Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Skepticism/critical thinking Sports

Damar Hamlin’s collapse: To antivaxxers, it’s always the vaccines

On Monday, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after a tackle. The most likely diagnosis is commotio cordis, cardiac arrest after chest trauma. That didn’t stop antivaxxers from undergoing all-too-familiar contortions to blame it on vaccines.

Monday night, I was flipping channels—mainly because I’m old and often, rather than streaming my content, I actually still flip channels—when I came across a shocking and disturbing scene. Actually, what I saw wasn’t so much shocking at first as it was puzzling. It was an NFL football game, with the action stopped and a player apparently injured. However, the tableau struck me immediately as odd and disturbing because there were so many players milling around on the field, seemingly all of both teams. This sort of thing usually doesn’t happen if the injury is a run-of-the-mill sprain; it usually only happens when the injury is very, very bad. And so it was, as it quickly became apparent to me that CPR was being administered to a player on the field, with the shocked announcers commenting on what was happening in hushed and horrified voices, not knowing how to discuss what was happening. I soon learned that the player was Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who had gotten up after a tackle but then collapsed. As the CPR on Hamlin continued for what seemed like an interminable amount of time, I had two thoughts. First, I—like the millions watching—wondered if Hamlin had died and was saddened, even though I didn’t know who he was. My second thought, unfortunately, was: Have antivaxxers started blaming Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on vaccines yet?

Why? To antivaxxers, it’s always about the vaccines. It’s always been about the vaccines. It always will be about the vaccines. In these days of “died suddenly” narratives, they immediately blame any sudden collapse, heart attack, or death suffered by a young person on COVID-19 vaccines.

I hate that this is now how my brain is now wired to think when faced with the tragic collapse and potential death of a young athlete (or anyone, for that matter), but it is, unfortunately, no longer unreasonable to think that way, as much as I detest it. This is where we are as a society, nearly three years into the pandemic, when any sudden death or collapse of a young person is immediately seized upon by antivaxxers as being due to COVID-19 vaccines. Unfortunately, that stray thought (which was shared by many people), was prescient, not that it took a lot of savvy to predict what antivaxxers would do, for example:

Hmmm. What could he mean by this? Also, note the time.

And, from the anonymous antivax Twitterverse:

In case you’re not familiar with it, Died Suddenly is the antivax conspiracy movie disguised as a documentary that falsely claims that COVID-19 vaccines are causing millions to “die suddenly” of blood clots. It’s so bad that “reasonable” antivaxxers (i.e., those who think that they are reasonable but are barely separated from the are calling it a false-flag operation to make them look bonkers, something that really isn’t needed. Also, the first Tweet is timestamped when the resuscitation was still in progress.

Even Dr. Drew got into the action:

“Dropped suddenly”? That sounds an awful lot like “died suddenly.” Basically, it’s an antivax dog whistle to note the sudden collapse or death of a young, healthy individual, particularly an athlete, and lament that “so many” athletes or young people are “dropping suddenly.” I’m certain that Dr. Drew knows this, and if you have any doubt that Dr. Drew Pinsky has gone full-on antivax his Tweet above should disabuse you of that error. If that doesn’t do it, then, again, note the time, less than 15 minutes after Damar Hamlin had collapsed.

Because Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest and resuscitation have been such a big story over the last couple of days, I thought it worth discussing, both in terms of what probably happened and what the probable cause was, compared, of course, to the antivax narrative. Long before the pandemic, I used to emphasize repeatedly how, to antivaxxers, it’s all about the vaccines, always and above all. However, if you weren’t paying close attention to the antivaccine blogosphere and social media you probably didn’t see it, and many didn’t believe it or downplayed it as rare. With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines two years ago, those of us who knew the antivaccine movement predicted that antivaxxers would weaponize every death that occurred within even a month of vaccines because that’s what they did. We were, of course, correct, as claims of a “vaccine holocaust” were on full display within weeks to a few months after the mass vaccination program really got underway two years ago, and by 2021 antivaxxers were in full “vaccines are depopulation” mode. It was all utterly and sadly predictable, and not even new, given that antivaxxers used to blame vaccines for sudden infant death syndrome and then later blamed Gardasil for killing the adolescent girls who received it. In case you didn’t get the point, there was even an antivax movie about Gardasil called Sacrificial Virgins…in 2018! This same sort of narrative blaming vaccines for the sudden cardiac deaths of young people was resurrected during the pandemic as the “died suddenly” narrative, even though the phenomenon of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) had been described as early as the 1970s.

Again, to antivaxxers, it’s always about the vaccines. It’s always been about the vaccines. It always will be about the vaccines.

So, as we continue to hope that Damar Hamlin recovers, given that he is still in the intensive care unit on a ventilator and apparently had to be resuscitated a second time after arriving at the hospital, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to discuss what probably happened and why antivaxxers falsely seize on vaccines as the supposed cause of his cardiac arrest. I will also acknowledge that antivaxxers have been claiming that it’s “unethical” for doctors to make a speculative “diagnosis” of Hamlin without having examined him or seen his test results, but that, too, is projection, given that the “died suddenly” narrative is nothing but speculating that every sudden death of a relatively young and healthy person had to be due to COVID-19 vaccines, to the point of harassing the grieving families of the deceased.

Commotio cordis: Cardiac arrest due to a blow to the chest

The first thought that came to mind among emergency room doctors, and trauma surgeons on social media was that the most likely cause of Hamlin’s collapse was commotio cordis:

One cardiologist mentioned:

This is a phenomenon when a blow to the chest can result in disruption of the heart rhythm and ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest. It’s not common, but it is a described phenomenon. As is the case with any cardiac arrest, survival is inversely proportional to how quickly effective CPR and electrical cardioversion are administered, and because commotio cordis happens outside of the hospital, like other cardiac arrests in the community, it has a high mortality rate. A 2012 review article noted:

Approximately 10 to 20 cases are added to the Commotio Cordis Registry yearly.3,4 Until the late 1990s, commotio cordis was only rarely reported. It is thought that this increase in the number of cases is not due to an increase in incidence but rather to a greater awareness based on the 1995 New England Journal of Medicine report on commotio cordis.2 Many more cases of commotio cordis are now recognized as such. Indeed, what was thought to be a uniquely North American phenomenon is increasingly being reported in countries outside the United States.5

Commotio cordis primarily affects young individuals, generally in adolescence. In the Registry, the mean age is 15 years4; there have been very few commotio cordis victims over the age of 20 years. It traditionally has been thought that the stiffening of the chest wall contributes to this decrease in incidence in older individuals; however, this decreased incidence in those over 20 years of age is likely also influenced by the reduced ball-related sports participation by older individuals. Victims are overwhelmingly male. A partial explanation for the overwhelming predominance of males is that they populate the majority of sports in which commotio occurs, but it appears unlikely that the 95% predilection for males reflects a 95% incidence of chest wall impact in sports and activities of daily living. I suspect that there may also be some gender-related biological susceptibility to chest wall impact induced sudden cardiac death. Indeed, other arrhythmic conditions demonstrate a gender predilection for arrhythmia, including females with long-QT syndrome6,7 and males with Brugada syndrome.8 Genetic differences in ion channels between the sexes or biological modification of these channels by sex hormones may be involved in the male susceptibility to commotio cordis.

