addition, clinical studies are needed to see if particular SAEs can be linked to particular vaccine ingredients as opposed to unavoidable consequences of exposure to spike protein, as future vaccines could then be modified accordingly or sensitivities can be tested for in advance. In parallel, a systematic review and meta-analysis using individual participant data should be undertaken to address questions of harm-benefit in various demographic subgroups, particularly in those at low risk of serious complications from COVID-19. Finally, there is a pressing need for comparison of SAEs and harm-benefit for different vaccine types; some initial work has already begun in this direction. [47].

Full transparency of the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial data is needed to properly evaluate these questions. Unfortunately, as we approach 2 years after release of COVID-19 vaccines, participant level data remain inaccessible. [45], [46].

Again, given the billions of doses of these vaccines administered thus far, the only reason to sift through subject-level data in nearly three year old clinical trials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, each of which only included only tens of thousands of participants, is if you’re looking for dirt and fraud, not to do an objective evaluation of whether the vaccines are safe and effective. After all, conditions have changed; the rise of the Delta and Omicron variants led to the vaccines becoming significantly less effective against infection and transmission, even as they remain potent at preventing hospitalization and death. If you really want to know how safe and effective the vaccines are now (and have been over time), the original clinical trials are far from the best dataset to use, and this “reanalysis” failed to find even a signal that there might have been a severe design defect or fraud in the original clinical trials. I’m all for data transparency and have no objections to releasing patient level data, but Doshi knows that this is not a trivial thing to do, as all the data have to be carefully de-identified and curated.

The authors

Whenever reviewing a paper of this sort, I always find it useful to look at the authors, even at the risk of being accused of ad hominem. Of course, it’s not an ad hominem if you discuss the persons making an argument briefly and then deconstruct the argument they make based on science, data, and reasoning. After all, track record matters. Interestingly, this group is, to say the least, a mixed bunch, ranging from authors associated with antivaxxers to highly respected academics: Joseph Fraiman, Juan Erviti, Mark Jones, Sander Greenland, Patrick Whelan, Robert M. Kaplan, and Peter Doshi.

I’ll start with the corresponding author, Peter Doshi, because regular readers will know that we’ve written about his antivaccine messaging before. In brief, Doshi is a senior editor at The BMJ, which inexplicably hired him several years ago despite his long history of playing footsie with the antivaccine movement since at least 2009amplifying antivaccine conspiracy theoriesdownplaying the severity of influenza and thus feeding antivaccine narratives, using sleight-of-hand to downplay the effectiveness of flu vaccines, and generally playing the role of a false skeptic with respect to vaccines, as well as having signed a petition in 2006 “questioning” whether HIV causes AIDS. It continues to employ him even after he fell for a conspiracy theory that the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database was being made inaccessible to suppress reporting of serious adverse events. That’s not all, though, he’s also served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in antivaccine leader Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s lawsuit against the University of California’s influenza vaccine mandates.

Since the pandemic, Doshi has only gotten worse. For example, he has used his title as a BMJ editor when taking part in a “roundtable” organized by Sen. Ron Johnson to go dumpster diving in VAERS to find “vaccine injuries” due to COVID-19 vaccines, whether the injuries were caused by them or not. In his testimony, Doshi denied that COVID-19 at the time (November 2021) was a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. He even cited cherry-picked tables to claim that the vaccine wasn’t saving lives in what was basically an updated rehash of the nonsense he had peddled a few months earlier in which he claimed that there was “no biodistribution data” for COVID-19 vaccines and made a number of other negative false claims about the vaccines (also deconstructed by Dr. Hilda Bastian). In a truly risible moment, he even cited the Merriam-Webster definition of “antivaxxer” as opposed to those supposedly opposed to vaccine mandates to argue that he and his fellow COVID-19 contrarians were “not antivaccine” and that large numbers of people would qualify as “antivaccine”. He even parroted the antivaccine talking point that mRNA vaccines are not really vaccines and therefore shouldn’t be mandated like vaccines.

But what about the rest? Two other names that immediately leapt out at me are Joseph Fraiman and Patrick Whelan. Dr. Fraiman is an emergency medicine doctor in New Orleans who has appeared at the Urgency of Normal summit held by Gov. DeSantis and Dr. Ladapo and been associated with COVID-19 minimization since the beginning of the pandemic. In particular, recently he has been arguing thatchildren should not be vaccinated against COVID-19 using arguments identical to those used by antivaxxers to argue against childhood vaccines since…time immemorial: “The question is, if you have a child who is at risk or has co-risk factors for COVID-19, that’s a discussion with your pediatrician, but if you have a healthy child, the chances of that child dying are incredibly low, essentially close to zero if not actually zero”. He’s also made statements claiming that “unvaccinated are more educated on the vaccine than most people who have gotten it”, and that experts cannot disprove concerns made by anti-vaccine advocates. (He’s also recently embraced the Great Barrington Declaration despite its increasing irrelevance.) You get the idea.

As for Patrick Whelan, he’s a pediatric rheumatologist at UCLA who made a splash in December 2020 by testifying to the FDA about his fears that the Pfizer mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine could cause microvascular injury to the brain, heart, liver and kidneys in ways not assessed in safety trials and has been featured on antivaccine websites. He’s also warned against vaccinating those who have had COVID-19 because “sky high” antibodies after vaccination in people who were previously infected may contribute to adverse events. He, too, appeared at Sen. Ron Johnson’s antivaccine panel to fearmonger about spike protein from COVID-19 vaccines. Of late, Dr. Whelan appears to have been more quiet, with more recent searches turning up his name mainly in association with his December 2020 testimony and things he said in 2021. This paper apparently represents a return to vaccine “skepticism”.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t able to find much about Mark Jones and Juan Erviti. Jones is an associate professor of health sciences and medicine at the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, as well as a biostatistician at Bond University in Australia. Searches for his name related to COVID-19 turned up little except references to the preprint and Vaccine study, an article on cancer overdiagnosis, with little on COVID-19 other than articles studying healthcare workers’ responses to the pandemic and a letter asking why more studies of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy haven’t been carried out in Australia. As for Erviti, he’s published with Doshi before in The BMJ expressing skepticism over monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy, as well as a BMJ Rapid Response to an article demanding patient-level data from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials.

Then there are Sander Greenland and Robert M. Kaplan, who will feature in the next section.

The real reason why Vaccine published this paper?

The two authors of this paper who seem beyond reproach are Sander Greenland and Robert M. Kaplan. Greenland, as I mentioned above, is a retired emeritus professor and a veritable god of statistics, someone whom I have regularly cited before. Kaplan is a Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Health Services and Medicine at UCLA, where he led the UCLA/RAND US Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) health services training program and the UCLA/RAND CDC Prevention Research Center. Currently, he is an adjunct professor of medicine and primary care and population health at Stanford University. He’s had a long and storied career, having published over 560 articles and chapters and served as Chief Science Officer at the AHRQ and Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health, where he led the behavioral and social sciences programs. He was also Professor and Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego and is past president of several professional societies, including the American Psychological Association Division of Health Psychology, Section J of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Pacific), the International Society for Quality of Life Research, the Society for Behavioral Medicine, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. He was also elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2005.

Seeing these two makes me wonder: Why on earth did they sign on to this awfulness? For Sander Greenland, there could well be an answer. I can’t believe I either didn’t know or remember this, but this isn’t Greenland’s first antivax rodeo. Does anyone remember the Autism Omnibus hearings? Back in the mid-2000s, the Vaccine Court decided to take an approach to the flood of claims attributing autism to “vaccine injury” in which complainants would choose a few cases that they considered to be the very best, the most convincing, as evidence of a link between vaccines and autism, dividing them into two groups: causation due to mercury in the thimerosal preservative that had been used in many childhood vaccines before 2002 and other causation (e.g., MMR as a cause of autism). These cases then served as “test cases” to determine whether the ~5,000 other cases could go forward. Let’s just say that the complainants’ cases were all based on bad science and featured many of the usual suspects as expert witnesses arguing for vaccine causation. However, it turns out that one of those expert witnesses was not one of the usual suspects. As Steve Salzberg described at the time of a ruling on the test cases for a thimerosal-autism link, it was Sander Greenland:

It’s interesting that Vowell found that even if the “exquisitely small” amounts of mercury in vaccines had an effect, they wouldn’t cause autism. It was also somewhat sad to see how a well-known statistician, UCLA professor Sander Greenland, appearing in support of the thimerosal-autism link, embarrassed himself by presenting testimony that “largely represented an opinion based on a set of assumptions,” according to the ruling. Greenland’s arguments relied entirely on the existence of “clearly regressive autism,” but the Special Master pointed out that Greenland “was not qualified to opine on its existence.” Ouch.

Apparently, if the comments after Salzberg’s post are to be believed, Greenland later tried to claim that he had not testified in favor of a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, but he most definitely did. I have the receipts in terms of the transcript of his testimony.

As for Kaplan, I still remain puzzled why he put his name on this paper. It’s a blot on his reputation. On the other hand, in July 2021, Kaplan was arguing that vaccines were getting more credit than they deserved for the decline of COVID-19 cases being observed at the time, touting—you guessed it!—”natural immunity”:

As coronavirus infections decline in the U.S., it seems appropriate to celebrate the triumph of vaccines over viruses. But how much of the credit do vaccines deserve? Less than you might expect.

And later:

But one trend appears to be clear. As in previous pandemics, the rapid fall in new cases preceded the widespread distribution of vaccines. Although vaccines deserve much credit for declining rates of Covid-19, the protection provided by natural infection has been underappreciated. Emerging evidence shows that previously infected people have effective and durable immunity that rivals or exceeds the benefits of vaccines.

Sound familiar? I also note that this was before the rise of the Omicron variants, which have shown that “natural immunity” after infection is anything but “durable”. Still, you get the idea. Kaplan also wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, a hotbed of COVID-19 minimization, in which he stated that the “idea that recent, deliberate misinformation campaigns created hesitancy to the Covid-19 vaccine appears itself to be misinformation”. So apparently Kaplan was predisposed to Doshi’s narrative about the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials because he thinks that “natural immunity” to COVID=19 is being ignored by public health officials. I could be wrong, but at least that’s the way it appears to me.

Defenders of Fraiman et al. will, of course, vigorously deny that they are antivaccine (as do all the authors themselves) and frequently issue a rejoinder along the lines of accusing anyone who questions anything about the safety and efficacy of any vaccine “antivaccine”. My rejoinder to such a rejoinder would be to suggest that maybe—just maybe—when you coauthor a study that leads to headlines on antivax sites like “Landmark first peer-reviewed study on Pfizer and Moderna covid vaccines confirms ‘excess risk’ of adverse side effects“, “New Study of Pfizer and Moderna Data Suggests Vaccine Harm Outweighs Benefit” (on The Epoch Times, yet!), or “Vaccinated at Higher Risk of Serious Adverse Events: Reanalysis of Original Trial Data” (also The Epoch Times), it should give you serious pause about what has been published. Again, maybe—just maybe—when your study inspires a hard core antivaxxer like Dr. Paul Alexander to publicize on his Substack with a rabid-sounding title like “BOOM! Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joe Ladapo SCHLONGING big pharma Pfizer & Moderna, all of them; new Doshi study in VACCINE journal shows catastrophic adverse events after mRNA injections” (and using the study as the basis for a whole lot of other invective against vaccines), you should reconsider where your career has brought you. (As an aside, I must admit that I’ve never seen “schlong” used as a verb, much less in all caps, in this manner. Clearly, I am more sheltered than I had thought.) Maybe—just maybe—when your study has inspired over 18,000 Twitter interactions in under two weeks, the vast majority of which are using your study to amplify antivaccine conspiracy theories, you might ask yourself if your study is actually antivax propaganda more than a study.

A few more examples, because I can’t resist, no matter how much my readers tell me they don’t like embedded Tweets and social media:

I’m not sure how this crap got published either, but not for the same reasons as Stefan.
“Bringing awareness”? As though social media isn’t full of “awareness” of these false claims.
“Not being discussed widely”?

More like: “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”
Sadly, the admonition not to be stupid comes too late for this anonymous troll.
Because anyone who dies unexpectedly must have been a victim of vaccines!

As I perused mentions of this study on Twitter, I also noted that quite a few of the Tweets were just links to the study Tweeted in response to pro-vaccine Tweets.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Contrary to how antivaxxers will characterize what I just wrote, I’m notsaying that vaccines are sacrosanct in any way. It is certainly true that, if a scientist participates in a scientifically sound study that comes to a conclusion that antivaxxers happen like because it calls the safety or efficacy of a vaccine into question, absolutely the scientist should stand by the results. Unfortunately, that is not what we have here—far from it! In fact, what we appear to have here is not a group of scientists innocently wondering if there were more adverse events (of special interest!) in the vaccinated group in the Pfizer and Moderna studies, but rather a group of scientists that included several who almost certainly started with the conclusion that the vaccines must be more harmful than the disease and looked for a manner to “reanalyze” the clinical trial data to come to that conclusion, even if they had to compare apples and oranges (AEs and hospitalizations) and redefine AES as AESIs in order to achieve the desired result. Even then they failed, as David Grimes points out.

I’ll conclude this post with a little speculation—and I openly admit that it is speculation, as I have no “inside knowledge”—about why this paper, as horrible as it is, as heavily (and correctly) criticized as the preprint was in June, ended up in Vaccine with only relatively minor changes in the context of its findings. I strongly suspect that it’s the same reason that John Ioannidis was able to get a much worse paper published rather easily in which he used a satirical index of scientific influence in order to portray critics of the Great Barrington Declaration as far more influential on social media than they are for actual science. It’s the name. When someone like Ioannidis submits a manuscript as the most published living scientist at the moment, someone whose reputation is downright intimidating, rare is the peer reviewer or editor who will just say: Reject! Although Sander Greenland and Robert Kaplan are not quite at the level of John Ioannidis, they are very eminent in their fields, with Greenland being a legend. Again, I cannot demonstrate it, but it’s not unreasonable to suspect that those names dazzled the reviewers and editors, who changed what should have been a rejection to a conditional acceptance in which the authors had to change a few things and add a lot more caveats but left their basic analysis more or less intact. Thus was born antivax propaganda disguised as a “reanalysis” of clinical trial data.

I end with a plea to the most eminent physicians and scientists among us: Learn to understand how exercises like this one are weaponized as disinformation and refuse to lend your eminent names to them. When you sign on to a manuscript like this, you become part of the problem and provide antivaxxers with the powerful ammunition of your reputation, no matter how much you might try to tell yourself that you’re just doing a scientific study and are not antivaccine.

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]

131 replies on “Update: An antivax preprint is now antivax propaganda disguised as a peer-reviewed publication in…Vaccine!”

I wondered if you’d heard about this. I had a colleague send me a stream of texts about a study involving how the mRNA integrates into hepatocytes in vitro and makes spike (The clear implication being this is happening in vivo.) Then like six other bizarre “Papers.” Culminating with this one.

Even had I got nothing else from this, reading ‘SCHLONGING’ on the screen (esp. as part of the title of a piece crafted by someone intending to be taken seriously) made my evening so thanks for that.

And to think the very doctor using an all caps “SCHLONGING” briefly held a position of COVID-19 advisor with considerable influence at HHS in 2020.

His Wikipedia page is informative. This is the guy who tried to route CDC communications through the White House so they could be vetted to make sure they matched the official message. And he tried to put the ban hammer on Dr Fauci, who said he would have ignored the messages if he had received them.

I think Dr Fauci at least indirectly referred to these restrictions when he was interviewed for TWiV 641 in July 2020.

“In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, after efficacy and safety were demonstrated in the first analyses, it became unethical to leave the control groups of those studies unprotected against COVID-19, which was surging around the world and causing mass illness, disability, and death.” Sophistry. Eliminating the control group makes it impossible to compare the incidence of AEs in the vaccine cohort vs. control. There is only one reason to do this, and it has nothing to do with “ethics”. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Word for word the same argument Berenson is making and was selling on the JRE last week.