You can see where one antivax narrative has gone given that Hamlin is 24 years old and therefore older than the age range in which this condition is most commonly seen, but I’ll get to that later. One common misconception about commotio cordis is that it requires a blow hard enough to damage the heart muscle and cause a cardiac contusion, something that I used to see not infrequently in victims of vehicular trauma back in the 1990s when I still did trauma surgery. Timing is likely more important, as commotio cordis is much more likely to happen if the blow lands at a specific point in the cardiac electrical cycle, as shown in this nice graphic from Wikipedia:

Electrocardiograph: the portion of normal sinus rhythm during which commotio cordis is a risk if a severe chest impact occurs within the narrow risk window. (From Wikipedia.)

Of course, commotio cordis is not the only potential diagnosis in the differential diagnosis. Another doctor mentioned:

In case you don’t know what HOCM is:

Others didn’t think hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy was likely. Why? Remember when I wrote about SADS and how the reason that we do sports physicals on student athletes in grade school on up is to try to catch the known inherited heart abnormalities that can predispose to sudden unexpected cardiac arrest? If we do sports physicals on kids before letting them participate in sports, imagine how much more rigorous the physical assessment is of professional athletes, many of whom are paid millions of dollars a year, before they are signed:

The point, however, is that Damar Hamlin’s tragic collapse, given what was witnessed and what we know, was so incredibly unlikely to be due to COVID-19 vaccines as to be near homeopathic, but antivaxxers immediately put vaccine injury at the very top of their delusional “differential diagnosis,” to the point where it’s nearly the only possibility, other than perhaps to consider and dismiss far more likely possibilities. We can say with a very high degree of confidence just based on what we know now that vaccines did not cause Damar Hamlin to try to “die suddenly,” but in the bizarro world of antivaxxers it is taken as an article of faith that it was vaccines that caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.

Before I move on and discuss how the antivax narrative has…evolved…to contort itself to justify the claim that vaccines are why Damar Hamlin is in the ICU after an on-field cardiac arrest, I have to mention how he is doing. Last night, a sports reporter noted::

Stories from overnight indicate that Hamlin is still on the ventilator and has been placed in the prone position. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported:

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained that when the heart is not beating well, fluid can sometimes back up into the lungs and make it hard for medical staff to oxygenate the patient. So, they will flip the person on their stomach into a prone position to make breathing easier.

Gupta also said it sounds like Hamlin is still having a significant amount of cardiac dysfunction and his heart cannot pump enough blood.

This is one possibility, but another possibility is that Hamlin has post-arrest acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can occur in nearly half of patients successfully resuscitated after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Whatever the cause, it’s not good, and doctors are doing everything they can to support Hamlin’s heart and lungs until they can (hopefully) heal. Also, I note that prone positioning was used to treat ARDS before the pandemic, when people became more familiar with it as a means of treating the ARDS due to COVID-19.

Again, it’s not the vaccine, but that’s not what antivaxxers have been saying.

How the antivax narrative about Damar Hamlin evolved

I started this post by saying something simple, which I will repeat again because I want you to understand it:

To antivaxxers, it’s always about the vaccines. It’s always been about the vaccines. It always will be about the vaccines.

If you don’t believe me, just watch how the narrative about Damar Hamlin evolved among antivaxxers from what I described at the beginning of this post and will repeat now:

As more and more reporting suggested that it was probably the blow to the chest, possibly combined with a congenital heart conduction defect, that had resulted in Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, the antivax narrative…changed. Basically, antivaxxers started claiming that commotio cordis is incredibly rare and never been reported in the NFL before. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic’s wrongest man Alex Berenson was at the forefront of pushing this narrative based on a cherry picked article:

The “spin is already starting”? “But to see people ALREADY trying to spin this”? Truly, projection is all these people can do, and Berenson was trying to “spin this” to be about vaccines beginning almost immediately after Hamnlin’s collapse. (Also note how Berenson quoted the same paragraph that I did but spun it entirely differently.)

Of course, as I noted that was a decade-old article. It has since become appreciated that the condition is very likely underdiagnosed:

Although commotio cordis usually involves impact from a baseball, it has also been reported during hockey, softball, lacrosse, karate, and other sports activities in which a relatively hard and compact projectile or bodily contact caused impact to the person’s precordium. While only 216 instances have been reported to the US Commotio Cordis Registry (as of 2012), [45this is probably a considerable underestimation of its true incidence since this entity still goes unrecognized in many instances and continues to be underreported.

And, in case you didn’t get it the first time:

Approximately 15-25 commotio cordis deaths are added to the US Commotio Cordis Registry every year. [14The actual incidence is, in all likelihood, considerably greater because of lack of recognition and underreporting.

Moreover, just because Damar Hamlin is 24 years old does not mean that he couldn’t have been the victim of commotio cordis:

Although reported in a wide range of ages (6 wk to 50 y), commotio cordis occurs most frequently in male children aged 10-18 years, with a mean age of 15 ± 9 years. Data from the US Commotio Cordis Registry show that 26% are younger than 10 years and 75% are younger than 18 years. [5]

Also, even if commotio cordis is every bit as rare as Berenson and his sycophants, toadies, and lackeys are trying to portray it, that wouldn’t mean that Damar Hamlin didn’t suffer from it. Given the thousands of hits NFL players are subject to each and every year and have been subject to for decades, eventually one would expect that even a rare tragic event like this would happen. The law of large numbers applies, in which, when the numbers are large enough, eventually even rare events occur.

As more discussion occurred, the antivax narrative…evolved…further, for example:

Actually, no, you cannot “safely assume that those known preconditions were not present,” a statement that Malone made after having cited the same article I just cited above, which he apparently did not read:

Autopsy of those with fatal commotio cordis typically shows normal cardiac morphology. Small oval or circular abrasions or bruises are often noted over the precordium, primarily over the left ventricle. In general, there’s no evidence of rib fractures, hemothorax, hemopericardium, external myocardial contusion; no congenital or acquired structural entities known to predispose young people and athletes to sudden death; no evidence for aortic rupture or traumatic injury; and no evidence of either damage or thrombosis of the coronary arteries.