How do you know it is not he who is practicing in sophistry? I once convinced a tedious, brown-nosing medical student on rounds that the MRI can cause diarrhea with a complex, pseudoscientific, total bs argument to teach him a lesson (I later let him in on the prank.)

Would you know who is pulling the wool over your eyes? How?

you wouldn’t know ethics if it bought you dinner, rode you hard and cooked you breakfast in the morning.

That’s pretty insulting to Ethics, which wouldn’t tap that foul mess with a 40′ pole. Perhaps you were thinking of Essex?

Do you not understand that it is unethical to allow people get COVID, if you know you can prevent it ?

No. They don’t. You win bigly.

They DO:

–Reduce the odds of transmission. This has been PROVEN by actual direct case studies with known contacts; this is about as good as it can get under the circumstances.
—Immunity fades. Usually by about 90 days. Hence boosters.
—-An argument can be made we should only boost the vulnerable.
—-The boosters will never be perfect. Just like flu. But they will have some efficacy.

–Reduce serious outcomes. This is settled. I’m not going to bang on about it; anyone who doesn’t accept this simple fact similarly wouldn’t accept me telling them the color blue is blue if they believe otherwise.
—In this case, the protection against serious outcomes lasts longer than the protection against transmission. It has been tested out as far as 20 weeks and found to be protective.
—Three shots or a combo of shots and a past infection are the best for this.

Notice how none of this argues that the vaccines “Don’t work at all” which seems to be your tired, feckless, unreasoned argument. Recognize that you are part of the problem. Don’t want the vaccine? Great. Don’t get it. You’ll probably get covid and get protection that way…over and over and over. Have fun with that. Stop talking pure bullshit about the vaccines not working.

Get Covid and you get Covid over and over again too. Not to mention the risk of getting hospitalised, getting long covid, or die. But well, in that last case, you will never get Covid ever again.

@John labargw Do not get the vaccine and you would gte COVID, with higr probability.

“compare the incidence of AEs in the vaccine cohort vs. control. There is only one reason to do this, and it has nothing to do with “ethics”. Quite the opposite, in fact.”

So……what you are saying is that, no matter what any trial/study results might say, there should always be people given fake vaccines so that there is a control group? Would that be added to the patient info leaflet? Warning – this product has a fifty percent chance of having no active ingredients.

Should this also be the case for operations to remove tumours? Surgeons could always leave a couple in situ and just say that they took the lump out. How about OTC painkillers or birth control? Random boxes contain nothing but placebo pills? Half of all seatbelts with weak spots built in (best to mix these in the same car so that you get good data from every accident)?

Ethics? Pshaw.

So……what you are saying is that

Yes. That is exactly what CI is saying. Only without your saturating sarcasm: she is 100% sincere.

This is your periodic reminder that narcissists do not care. They do not have the neurological wiring for empathy, so cannot feel anything towards anyone else. All they care about is Self, and serving that Self. The rest of humanity exists solely for that use; nothing else.

The fact that the aforementioned trial’s own endpoint is to determine if the vaccine under test is safe and effective is irrelevant. The thing that CI wants to know is that the vaccine kills more people than the disease. If a [practical, ethical] trial does not test for this, it is the trial that is invalid. If a [wildly unethical] trial does test for this and finds the disease kills more than the vaccine, then again it is the trial that is invalid.

CI wants two death tolls, where the higher death toll is in the cohort she wants it in. That y’all seem unable to grasp this is your shortcoming, not hers.

Look, y’all keep trying to play the trolley problem with someone who has zero compunction pulling the lever to run over one/hundreds/millions of other people. If she wishes to pull the lever, she will do so. The results of pulling that lever are irrelevant. All that matters is that she was correct to pull it; and she was correct to pull it because she is always correct. In you or me that would be called out as circular reasoning, infantile logic laughable to everyone else. In the narcissist, it is not reasoning at all; it is self-evident truth.

There is absolutely no point arguing science with CI, labilge, Gerg, West, Kinkaid, because they are not arguing the science at all. Every statement they make is a statement about Themselves. Every accusation they throw at us a confession about who—what—they really are. Therefore if you really must insist on engaging, rip them on that: vivisect their egos until they go full extinction burst in response to public humiliation. That or 100% ignoring them are the only possible victory conditions for us; everything else is just feeding them the attention and status they endlessly crave from us. Dumb.

Meanwhile, here is the type of trial to which CI (and every other narc) does subscribe:

Nuremberg 2.0? CI wouldn’t know Nuremberg if Nuremberg stuck its boot so far up her ass it tickled her tonsils. “Nuremberg” is just one more word—one more weapon—in every narc’s eternal war for absolute supremacy over the Universe; and there is not a single thing, or a single person, they will not exhaust to achieve it.

Don’t take any of it personally. It is just what they are.

I, too, don’t understand why there is a need to study original clinical trial data that is 2 years old when there is more real world relevant data from the few BILLION arms these mRNA vaccines have been injected. Surely that will give a more accurate results. But anyway, nearly 2 years of vaccines I think all minds are made up whether to be vaccinated or not, changes nothing. Of course the NO brigade can maybe look forward to becoming a subject on or Herman Caine awards.

Using the number of adverse events instead of number of people with an adverse event is very similar to the phony metric James Lyons-Weiler came up with–the relative incidence of office visits (RIOV) for the now-retracted paper he co-wrote with quack Paul Thomas. It’s not even p-hacking…it’s just double/triple counting to created a fake signal where none existed.

Just wait until they discover how many different symptoms a single COVID infection can trigger in the same person!

I’m sure they will rebalance their tallies of relative harms any second now…

Of course, were the CDC ever to pull the same trick they’d be screaming in outrage about such brazen fraud. Every one of these two-faced lying turdbuckets know exactly what they are doing, and their gleeful audience of can’t-walk-and-chew-gum marks gobble it all up and beg for more. May they all choke to death on their own lung fluid and do the human race a solid.

With my first COVID vaccine I suffered injection site rash, injection site pain, slight headache, feverish chill and extreme fatigue, all over 24 hours? Is that 5 adverse reactions?

Is that 5 adverse reactions?

Peter Doshi says “yes”, so you can draw your own conclusion. My conclusion is Peter Doshi is a malignant ct who can fk right off.

What happened is that the 15%+ increase in non-covid, non-accidental excess deaths in countries with high covid vaccine uptake was recently acknowledged (last week?) & any data available is being gone over with a fine tooth comb. Ethical scientists can’t continue on like this.

At this rate, there will be more “excess” deaths in 2022 than there ever was from covid, particularly in the UK & Australia.

Instead of clinging to the Confirmation Bias Titanic & going down with the ship, it might be time to jump off. The vaccine is worse than the virus.

…the 15%+ increase in non-covid, non-accidental excess deaths in countries with high covid vaccine uptake was recently acknowledged…

When and where was it acknowledged?

Does it really matter? “Ethical scientists”, like Christine K, don’t need silly things like data or citations.

Nobody is censoring anything. Dowd was on Bannon’s “show” spewing this nonsense. Several recent guests on the JRE have been spewing this nonsense. I see it everywhere on social media from my right-leaning friends. I can’t get away from this unfounded garbage.

The reality is quite the opposite. In the highly-vaccinated Massachusetts, they saw all cause mortality go down precipitously for all age groups, for example. Similar examples abound.

Because it’s censored elsewhere

If only you were capable of realizing just how effing stupid that comment makes you look. If you could realize that, and if you had any sense of shame, you would be full on ashamed of making such an asinine comment.

But you aren’t self-aware, and you have no sense of shame. so there it is.

Hi Julian,

I thought it was common knowledge but data from Our World In Data, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Weekly Provisional Counts of Deaths by State and Select Causes, 2020-2022 (as compared to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Weekly Counts of Deaths by State and Select Causes, 2014-2019); have all been used in recent presentations by Dr. Campbell & The Ethical Skeptic.

I’ve been following the US sources for a few months now.

Dr. Campbell and “The Ethical Skeptic”? LOL.

Seeing them mentioned as serious sources of anything other than BS and misinformation made me laugh enough to pop out of vacation mode for a couple of minutes.

@ ChrisP:

But isn’t that standard operating procedure for alt med/ anti-vax?
The treatment ( meds, vaccines etc) is always more dangerous than the illness being considered. The ‘leading cause of death’ is indeed medical treatment ( see Orac on Death by Medicine or Makary),
ARVs/ HAART ‘kill’ more people than hiv/aids ( or cause aids), meds ’cause’ SMI, chemotherapy ‘kills/ causes’ cancer.

(The other) Chris often asks trolls to find a condition where vaccines cause more harm than the illness itself. No responses. Notice how contrarians never cite World in Data or Mayo on Covid. It’s easy to twist figures to say what you desire if they are scattered about in many places and you can extract the ones that fit your purpose best.

I usually ask if any accredited universities teach your ground-breaking theory. I get no response.

I should add that this manoeuvre usually goes hand-in-glove with presenting ‘evidence’ that the illness can be adequately controlled with natural herbs/ old meds for parasites/ supplements/ a better diet thus eliminating the need for meds/ vaccines in the first place.

C’mon, guys! Seriously — hasn’t Covid vaccination proven to be the biggest letdown? Remember the excitement when these new precision vaccines were to end the pandemic, everyone would rejoice and antivaxxers would eat the biggest, fattest crow? Now, provaxxers are like, ‘Go ahead and prove that the vaccines are really killing more people than they are saving!’

And, worse for you guys, the public are starting to pay attention. With the distrust growing,
some are thinking, if this is science, maybe it might not be so bad to try the rabbit-foot brew from the witch’s cauldron!

antivaxxers would eat the biggest, fattest crow?

It’s hard to “eat crow” from the grave.

BTW, what’s your BMI?

hasn’t Covid vaccination proven to be the biggest letdown?

No, not at all. The fact that you and other folks lie about the effectiveness and massive dangers of the vaccines doesn’t mean that the vaccines are either ineffective or massively dangerous, it simply means you’re liars.

On the other hand, I can easily imagine your parents saying hasn’t Greg proven to be the biggest letdown?

I can easily imagine your parents saying hasn’t Greg proven to be the biggest letdown?

Pretty certain Gerg’s mom and dad are Ascidiacea, so no. Not really.

Right, there’s so much distrust that 86% of Greg’s country men/ women have received at least one dose and 82% two doses ( Covid 19 tracker/ vaccination Canada) and provinces in the east ( where he is) are 86%, 88% and 89% ( Ontario, NB, NS respectively) and 87% in BC.
What’s more relevant is that Canada’s rates for severe illness, hospitalisation and death are much better than other countries I could name.

Denice, I think the best gauge of enthusiasm is the boosters percentage. It’s bamboozled or coerced for the first two; eyes opening for the third shot; and then ‘Where is the line for the antivaxxers?!’ for the fourth.

I feel you have a lack of understanding of human nature.

Eyes haven’t been opened. They’re just looking at other things now.

Eyes haven’t been opened. They’re just looking at other things now.

Or, they can be described as ‘don’t give a rats’ ass’ people. It was don’t give a rat’s ass when they were coerced into sacrificing their bodily autonomy, and that irked us ‘antivaxxers’ when they caved. And, again, it’s don’t give a rat’s ass now that there is less pressure, and, as they now spurn the vaccines, you guys are the ones feeling pissed off at them.

It’s a new dawn where the populace don’t give a rat’s ass about anything except their immediate materialistic ends. Say what you want about us ‘antivaxxers’, but atleast we stand for something.

“It’s a new dawn where the populace don’t give a rat’s ass about anything except their immediate materialistic ends”

Ha ha ha ha! A new dawn. Snort!

Yeah, but more vaccinated, trusting Canadians have died of politeness and acts of kindness than unvaccinated, untrusting Canadians, so clearly the vaccine is responsible for killing them.

Citations required, links to evidence and data please. Otherwise it’s a baseless claim.

Citations required, links to evidence and data please. Otherwise it’s a baseless claim.

Oh come on. Have you ever seen labarge, greg, ci, or others of their ilk present anything related to data and evidence? Quite the opposite — they’ve repeatedly indicated they believe random anecdotes are reliable data. You’re asking for details from the severally intellectually and morally challenged.

It seems that Robert Kaplan and Sander Greenland feel the need to defend themselves, positioning themselves as ‘only asking questions’ ( One major problem with the ‘only asking questions’ position, is when you also ignore the answers you do have.

One interesting section in this piece relates is the ‘positive’ words Kaplan and Greenland have for the US FDA and the European Medicines Agency.

What’s most obviously missing from that list of excuses is why the authors targeted clinical vaccine trial reporting, but ignored accumulated data since then which validates Covid vaccine safety as well as efficacy.

I’ll take “The answers I don’t want to hear” for twenty, Alex.

There is no bottom to the dishonesty, the venality, the sheer unvarnished depravity of Beth, Doshi, and all of their fellow disease perverts. Death counts are just one more means to power for them; the dead and distraught humans at the other end, nothing.

Oh, and fuck the BMJ and every one of their enablers, whose own complicity makes them abusers too.

They do no consider fact tha SAEs can be related, either. Heart attack after first dose and stroke after second is not very probably.

It’s over because they are recommending a booster for the fall/winter?

Here’s respiratory disease 101 for you:
-The peak incidence is in winter
-They kill the old and frail
-We use vaccines to try to lessen the IMPACT not PREVENT

There will soon be a yearly flu/covid combo shot, I have no doubt. I can’t wait. I wish we would just move to that strategy now. I’m sure you’d find something else to wax knowledgeable about, though…

That’s about over 200 years then, in medicine , nothing is 100%. That is your failure to understand this.

CEO of Pfizer tweeted it.


Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday that their Covid-19 vaccine was 100% efficacious in preventing infections in 12- to 15-year-olds, measured from seven days to four months after administration of the second dose of the vaccine.

Do you intentionally make misrepresentations of what was said, or simply pick up on the misrepresentations others of your ilk make and mindlessly repeat them? Both things are incredibly dishonest, but then, that’s what you do.

You do realize that tweet refers to the results of one study, right? It is not a prediction of what would happen in widespread use?

I don’t know if these comments of yours are due to stupidity or dishonesty on your part.

Original Pfizer trials predicted efficacy (for then current mutants). It was 95% in trials and sam in follow up studies (one huge in Israel).

I don’t know if these comments of yours are due to stupidity or dishonesty on your part.

Consider that he apparently didn’t read what he invoked, which identifies the NEJM entry.

In developing news…. ( whilst Orac is engaged elsewhere)

The US now joins the UK, Israel and other locales which have circulating polio.



I do wonder how many of those cases were transmitted through the fecal-oral route.

It’s the OPV strain. Vaccine derived Polio.

You felt that a non sequitur was necessary to correct a problem of your own imagination?

@ Narad;

Isn’t that what is known as an own goal? I’m not sure about sports lingo.

The US hasn’t used OPV for over 20 years although other countries do as it is cheap and easy to administer. The only reason it shows up is because some areas have very low uptake of IPV – such as Rockland County, NY, below 60%- many children and younger people are not vaccinated against polio at all- and they have foreign visitors.

I can understand why drug companies are motivated to advertise their vaccines as safe and effective. Those motivations are not all altruistic and truth-seeking, obviously. I cannot understand why vaccines skeptics would pour energy into exaggerating the dangers of a vaccine, or minimizing its benefits.

As Orac describes them, the vaccine skeptics care not at all about truth or science. However qualified they might be, however respectable the journals they publish in, they are nevertheless bad and/or stupid.

Doshi has been hard at work, since even before the pandemic, at criticizing vaccines. What could be his reward for doing this?

We know what kind of reward the drug companies get for pushing ever more vaccines. We would not be surprised if their research turned out to be less than perfect.

But what is the reward for the covid vaccine skeptics? Is it possible they understand that vaccine companies advertise vaccines. That advertisements are not always unbiased and scientific?

How come Orac doesn’t know any of this?

“Doshi has been hard at work, since even before the pandemic, at criticizing vaccines. What could be his reward for doing this?”