So, no. NFL physicians very well might not have found anything that would predispose Damar Hamlin to commotio cordis because there probably wasn’t anything to find. Unsurprisingly, throughout yesterday and last night, the antivax narrative continued to…evolve…further. Enter Dr. Peter McCullough, who told Steve Kirsch:

I watched the play live both as a fan and a cardiologist and I saw blunt neck and chest trauma, a brief recovery after the tackle and then a classic cardiac arrest.  I have communicated to one of the most experienced trainers in the world and we agree that it was a cardiac arrest in the setting of a big surge of adrenalin.  If Damar Hamlin indeed took one of the COVID-19 vaccines, then subclinical vaccine-induced myocarditis must be considered in the differential diagnosis.

Also, according to Kirsch:

Note that McCullough originally speculated that the injury that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was due to commotio cordis (a phenomenon in which a sudden blunt impact to the chest causes sudden death in the absence of cardiac damage). The time delay from the hit until he collapsed is expected in commotio cordis.

Note that Dr. McCullough started out by going with his gut as a cardiologist and latching onto the most likely diagnosis from an actual science-based perspective, namely commotio cordis. Then he realized his error and…corrected course:

Peter believes that the ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation could have been set up by the vaccine if he took it.

“If he took it.” After all, the NFL never imposed a vaccine mandate on its players, although for the 2021 season it did impose policies in which a game canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak would, if it couldn’t be rescheduled during the regular season, be forfeited by the team that had the outbreak and no one on the team would be paid for the forfeited game. The league has reported that 95% of its players and personnel have been vaccinated.

NFL policies aside, there you have it. To antivaxxers, it’s always about the vaccines. It’s always been about the vaccines. It always will be about the vaccines, to which I will add: No matter how much the antivaxxer has to torture events and data or string together different claims and conspiracy theories to make it about the vaccines. In this case, Dr. McCullough combined the fear mongering about the small risk of myocarditis in young men due to COVID-19 vaccines with the whole false “died suddenly” conspiracy narrative, but cleverly made it a “just asking questions” sort of wild speculation, rather than outright saying that this is what happened. He didn’t have to say it outright. He knew that his JAQing off would, when it hit antivax social media, be transformed into assertions rather than speculation, particularly after the appearance in antivax Substacks of links to a case series of two rugby players who died after a blow to the chest, one of whom had a distant history of viral myocarditis and the other of whom had evidence on autopsy of fibrosis of the heart consistent with previous myocarditis, leading the authors to conclude:

The occurrence of chest wall trauma during sports activities is frequent and, under very specific conditions, can be associated with severe ventricular arrhythmia. A sequela of myocarditis increases the risk of lethal ventricular arrhythmias following blunt chest trauma. Further studies and systematic CMR assessments should be performed to evaluate the potentially higher risk of LVTA and the benefit of and an adaptation of the rules, in terms of health and medico-economic aspects.

Moreover, going back to the same article on commotio cordis:

Histologic findings are almost always normal. There’s typically no evidence of acute or chronic myocardial infarction, infection, or inflammation, nor evidence of active or healed myocarditis or arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. Hemorrhage has been reported in the anterior left ventricular wall and in the A-V node and specialized conduction system, but the significance of these findings is uncertain.

In other words, nearly all commotio cordis happens without any evidence of heart inflammation, acute or chronic. On autopsy, histologic findings in the heart of the young athletes who die of commotio cordis are almost always stone cold normal. Basically, antivaxxers cherry picked a two patient case series that speculates that a history of myocarditis might predispose athletes to commotio cordis and use it to speculate that it must have been vaccine-induced myocarditis that predisposed Damar Hamlin to suffering the same.

Pepe Silvia conspiracy meme
The attempts to “prove” that Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest was due to vaccines reminds me of this meme for some reason.

Everything old is new again

I will conclude by noting, as is my wont when it comes to COVID-19 antivax claims, that there is nothing new under the sun and that everything old is new again. The claim that young people are “dying suddenly” after vaccines is not new to COVID-19 vaccines. It dates back to antivaxxers attributing the deaths of young women and adolescent girls to HPV vaccines. The predecessor of the “died suddenly” lie is the related and longstanding antivax claim that vaccines cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a seeming association that derives from the unfortunate fact that the most common age for SIDS (2-4 months) happens to coincide with the time frame when infants receive a lot of vaccines, never mind that there is no evidence of even association and, if anything, vaccines might actually be inversely associated with the risk of SIDS.

Meanwhile, antivaxxers have been taking it even further into more despicable territory. For example, Steve Kirsch is intertwining claims that the vaccine did it with calls for Nuremberg 2.0-stylejustice” for Damar Hamlin and doing it in the most despicable way possible, starting with:

The medical experts I consulted believe that there is a high likelihood that Damar Hamlin was brain dead within 10 minutes after he dropped to the ground.

The primary reason for this conclusion is the 9 minutes of CPR. It is simply very rare for someone not to be brain dead at that point. Nobody I talked to has ever heard of such a case. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. It just means it is rare.

I pray that this is not the case, but I think we need to prepare for that possibility.

And then demanding:

We need to prepare for the very likely possibility that Damar Hamlin is brain dead.

If he is brain dead, there is nothing we can do to bring him back.

If he is brain dead, the COVID vaccine must be considered as a possible suspect.

If Damar Hamlin is dead, I hope that there will be transparency and a full autopsy to discover whether the COVID vaccine was responsible for his death.

If we do not consider the possibility that the COVID vaccine killed Damar Hamlin, we will have let a killer roam free to kill again. And again. And again. 

And, of course, he quotes a commenter spewing a conspiracy theory:

There is ZERO chance the NFL lets the family have an autopsy performed for possible link to vaccine. If it showed a link and that information became public, the league would probably shut down the rest of the year at least since every player would be considered a ticking time bomb. Players Association will go nuts. I’d say they pay off his family to prevent posthumous analysis if that’s where this ends up.

Kirsch, however, is not alone in his despicable assumption that Hamlin is dead and that vaccines killed him that he then uses to call for a “Nuremberg 2.0” (without using the actual term) and claim that the “true cause” of his collapse is being “lied about” and “covered up.” A quick trip to Paul Alexander’s Substack revealed this headline:

Damar Hamlin was "murdered"?
This isn’t even the most unhinged of Paul Alexander’s rants.

In his post, Dr. Alexander tries to make it a racial issue, while spewing racist invective about “illegals from South America.” I’m going to liberally quote him so that you don’t actually have to visit his Substack to see just how bad this rhetoric is getting:

It is time to lay murder charges on Pfizer, Moderna, CDC, NIH, FDA, NIAID, Fauci, Francis Collins, Walensky, Ashish Jha etc. It is time. These beasts killed a black man openly on live television and the black activists must step up now! Black live DO NOT matter to these beasts like Pfizer et al., never did for public health people like Fauci, so it is time we lay murder charges for this time, they were actually at the scene of the crime with their murder weapon. No trial even needed! 