Not hard to figure. Apart from satisfying personal conviction, there’s attention, fame (especially among like-minded sorts), speaking engagements, travel and so on. From a Doshi disclosure at the BMJ:

“(Past and ongoing) I have accepted necessary and reasonable paid-for travel, meals, daily subsistence costs, and accommodation from meeting organisers”

Not sure what “daily subsistence costs” are, unless the hotels he stays at don’t provide soap.* Doshi claims he only accepts this “necessary and reasonable” compensation from non-profit organizations, although I haven’t seen a comprehensive listing of who they are, and besides, money is money.

At any rate, whatever compensation exists for anyone arguing against or in favor of vaccination is vastly secondary to the validity of their message.

*speaking of subsistence, I once stayed at a Motel 6 in Austin, TX and, well, I don’t want to talk about it.

I usually don’t directly respond to Orac’s doubters but….
What is the reward for vaccine sceptics? Covid or otherwise

I could write a long, highly detailed answer with hundreds of specific references but
I’ll try to condense my investigations:
— there is a ready made audience who will automatically accept them
— a person without any reasonable background in the life sciences, medicine or psychology can quickly be considered an expert in these areas trumping people who have spent lifetimes studying and working
— with the growth of the internet and social media, presenting the right message will reward a writer will instant followers and friends
— they can become famous, being featured on aligned websites, internet radio and podcasts- there is a network of online anti-vax
— they can use their newly acquired visibility to market their books, products, websites, films, organisations and themselves
— they can create legal charities to raise funds from followers
— they can monetise their writing via Substack and other outlets
— people with qualifications in other areas can use them to shift over to vaccines ( e.g. an actual doctor in another field, not vaccines or infectious disease, or a chemist or biologist) creating a sideline
— people who advocate/ sell natural health products can also spread out to anti-vax selling their ideas and products
— a flailing blogger can start writing about vaccines to lift readership
— a parent ( usually a mother) with a disabled child can label the problem “vaccine injury” and gain acceptance by higher level anti-vaxxers
— successful anti-vaxxers can become rich and greatly admired
— their ready made message includes an enemies list of most reasonable SBM supporters and experts.
— political contrarians can use vaccines as a freedom issue
— it’s fun to be a contrarian

People Orac and others write about fit into one or several of these categories-
–many have no formal education in relevant areas RFK jr, Del Bigtree, Gary Null, Mike Adams, Sayer Ji, Erin Elizabeth
–doctors like Malone, Ladapo, the Front Line group and others who have recently gained Covid fame aren’t experts in vaccines etc.
— Mercola
–biologists and veterinarians can join in ( Weinstein, Rose, Vander Bossche)
–writers ( Wolf, Margulies) use anti-vax as subject matter
–AoA and CHD use angry mothers like Rossi and Wright
–charities like ICAN ( Del) and CHD ( RFK jr) pay them large salaries
–lawyers can use the movement to seek clients to sue companies, government

The CCDH presents and examines the activities of a dozen of the most successful anti-vaxxers.

@Denice Walter

“–lawyers can use the movement to seek clients to sue companies, government”

Absolutely right!

Although I have to admit confusion over which way the traffic goes ie do lawyers involve themselves in the setting up of meetings and support groups to harvest trade or is it the groups that ensure contact by voluntarily providing a specific solicitor’s contact details to their members?

Precisely what happened to me!

I read of a support group for vaccine injured people and their families in a UK magazine in 1999 (as part of an article on the introduction of a new vaccine into the UK), and I made contact.

Out of the blue, and with no previous mention I was advised that I might “wish” to contact the group’s main solicitor whose contact details were provided…………. which I did, and as the saying goes……………..that was that! I often wonder how many of the UK MMR litigation claimants became part of the class action that way.

That same solicitor appeared as a guest speaker at a public meeting held by the group in London in 1996, three years before the first case management conference in a UK court.

@ Wendy Stephen:

I don’t know about how lawyers seek out parent groups other than what Mr Deer wrote about..
BUT there are lawyers who attend autism conferences and speak to seek clients, those who write books about vaccines ( Kevin Barry) and others who work for groups like CHD and ICAN to obtain e-mails of vaccine/ SBM experts, to stop vaccine mandates and protect exemptions. Serendipitously, today Del’s Highwire featured a list of US states where his legal eagles interfered with laws/ mandates. Both of the aforementioned organisations have several lawyers employed to oppose PH as do alt med gurus like Gary Null.

Hiring groups of lawyers is not cheap.

the vaccine skeptics care not at all about truth or science.

That’s certainly true, as you, greg, labarge, and your brethren demonstrate every time you post.

But what is the reward for the covid vaccine skeptics?

You get to make yourselves seem important to the sheep who follow your comments.

Is it possible they understand…

Stop there. You’ve repeatedly demonstrated you understand very little and are more than willing to lie them as well as about things you don’t understand.

Good good what a screwup.

…are more than willing to lie them as well as about things you don’t understand.

should be

…are more than willing to lie about what you do understand as well as about things you don’t understand.

IR, to repeat the points already made. The rewards fall into two broad categories.

Financial – people who sell ‘natural’ remedies, their own vaccine schedule (sells books, more patients through the door etc), speaking fees, monetized videos etc etc.

Kudos – people who want adulation from a vocal minority, who will hang off every word you write. People who want fame in general (you think AJW would have had a relationship with Elle McPherson in any other universe?), with the benefits it can bring (financial/social).

If you view pharmaceutical companies as unreliable because they are profit driven them you should also view anyone making money out of being anti-vax as unreliable also. If you don’t, then you should realise that this YOUR bias showing.

You forgot #3: Power. Pure, raw, absolute power; the means to it.

Fascists love angry, hateful people, because angry, hateful people embrace fascists. Riling up mobs with anti-COVID anti-establishment propaganda cultivates radical supporters like fresh mushrooms on turds. Anything that can be used as a wedge, they will use it; and what greater wedge than a global disease outbreak that is already hurting billions, with no clear end in sight?

Antivax is now a fully-deployed weapon of war being wielded by Putin, the GOP, and every other far-right tyrant and wannabe on the planet. People who have zero qualms about killing millions to get what they want; and don’t think empathy or conscience will stay their hand because they have none. All they have is their own desire to rule the world, forever, and if they have to burn us all to ashes to rule it, they will.

This is why every anti-vaxxer here can go DIAF: for enabling and embracing the worst global disease outbreak of our lifetimes, just so you can rub yourself off on your little scrap of power too. Because 60 MILLION MURDERS apparently wasn’t enough for yall ou jackboot-lickers the last time around. COVID is a piker by comparison, and you are just so proud of yourselves too.

Riling up mobs with anti-COVID anti-establishment propaganda cultivates radical supporters like fresh mushrooms on turds.

One might note that mushrooms are often the fruit of inoculation.

“You forgot #3: Power. Pure, raw, absolute power; the means to it.”

Nah. That comes under kudos. A social benefit of fame. If you can have the power without the responsibility then so much the better.

Semantics, as weath and fame can be equally classed under Power. And if you think Putin and GOP are in it for the Likes then you are foolish beyond words.

There is an order of significance here, so stop looking at where we used to be and look at where we are all heading now.

The glorious coupling of antivax and far-right revolutionaries upon the back of global COVID suffering is well documented and warrants being called out first and foremost. That is the characteristic that counts; the rest will flow naturally from its achievement. And they are close.

Bastards are long past the comparatively harmless narc-stroking grifts of past years and are now eagerly lining up for Reich 4.0—and it is frightening how much of humanity has yet to notice the smell. And, I must credit the extremists their due: they successfully weave their compelling world-rewriting narratives, while moderates mostly continue to play with themselves.

Antivax, as the isolated, insulated, vaguely laughable scam of Wakefield and other lone-wolf grifters, is dead and gone. In its stead, today’s global antivax alt-reality is full leading eager participant in the fascistic Great Reset (yet another accusation they throw at everyone else as confession of their own goals).

All they need to succeed is 30%—which they have!—and for the other 70% to do nothing productive about it.

That is the far greater, infinitely important tale here. And y’all are way overdue on telling it, because you can’t haul your own heads out of the deep indolent rut you have comfortably carved for yourselves over the years entertaining worthless antivax trolls.

Y’all would never play with Daesh supporters the way you play with these fcuks. Call them exactly what they are—fascist enablers, abusers—and cut them off for good. They deserve nothing else.