Blacks in America must stand up now. The Biden administration is flooding the border with illegals from South America who with my own eyes, get preference over blacks in New York and Buffalo. I imagine across the US. I saw sitting shocked in hospitals how whites and blacks are sidelined and sent to the back over illegals from South America. This is wrong. The assault with this vaccine that acts like a biological weapon of sorts, delivers differential morbidity and mortality on minorities. Blacks must stand up! They killed a black man on national television. This is too much ‘in your face’.

Later in his post, Dr. Alexander rants:

I say under NO condition will we. Yes, they killed him, they killed DAMAR and know it and we will continue to go after them for we want all who did this, who brought this fraud so called vaccine, this entire pandemic fraud, all of it from lockdowns to the fraud vaccine, properly deposed in proper legal settings, proper tribunals with proper judges and we want accountability and justice. If judges rule that all of their money is to be taken, we take it. If judges rule those involved must be imprisoned, at the highest levels of government, we jail them for life. We lock them up! If judges rule capital punishment is the remedy, we seek the death penalty! Does not matter to me who.

They killed a black man, they stopped his heart in front of you, stopped his breathing with their death shot. DAMAR died for 10 minutes. From all we know so far. New reports indicate they had to bring him back to life in the hospital too.

They committed murder on live national television during an NFL game! They killed a black man! Their gun, weapon of choice was a mRNA/DNA gene injection ‘so called vaccine’. They know it. They know we are beginning to grapple with it and ask the right questions and they know the players on that field who cried, they cried out of love and horror for their teammate, yet they cried too because they know they are juiced up with the gene fraud injection and they know that that means, the bell may toll for thee too! Soon.

I’d be willing to bet that, before he saw a Black football player collapse on the field on national television, Dr. Alexander never gave a second thought to racial inequality other than to dismiss it as no longer a major problem or to attack the Black Lives Matter movement. (He did, after all, willingly join the Trump administration to serve as an advisor on the pandemic for his HHS Secretary.) Then he saw an opening to blame that Black player’s cardiac arrest on COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, Dr. McCullough was on Tucker Carlson’s show promoting an only somewhat less histrionic narrative about how COVID-19 vaccines were responsible for Damar Hamlin’s condition. The level of hysteria among antivaxxers has gotten even more despicable than usual, and remember that these are the people who before the pandemic routinely used to try to convince mothers whose babies died of SIDS that vaccines did it.

Again, to antivaxxers, it’s always about the vaccines. It’s always been about the vaccines. It always will be about the vaccines, no matter how much it hurts the families of those who suffer a tragic sudden medical condition, like Damar Hamlin. Moreover, it’s not just about the vaccines, it’s about the conspiracy theories that they can weave that it is the vaccines, in which vaccines “killed” Damar Hamlin and the NFL is going to cover it up. Far be it from me to defend the NFL’s behavior after this incident, particularly given how long after Hamlin’s collapse the NFL took to officially announce that the game was postponed, but I would also point out that, in the horrific and tragic event that Hamlin does die, the pressure for an autopsy would be almost impossible to resist; law enforcement might even demand it. (I would also point out that, were Hamlin actually brain dead, it is unlikely that they would be putting him in the prone position and trying to optimize his cardiac and pulmonary status.) In any event, all his faux claims that he really hopes that Hamlin is not brain dead, Kirsch and other antivaxxers promoting the lie that vaccines are responsible for his condition come across a “protesting too much” as they appear to be salivating over the possibility that this young man might tragically die after his unexpected collapse.

Finally, I debated whether or not to write about this, to the point where early this morning I even dithered, while revising what I had written last night and dithering more before finally scheduling the post to publish now. If Damar Hamlin’s family happens to see this, I really do hope that it doesn’t add to their pain; in fact, I hope that refuting the lies and disinformation swirling around Hamlin’s collapse, thanks to antivaxxers and conspiracy theorists, has the opposite effect. I also join his teammates, family, and people everywhere hoping that Hamlin eventually recovers fully to play again.

And I still very much resent how antivax ghouls have led me to the point that one of the first things I think when I see a media report of a young person collapsing suddenly—or, as in this case, see it on live television—is to wonder whether antivaxxers have started blaming vaccines yet. I hate that.

ADDENDUM 1/6/2023: I wrote more about this, in particular how the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccines are killing young athletes appears to have started and been continually amplified starting at least a year ago.

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]

163 replies on “Damar Hamlin’s collapse: To antivaxxers, it’s always the vaccines”

I’ve started to demand that someone like McCullough or Jay Bacharachtide step up and do the research, support their claims of “harm” from the vaccine and an increasing rate of “elite athlete” death rate. How hard could it be? Doesn’t require an IRB, it only requires anonymization and spending a TON of time going through autopsy reports, case reports, and any other data that can be found to identify a significant trend beyond what confounders could possibly explain, or better knowns as “epidemiological research”.

So why haven’t these amazing experts in absolutely everything done that research and published it?

Again, why would that matter, Jonjon? It is an anecdote and would have nothing to do with my asking for objective scientific reasoning from your ilk. Unfortunately you and science are strangers, and the concept of “objective thinking” is utterly foreign to you and your kind.

I’ve not heard of anyone who had myocarditis at all, let alone from vaccination.

In fact, nobody at work or in my social life even talks about the vaccines now. It’s just not a thing.

I have never met anyone who got myocarditis from a COVID vaccine. I know everyone! Provide evidence that the ‘Jab’ did something more than advertised. Holy crap!

I know everyone on Earth right? No need to investigate that. It is true. They are living better because they took the vaccine. I have met and seen a bunch of bullshit artists who have nothing but crap words and no supporting evidence.

I don’t think it was necessarily the vaccine. But if it’s not fully investigated whether it was the vaccine, then that’s the correct presumption in the face of hidden information.

“then that’s the correct presumption in the face of hidden information.”

This is called confirmation bias. It’s stupid. Stop doing that.

No, none of the people I work with or interact with know if they did or didn’t get myocarditis from the vaccine, because I deal with intelligent people, mostly (except for you, of course).

Of those that do get pericarditis or myocarditis, the effects are mild and self-limiting.

They are STILL safer than the disease.

When ever the AV cult witter on about ‘it needs investigating’ we know they mean, we want what we already believe confirming, and when its ruled out we also know they will never accept any finding that contradict their deeply held belief, so really they don’t want it investigated at all.

Absolutely. When they say “it needs investigating,” they’re telling you what they think the investigation should show, and, if it doesn’t, you can be sure they will find a reason to attack it.

@johnlbarrge More rumors. You will notice that vaccinaion status is not known, and sports organisations are part of conspiracy.

It’s the lack of science and reliance on confirmation bias by the pro-vaxxers such as yourself that is the issue. This indicates that the vaccine should be deemed unsafe until one knows more.

It’s the lack of science and reliance on confirmation bias by the pro-vaxxers…

Projection, thy name is johnlabarge.

[T]he vaccine should be deemed unsafe until one knows more.

And when the results come back confirming the vaccine is not involved, you and other antivaxxers will just demand more research as the results didn’t confirm your biases.

But if it’s not fully investigated whether it was the vaccine, then that’s the correct presumption in the face of hidden information.

Let’s see. There is a known mechanism for Commotio Cordis, which seems to have been met here. Extremely rare? Yes. Never happen? Not at all.

On the other hand, there is no link between it and vaccination. Contrary to the BS from folks like you [anti vaccine clowns in general: I have no idea whether you in particular have spread this crap] that “elite athletes are dropping dead after vaccination”: it’s pure crap spread by igor, lucas, and many others.

As for the part of your comment that begins with the word “then” and extends to the end of your comment: no, making an assumption of a cause based on no support other than the “hidden information” crap that is so nebulous an assertion as to be worthless, is just asinine.

You make the claim, you stump up the evidence. This is one of the reasons we can’t take you seriously. On multiple occasions, when challenged to provide supporting evidence, you have refused to do so.

There was a TINY increase in myocarditis in a SPECIFIC demographic in ONE study for ONE vaccine, the J&J.

To hear you tell it? Every covid vaccine is certain to cause myocarditis all the time in every patient. Get a grip.

For the rational still tuned in: Our clinics have given over 280k vaccines in three states. NO adverse events and we are looking for them.

To hear me tell it 1) the authorities aren’t being honest about the true number of such reactions in any demographic 2) the risk outweighs the benefit.

Dude this is so uninformed as to be laughable. The mRNA vaccines are associated with myocarditis across the board and higher rates in young men. The J&J is associated with less myocarditis and more VITT.

To hear me tell it 1) the authorities aren’t being honest about the true number of such reactions in any demographic 2) the risk outweighs the benefit.

We hear you tell that all the time john. The problem is you never have any data to support either thing.

@ Dr Yeti:

Thanks for saying “TINY”. When I called the risk “tiny”, someone scoffed as if that were a mis-characterisation. I didn’t have the exact figures then so I didn’t add them although I had seen them and they were tiny. Maybe I should have said “extremely small”.

@ Idw56old:

Right: “the authorities aren’t being honest”. That’s what they all say.
Don’t trust governmental sources, university studies, experts and mainstream news but listen to every alternative medicine crank, fake news consolidator and random altie/ rightie venting on the internet. What? Science by Reddit or Parler?

@john labarge You may start posting link to “official estimation of myocarditis after vaccination”. Then an esimate of risk, and compare that to COVID risks.

Because I think accuracy and truth are important: I misspoke-J&J was not associated it was the other way around. It was the one that wasn’t; probably because it was a single dose. Hadn’t looked at it in a while because it’s a dead issue for any sane individual.

How about the overt information of him getting rammed in the chest?

If he dies, there will be an autopsy and likely you will reject its findings.

Correct. I make no assumption. But neither should the pro-vaxxers. If it’s not investigated I will work with the presumption that the vax was the culprit or one of them.

If it’s not investigated I will work with the presumption that the vax was the culprit or one of them.

The thing you want to show is never the null hypothesis. You’re even more ignorant about these things than I believed.

You either get a jab or you don’t. The non-investigation means you don’t know the risk on the vax side. The risk on the virus side is very low.

You either get a jab or you don’t.

That’s true — but that’s the only thing that’s correct that you’ve said.


blockquote> The non-investigation means you don’t know the risk on the vax side.



Except for all the data that shows the risks your kind goes on about don’t exist.

The risk on the virus side is very low.

Over 1 million people in the US would have a word with you if they weren’t dead.

Again — you just don’t understand things, and your comments have nothing to do with science. You’ve made a conclusion that isn’t supported by any data, anywhere, and are ignoring everything else

“The walls are starting to close in on the mRNA vax.”

You’re so funny, and such a typical anti-vaxxer. Your kind claimed the same about MMR.

Where did that get you?

goodsciencing (ha! et cetera) where you find on the home page this line “Listen to Chris Sky, he is really switched on.”

@johnlabarge Link actually says that vaccination status is not known. No way to estimate vaccination risks.

Susan Oliver did a response six months ago to the Goodsciencing website and Pierre Kory who apparently fell for it as well.

She noted that they were comparing worldwide numbers for a variety of conditions and ages with a tightly defined grouping for the US alone (serious competitive athletes under age 39). And they included deaths from a variety of causes including several suicides, at least one car accident, a fentanyl overdose, a death from heart infection, at least one who had tested positive for Covid-19, etc.

It seems that they haven’t made any effort to clean up their act.

My apologies. I was thinking that Chris Sky is a USAmerican whose rubbish has spilled over into Canada. He is, unfortunately, actually a Canadian spewing his bullshit primarily in Canada.

It seems that you are in agreement with the post, with your presumption that “it’s always the vaccines”. A rare point of wide agreement.
As for your claim that you “make no assumption”, I guess that would only be truthful is we ignore the many assumption you make as a rational for your cherry-picking data to support your statements.

I don’t know what you mean. Presumption is not proof. Burden of proof is on vax pushers to show safety. That being in doubt is enough to avoid the vax altogether.

Incorrect. The burden of proof is on antivaxxers to show that it was the vaccine, and not that bone crunching tackle, that caused Hamelin’s cardiac event.
As for your last sentence, vaccinated people have lower rates of hospitalisation and death. from a disease that has killed millions. Even if we assume the vaccine was involved in Hamelin’s cardiac event, vaccination is still the better option.

“If it’s not investigated I will work with the presumption that the vax was the culprit or one of them.”

And this is why we treat you like an imbecilic anti-vaxxer, because it’s what you are.

I’m fully vaccinated from bullshit and not alone. The walls are starting to close in on the mRNA vax.

It should also get investigated whether it was caused by 5G, consumption of genetically modified food, needles placed into a voodoo doll, the result of subliminal messages after listening to songs backwards, use of a heart attack gun, acupuncture or dry needling. Because if those causes are not investigated then they are the correct presumptions.

According to your “logic” they need to be all causes unless they are investigated.

@john labarge Now there we have officiaal esstimation of COVID vaccine risk. Is this downplaying ?

Which vaccine? Which trials showed this? What REPUTABLE organization says so?

Dafawk outta here with your unsubstantiated bs.


Where’s your safety signal BS there? You make that term up? I did an internship at CDC Phoenix during my MPH. Never heard that term.

For me? If parents are worried about their male kids getting the vaccine I say: “The choice is yours.” It doesn’t prevent spread. Most kids laugh it off. Not all. Here are the TRUE risks. We recommend it. YOU decide. No one is getting badgered or forced.

Colleges are mandating vaccines and boosters. If you aren’t aware of the increased risk of myocarditis from the mRNA vaccine then you are uniformed or disingenuous. Uninformed due to pro vax confirmation bias.

Anyone who disagrees with your lying bs has “confirmation bias.”

You should take this comedy routine on the road.

“increased risk of myocarditis from the mRNA vaccine”

Can you show that a vaccine causes myocarditis more often than covid does?