Am I the only one that finds it super ironic that Has is giving us ‘evil antivaxxers’ so much attention by excoriating the Choir for giving us so much attention and as he demands that they ignore us? Is it not even more ironic that the Choir keep giving us so much attention and, instead, are ignoring Has?! 😆

Y’all would never play with Daesh supporters the way you play with these fcuks

And, where exactly does Has get off comparing us ‘antivaxxers’ to Daesh supporters? Are we calling for people to wear face coverings, restricting their movements in their communities, denying them employment banning music and concerts, banning kids from going to school ?!….

C’mon, who is doing such things?! I wouldn’t even sink so low and accuse provaxxers of such. Wait!

Doshi is editor of BMJ, still. I am afraid that this is his reward. Journals must be so impartial, you know.
Of course, Robert Kennedy Jr really rakes in money. Doshi is just his expert witness.

@ has:
about anti-vax and far right during Covid

Del Bigtree is featuring Alex Jones for a long two-part interview ( yesterday, Monday, The Highwire);
Null and Adams, who used to lean left to entrance nature worshipping customers, now explicitly support Putin over Ukrainian “nazis”, other conservative agenda. Anti-vax and Covid denialists – including RFK jr- sound like sovereign rights freedom fighters as they try to get mandates about vaccines, masks and other PH measures; Del’s ICAN brags about how many states’ laws they overturned ( yesterday). Their rallies included far right groups on occasion.

As Orac has shown with a poster, many of the themes heard on alt med broadcasts sound like old fascistic memes:
country, soil, family, traditional roles, anti-urban etc. There is vilification of education** ( college ruins kids, schools have too much power rather than parents) even from “liberals” like Bill Maher. Home schooling is best.

** just a thought: now that women do better at school/ university and graduate more, attend professional schools more, it’s time to insult education in general!

Maher is “liberal” like my shit is gold. Just another messianic who enjoys punching down for a living. They get everywhere, like sand in a crack.

As you note yourself, bellwether grifters go wherever it pays the best, and far-right is enjoying a global renaissance RN. So much for “conservatism” too. RIP.

It’s been an illuminating week in the annals of Misinformed Consent, vaccine-wise.

The inaptly named Physicians For Informed Consent (PIC), which includes luminaries like Bob Thomas and Bob Sears, as well as non-physicians like Gary Goldman, Tetyana Obukhanych and Christopher “Retraction” Shaw, released to the media this week a stunning takedown of pediatric hepatitis B vaccination, which we are supposed to believe is worse than the disease.

The press release contains an interesting selection of factoids, which are misleading or outright false. For example, PIC claims that the hepatitis B vaccine has had “no measurable impact” on chronic HBV infections, when the truth is that chronic hep B infections have dropped from 4.7% in the prevaccine era to less than 1% as of 2019. Must have been better nutrition, huh? PIC also alleges that vaccine protection in kids wanes by 50% by age 5. Even if that was true, PIC forgets to note that the most dangerous time to contract hep B is in infancy, when up to 90% of infections result in chronic infection, meaning approximately a quarter of those so infected will eventually die of cirrhosis or cancer-related causes. Hep B vaccination is also on the adult vaccine schedule, so lifelong protection can be expected.
Naturally, PIC also beats the Toxic Aluminum drum loudly, along with implying that your-normal-low-risk-kids-don’t-need-to-be-protected-from-a-disease-of-druggies-and-prostitutes.

Elsewhere, Del Bigtree’s Informed Consent Action Network seems to be mostly laying back in the weeds, hoping for better results from their series of harassing legal actions than they’ve had so far. Del has promised a Substack blog since January but I don’t see any evidence of it yet. He’ll keep bellowing on other Internet platforms for now.

I think even I underestimated just how bad the fallout from the covid vaccines would be. It’s a crime against humanity. The doctors & scientists who are speaking out are doing so knowing full well they will lose money & social standing.

“Funds for speaking engagements”? Do public speakers usually do that for free & pay their own way?

I guess I thought the carnage would be delayed like the SV40 cancers from the Polio immunization campaign in the late 1950’s. Medulloblastomas taking years to present, Osteosarcoma’s about a decade & a half, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma’s over 2 decades & Mesotheliomas up to 6 decades.

Never in my life could I conceive of people going from healthy to back pain within months of their mrna, only to be found with multiple tumors fracturing their spines & dead within 30 days of diagnosis.

I didn’t realize that we’d see SADS like we are. Teenage athletes dropping to the ground. People found dead on the floor on their knees with their hands balled up by their heads. Psychosis, strokes, “medical emergencies while operating a vehicle” … I think still, it’s the cancers that will be the final straw. You know you’ve never seen it like this before.

You’re on the wrong side of history & science.

“People found dead on the floor on their knees with their hands…up by their heads.”

Christine seems to have gotten the wrong idea about Muslim prayer.

I think even I underestimated just how bad the fallout from the covid vaccines would be. It’s a crime against humanity.

No, I think the lies you’ve told about huge numbers of deaths and injuries clearly show just how delusional (or is it dishonest?) you are.

Oh dear.

Never in my life could I conceive of people going from healthy to back pain within months of their mrna, only to be found with multiple tumors fracturing their spines & dead within 30 days of diagnosis.

Of course, nothing like that is happening. Neither is

Teenage athletes dropping to the ground. People found dead on the floor on their knees with their hands balled up by their heads. Psychosis, strokes, “medical emergencies while operating a vehicle” … I think still, it’s the cancers that will be the final straw.

Because if they were the affected families would be screaming and it would be impossible to hide the loss.

Why do you make up this shit? What the fuck is wrong with you?

“A thirty-five year follow-up did not find excess numbers of cancers associated with SV40.”

To quote Joel SICK, SICK, SICK

There was, of course, no cancers caused by polio vaccine. Remember that debate ? Another thing is that SV40 actually causes tumors in hamsters
Antivax doctors, of course cater for antivax parents. Antivaxing is their business model. Antivax scientistsh still publish bad papers,
CDC on excess deaths:
Compare to COVID peaks

@ Everyone

Christine Kincaid is a rabid antivaxxer. A while back I exchanged comments with her. She had twins born extremely low birthweight and extremely premature. They were in neonatal intensive care units when given MMR vaccine. One died, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and one was diagnosed with ASD. Kincaid blames the vaccine. I pointed out that such extreme low birthweight and/or extreme prematurity have high probability of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or severe disabilities. Nope, had to be the vaccine. She also explained that she suffers from a genetic disorder, has had 10 or 11 kids, several also with genetic disorders; but, nope, had to be the vaccine. If necessary I can search and find exact weights and premature time.

As for SV 40 and cancer, a number of studies have found NO link, here’s one recent review:

“Polio vaccines used in the late 1950s and early 1960s were contaminated with a virus called simian virus 40 (SV40) present in monkey kidney cells used to grow the vaccine. Subsequently, investigators found SV40 DNA in biopsy specimens obtained from patients with cancers such as mesothelioma (lung), osteosarcoma (bone) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (lymph nodes). However, several facts should be noted:
SV40 was present in cancers of people who either had or had not received the polio vaccines that were contaminated with SV40.
SV40 has not been present in any vaccine since 1963. 
People with cancers who were born after 1963, when SV40 was no longer a contaminant of the polio vaccine, were found to have evidence for SV40 in their cancerous cells. 
Epidemiologic studies do not show an increased risk of cancers in those who received polio vaccine between 1955 and 1963.
Taken together, these findings do not support the hypothesis that SV40 virus contained in polio vaccines administered before 1963 caused cancers.”

Contains a good reference list.

[Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2020 Apr 28). Vaccine Ingredients — SV 40. Available at: ]

Note. SV40 found in unvaccinated individuals, so probably ubiquitous in environment.

Christine writes: “Never in my life could I conceive of people going from healthy to back pain within months of their mrna, only to be found with multiple tumors fracturing their spines & dead within 30 days of diagnosis.
I didn’t realize that we’d see SADS like we are. Teenage athletes dropping to the ground. People found dead on the floor on their knees with their hands balled up by their heads. Psychosis, strokes, “medical emergencies while operating a vehicle” … I think still, it’s the cancers that will be the final straw. You know you’ve never seen it like this before.”