Many Americans say that guns are a force for good. Despite the hundreds of accidental deaths and thousands of murders every year. Funny how deaths are acceptable when it suits them eh?

Why do you think “goodsciencing” is a credible source? It’s not, in fact, it’s pathetic and worthless.

Did you just find it and decide to spam it to see if you can earn a ban?

It does swam like their data has issues. Doesn’t mean the vaccines are safe I not causing myocarditis.

@john labarge Saying that 61 year old coach is not a young athlete is a form of confirmation bias ? Rater,it is exposition of a blatna lie.

Heh you all have confirmation bias.

john, you keep repeating that without understanding — you sound like a parrot that has been taught to repeat something in order to get a treat.

“in the bizarro world of antivaxxers it is taken as an article of faith that it was vaccines that caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.”

Always with the strawman. The point is, it can’t be ruled out without more information. Yet already we have a canned diagnosis which cannot be questioned without an immediate barrage of ad hominem attacks.

“In other words, nearly all commotio cordis happens without any evidence of heart inflammation, acute or chronic.”

Let’s take this as true. This means that if the MRI of the heart does show evidence of a preexisting condition, it follows that commotio cordis is not the only possible diagnosis, since athletes have been collapsing without any blunt trauma. An alternative diagnosis might be even more likely if there is a pre-existing condition, since the tackle looked fairly routine.

I mean, it’s right there in Pfizer’s fact sheet:

Side effects that have been reported with these vaccines include:
 Severe allergic reactions
 Non-severe allergic reactions such as rash, itching, hives, or swelling of the face
 Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
 Pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart)

But hey — why let pesky facts and logic threaten the narrative, right?

Side effects that have been reported with these vaccines…

Reported. Not “confirmed as have being caused by”. Reported.
As has been pointed out here numerous times before, any adverse events that occurred during trials must be listed, even when there is no way they could have been caused by the vaccine.
This is a nothingburger.

I find Kirsch’s willingness to make up – and there is no other word for it – brain death in the young athlete to be beyond despicable.

That is very, very far to go in the service of his efforts to scare people off taking the vaccine that he used to protect himself and his family from COVID-19 before hooking himself to the anti-vaccine cause.

Possibly even worse- if it’s possible- than what Dorit and Orac said here:
on Mike’s broadcast today ( NN, 38 minutes in), he mentions that he’s writing a ( so-called) song and will add Damar’s name to it. From what he said previously, I think that the song is about athletes dying after a Covid vaccine. Of course, he did have thoughts and prayers for him and hopes he’ll recover BUT Mike was already thinking about how he could utilise this grievous injury for his own brand of malicious, fearmongering, money-grubbing lying.

As the poet says: when people tell you who they are, believe them.

” Real Renaissance man.” He also gives investment advice, how to do emergency medical procedures, how to protect yourself/ your residence with guns, farm and raise animals PLUS he studied improvisational comedy and voices!
Null, on the other hand, is a gourmet chef, documentary filmmaker, investigative reporter,educator, human rights activist, psychologist, medical researcher, inventor, writer, organic farmer, business CEO and animal sanctuary director.
Del graduated from singer/ actor to television producer and film maker to running a mis-informational website/ charity and suing people he disagrees with.
Jacks of all trades etc.

As I commented to the Raptor, my first though when seeing the news was ‘antivax scum will be already blaming vaccines’ and they didn’t disappoint (sic)

I greatly hope that Mr. Hamlin recovers. Just as Orac, I have zero interest in football (and also any other type of sport).

It is also possible that Damar Hamlin is NOT vaccinated, even if he has a vax card.The reason is that COVID vaccines were very unpopular in top athletes. Some of them believed, rightly or wrongly, that vaccination could cause a decrease in performance. Many of them obtained fake vaccination cards from willing providers.

Source: “Several NFL players are trying to get fake vaccine cards” – NY Post

As a non-doctor, I cannot judge the situation, but I hope that Damar recovers. If the events turn tragic, I hope his family will hire an independent specialist and would release a comprehensive autopsy report.

Such an autopsy was released for Gwen Casten, a 17-year-old daughter of congressman Sean Casten, who died suddenly at night in June of 2022, following a “mild” Covid infection a month before her death. The report is remarkable for its detail.

The autopsy (in the PDF file linked above) contains very strange findings. Gwen was fully Covid-vaccinated and boosted per autopsy. She had Sars-Cov-2 virus and Clostridium bacteria in blood (!) etc. That’s despite her Covid being a month ago. So Gwen could not clear the Covid virus – a month after her infection. Is that despite, or because of her booster dose? Why could not Gwen Casten clear the virus, that led to her untimely demise? Why did she have Clostridium bacteria in her blood? Was Gwen immune compromised, and if so, what made her immune compromised?

The autopsy can be downloaded by searching for: “Autopsy Report for Unexpected Death of U.S. Congressman’s Daughter emma woodhouse”

Unfortunately our health authorities are very disinterested in autopsying unlikely sudden death victims like Gwen. Her dad probably pulled some strings and got his daughter autopsied.

This happened in a town next to me.

The story is about Gwen Casten’s autopsy, not the “author of the blog”.

The autopsy is the truly fascinating stuff. Very disturbing too.

If you are boosted or have boosted children, read the autopsy closely

A diagnosis “sudden arrhythmia” as a cause of death simply means that Gwen’s heart stopped. It does not explain why it stopped.

What we know about her death is that she had two alcohol drinks the night before (at 17 years of age!!), she had “mild” Covid a month prior, she still was testing POSITIVE for Covid at the time of her death (which is a month after her covid), she had clostridium bacteria in her blood (which the report marked as unusual under a label “AA”, it is not just normal body decay), brain swelling, and lung fibrins.

Despite previously being a healthy teenager, Gwen became very unhealthy with the above problems and died.

Sadly, sudden deaths seem to be happening MORE frequently now, half a year after Gwen’s death.

For example, last week THREE vaccinated Massachusetts police officers died suddenly. Mass had a vaccine mandate and is now undergoing a severe XBB 1.5 wave. /MassStatePolice/status/1610756547591737357

==> This week has been a difficult one in the Massachusetts Law Enforcement community. Three active-duty LEOs passed away suddenly within the last seven days. Officers John Santos, Sean Besarick, and Christopher Davis. May they rest in peace.

My condolences to the families of these officers.

Covid seems to play a role in these deaths as well, it is not just the Covid vaccine as such. The vaccines make them catch covid endlessly and they cannot clear it (like Gwen), and then they die.

You seem to think that this stuff concerns others only. But even you could be at risk Jay. (and perhaps I am also at risk, not saying I am not) Nobody will even care to do an autopsy the way Sean Casten made the county look into his daughter’s death. They don’t care, they will declare it a coincidence etc.

People are dying and nobody is even researching why exactly they are dying. All they care about is debunking antivax propaganda.