Notice that she gives no reference. What an absolutely absurd list. Of course one can find websites that make any type of claim, even exists a website for the Flat Earth Society which, I assume Christine is a supporting member. LOL And, yep, one can misuse VAERS. As I’ve explained and so have others, VAERS is a list of suspected associations, just as police may bring in a number of people to interrogate after a crime, doesn’t mean even one will turn out to be the perpetrator. Same with VAERS. CDC teams investigate VAERS reports of severe adverse events and have found only a few rare ones with mRNA covid vaccine; e.g. myocarditis; but even these cases have almost all recuperated with no long term consequences. Compare this with even the lower number of kids who suffered from COVID, were hospitalized, developed long COVID, something antivaxxers never do or they downplay seriousness of diseases.

Christine Kincaid is a rabid antivaxxer.

I do believe the technical term you’re grasping for is “a right unhinged cunt”.

Anyway, Kinkaid’s foaming fantasy screed is 100% in keeping with “the corrupt state is doing nothing so we are reluctantly forced to take action ourselves” heroic narrative they are busily crafting for themselves. The tumors y’all should be worrying about are the ones now blossoming between their ears. ’Cos it’s only fun and laughter up until the first one of these paranoid narcissist fuckwits shoots up a pizza parlor that doesn’t even have a basement in it; and then it’s gloves off for the whole lot of them, as their only rationalization for their previous fuckup is to double-down hard on their next. That’s how revolutions really happen: idiots diving in who don’t know how to back out, because they lack the capacity to say “I got it wrong” at any point.

Rattle on all you like about the comical failure of Kinkaid to cite her sources, but understand: these paranoid narcissists are way ahead of you. Their word bond is already more than sufficient simply because of who they are. And they number in millions too.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I long ago lost any sympathy for Kinkaid as a human being, after realizing she wasn’t one; not really. Dead baby stories—hers, yours, anyone’s—are just further grist to her mill; yet more reasons to make her the center of all attention. Same goes for the rest of these malignant scrotes. Takes one to know one, and they are all monsters as well.

Christine Kincaid is a rabid antivaxxer.

Well, sure. But she’s also deranged in the literal sense.

All I know for sure is that a bird who’s wings went “Boom” when he flapped them & had an almost 30ft wingspan was on my roof in 2006. And that his wings had the power to knock me off my feet without them actually even touching me. And; since I’ve grown up here in Southern Colorado & have a SIL who owns ranches in NM, AZ & TX, I DO know that the cattle mutilations are “real”. I do know that they are finding cows on the ground with all their bones shattered & cows draped in tree tops & over power lines.

(The “Thunderbird,” as if more were needed, is responsible for cattle mutilations.)

I’ve delivered a handful of VLBW babies…it’s devastating for all involved. They always need extensive resuscitation. They nearly always have serious deficits. We had a set of triplets once with severe IUGR; only one survived to 6 months. Sometimes the mothers didn’t have proper prenatal care and it’s a surprise, other times they did but fetal growth measurements were off or improperly done and it’s a surprise. They are, quite understandably, looking for someone to blame.

As you can observe, Orac’s regulars are masters/ mistresses of repartee:
data, facts, analysis, sarcasm, irony and revelation are wielded so mightily by them.

I frequently note when alties who assiduously “educate” their audiences include fantastical or incredibly wrong ideas: a “scientist” who discusses how we’ll soon have cold fusion- for energy, not software- ( NN) and another who lectures about the location of a historic duel but is off by 500 miles and who also habitually slaughters an Italian artist’s name ( PRN). But they are experts in these subjects.

These gaffes show naive readers/ listeners that their creators are not what they pretend to be, making all of their pronouncements and “instruction” suspect- they are not paragons of sophistication as they claim: usually, a college educated person knows how to fact check ; they should be skilled in recognising spelling patterns and pronunciations even in foreign languages or at least knowing how to correct their errors. They should be able to tell what is probably fictional. When someone “lectures” about the intricacies of medical science and then presents shockingly unbelievable confabulations as reality you can be sure that the “science” is not trustworthy either. They have poor judgment and/ or just lie.

Suppose I wrote about what causes aids and later said I owned a talking cat you might want to check out Wikipedia. Not about cats.

The weekend update would be incomplete without a book recommendation: in this case, Peter and Ginger Breggin’s recently published and astoundingly revelatory work, Covid-19 and the Global Predators: We Are The Prey.

For those unfamiliar with Peter Breggin, he’s a Harvard-trained shrink who thinks of himself as the Conscience of Psychiatry, having churned out a series of books which mostly attack the use of drugs in mental illness. He’s really outdone himself this time, exposing the Global Predators (GPs) who’ve inflicted mass psychosis on the sheeple. The GPs include billionaires, tech bros, the Biden Administration, Donald Trump, anti-Trumpers, Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, the Waltons (no, not those Waltons), the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall St. Journal, the major networks, the Pope and above all, the Chinese Communists and a myriad of other players* who exist to service their Chinese masters. Breggin likens the Global Predators to “giant bats with black wings flying from dark caves at a witch’s beckoning”. The GPs are characteristically agnostics and atheists according to Breggin, which is a mean thing to say about the Pope.
Breggin (who has referred to Covid-19 restrictions affecting schoolchildren as “a crime against humanity”) is, as you might expect, not a fan of Covid-19 vaccination, which is “killing and sterilizing” people.

In an introduction to Breggin’s Covid-19 and the Global Predators, Peter McCullough refers to Breggin as an “intrepid scholar”, which should signal to doubters that McCullough does not deserve to be taken seriously by anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex.
You can get more of the flavor of Breggin’s crazy at

*but not the Thunderbird.

[Peter Breggin]’s really outdone himself this time, exposing the Global Predators (GPs) who’ve inflicted mass psychosis on the sheeple.

LOL. Physician, heal thyself.

In an introduction to Breggin’s Covid-19 and the Global Predators, Peter McCullough refers to Breggin as an “intrepid scholar”, which should signal to doubters that McCullough does not deserve to be taken seriously by anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex.

Indeed. I have rambled in the past about “webs of trust” as a useful tool which even non-experts can employ to roughly assess the reliability of a source. In essence, if you lack the specialist skills to assess a claim directly, look at who the claimant is as a person by looking at who else they cite in support of themselves. If their web of trust quickly descends into full crazy train territory, it is not unfair to assume that their whole web of trust, and everyone in it, is suspect as well.

For McCullough to light up Breggin (who sounds genuinely bugnuts, as in locked-ward involuntary-hold psychotic) is a strong indicator that McCullough himself is highly unreliable, which in turn sheds shadow over those who uncritically hail McCullough, and so on.

[With apologies in advance for my own chaotic braindump-and-run…]

Most humans are not good at assessing science; it is a hard unintuitive skill that must be taught and rarely is†. But most humans are pretty good at intuitively assessing other humans: we are naturally wired for it, as a core survival mechanism. So why are science advocates not making full use of that skill? What the world really needs from science advocates is not a neverending stream of isolated debunks but an appealling, compelling joined-up narrative to sell en-masse. Two side-by-side pictures: one, a thousand-foot overview of our web of trust and who are the key people in it; the other, a thousand-foot overview of the scammers’ web of trust and who are key players in that.

There is a good diagram already floating around the net that joins up all the Brownstone grifters into just such a web. Why is there not a diagram linking up NatNews with Null, RFK Jr, Bigtree, and so on too, and connecting that back into the Brownstone web? And, not just a static image that gets retweeted, but a static image with a big bold URL on it, that URL leading observers to a live website where all these malignant players are hyperlinked to their propaganda and vice-versa.‡

And where are the diagrams to mesh the pro-science people together? I don’t see any at all. Just individuals like Orac, Bik, Sheldrick, and so on, each yelling into the void. Build your own web in parallel, linking your key writings, and then hook those refutations back into the grifters’ web, and let visitors reach their own conclusions as to whose web is trustworthy and whose is not.

You have a signal. But do do your opponents. Your signal is better than theirs, so why is it not being heard?

Because they possess another thing which you do not: Amplification.

This is why the grifters are winning: because they are genuinely talented sales[wo]men, who understand how to generate and exploit network effects to maximize their own messages’ potency and reach, while science’s individual messengers are as coordinated and targeted as a herd of cats.

Yes, it’s fine you tear apart single misdeeds to reveal the lies at each crime’s heart; but that’s all you do: incredibly expensive, detailed, painstaking, technical work, which you then set down, “job done”, without extracting further value from it. This is madness! RationalWiki does a better job of joining its dots into a whole picture, in a wiki format that’s as engaging to look at as watching paint dry. Heck, even Urban Dictionary stitches its stories better, and it is largely written by chuds. But, funny chuds! (And never underestimate the power of laughing at abusers to strip the fcukers of theirs.)

It is not ad-hominem to say that Persons X and Y must be considered untrustworthy because they trust Person Z who is untrustworthy. As long as you can demonstrate Z has been overtly dishonest (and/or incompetent)—which you can, and have been doing for years—then X and Y logically discredit themselves. While those who rely on X and Y for justification weaken themselves in turn.

Science itself builds on vast provisional webs of highly interconnecting evidence. And here we are sitting on the world wide web—a global technology for interconnecting documents with an audience of billions—wondering why our message is not circulating the loudest. This ought to be Joined-Up Thinking 101!

What you lack is a single, central, dedicated platform to reveal the COVID grifters’ web in easily visualized, highly digestible form. So the whole world can easily see themselves how the whole rotten grift ties together, who is at the heart of it, and just how far its disease spreads out. “Show, don’t tell”, to use a writer’s aphorism. Stick a funny “Lie-o-meter” next to each of its key players, tallying the number of royal porkies on which they’ve been outright busted, and their goose will cook itself.

Bring that missing piece and in effect you weaponize their own web of trust against them. The bigger and more central a player in their web is, the more reach and influence they have; thus the harder they discredit all those around them when they are busted themselves.

Anyway, I am punting this alternate perspective to you good folks here, because y’all keep on doing the same thing, over and over, without ever achieving a different result. Working hard ≭ working productive. Figure out what you’re not currently doing, and do that. That means breaking your ingrained habits, stepping outside your comfort zone, being highly goal-directed, and approaching the overall situation not as lots of little scientific problems in need of lots of little scientific solutions (of which you already have a huge glut!) but as a one great big Marketing and Sales problem that’s desperately overdue for a single, unified, holistic, Marketing and Sales solution.

And once you have your dazzling marketing story down pat, justify it by tying to your robust tested science, which is in turn stitched back into your own web of trust. Layfolk who do not have the specialized skills to assess the science itself will nevertheless be inclined to trust it if they feel they can trust people who trust it. Tie together the people who may be trusted to be honest and imperfect, and separately tie together the people who can be trusted to be toxic and manipulative; and let everyone see for themselves what differentiates the two as human beings.

And once your People Messaging is up and running, loop back around to your original science to back it all up. Because honest (and also imperfect, messy, and ever-learning) science is the one thing that SCAM’s superlative marketeers cannot bring to justify their products, so when they try to back their claims with their Fake Science (and you know they will!) well, who already holds all the receipts to hang them on? You do, of course! Years of the things, already prepared; just not pulled together and itemized as a single massive overwhelming resource.

BTW, Marketing and Sales is 10% about actual product, 90% about human psychology and how to leverage the psychology of other humans to get the sales you want. And what is Psychology? Yet another science, of course! So if all you good, smart, ethical folks with your incredible scientific process cannot run rapid circles around these venal scammers with their brittle petty ego-stroking rip-offs, then it is you—not they—who is doing Science all wrong.


† And there’s nothing wrong in this. Science is a specialist skill, just like any other specialist skill. Thus, excepting the odd Renaissance wo/man, most folks will be fortunate to possess maybe one or two specialist skills; and many will have none at all.

‡ Before anyone says the obvious, yes, I would bootstrap it myself if I had the energy; but I am stretched beyond thin, so I can’t. Still, there are experienced folk already running RationalWiki and the likes, who I’m sure could be pressed into building a “Covid Grifters dot com” using web tools that already exist (e.g. wiki/graph engine), and plenty of minions here and elsewhere who could be given the edit permissions to populate it and hyperlink the whole filthy story together, and spread its reach through FB and Twitter and the rest. Many hands make light work.

@ has:

I’ve been attempting since 2008-9 to circulate true stories of alties and their work. Quackwatch, RW, SBM, RI, CCDH and Wikipedia guerrilla sceptics consolidate facts about woo and its perpetrators.
Yes, alties always enable each other despite occasional disputes.

I wonder if most people are intuitively good at assessing others’ intentions and aims because so many scams work very well and enrich their initiators..
indeed, it’s possible that con artists know how to disarm that system by pretending to be a helpful ally of the mark, similar by having a fine, hardworking, lower middle class family, only interesting in helping their targets to avoid the carefully set snares of the Elite. They establish a web of deceit that entices marks to accept their lies as they demonise reliable sources and standard news.

I know that there is movement because alties I survey 1. absolutely loathe Wikipedia- and Orac- and write scores of exposes AND 2. social media’s recent effort to cleanse FB, YouTube, Twitter et al of them is their
latest bete noire.

Flow charts would be fine or maps of altie BS with links.

I wonder if most people are intuitively good at assessing others’ intentions and aims because so many scams work very well and enrich their initiators..

Fair point. I should qualify that: most humans are wired with an ability to gauge other humans. Whether they choose to use that ability honestly, or override it to serve some other interest (vanity, greed, bigotry, fear, etc) is a separate issue.

The best marks are those who, on some level, choose to be conned: who are so desperate to believe, they are willing to sell out their own honesty, good judgement, themselves, and even others in pursuit of that self-deceiving indulgence.

And, of course, there are a lot of abusers out there: people who can’t even be honest when gauging themselves, so desperate the are to believe they are Good People while being self-serving and cruel. The US certainly has a massive problem with those right now, so it’s no surprise they’d be especially easy picking for those who tell them all the lies they want to hear, in return for profit and power.

I wouldn’t bother trying to change that last lot’s minds. You can’t. Scum is scum. Only they can want to change themselves, and most prefer to be what they are. Gaming them into attacking each other is the best and only productive outcome to be achieved there, not just by weakening them directly but by making their toxicity impossible for anyone else to ignore.

Which bring us to the quiet majority: the enablers who would rather turn a blind eye because they don’t want to be bothered. Turning them should be doable. These people certainly should have the capacity to distinguish basically decent fellow humans from the total shits; so if they aren’t doing so, that is because they are being cowardly and shameful. Trying to hide from the ugly fight; pretending it isn’t their problem, not their responsibility, wanting to play Switzerland.

The kleine Lügner.

Those lazy chickenshit bastards would much prefer to do nothing… but only as long as doing nothing remains their easiest, least painful option. So, destroy that option. Take away their ability to lie to themselves. Force them to choose, to make an honest assessment of the people standing on each side, and take their own stand on one side or the other (it doesn’t matter which they choose; only that weaseling out of making that choice is no longer an option), and that should kick things off nicely.

@ Dr Bacon:

When I peruse long lists of culprits** like that, I usually say to myself .. if we can’t trust governments, institutions, professions and ALL the media, we should trust YOU? A vitamin salesman who can’t compose a sentence in
secondary school level English? Or an internet scammer who creates new apocalypses weekly? Or a musical comedy performer who has no recorded education outside of television production school? Or a struck off former research surgeon? SRSLY.

Why trust them either?

** notice they’re called GPs!

Their believability resides in the fact that they’re not people with extensive relevant training and experience. As the Breggins put it, the heroes of the Resistance Against Wicked Global Predators are “rebels, explorers, cowboys, individualists, artists, misfits, intellectuals, Divergents” and a bunch of other things.

Oh, and they hate Klaus Schwab, the Great Reset guy, with a passion. He’s beyond evil.

“rebels, explorers, cowboys, individualists, artists, misfits, intellectuals, Divergents”

So, Paranoid Narcissists.

Also known as “gagging marks” to the cool calculating psychopaths who effortlessly pull their strings.

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