We have a huge problem and the officials are basically quacks and charlatans promoting untested, unproven and non-working treatments.

Meanwhile people keep dying, new waves of Covid come more and more often, and everyone is getting sicker and sicker.

Do we deserve better? Maybe not.

A diagnosis “sudden arrhythmia” as a cause of death simply means that Gwen’s heart stopped. It does not explain why it stopped.

And this is our problem with you. No matter what other evidence there is, to you the vaccines MUST be involved, regardless of how unlikely.
All you have offered so far is conjecture.

@Igor Chuodov Did you actually read tha autposy report ? It said there was a mild viral infection in lungs. Mild infection does not cause death.

“The autopsy is the truly fascinating stuff. Very disturbing too.”

No, it really isn’t disturbing or anything else remarkable.

Remember, you’re just a Dunning-Kruger candidate without expertise or knowledge to take anything of special note from autopsy notes or research. You’re just a layman without any special skills, except you love conspiracy theories.

Grow up and start realizing your own limitations.

If you follow igor’s suggestion on what to search for the top recommendation is to a conspiracy monger named Jessica Hockett, who is an “educational consultant”. Not a reliable commentator, but that’s part for igor.

I also note that igor slipped this into his little rant:

Why could not Gwen Casten clear the virus, that led to her untimely demise?

shifting the cause of death from what the medical officials found to the notion that it was related to covid and the [in his mind] useless vaccines.

Igor, it’s despicable to try to make your reputation by claiming numerous deaths from vaccine issues when there isn’t any support for it: it’s even more despicable to imply that Hamlin’s issue and this young woman’s death are due to the vaccine when there is no evidence for such. How do you get to be so low that you try to leverage human suffering for your own reputation?

Hi, I provided the link so that you can download Gwen’s autopsy report. That’s the truly interesting stuff. Your opinion about Jessica has little to do with the Gwen Casten’s autopsy.

our opinion about Jessica has little to do with the Gwen Casten’s autopsy.

Not in the sense of her [or you] having an influence on it, no. But the fact that it was so not out of the ordinary that the only flavor of people “raising questions” about it are people completely unqualified to comment on it: in this discussion that’s you and her.

If you acually read the report there is:
a) mild viral infection in lungs
b) no widespread bacterial infection
c) arrhytmia:

“This happened in a town next to me.”

So? Who cares? You have a bias that you want confirmed, and if it doesn’t confirm what you want you’ll do 1 of 3 things: 1) Move the goalposts, 2) Claim a conspiracy to hide the truth, or the most honest but still wrong 3) Ignore it and move on to the next event you can use to confirm your bias.

Why do you keep doing it?

Why do you keep doing it?

Igor [and labarge, ci, lucas, mjd…] do it so they can pretend to care and to push their reputation among the other anti vaccination clowns.

Gwen was fully Covid-vaccinated and boosted per autopsy. She had Sars-Cov-2 virus and Clostridium bacteria in blood (!) etc. That’s despite her Covid being a month ago. So Gwen could not clear the Covid virus – a month after her infection.

A veritable masterpiece of deduction. 🙄

Report actually saysthat there is no Clostridium bacteremia, regardless of post mortem culture results.

Several pages of the report say “AA” – “panic” – about the finding of the clostridium bacteria. (look at the bottom of test result pages)

So this was highly abnormal.

@Igor Chudov Do actually read the report. It says that there is no evidence of widespread bacterial infection regardless of post mortem culture.

“Unfortunately our health authorities are very disinterested in autopsying unlikely sudden death victims”

Really? In the UK any unlikely sudden death is likely to be autopsied. I’d be surprised if America doesn’t have similar rules.

In the UK any unlikely sudden death is likely to be autopsied. I’d be surprised if America doesn’t have similar rules.

Even if an autopsy isn’t requested by officials the family can request one. There’s nothing unusual about it, despite igor’s spittle-flecked assertion.

If one roots around in Illinois law just a little it is easy to find that coroners (who seem to exist in association with counties, which is no big surprise) are empowered and obligated to investigate, among others, “[a] death where the circumstances are suspicious, obscure, mysterious or otherwise unexplained.” An autopsy is to be performed as part of the investigation.
Finding an apparently healthy 17 year old dead for no apparent reason would certainly be an instance “obscure, mysterious or otherwise unexplained” death.
I would certainly expect the same here in Canada.

I’d rate the notion that an autopsy was done only as a result of pressure from a politician as BS.

Steve Kirsch, whose Substack post blaming vaccination for Hamlin’s collapse appeared within minutes of the event on Monday night, has now followed up by claiming that an “insider” told him Hamlin is “moving”, meaning that Hamlin is not brain dead.

Earlier, Kirsch posted:

“If Hamlin is brain dead, the possibility must be considered that the COVID vaccine played a role in his death.”

So, since (according to Kirsch but not any responsible sources at the moment) Hamlin isn’t brain dead, we can no longer consider that the Covid vaccine was responsible.

Got that?

Kirsch, Alexander and other such ghouls are beyond vile.

We need to investigate whether Covid-19 cases in the unvaccinated, including subclinical infection, damage or wipe out decency and morality centers in the brain in a subset of individuals, while hyperstimulating the limbic (lizard) cortex.*

*responsible for fight, flight and spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about vaccines and other important facets of public health.

I think the following statement by Dr. Peter McCullough is a very reasonable assessment of the awful event from last night’s Monday Night Football game. At this point no one should be speculating, but by the same token no one should be dismissing viable possibilities (or disparaging others for suggesting them).

According to Dr. McCullough, who happens to be the most published cardiologist on the planet:

“If Damar Hamlin indeed took one of the COVID-19 vaccines, then subclinical vaccine-induced myocarditis must be considered in the differential diagnosis.”

It is now well accepted that Covid vaccines significantly increase the risk of myocarditis, especially in boys and young men. In one recent study the rate of myocarditis was found to be 2.4%, and the rate of increased levels of troponin (an indicator of heart damage) was 2.7%. According to a 2001 study “Sudden cardiac death risk in contact sports increased by myocarditis: a case series”:

“Myocarditis may increase the risk of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias caused by blunt impact to the chest, particularly in contact sports.”

Remember this when you see “experts” insisting that this was caused by commotio cordis (blunt impact), and could not have had anything to do with Covid vaccines. What they are neglecting to tell you is that Covid vaccines increase the risk of myocarditis, thereby increasing the risk of commotio cordis. So why are they insisting this had nothing to do with the vaccines when the likelihood of their own armchair diagnosis is increased by…the vaccines??

It is now well accepted that Covid vaccines significantly increase the risk of myocarditis, especially in boys and young men.
Citation? Your first link is from Substack, and your second link doesn’t mention vaccines or vaccination at all.

For those who might be interested, Dr Mike Hansen gives a pretty good explanation of commotio cordis on this video.

It requires getting a very hard hit in the chest right in front of the heart at just the right time in the heartbeat cycle. And there’s often no underlying condition that would predispose the athlete.

Vaccination status adds nothing useful to understanding how or why this happened.

We’re all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping, but Damar Hamlin seems to be showing “remarkable improvement” and is said to be “neurologically intact”. So at least those are good signs.

I guess that even Dr. McCullough prolific publication history wasn’t enough for his own hospital to keep him on staff. I wonder if they know something that you don’t…
Do you know if the ‘great’ Dr. McCullough’s diagnosis is based on an examination of Hamlins?

As we saw with Vinay Prasad, being prolific with regard to publications doesn’t necessarily mean making significant contributions. And in counting total numbers of publications, one would have to take into account retractions, removals and permanent withdrawals (a number of acclaimed “mavericks” have racked up disproportionate numbers of papers in these categories).

Wooists have a thing about their preferred heroes allegedly being giants in their field, contrary to reality. Apparently that’s a defense mechanism in response to these people being so heavily outweighed by the vast majority of their colleagues, who actually have equal or better credentials and do not buy into the “mavericks”‘ claims.

To that end, we also have Russell Blaylock, an “internationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon” (have to agree about being recognized, though for what is another matter) and Ute Krueger, hyped as a “senior doctor”* – both antivaxers with a very dull ax to grind – not to mention Robert Malone, who is claimed to have “invented” mRNA vaccines or mRNA technology, take your pick.

*”senior doctors” as a group seem unusually prone to falling for quackery and fringe medicine, an ailment I have termed the “emeritus syndrome”.

“I think the following statement by Dr. Peter McCullough is a very reasonable”

Then you’re incapable of telling who is credible and who isn’t.

The answer is confirmation bias.

Oh, look, it thinks that playing ouroboros is a tribute to America’s marsupial or something.

I suppose if someone dies in a carcrash on a slippery road, a month after recieving the vaccine, anti-vaxxers will still say they died because of the vaccine.

This kind of thing winds up being reported to VAERS. My favorite example is a young woman who died a month or more after getting her HPV vaccination (she fell down a well). The corresponding VAERS file wound up being cited on an antivax website.

Renate– I think 5 years ago or so there was a claim by anti-vaxxers that a teen died shortly after her HPV vaccine and when it was looked up it was found she died in a car accident later that day but even then they were still adamant that maybe the shot made her pass out in the car or something silly

I think I remember that. To anti-vaxxers it’s always the vaccine, even if there are far more reasonable explanetions.

Don’t forget the cheerleader who could only trot backwards after the HPV vaccine. And when that apparently had cleared up, she was left with something resembling an English accent.

Shots do make people, especially young women, pass out. Vaccines seem to be worse than average, maybe because most shots are given in settings where you won’t stand up and drive after.

I’m not sure how this is used by VAERS experts, but I’m sure they think about it.

They remind me of ISIS. Every time there’s any act if terrorism, they immediately take credit. The wind could blow the wrong way and it would be because of vaccines.

I am reminded once of a conversation with my dad, who was certain that a relative must have misunderstood their diagnosis.
My Dad: How can they have that? It’s super rare.
Me: In order for something to be rare, it has to exist.

I’m just watching the news conference regarding this blokes condition, not brain dead and improving, though still critically ill.

Obviously neither of the Dr’s have blamed the vaccines, so its gonna be a cover up for the AV cultists.

Apparently sudden cardiac death is a leading cause of death in athletes and has been prior to COVID and vaccination. I’m not convinced of claims this has not existed before COVID. I’m not scared to put in a couple of links.

If you’re not a subscriber to the Washington Post and can’t view the above-linked article, this apparently is the 2016 report it references, describing an average of 100 to 150 sudden cardiac deaths reported in the U.S. each year.

Anyone (like Simone Gold) who alleges that SCD in athletes was not a “thing” before Covid-19 vaccines is either ignorant of a well-known phenomenon, or lying through their teeth.

I was going to ask if the big league sports teams had medicals before games or, at least, regularly.

As Damar continues to improve, RFK jr’s CHD presents an article that claims- amongst other non-facts- that Pfizer “killed” a Black man by stopping his breathing for 9 minutes, a clumsy allusion to an actual victim of documented police brutality, George Floyd.

The liars I observe ( Adams, Null, Katie Wright, Kim Rossi, various Substack gurus, Del, RFK jr,) will say anything to get viewers/ listeners : the more outrageous the better. Most of them, benefit monetarily as well as gaining personal adulation: they sell supplements/ books/ seminars/ films, earn money from Substack and accumulate charity contributions that may pay their law firms/ travel bills.
Still, they carp about “paid shills” and “greedy doctors”.

In my youth, just across the highway from my hometown, there was a Scandinavian-style all-you-can-eat smorgasbord called The Jolly Troll. I don’t know if John, CI, Igor et al are jolly, but they sure seem to be enjoying the limitless banquet they get here…

Yeah, I have to admit that, as amusing as watching the regulars treat these antivax trolls the way that dogs treat chew toys and have a jolly—if you’ll excuse my use of the word—old time doing it, I do have to wonder if I am, even now, still too lenient with my moderation. As I’ve mentioned before, Google penalizes blogs if they don’t have comment sections. However, Google also penalizes blogs if they allow antivax disinformation to run rampant in their comment sections. So basically, Google ranking of blogs depend on good comment moderation.

I suppose on the other hand that, given that I pay my own hosting charges—which become more expensive the more traffic I get—maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much. I do, however, still hew to the commenting policy. in that if anyone gets on my nerves too much (or the nerves of longtime regulars) I probably will take action. Again, this blog is not a democracy. It’s a benign autocracy. As I always tell those who complain: If you don’t like it, get your own blog.😂

@ Orac:

I feel that Orac is sometimes too lenient with trolls who are particularly vicious towards SB supporters, particularly women, although they also insult men. I know it’s important to let readers directly observe trolls’ MO and how their (so-called) minds work but occasionally they really go overboard. Or when they mindlessly post the same swill.

I also think it’s good policy that you and others now frequently step right in when someone posts egregious BS such as how vaccines kill/ injury people. Two or three years ago (IIRC), 2 anti-vaxxers really used RI to pontificate about medical issues and present mis-information repeatedly whilst mis-representing themselves as experts ( they weren’t). Commenters do a good job and should be commended also.

I didn’t know about the Googles penalties. Alties I survey shriek about social media police states so I guess that adds to it. GOOD!

Yeah one of the things I still struggle with is: “Do they actually believe this BS??”

Any doc has had the patient who believes magnets on his/her head cures depression. We’re more shocked when a colleague believes it.

Blogs like Orac’s are important.

Want to respond to Orac? Here's your chance. Leave a reply! Just make sure that you've read the Comment Policy (link located in the main menu in the upper right hand corner of the page) first if you're new here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: