Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Politics

“Heroism” in the face of COVID-19?

Brownstone Institute flack Haley Kynefin claims that COVID-19 “inverts the Heroic Archetype” in yet another instance of how antivaxxers claim “heroism” and portray science advocates as “cowardly.”

It never ceases to amaze me just how much COVID-19 antimaskers and anti-“lockdowners” have fallen into exactly the same narratives commonly used by antivaxxers that I used to write about for years and years before the pandemic. I realize that it shouldn’t amaze me anymore, particularly given how much COVID-19 minimization narratives have nearly completely embraced common antivaccine narratives, but occasionally it does. For example, earlier this week I came across what will likely become (for me, at least) a classic example of COVID-19 minimizers and antivaxxers embracing an old antivax message at—where else?—that never-ending font of misinformation, pseudoscience, and disinformation about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines, the Brownstone Institute, in the form of a post by someone (whom I haven’t heard of before) named Haley Kynefin entitled Covidianism Inverts the Heroic Archetype. It’s a post that reminds me of something I wrote about over five years ago, something that could have been written by a certain antivaxxers whose blatherings and frequent fantasies about “heroism” I’ve written about a number of times, namely Kent Heckenlively, such as when he fantasized about being Aragorn, Son of Aragorn, the lost true king of Gondor, charging into battle against the Dark Lord Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Before I get into Kynefin’s unknowing callback to prepandemic antivax narratives, let me first mention another common antivaccine narrative inherent in the very title of her post, namely the reference to “Covidians.” There is little doubt to me that this was very intentional and knowing. Basically, using the term “Covidian” to imply, not-so-subtly, that those who support science-based measures to mitigate the spread and death toll from COVID-19 belong to a cult or, at best, are basing their beliefs not on science but religion. Indeed, I’ve seen a particularly blatant variant of this ploy in which those who criticize antivaxxers and COVID-19 minimizers have been referred to as “Branch Covidians” or members of the “Branch Covidian,” which not only portrays COVID-19 science as religion but plays on the name of a famous cult that ended in violence and death 30 years ago, the Branch Davidians. It’s a term particularly loved by Brownstone Institute flacks, who have used it before on a number of occasions. Indeed, personages no less important to the Brownstone Institute than its “scientific advisor” Dr. Martin Kuldorff and Brownstone Institute contributor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, both of whom were contributors to the Great Barrington Declaration, the bold eugenicist “declaration” from over two years ago that advocated a “let ‘er rip” approach to the pandemic:

As I said at the time, I suppose that one should be grateful that Kulldorff resisted the temptation to use the antivax term “Branch Covidians,” a play on the infamous Branch Davidian cult from the 1990s.


Again, it’s not subtle, although Kynefin doesn’t, like her leader, directly refer to “covidianism” as a religion, complete with high priests, she does represent it this way:

You could be fooled into thinking this Covidian safetyism was perhaps synonymous with heroic selflessness. After all, we recognize heroes not only as adventurers, explorers or martyrs for a transcendental cause. Our concept of heroism is also deeply tied up with the ideal of the selfless sacrifice. 

In the Christian tradition Jesus Christ, for example, died on the cross to save the world; local heroes like firefighters go into burning buildings to save the lives of trapped civilians. The Covidian philosophy asks people to sacrifice only their livelihoods and lifestyles (at least in theory), by shutting their businesses, putting aside their social engagements, postponing their vacations or taking school and church online. In exchange, it promises increased protection for everyone. On the surface, it sounds simple and perhaps appealing.

Sound familiar? It should. Notice how Kynefin portrays those who favor collective action and sacrifice to keep as many people as possible safe as “inverting” the “heroic archetype,” as the title puts it. This is very old antivaccine narrative that seeks to portray those who understandably wish to protect themselves and others against potentially deadly infectious diseases as being irrationally “anxious”—cowardly, even—about a tiny risk, as Dr. Vinay Prasad did last year, expressing utter contempt for those who have the temerity to try to minimize their chances of catching COVID-19 by using CO2 monitors and masks.

Now let’s go back to our old friend Kent Heckenlively in 2017:

When I watch I imagine myself as Aragorn, taking the Dimholt Road under the mountain, clutching the sword, Anduril, Flame of the West, offering a deal to the souls of the dishonored dead if they would join me in battle. I picture myself as Aragon, astride my horse in front of the Black Gate, telling my troops, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!Then I jump off my horse, and with the setting sun behind me, a reckless, almost manic glint in my eye and a crooked grin, I am first to charge into the enemy army.

As I related at the time, this was, of course, one of my favorite scenes from both The Lord of the Rings books and the movies. In it, the last heir of Isildur, Aragorn, had brought his forces to the Black Gate of Mordor to challenge the Dark Lord Sauron to battle, not with any hope of victory, but as a diversion to distract the Eye of Sauron long enough to allow the hobbits Frodo and Sam to cross Mordor and reach Mount Doom, there to destroy the One Ring, the source of Sauron’s evil power, by throwing it into the molten lava in the Crack of Doom. Aragorn, Gandalf, and his companions fully expected to die in the effort, and it looked as though they would do just that after hordes of orcs issued forth from the Black Gate and the battle was joined. They were saved because Sam and Frodo did reach Mount Doom and the ring was destroyed, thus destroying Sauron’s power and causing his armies to flee, before the hordes of Sauron’s orc’s could destroy Aragorn and his vastly outnumbered force. The point, of course, is that Heckenlively views himself (or fantasizes himself) as a heroic figure from the world of epic fantasy like Aragorn. Walter Mitty-like, Heckenlively fantasizes that it’s him leading a doomed mission to the very Black Gate of Mordor, knowing he’s unlikely to come out of it alive, in order to give others the chance to defeat the great evil against which he strives.

Now there’s the archetype of heroism, complete with heroic self-sacrifice in order to save the world, right?

Now let’s see how Kynefin promotes the very same self-image for the band of “heroes” full of heroism over at Brownstone:

There is a basic conflict common to all life; and that is the conflict between risk-aversion — also known as “harm avoidance,” or the self-preservation instinct — and novelty-seeking. These are psychological terms, of course, but this conflict exists in animals as well as, on a micro-scale, in plants and even single-celled organisms. All living things attempt to assure their continued existence, and all living things also “seek” and explore their environments in “search” of food and favorable living conditions. 

Exploration, of course, is dangerous. The world is much bigger than ourselves and is home to many threats and hostile forces — predators, poisons, parasites and illnesses, harsh weather conditions, famine, competition for resources, and natural disasters, just to name a few.

But the world beyond us also offers us immense opportunity. Exploration can lead us into greater harmony with our environment, as we adapt to new challenges and develop resilience to a broader spectrum of threats. It can also lead us to new and better food sources, more hospitable territories, or put us in contact with new allies or symbiotes.

I bet you can see where Kynefin is going with this:

Most animals prioritize survival in this equation. If they have everything they need, they have little incentive to leave their comfort zone. They explore mainly in the interest of securing comfort and safety, and once that is assured, they are generally content to simply exist. 

But humans are special. Survival is not enough for us. Neither is comfort. We seek something more, something beyond our physical reality and spurred by our imagination. 

We imagine abstract, transcendent ideals which imbue our experiences of the world with meaning beyond mere physical pleasure and survival. We tell ourselves stories about things that matter more than food, comfort and pleasure: stories about gods and spirits, about transcendent worlds and universes, about true love, about experience for the sake of experience, about adventure and achievement, courage and revenge, brotherhood and camaraderie and the search for truth. 

Now guess where the Brownstone Institute and people like Haley Kynefin put themselves in this spectrum, between prioritizing safety and meeting one’s creature physical needs versus seeking something “more,” following “transcendent ideals” beyond mere physical survival and pleasure. Actually, you don’t have to guess. She makes it painfully obvious with every paragraph she writes.

She then goes on to quote, of all philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche, specifically his passage from Thus Spake Zarathustra in which he states that ““Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman— a rope over an abyss.” She even goes on to argue:

By this he [Nietzsche] meant: man has a choice. He can choose to prioritize his survival instinct, and regress to the status of the animals from which he evolved; or, he can select transcendence, embracing the heroic archetype — what he called the “Superman” — and fulfilling his highest potential.

Nietzsche saw the “Superman” as a remedy to hyper-rationalist materialism, which, in the late 1800s, was already eroding traditional values and creating a spiritual vacuum. He predicted that man, losing his faith in the transcendent principle, would have no motivation to push himself to greatness. This would cause him to regress to his animal instincts, and give rise to what he called “the last man.” 

“The last man” would reject transcendence altogether in favor of the materialistic, animal impulses: safety, comfort, routine, stability, security, practicality, conformity and pleasure. He would no longer seek beyond himself, no longer take risks or strive for achievement, no longer be willing to die in his quest for meaning. In so doing, he would lose the spark that makes humanity special.

Guess who’s the “last man” in this Kynefin’s analogy citing Nietzschean philosophy? Obviously, you don’t have to guess. Kynefin makes it painfully obvious. The “last man” rejecting heroism, struggle, and transcendence in favor of safety, pleasure, and having material needs met is, of course, those who dared to criticize the Great Barrington Declaration as “eugenicist” and public health officials and leaders who opted to use collective action to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 with mask and vaccine mandates and “lockdowns.” Never mind that nothing resembling a true “lockdown” occurred outside of countries like China, an authoritarian regime; that is, unless you consider curfews and temporary business closures that were leaky as leaky could be to have been “lockdowns.” Don’t get me wrong. Some of the policies used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and minimize disease and death did have harmful side effects. One had to weigh those potential harms versus the benefits, a complex question, with decisions having to be made based on very incomplete information in the face of major uncertainty.

Not for Kynefin are any of the complexities about weighing risks and benefits of complex policies in the face of a deadly pandemic bearing down on the world and the political resistance to it! Not at all! To Kynefin, we are, apparently, Nietzsche’s “last man”:

The Covid crisis inverted the heroic archetype and assaulted the very root of what makes us human. The philosophy that justified unprecedented restrictions on human freedom was the philosophy of Nietzsche’s “last man.” We were told that heroes “stay home” rather than venturing out into the unknown; “stay safe” rather than take risks; “save lives” rather than transcend the survival instinct. 

So what does Kynefin think people should have done? Just let the virus rip, with those unfortunate enough to suffer and die from it just being the “heroes” who fell in order to allow the rest of us to go on with our lives? Of course, it’s one thing for a firefighter to choose to go into a burning building to save lives. That’s heroism! Kynefin even agrees! She uses that example. She even uses the example of Jesus Christ dying on the cross to save the world, because of course she does. (I also can’t help but wonder why she’s invoking Christian religion, even as she accuses “covidianism” of being a religion.

It’s another thing to have no choice because you are in a high risk group and everyone else at lower risk is not doing anything to lower the chances of your acquiring the virus.

But, not for Nietzschean “supermen” doing their heroic heroism are such considerations, at least not to Kynefin, who once again invokes a tiresome comparison to religion:

We were asked to approach even the most mundane aspects of our lives with neurotic levels of risk-aversion: we were, for example, advised to wash our groceries after purchasing them; told to avoid singing in church or at parties; and forced to move through stores and restaurants in a single predetermined direction. 

We were told that we must do whatever we can, that even if there was only a small chance of reducing viral spread or saving lives, it was worth it. And those who refused to participate in the absurd micromanagement of their lives were vilified as “irresponsible” and “selfish.” 

There was no higher purpose allowed here. Love, spirituality, religion, camaraderie, learning, adventure, connection to the natural world, and the experience of living life itself were all jettisoned, deemed suddenly unimportant. We were commanded to come together to worship instead at the altar of the collective self-preservation instinct. 

Of course, no one—and I mean no one—argued that “love, spirituality, religion, camaraderie, learning, adventure, connection to the natural world, and the experience of living life itself” were unimportant. This is a massive straw man. Was Kynefin even paying attention? Balancing COVID-19 mitigation measures and all of these things were debated and endlessly rehashed ad nauseam.

Kynefin goes on and on, citing Joseph Campbell’s archetypical journey of the hero in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning, and others, all to contrast the supposed contrast between true “heroism” as one of the key things that make us human and what happened during COVID-19, which supposedly was the “last man,” the animalistic in us, and the rejection of the “transcendent.”

To her, the novel coronavirus that became known as SARS-CoV-2 and whose disease became known as COVID-19 was an “opportunity” for us to prove our “heroism”:

In general, we don’t wish pain, suffering or death on anyone. It would be great if we could seek the hero’s journey and save lives, follow our transcendent ideals andsurvive, embrace meaning and self-interest. But when faced with the difficult choice between one or the other, it should be obvious which one we should sacrifice. Whether the choice is an individual or a collective one doesn’t matter. 

In theory at least, the Covid crisis presented us with just such a choice: collectively face the death, suffering and pain thrust on us by a novel respiratory virus, or collectively jettison all of our transcendent, human values in a futile and childish quest to “save lives.” 

Seriously, a human being wrote something that callous and stupid. Kynefin seems to be arguing that heroism would involve letting the virus rip, that if we can’t be heroes and have as many as possible survive, we should just let people die, rather than do something that is not “heroic” to try to save them. Note the straw man, too, the claim that it was a choice between not doing anything to minimize suffering and death versus jettisoning “all of our transcendent, human values.” It’s a straw man so massive that, were it set on fire, it could be easily seen from the International Space Station.

Don’t get Kynefin wrong, though. She’s not “minimizing” the death (actually, she is):

That death, suffering and pain should not be dismissed or minimized. Real people were and would have been affected by the cruelties of life, regardless of which choice we made. But as humans, we have a unique ability that makes us great, that helps us to process these kinds of difficult situations. We have the ability to mentalize, to tell stories of transcendence, and to imbue our reality with a sense of higher purpose and meaning. We have the archetypal journey of the hero. 

It is the heroic archetype that makes us human. Without it, we are no different from animals, and as Viktor Frankl suggested, we are not worthy of our suffering. 

The secret, and the lesson that the myth of the hero teaches us, is that suffering is a part of life. Death is a part of life. Pain is a part of life. They are inevitable, and our futile attempts at avoiding them amount only to a comfortable illusion. 

I really, really hate how Kynefin misuses Victor Frankl here. There is a huge difference between transcendence and bravery in the face of being victimized in an event the Holocaust, which was an intentional program to exterminate an entire race of people from an entire continent, and efforts to prevent mass suffering and death due to a natural, impersonal, implacable novel respiratory virus. In one case, it is humans causing the suffering; in the other, there is no intent, just the natural world. The only way she can even semi-justify this horrific misuse of philosophy is to claim that everything that was done was pointless and futile anyway, dismissing “lockdowns, restrictions and mandates” as being at best able to “only delay the circulation of respiratory viruses.” She seems to forget one huge part of this equation: Delaying the circulation of the virus until vaccines were available could—and did—save lives. Delaying the spread of the virus to minimize—or at least spread out—the overload on hospitals was a reasonable strategy. Kynefin intentionally portrays public health interventions as futile interventions of sheep seeking only safety and willing to impose being “sheeple” on everyone.

Indeed, she concludes that we should embrace the suffering that comes our way. Seriously, I kid you not:

The myth of the hero does not teach us to eradicate life’s pains and risks in pursuit of only comfort and safety. That is the doctrine of the animal. Rather, the myth of the hero shows us that it is necessary to embrace suffering and risk in order to experience life’s miracle; and that, for such a transcendent reward — for such excellence — that is a price worth paying. 

Sure, embrace danger, suffering, and death due to a natural virus, which does not in the least bit care about your “heroism.” Do you see echoes of any sort of philosophy in this sort of argument, a philosophy that glorifies the hero and heroism above all else? Any particular political philosophy at all? Any ideas?

OK, I’ll quote Umberto Eco and go there:

In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Falangists was Viva la Muerte (in English it should be translated as “Long Live Death!”). In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.

Sending other people to death is pretty much what the Great Barrington Declaration was all about, given that the privileged purveyors of the GBD—yes, I’m talking to you, Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, and Sunetra Gupta—were all pretty much safe in their laptop class lifestyle, even before vaccines against COVID-19. They could work from home online, order their food delivered, and basically live reasonably well, while the virus raged around them, killing off the elderly, the sick, and minorities far more than the privileged academic class to which they all belonged. (Let’s also not forget to mention the working class, whose jobs did not allow them to work from home but instead forced them into contact with people, as was the case for grocery store workers, people working in agriculture and in meat packing plants, delivery people, and retail workers in stores that were considered essential businesses.) The same privilege applied to Jeffrey Tucker, who helped bring the GBD authors together at the headquarters of the right wing think tank American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) before leaving in 2021 to found the “spiritual child of the GBD,” the Brownstone Institute.

Kynefin’s article is the clearest indication yet that I’ve come across on the Brownstone Institute website of its affinity towards fascism, which echoes a longstanding affinity between antivaccine beliefs and fascism worshiping strength that I wrote about in detail a year ago. Brownstone flacks are portraying “resistance” to any sort of collective action or public health mandate of any kind as “cowardice” and “bravely” letting yourself get infected with a respiratory virus that can kill you as “heroism.” (Just forget about all useless eaters who will die, as truly Brownstone is a cult of death—just like the one Eco described.) I no longer care how much they might howl about my pointing this out, either. Eugenics, worshiping death, portraying any collective action to save lives as weakness, we have a word for that philosophy.

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]

108 replies on ““Heroism” in the face of COVID-19?”

Excellent article, Orac.

I am, by the way, a great fan of Wonkette, a website that also rips many of the same targets. They are also unafraid to use the F-word for these folks, seeing as how that’s basically what they are.

Wow, Kynefin is spouting a load of privileged b.s., completely detached from the reality of illness, public health and the ableism, ageism and racism behind COVID victims’ demographics. If she thinks dying of COVID is such a heroic story, why doesn’t she publish an anthology about the last days of elderly people in nursing homes, poor single mothers who work 60 hours/week in retail or prisoners who weren’t allowed to isolate? Her idea of heroism sounds like a 14-year-old boy who just watched a Jordan Peterson video.

I’ve said the same thing about cancer. There is a myth among believers in cancer quackery that dying of cancer is not so bad, that you just gradually go to sleep and eventually don’t wake up again. They then compare that to the side effects of chemotherapy, which can admittedly be nasty and do occasionally lead to death.

I wrote about this phenomenon in 2006 when a teen with lymphoma who was rejecting conventional chemotherapy talked about “at least dying healthy” if he had made the wrong decision:

I cannot look into the future, as I said before, and say, This is going to happen to me and I’m so scared. I can’t wake up every morning and say, Oh, my gosh, I’m going to die. You know, I wake up every morning and I say, I’m going to live, and I strive to meet that goal.

So there’s that possibility that somewhere along this line we made a wrong decision. But you know what? If I die, I’ll die happy, and I will die healthy, and I will die in my home with my family, not in a hospital bed, bedridden and sick.

My response:

If Abraham dies of lymphoma, he will most definitely not “die healthy.” Does anyone see the magical thinking there? Dying of lymphoma is not compatible with being “healthy.” Abraham will almost certainly not avoid what he fears, being bedridden and very sick before the end. He might be in a lot of pain (for which, I truly hope, he will accept all the best pain management modern medicine can offer). He may even suffer obstruction of his trachea and require a tracheostomy. (This is my speculation based on news reports have stated that one of his tumors in his neck is right next to his “windpipe.” Such tumors could easily cause obstruction.) This same tumor could conceivably grow large enough to obstruct his esophagus and make it impossible for him to eat without a feeding tube. A variety of other debilities and indignities are likely to occur before the end. These are the realities to which he and his family appear oblivious. Yes, Abraham may well die at home with his family around him, and there is certainly something to be said for that if he must die (I’m a big fan of hospices), but his dying at all would have a good chance of being prevented if he were to accede to conventional therapy.

The same delusion appears to apply to Kynefin’s conception of death from COVID-19. She blithely dismisses death from COVID-19 as “natural” and “part of life,” but ignores just how horrible death from respiratory failure due to COVID-19 is. She has no conception of what it means for your lungs to fail, to be hooked up to a ventilator for days and days before, one by one, your other organ systems start failing and shutting down. She views it as some sort of romantic thing to die in such a horrible manner. Even if you survive, you will likely be left with debilitating lifelong complications, not to mention the psychological trauma. But I guess that “supermen” and “superwomen” are not concerned with such things.

We, on the other hand, think such deaths are worth preventing if we can.

Yep. I gave several cancer patients in my panel. One that was in assisted living just died of advanced throat cancer. I assure you all, she was not “healthy” or “living her best life” at the end; nor was she for many years before.

I have one prostate CA pt who chose to only do hormonal therapy and see where things go. Probably a good choice in his case. He’s the most “unbothered” of the bunch at present but he still has bouts of serious bone pain.

I went to Northampton Hospital, several years ago, to see a very good friend who was dying from cancer. He was barely conscious, just about able to press a button to deliver more morphine, didn’t recognise or acknowledge me or my friend, and was just in agony. I came away in tears. There’s no “heroic death”.

RIP Mike.

I, for one, would very much enjoy a little bit of “safety, comfort, routine, stability, security, practicality, conformity and pleasure” in my life. Unfortunately, over here we haven’t had that since at least 2015 and every year seems just to be worse and worse. If that kind of longing makes me more of an animal than a hero, sure.

Heroes embark upon the dark night journey of the soul, being transformed from earthly pursuits into the realm of the spirit: they encounter danger, uncertainty, suffering and fear before their eventual triumph in the oncoming dawn’s transcendent light.

Amongst those I survey, they frequently update the imagery relying upon modernised versions, or- like Heckenlively- well known characters from literature or pop culture derived from early myth. I observe alties/ anti-vaxxers identify with the crusading journalist or reforming politician revealing how miscreants in high places have betrayed the unsuspecting public; similarly, revolutionary, paradigm shifting scientists uncover the truth being hidden by corrupt research criminals and martyred mothers ( parents) battle all authority to seek retribution for harms done to their children.

There always seems to be a religious element involved because of strong emotional content: I usually assume that tales of spirits, the uncanny, eerie or supernatural events, truly represent unbridled, over powering emotions – love, fear, anger, annihilation, not reality but human reactions to events.

I’m happy that Orac included Western European myth and its eventual culmination in Nietzsche that was utilised by fascisti .

I lament the lack of classical (?) education.  She should have included Gilgamesh. 

Essentially, this reads like an essay written by someone who is just finishing first year philosophy and psychology courses. I am really “impressed” by the pop psychology since I know a bit more about it then I do philosophy.

I don’t know why I even bother, but I can’t resist commenting.

Orac, with all due respect, your incessant desire to cast aspersions at people that correctly point out the now self evident truths about “Covid mitigation measures” and the vaccine says far more about your inability to admit you were, on just about everything Covid, wrong.

Anyone with a functioning brain now sees the facts–and the facts are based on one’s experience now, not talking heads like you.

I and my family are fully vaxed (Pfizer). All of us got Covid after being vaxed, as have literally everyone else I know that was vaxed. Thus, the fact is, the vaccine is, in fact, not a vaccine. It doesn’t do squat in terms of halting transmission or stopping infection. We know as fact, since it’s been admitted by Pfizer, that the vaccine was never even tested to see its impact on transmission before it was released. And yet, we heard over and over and over from people like you, literal lies such as “if you get vaccinated you won’t get sick ” and “getting vaccinated will halt transmission so we can all get back to normal”.

We personally know people that never got vaxed–caught Covid–and, had exactly the same symptoms and outcome as those of us who were vaxed and got Covid. Time and again we have asked (I have even asked you in previous comments) for studies that clearly show that the vaccine at least does the oft touted “Keeps one from getting seriously ill”–in other words, a properly done study with a non-vaccinated population as control group, and participants sharing similar demographic and medical profiles, that clearly prove the vaccine does, in fact, keep those who took the vaccine from being more seriously ill than those who didn’t. No such studies exist. I challenge you, yet again, to post even one link to such a study–again, not a link to “a study”…a link to a properly done, peer reviewed and accepted study with a non-vaccinated population as control group, and participants sharing similar demographic and medical profiles, that clearly prove the vaccine does, in fact, keep those who took vaccine from being more seriously ill. I double dog dare you to post such a link.. You wont because there is no such study.

Ditto masking and distancing. The “evidence” that these measures did squat in terms of benefiting health is dubious at best. The evidence of the harm they caused is self evident. Obviously if one remains locked in a closet, they won’t get the virus–but, when they come out, they will, so it is hardly an “effective mitigation strategy”. I and my family all followed the masking and distancing rules. We all got Covid–my son and daughter got it 2x.

The fact is, folks like you have zero credibility, which is bad, because folks like you should be trusted. But at the end of the day you harp and harp on ideas that are clearly wrong–not because some fool on the internet says so–it’s self evident you’re wrong based on lived experience. I live in NYC–it quite literally has been destroyed, thanks to the stupidity of lockdowns. Again, a self evident fact to anyone with a pulse. You bashing folks that speak the truth about the stupidity of locking down just makes you look silly. The fact is, the Great Barrington Declaration was clearly correct in its assessment.

I will end with this: I fully get that, at the start of the pandemic, Covid was quite serious. For one, it was unknown, and thus caution made sense. For another, it was clearly lethal, particularly to specific segments of the population. So, the initial reaction, was at least excusable, if not sensible. But, after that time, with the emergence of the variants, which were more transmissible, but less deadly, it was clear the extreme mitigation strategies did 1) not work, and 2) did more harm than good. And yet they remained in place, cause irreparable harm. And people like you continue to defend such measures.

The incompetent response to Covid is responsible for the obscene inflation now gripping the US–thanks to Biden’s foolish money printing to compensate citizens for loss of income due to lockdowns. Ditto the incredible damage done to children and their respective childhoods. Ditto the damage done to once great cities like NY. Ditto the fact “science and medical” pundits are now viewed with suspicion and cynicism–which is particularly dangerous, since folks like you have created the perfect “crying wolf” scenario. At some point the warnings may matter greatly. But thanks to the inability of people like you to admit how wrong you were, no one will listen.

And yet you still defend it all. Hillarious

All of us got Covid after being vaxed

I didn’t. Nor did most of my family.

I do so love how antivaxxers think in black and white. All of us got COVID! Even though we were vaccinated! Yeah, right. The vaccines not being nearly as good at preventing infection and transmission as they are in preventing severe disease and death magically becomes, “The vaccines don’t do squat in terms of halting transmission or infection.” Seriously, I have posts addressing nearly every stupid antivax trope in your comment; I just don’t have the energy to search them all out.

My favorite part, though:

The fact is, the Great Barrington Declaration was clearly correct in its assessment.

Fool. The entire idea behind the Great Barrington Declaration was that letting the virus rip through the young and “healthy” population, while supposedly using “focused protection” (never really well defined other than maybe that the elderly and people at high risk of severe disease and death from COVID should hide themselves away indefinitely) to protect the vulnerable was that we’d reach “natural herd immunity” faster that way, thus ending the pandemic. Here’s the thing. “Natural herd immunity” requires immunity after infection that is either lifelong or at least very long lived, as in many years. We now know without a doubt that the virus can evolve to evade immunity after infection with previous variants almost as well as it can evolve to evade vaccine-induced immunity. That means that the entire premise behind the GBD, that we could reach “natural herd immunity” through natural infection of the healthy population at low risk for complications from the disease is a false premise. There is no long-lasting immunity from infection; contrary to the claim of the GBD, “natural herd immunity” is unattainable for this disease. In terms of vaccines, that probably leaves just a strategy like what is done for the flu vaccine, in which we are vaccinated every year with an updated version of the vaccine designed to target the most common variants predicted to be circulating that year.

Time has conclusively shown that the entire premise of the GBD was incorrect.

Link to the study Orac, that proves the vaccine “works” in that it reduces illness severity? As predicted, your are there among the crickets.

Your assessment of the Great Barrington Declaration is spurious. Your observations are correct–but, the elephant in the room is the fact that the vaccine and “mitigation strategies” made any demonstrable difference.Vaccine, masking, distancing and lockdowns did squat to address even one of the faults you find in the Barrington Declaration, we ended up in exactly the same place–and that was the point of the Declaration. And, you never address this fact: as bad as the idea is to “let it rip”, trying to do different–as if forcing an untested vaccine, lockdowns, masking and distancing also come at a significant cost–a cost which one can plausibly argue wasn’t worth not :letting it rip”.

And, of course, you have nothing to say about the hit to the credibility of “science/medicl” establishment by its failure to acknowledge the self evident fact that much of the reaction got things terribly wrong.

Finally, my comments and those making similar comments has ZERO to do with being antivax–claiming it is such simply hammers home the lack of credibility your assertions carry.

The fool, Orac, is one who willingly trusts your essential rationale: “trust me. I am smarter than you”

Nah, more like: You aren’t peddling anything that I haven’t seen antivaxxers peddling for over 20 years. Basically, you bore me.

You say you’re not antivax? OK, which vaccines do you consider safe and effective enough to recommend that people without medical contraindications should receive. Surely there must be some, if you’re truly “not antivax.”

I subscribe to all the recommended childhood vaccines–my children (and I) received all. I think people that don’t get the usual childhood vaccines are fools. I think one agreeing that covid vaccine should be added to the list is also a complete, and utter fool, since it is self evident the science concerning safety and necessity just isn’t there.

If you are paying attention, you note I said I, and my family, is also fully vaxed with Covid. We believed what we were told. Does this behavior sound like an anti vaxer?

Your hubris blinds you. Your response to me ridiculed my point that the Covid vax didn’t prevent transmission or illness–and, in so doing, you, like all the discredited pundits, shrank back to the BS mantra that it “prevents serious illness”. Your BS is essentially “look at this fool–he faults its failure to block illness or transmission, and ignores that it prevents serious illness”…that BS of course still failing to back up your assertion about preventing serious illness with even a shred of science based proof. There is literally ZERO scientific proof, the current covid vaccine does squat. And if I am wrong–please, do share the links proving so–and, please don’t do what you did in a previous back and forth–paste a link to a page listing tons of BS studies that in no way proved anything other than a lot of questions needed answers.

My point about all things Covid isn’t centered on the vaccine efficacy,. It’s centered on folks like you, that claim the mantel of science and knowledge spreading BS, and not fessing up to it. I can forgive you for being wrong (which you absolutely are). I can’t forgive your hubris and inability to admit the pundits were wrong about a significant number of things, and they cause huge harm, as is the case with your failure to acknowledge the facts about the covid response, and, the fact being honest doesn’t make one “anti vax”.

You continuing to defend such thinking defies logic, imo

Just because you received your vaccines and vaccinated your kids does NOT mean you can’t be antivax. RFK Jr. vaccinated his kids too back in the day, but by 2005 he was nonetheless full antivax.

I also note that you didn’t actually answer my question. So let me repeat it: Which vaccines do you consider safe and effective enough to recommend that people without medical contraindications should receive? (Surely there must be some, if you’re truly “not antivax.”) Answering that you’re vaccinated and vaccinated your children instead of answering the actual question is a common antivax dodge. (This ain’t my first rodeo.)

Portnoy, what is this “horrible harm” you refer to? I locked myself down for months being an older person who did not want to get infected. I am fully (5 shots) vaxed, continue to wear a mask in public places, distance even outdoors. I don’t have any negative feelings about any of that.

I am eternally grateful for ORAC’s effort to keep me informed here and at through his other writing, and appearances, because while I am bright enough and educated in the history of the scientific method, I know damn well that he knows way more than I do about science, medicine, and how to read and interpret scientific studies. I learned for instance that your personal experience does not equal scientific anything, let alone proof.

“The highest effectiveness for the second dose of any vaccine against severe or fatal infection with the B.1.351 variant was 100 (CI 73.7–100) at 14 days after vaccination, reported for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.“

This is from a systematic review. Right at the top of the evidence pyramid.

Hey, port of no bliss. I too am fully vaccinated, so is all of my family and all my friends. After vaccination I never got covid, but some family and friends did. Guess what, none ended in hospital and none died. Many if my friends got covid before vaccination, unfortunately 2 died and 1 suffered long covid. But here’s the rub. It’s not beyond possibilities that port of no bliss is a liar, saying all his vaccinated friends etc got covid after vaccination seems to go against my experience and many others here too. Asking for studies about vaccine effectiveness is lazy, get off your arse and go find them yourself. No doubt though you won’t, put your fingers in your ears with your eyes closed whilst shouting “nah nah nah nah nah, not listening, nah nah”. Go on , look for them . Won’t matter a bit, they will just cause both of your brain cells to misfire.

Have a nice day.

Late last month, my fully vaccinated spouse finally got COVID. She’s a school teacher.

Despite the fact that we’ve spent the last several weeks together in our tiny house, I didn’t get COVID. To be clear, I’ve never had COVID, so there’s no ‘natural immunity’ involved.

I attribute this to two possible reasons:

1)I, too, am fully vaccinated (got my bivalent booster in late October 2022), and
2)We both remained fully masked throughout her illness.

So which is it? Did the vaccine work, or did the masking work? It might be a combination of the two, but it sure wasn’t magic that helped me avoid an infection.

Well, perhaps it was indeed magic.

My wife, daughter and son all tested positive for the first strain of Covid around March 2020. We took zero precautions in the house, other than not coughing or sneezing on each other. I did not get infected. I slept in same bed as wife. My infection came along this past July 4 weekend, well into the supposed pandemic. and at least 18 months since my family was sick.

The point here is, I don’t know why all in my family got infected and I didn’t. There were no vaccines when they got it–or immunity. This was right after the lockdown first happened. The fear porn media, and the huburistic “follow the science” folk certainly squawked about how dangerous it was, and frankly, I was surprised I didn’t get it (yes I was tested–both at the time, and, I followed up 8 wks later with antibody test–both negative).

How about this one–one of my friends was, right from the start, virulently anti-covid vaccination. He and his family did not get vaccinated. All live in same NYC metro area as me. None have gotten Covid to date. Explain that. I can’t explain it. Orac implied there was a link between the fact he and his family were vaxed and didn’t get Covid. So using that Orac-ian logic, I guess there is a link between the fact I and my friend not being vaccinated and not getting Covid? If it is obvious the vaccine works why are there so many questions like these?

How about the vastly different infection and death rate in African countries compared to most other countries? Sure, there are plenty of theories of why this is true–but, as with all things Covid, no definitive, clear proof of why it is true. African countries had lowest rates, of everything–infection, death, and vaccination. Why? If vaccine is so powerful in the outcome of Covid, what is the explanation for Africa?

My overall point is, there are far more open questions than answers, in terms of our understanding of Covid. Orac and his like minded minions that congregate on this blog, I think, show pure hubris at being so definitive that their opines are not opines, but science based fact, despite the glaring fact they refuse to show any actual studies that prove to a reasonable degree the assertions made.

Several African countries had much higher Covid death rates than officially admitted by their governments. A particularly sad case was Tanzania, whose president denied the virus and then the virus took his life. (His successor admitted the pandemic was a real problem and took some efforts to mitigate.). Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, several others had notable excess deaths beyond what would normally be expected for 2020. I’ve posted this link before:

Yep. It apparently never occurred to our “friend” that the data from Africa might not be accurate. Also, the median ages of the populations of many African countries are much younger than in the US and Europe.

“I don’t know why I even bother, but I can’t resist commenting”


“Orac, with all due respect, your incessant desire to cast aspersions at people that correctly point out the now self evident truths about “Covid mitigation measures” and the vaccine says far more about your inability to admit you were, on just about everything Covid, wrong”

Portnoy, with all due disrespect, your desire to cast aspersions on people who correctly pointed out the always self-evident truths about “Covid mitigation measures” and the vaccine says far more about your inability to admit you were, and still are, on just about everything Covid, wrong.

“Anyone with a functioning brain now sees the facts–and the facts are based on one’s experience now, not talking heads like you”

Facts are not based on personal experience but on science, but it does require a functioning brain to see that.

“I and my family are fully vaxed (Pfizer). All of us got Covid after being vaxed, as have literally everyone else I know that was vaxed. Thus, the fact is, the vaccine is, in fact, not a vaccine”

The vaccine stimulates the immune system preparing it to attack the infection quickly and effectively to reduce severe disease, hospitalisation and death, which it did so initially by 95%. So, yeah, the vaccine is…a vaccine!

“It doesn’t do squat in terms of halting transmission or stopping infection”

That is incorrect. Even now, after 2 years and multiple variants and sub-variants, the vaccine reduces transmission by 30%. It does not stop infection because infection is what triggers the immune system primed by the vaccine to respond quickly and efficiently, but it clearly does reduce the degree to which the virus replicates in the body, thereby reducing the severity of the disease.

“We know as fact, since it’s been admitted by Pfizer, that the vaccine was never even tested to see its impact on transmission before it was released”

This is a complete misrepresentation. They never admitted anything. They simply stated it as a fact. And this was well-known even before the clinical trials began. Moreover, it was a deliberate decision to test the vaccine’s efficacy in reducing symptomatic infection, because testing it for efficacy in reducing transmission would have required a much larger trial and taken far more time. Meanwhile thousands were dying every day.

“And yet, we heard over and over and over from people like you, literal lies such as “if you get vaccinated you won’t get sick ” and “getting vaccinated will halt transmission so we can all get back to normal””

That is incorrect. No reputable scientist, epidemiologist, or vaccinologist ever said that. No vaccine is ever 100% effective against either symptomatic infection or transmission. We know that. We have always known that. You are blindly repeating antivax propaganda to create distrust in expertise.

“We personally know people that never got vaxed–caught Covid–and, had exactly the same symptoms and outcome as those of us who were vaxed and got Covid”

Your personal anecdotes cannot possibly trump the results of research based that demonstrates that, if you have your first infection with SARS-CoV-2 before you are vaccinated, your risk of dying is several orders of magnitude higher than if you are first vaccinated.

“No such studies exist”

Stop demanding what sort of studies should be done. Scientists are far more qualified to ask and answer that question. And stop saying they haven’t been done. Controlled clinical trials were done for all the vaccines commencing in 2020. And there have been numerous studies of many different types done since researching all aspects of the pandemic and pandemic response..

“Ditto masking and distancing. The “evidence” that these measures did squat in terms of benefiting health is dubious at best”

Absolute nonsense. It is even commonsense that keeping your distance and wearing a mask would reduce the risk of your spreading your infection to others and others spreading their infection to you. The real questions are: What sort of masks? When should they be worn? How should they be worn? There is no hope for you if, after all the evidence out there over the past 2 years, you are still mouthing the nonsense that “masks and distancing do not work”. It indicates that you have blindly swallowed the antivax propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

“The evidence of the harm they caused is self evident. Obviously if one remains locked in a closet, they won’t get the virus–but, when they come out, they will, so it is hardly an “effective mitigation strategy””

Firstly, masks do not cause harm except in rare circumstances, in which case you can get an exemption. Secondly, masks do clearly reduce your risk of getting an infection or of spreading your infection to others. There is no doubt about this. Thirdly, even if you do get infected, the masks reduces number of viral particles entering your lungs and therefore the severity of your infection. And lockdowns, when properly applied have saved lives by preventing overloading of the health care system, and by preventing infection until after the vaccine was available.

“The fact is, folks like you have zero credibility…”

The irony!

…which is bad, because folks like you should be trusted”

They are trustworthy and they are trusted. The problem is that the antivax movement has done their best to try to create distrust of the experts among those susceptible to their message. And, unfortunately, their propaganda has had a degree of success to the detriment of everyone. It has been estimated that 250,000 American lives were lost as a result of the efforts of the antivax movement to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the vaccines.

“But at the end of the day you harp and harp on ideas that are clearly wrong–not because some fool on the internet says so–it’s self evident you’re wrong based on lived experience”

Again, the irony! And, again, personal experience is not how science is done. And, again, you have a strange idea about what you call “self-evident”.

“I live in NYC–it quite literally has been destroyed, thanks to the stupidity of lockdowns. Again, a self evident fact to anyone with a pulse.”

Again, the science trumps your “personal experience” and what you think is “self-evident”. The science says that all these measures prevented 120 million infections, 3.2 million deaths, and $1.15 trillion in medical costs across the USA. You have no idea what you are talking about.

“You bashing folks that speak the truth about the stupidity of locking down just makes you look silly.”

I can only conclude that you are looking in the mirror.

“The fact is, the Great Barrington Declaration was clearly correct in its assessment”

Absolute nonsense. The GBD would have cost the USA 120 million more infections, 3.2 million extra deaths, and $1.15 trillion in extra medical costs. The GBD was never a plan. It was politically motivated nonsense. Even if herd immunity was achievable. And we now know that herd immunity was not achievable.

“the variants, which were more transmissible, but less deadly”

Incorrect. The variants were not less deadly. The statistics belie your claim. The Omicron variant seemed less deadly only because by the time it arrived there was already widespread population immunity from both infection and vaccination and the most vulnerable had already died during previous waves. If Omicron was the original variant, it would have killed just as many as the original strain.

“it was clear the extreme mitigation strategies did 1) not work, and 2) did more harm than good. And yet they remained in place, cause irreparable harm”

Absolute nonsense. Look at the deaths per million since the start of the pandemic and compare countries that effectively applied these measures with countries that did not:
USA: 3,411
UK: 3,001
AUS: 739
JAP: 569

“The incompetent response to Covid is responsible for the obscene inflation”

The only person showing incompetence here is you. So incompetent that you have been so easily fooled by the nonsense coming out of the mouths of politically motivated actors and antivaxxers. Failure to deal with the pandemic would almost certainly have seen far worse effects on the economy.

“the incredible damage done to children and their respective childhoods.”

This is the damage: two thousand dead. Tens of thousands with chronic disability. Hundreds of thousands hospitalised. Tens of thousands lost a parent. And without the mitigation measures this would have been far worse.

“the fact “science and medical” [experts] are now viewed with suspicion and cynicism–which is particularly dangerous”

Only with those like you who succumbed to the nonsense and propaganda pushed by antivaxxers and politically motivated bad actors. The rest of us have our trust and appreciation intact of those who worked tirelessly often up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, putting their own lives at risk to save the lives of others, while the keyboard warriors sitting in their comfortable houses in their comfortable chairs clacked away at their keyboards spreading disinformation that kills people, and making millions in the process.

It was indeed nicely done. I frequently don’t have the time, energy, or patience to address in detail every bit of misinformation that antivax trolls vomit in the comments here and just call them stupid.

The length and complexity of BillyJoe’s response illustrates why dismissing trolls is so difficult now: Covid science – including vaccines-
encompasses many qualities that make it a prime target for anti-vax and altie misinformation:

— Covid is a new phenomenon although Corona viruses aren’t: it’s only been around since 2019
— because mis-informers react to information as it is being revealed by research they have frequent opportunities to distort it
— what we do know about Covid from research is incredibly complex and involves many variables
— the pandemic is worldwide thus involving many researchers and governmental responses
few people know much about viruses or vaccine technology let alone mRNA so it’s easy for miscreants to make up horror stories or bogus news
— studies involve different end points and methods that are not obvious to the uninstructed: alties mix these up carelessly
— viruses evolve and so do therapies and research
— Covid mis-informers include political and social factors as well in their mishmash ‘science’
— their usual audience includes people already immersed in CTs
— their audience frequently enjoys dismissing authority or expertise as a matter of course
— it’s easy to scare people about the unknown and much unknown remains

Alties have had other chances with other “new illnesses” like hiv/aids, SARS and MRSA etc.

Perhaps readers can see why I don’t directly engage with trolls over Covid …
their dreck flows unceasingly and rapidly evolves into the variants I discussed above- it’s often a multi-dimensional Gish Gallop disguised as unconvincing cosplay/ cargo cult.

In other news…
I recently stopped watching Bill Maher but sometimes overhear him when my SO watches in another room- the smugness and grandiosity carries across. I stopped because my ‘dance card’ is quite full daily observing anti-vaxxers and alties who focus upon less political and more medical/ psychological topics. I can’t do everything. Also it’s easier to skip around web site “broadcasts”, videos and Substack entries than a television show which may have guests I might enjoy hearing.

Thank you BillyJoe for proving my points so well–I couldn’t have done it better.

You cite all sorts of figures and data points–care to provide any links to prove your points? How about even just one data point–you say the vaccine reduces transmission by 30%. Great. Post the link to the study. i double dog dare you.

I see you are comfortable blindly doing what the government tells you, in absence of proof–because–hey, it’s science and our government couldn’t possible be wrong..well, good luck to you. If the government is mandating I surrender my medical privacy and carry a vaccine passport just to participate in society, and, is providing the legal cover for mandating I get injected with a vaccine, sorry–I am more than qualified to say “show me the proof of why it is necessary” and read/scrutinize said proof. If you feel more comfy just doing as you’re told, and believing what you’re told, all the power to ya. I am not.

As for your mask pronouncement, that its a given they work answer honestly: Would you remove asbestos insulation from the walls of a house with an N95 mask? Surgical mask? How about a wet towel tied over mouth and nose? Answer honestly–would you be willing to work for hours and hours and hours, removing asbestos with any of the suggested masks? If you would, you are a fool, since it is “proven by science” that only specific filters of respirator type masks can offer adequate protection from asbestos fibers.

The covid virus is a lot smaller than asbestos fibers. Yet, you assert the cloth/N95 masks people insist do something actually work–yet, the science says such masks are far from safe to handle asbestos–why is that?

Finally, loved the list of countries you provided–the fact you left African countries off the list again, proves the silliness of your hubris better than I can. Care to explain how it is that African countries, which had the lowest infection, and death rates, also had the lowest vaccination and mitigation measures? What’s your “science” tell you about that?

Anyway, in the words of Orac, you and the other minions of like mind bore me. You made my point in spades. Thank you

Care to explain how it is that African countries, which had the lowest infection, and death rates, also had the lowest vaccination and mitigation measures? What’s your “science” tell you about that?

If you think about it really hard, I bet you could think of a different reason why African countries might have reported fewer COVID deaths that has nothing to do with what you’re claiming.🙄🤦🏻‍♂️

Sorry Orac. I won’t go down the ivermectin BS path, which I have no doubt is what u and your willfully blind minions want, so you can go for the sanctimonious kill. I don’t have any idea why Africa cared better. And, neither do you. They had significantly less vaccine, hygiene, access to care, and, yet, did far better….why Orac? If you think really hard, how about you offering an explanation? Please, do share

Actually, ivermectin has nothing to do with it. The question is: Did they do better? Did they really? Why might public health scientists doubt that they did? Hmmmm. The answer is fairly obvious with a bit of critical thinking.

…”you say the vaccine reduces transmission by 30%. Great. Post the link to the study. i double dog dare you.”

It’s easy to find evidence that vaccination has reduced transmission of Covid-19. Example: a 2022 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Among 146,243 tested contacts of 108,498 index patients, 54,667 (37%) had positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) tests. In index patients who became infected with the alpha variant, two vaccinations with either BNT162b2 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (also known as AZD1222), as compared with no vaccination, were independently associated with reduced PCR positivity in contacts (adjusted rate ratio with BNT162b2, 0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21 to 0.48; and with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.78).”

Numerous other studies have also found reduced transmission of Covid-19 due to vaccination, including one that demonstrated a 40-50% reduction in transmission.

Along with refusal to name specific childhood and adult vaccines they support, antivaxers characteristically continue denying that Covid-19 vaccination reduces virus transmission in the face of abundant evidence that it does. Since you are (ahem) not antivax, how about stating which specific vaccines (MMR, pneumococcal pneumonia, hepatitis B, Hib, shingles etc.) you recommend, and conceding you were wrong about Covid-19 vaccines not reducing transmission?

Dangerous, did you even bother to read the study you cited in the link you provided? It totally proves MY point that the vaccines don’t do much to prevent transmission…that is the overall thrust of what the studies summarized in that link say.

Plus, as is typical with folks like you, who depend on people being too lazy to either read or think, if one does scrutinize the “studies” cited, what one typically finds are studies that raise more questions than answers, studies that are suggestive, at best, of possibilities, and studies that almost always conclude with the idea further study is needed. That’s my point…and, of course, that makes sense since true science is never rests until causation is fully understood. Yet, you just asserted the link you provided “proves” vaccines reduce transmission by 40-50%…sir, with all due respect, that assertion, based on your citation, is unmitigated horse dung.

I did reply to Orac about the vaccines I would recommend without hesitation. I said all the recommended ones for children. Specifically:

Diphtheria and Tetanus
Hepatitis B vaccine
Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR)
Polio vaccine
Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine

My kids are now 30 yrs old, so there may be others recommended now I don’t know about…but I would certainly want to know, based on what my pediatrician had to say

@Portnoy Bliss 50% is not 0%, Your point was actually that vaccines do not prevent transmission at all., a common antivax trope.

“The covid virus is a lot smaller than asbestos fibers. Yet, you assert the cloth/N95 masks people insist do something actually work–yet, the science says such masks are far from safe to handle asbestos–why is that?”

This one paragraph alone shows that you lack understanding. Masks prevent or reduce moisture droplets over a certain size. Moisture droplets contain the virus. Therefore masks reduce the amount of virus expelled into the air when sneezing or coughing. Less virus = lower chance of infection or a lower viral intake. Asbestos, on the other hand can cause damage with the smallest number of fibres. With asbestos you really want to prevent ANY penetration. A single SC2 virus isn’t going to do much.

Now, if you won’t acknowledge this simple fact, exactly how valuable are the rest of your insights?

I can both acknowledge the truth of what you say, and, point out there remains intense debate in the scientific community regarding whether masking is effective mitigation. As I keep pointing out, studies that exist are suggestive of conclusions, and , typically point to need for further study.

The fact is, the main case for masking comes from the obvious success of reducing transmission in hospital or other medical settings that correctly implement strict masking and other mitigation strategies.

But those environments are not representative of “masking” in public…where more often than not the masks are being worn correctly, no other mitigation is being followed (like constant hand washing as is case in medical settings)…and, more often than not, masks in public are not the right type of effectively block droplets.

So, to assert masking works to block transmission is technically correct…as in medical settings. But in public settings, the statement is not true…it MAY help…and, it sure sounds logical it could help….but the question begs: Does it, in fact, reduce transmission, and if so, by how much? There are no studies that prove masking, as implemented in the public sphere, works to limit transmission….period.

Btw, while the logic of blocking droplets with a mask makes sense…you I am sure know, that said droplets are considered “large” (e.g. not an aerosal) and thus tend to fall to ground quickly. Thus, the main vector for infection is plausibly by getting virus on hands, and then transfering it to face…not by breathing in droplets. If this is true, again, masks aren’t doing much, other than creating a delightful viral goo to transfer to the wearers hands so it can be spread across all surfaces touched thereafter.

So, sorry, I do not admit the science is in anyway clear on this point. Here is a good summary like of current, ongoing debates on the subject.

@Portnoy Bliss From your link:
“The overwhelming majority of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is via large respiratory droplets as conclusively demonstrated by contact tracing studies, cluster investigations, the lack of infection spread in hospital settings with universal masking protocols and the low estimated R.”
What is not established is airborn transmission virus particles themselves. You will notice reference to unversal masking protocols, too.

“remains intense debate in the scientific community regarding whether masking is effective mitigation”

Which is NOT what you said. Instead you decided to go ‘factual’ about the physical nature of masks.

Whether masking and social distancing is effective is a different question. It depends on the accepted definition of effective, how well the policy is carried out and adhered to, the types of mask, the social distance etc etc etc. Lots and lots of factors. Including active sabotage by those opposed for selfish or political reasons.

Mounting evidence suggests that in this, like many viral URIs, the transmission chain might be best broken by hand washing/not touching face. Recent Cochran review suggests as such. Low quality studies, though.

On Africa I can chime in not because of my medical knowledge (though to you that might make me more qualified, right?), but because my boyfriend uses statistics of all sorts in his work and has to be able to tell quickly and effectively if there’s a problem with the data he’s working with.

Lack of data is a common cause of really interesting phenomenon – did you know if incidents of an event are never or rarely reported then data will show the event as never or rarely happening even if it’s actually a common event?

The really interesting part of this is that trusting that data itself means that you have to distrust actual, observed, but unreported happenings. So what’s better, bad data or understanding of how things work based on actual events and then doing a little digging to discover the unreported events?

In your case you seem to always come down on the side of bad data because when reports with good data are presented to you you outright reject them in favor of bad or incomplete data, outright lies or anecdotes, not to mention the notion that your lived experience is the only correct truth while other people’s lived experiences can be denied.


Having nearly lost my (estranged) wife to COVID-19, I find that ****head’s extremely offensive, and this is a superb rebuttal. Thank you.

The incompetent response to Covid is responsible for the obscene inflation now gripping the US–thanks to Biden’s foolish money printing to compensate citizens for loss of income due to lockdowns.

You seem to be an idiot in a variety of things.

Thank You for another great post Orac, once again we see that there is no low to which the Brownstone institute and their Koch industries backed puppets will not sink, in order in minimize COVID, slander COVID vaccines, and otherwise discredit and slander public health.

I would suggest to everyone, in addition to reading respectful insolence, also subscribe to Dr. Allison Neitzel's substack: Misinformation Kills.

Dr. Neitzel has a lot of great content connecting the dots of the dark money being used to fund the anti- scientific conspiracy theories and attacks on public health,
with Koch industries being one of the main entities behind the Great Barrington declaration and the various pro-virus, anti-vaccine activities on the right.

The word ‘hero’ is surely devaluating. Currently I hear advertisements in which newspaperboys/girls, are described as deliveryheroes.

Even before you started mentioning Eco, some of what I was reading there made me think ‘This isn’t the Nietzschian Superman so much as it’s the Randian Hero’. Rand, whose ‘heroes’ were essentially out and out sociopaths perfectly willing to let everybody else in the world die in order to prove that they were ‘right’. When, of course, the only way that they could actually be right involved the author constructing a world with no other internal consistency. The ultimate expression of ‘I’m all right, Jack!’.

One of Rand’s real-world ‘heroes’ was a killer who set up a ransom for a young girl and who took the money and returned the girl’s corpse. As far as Rand was concerned, he was a true man who wasn’t constrained by the bonds of society. That is the sort of person who has shaped so many people’s thinking: someone whose greatest annoyance is other people telling them what to do.

That would be William Edward Hickman, who was quite the notorious celebrity back in 1928.

See Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman for more into it, including some work at heading off the cottage of industry of folks who like to try to claim that she didn’t really admire him, that it was all quotes taken out of context.

Don’t read it right after lunch. The descriptions of what Hickman did to the twelve year old girl he kidnapped are not pretty.

I read it. Soon I will have lunch.
I never felt much for Ayn Rand’s ideas. The idea that they were an inspiration for the lyrics Neil Peart wrote for Rush makes their music a kind of guilty pleasure for me.

I was anti-Rush for years, more for their musical pomposity than anything. The lyrics for “Free Will” struck me as especially dumb, but I didn’t connect them to Rand at the time. When I did learn she was an influence, it just reaffirmed my conclusion that these guys were trading in naive adolescent pseudo-profundity. But as the years wore on, some of the lyrics of the newer material struck me as more mature and thoughtful, so I began to revise my opinion of the group as a whole.

Not being a big fan, I didn’t know anything about Neal Peart the person. But based on the obits, he seems to have been pretty much the opposite of a Randian asshole.

Philosophical writing — even bad pseudo-philosophy like Objectivism — tends to be textually “open”, subject to a wide variety of readings. Figuring out precisely where any thinker may be coming from is likely to require a lot of reading. The difficulty is a bug, but also a feature: a casual encounter with an essay or two can prod a useful development of one’s own ideas, even if expressed as a “misreading” of the author.

TL:DR: The parts of Rand Peart borrowed just go to typical youthful angst and resistance to authority, so ‘not fascist’. It’s not as artful in that as “Final Solution” by Pere Ubu, but it’s not evil.

On the positive side, when asked later in life about the inspirations from Rand, Peart would say things like ‘you believe a lot of stupid things when you’re young’. So, apparently it was something he was into at first but started seeing the flaws in later and grew out of.

“But humans are special. Survival is not enough for us. Neither is comfort. We seek something more, something beyond our physical reality and spurred by our imagination.”

Yes, we must go where none have gone before…into Costco without wearing a mask! Our bold exploratory lifestyle demands it!

As with their pretense that opponents are adherents of a “religion”, the projection is epic.

Perhaps she should have gone working in a hospital, caring for patients with covid.

If she really wants to be a hero, she might go to Ukraine, or Russia to fight in the war. Not that I side with Russia, but perhaps Putin’s ideas are more in line with those of miss Haley Kynefin. He seems to have the same contempt of other peoples lives.

I’m sure she probably hunkered down in her home with the rest of the laptop class, while those who actually did heroically face the virus brought food to her house, made sure she had power to run her laptop, delivered the goods she needed, and ran essential services, as well as being there to take care of her in the event that, her best efforts having failed, she got COVID and became an unwilling “hero” herself.

There’s a reason ‘myths’ are called ‘myths’. It’s hard to believe any grown adult believes they should be life’s guiding principles.

There are several meanings to “myth”, only some of them pejorative. In philosophy (Nietzsche) and anthropology (Campbell) ‘myth’ means whatever expresses a group’s value system, whether ‘true’ or ‘false’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In that sense, the apparatus of science is not without myth, especially the archetype of the hero: Galileo, Marie Curie, Tesla, Einstein, Salk, Ioannidis — oops, scratch the last one there. :- )

These are psychological terms, of course, but this conflict exists in animals as well as, on a micro-scale, in plants

Thanks, Scientific Reports. Anyway, Ms. Kynefin apparently found it more compelling to project something on to Gagliano et al. than to, say, check whether anyone had tried to replicate it.

Thinking about it, why would Heckenlively present his childish fantasies largely unrestrained publicly without self-censoring? Is he that unaware?
Possibly, he might imagine that his followers are proceeding along the same programming. They are all heroes, martyrs,
iconoclasts and ground breaking paradigm shifters. In league together against the world.
I venture that many anti-vax parents and leaders have experienced ridicule for their beliefs as well as feelings of defeat because of their children’s disability and thus, over compensate by inflating their own sense of self-worth: they are not merely a harried, over worked caretaker but a super human imbued with righteousness, devotion and superior morality- far above those of their critics. A few even present their children as being well above what testing shows.

Someday there will be comeuppance as the truth will be exposed and the appropriate heads will roll.

Death is a part of life. Pain is a part of life. They are inevitable, and our futile attempts at avoiding them amount only to a comfortable illusion.

So what’s with the bike helmet?

I would say Heaven help any archetykes she may have, but the whole persona is rather slipshod: Here one finds the assertion that

Today I invited IAPWE writer (published in the Journal of Neuroscience and amazing woman in her own right), Haley Kynefin to share

Neither organization seems to have heard of anyone by that name, nor either half of it. Why bother?

Off-topic, but I’m an enthusiastic cyclist and never ride without a helmet. Some weeks ago I ran into an unseen obstacle and crashed heaviy, earning an ambulance ride to the emergency dept — I had a dent in my helmet, was mildly concussed, and only just badly banged up. Repeat CAT scans showed no brain bleed.

Hooray for helmets!

More heroic antivaxers are risking everything by nudging the Beast. First, actress Evangeline Lilly.

“She remembered thinking to herself, “I know the beast that I’m attacking. I know that I have a little pebble and there’s this fucking Goliath giant. If I shoot this pebble, it’s going to wake the giant.”

In other news, spiritual guru and alt-politician Marianne Williamson is contemplating another run for President.* But remember, she’s not antivax, she’s “Safe-Vaxx”.

*This can’t be good news for the Draft RFK Jr. movement, threatening to dilute the Force. Who will be next to throw their tinfoil hat into the ring?

There’s some serious antivax wackadoo going on in the Idaho legislature. Two GOP members there have introduced a bill to criminalize administration of mRNA vaccines: “A person may not provide or administer a vaccine developed using messenger ribonucleic acid technology for use in an individual or any other mammal in this state.” One of the co-sponsors, Tammy Nichols, previously introduced a bill requiring labeling of “vaccine materials” in food. (???) A bill prohibiting the issue of vaccine status to be considered in child custody cases was passed out of committee unanimously. Idaho is apparently an antivax hotbed, soi there seems to be a constituency for all of this, though I don’t know whether the criminalization measure has a real chance of passing, or if it’s just political theater…

I suspect there’s some bad “science’ involved in justifying these bills, in case anyone with expertise wants to check and debunk if so.

As far as I know, Neil Peart’s Rand fandom peaked in the ’70s. (Of course, there’s the infamous reference to her in the 2112 liner notes.) He seemed to turn from libertarianism to liberalism by the mid ’80s.

I know, but in a way I like the early Rush most, when Geddy Lee used his high pitched voice.

The real heroes are, of course, the independent thinkers who rejected the propaganda, lies, fake science, and worked hard to save people and especially children from Covid vaccines.

Those who were collectively paid billions of dollars to poison billions of people, and lied towards that goal, of course, cannot be considered heroes by any stretch of the imagination.

As the excess mortality and reduced fertility continue to worsen, hopefully the victims will eventually see justice done to the perpetrators of the global biomedical crime of a novel nature.

Couple stories from last week:

My wife has a friend. That friend of hers has a son. That son’s friend, a young man in his 20s, died suddenly due to his heart simply stopping. That happened a couple of days ago. The funeral is this weekend. (I do not know the dead person but I have seen the friend’s son)

My dear relative, an older man, was in a hospital for 3 days last week due to “atrial fibrillation”. No one in his family ever had heart problems before.

I am freaking out about what will happen to my vaxed relatives and the entire vaccinated world. It can end up much worse than most of us are imagining. I very much hope it will NOT happen!

But remember that all test animals in the past mRNA trials died.

My wife has a friend. That friend of hers has a son. That son’s friend, a young man in his 20s, died suddenly due to his heart simply stopping. That happened a couple of days ago. The funeral is this weekend. (I do not know the dead person but I have seen the friend’s son)

That is very sad and tragic. However, this is, unfortunately, a long-known phenomenon that was first described at least 50 years ago and eventually dubbed sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS), an acronym that antivaxxers more recently tried to rebrand the acronym as “sudden adult death syndrome” (which is not a thing) around a year ago. I even wrote about it last summer—twice!

It was a lie that led antivaxxers to falsely blame Damar Hamlin’s on-field collapse on vaccines:

Basically, every pediatrician (and NP, like my wife) who has ever routinely done sports physicals knows about the phenomenon of SADS and screens for the indications that a youth might have one of the conditions that predispose to it. (Funny that you, apparently, do not.) SADS usually due to a congenital anomaly in the conducting system in the heart, and several specific gene mutations that predispose to SADS have now been identified. Indeed, increasing recognition of SADS is why there has been a push that began years before the pandemic to make AEDs readily available at sports facilities and public places because it has long been recognized that the single best chance of saving someone suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest is the timely application of electricity in the form of defibrillation.

Also, there is no evidence that SADS has increased in incidence since the vaccines started rolling out.

My dear relative, an older man, was in a hospital for 3 days last week due to “atrial fibrillation”. No one in his family ever had heart problems before.

I am freaking out about what will happen to my vaxed relatives and the entire vaccinated world. It can end up much worse than most of us are imagining. I very much hope it will NOT happen!

Since anecdotes are all you seem to care about, I’ll counter your anecdote with mine. A very dear relative of mine developed atrial fibrillation that was very resistant to treatment. When? More than a decade ago, maybe 15 years. (I don’t remember exactly anymore.) She had never had a family history of heart problems other than her mother having developed valve disease because of rheumatic fever back in the day when lots of people got rheumatic fever; in other words, it was not in any way familial or hereditary.

Young people occasionally suffer sudden cardiac death for no apparent reason (although there usually is a reason, namely a congenital abnormality) and have, sadly, done so pretty much forever. Older people sometimes die suddenly of previously undiagnosed and unsuspected coronary artery disease because guess what one of the most common first symptoms of previously undiagnosed severe cardiac disease is? That’s right, a massive MI causing sudden death. People develop atrial fibrillation for no apparent reason and have done so forever, particularly as they age, as a-fib is more common at older ages (although it can much less commonly strike young people). There are also risk factors for a-fib aside from family history, including obesity, certain drugs, high alcohol consumption, and even just stress.

Basically, because you were unaware of these basic facts that they teach us in medical school (and taught me in medical school back in the late 1980s), you blame vaccines for these things, because human beings are pattern-seeking animals and we tend to impose patterns that agree with our preexisting beliefs on events. You think vaccines are ineffective and harmful; so you automatically and mistakenly blame them for the tragic sudden death at a young age of your wife’s friend’s son and for a relative who was recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

Thanks. I would frankly greatly prefer that all my concerns would end up completely unfounded.

Some more details, the dear relative is my dad. Just got out of hospital 2 days ago. The young guy who died, I confirmed today, was a 22 year old. No information on whether he had that congenital abnormality.

I have a vaxed 21 year old son. He had minor heart rhythm problems after his Covid in Jan 2022 (following two vaccines in May 2021). I went to a cardiologist with him and the problems lasted 5 months. Fortunately they went away, but this situation gives me significant anxiety.


blockquote>I have a vaxed 21 year old son. He had minor heart rhythm problems after his Covid in Jan 2022 (following two vaccines in May 2021).



I have two sons, 28 and 25, both vaccinated with up to and including the latest boosters. The only issue either had: the older son looks incredibly young for his age, and when he and his girlfriend went for their first shots he was asked, at check-in, whether he had an adult with him to ok the shot [the nurse assumed he was much younger than he was].

So we both have anecdotes. The difference: I know it’s stupid to claim the one for my son was a side-effect of the vaccine: you’re too stupid to realize the same for the anecdotes about your father and your son.

I have an extremely low threshold for ecgs and stress tests in these kids. I’ve caught several silent arrhythmias in, usually, boys with nonspecific symptoms or an uncle who “died swimming in a lake when he was 15” etc. it’s sort of scary how often we catch these.

I am freaking out about what will happen to my vaxed relatives and the entire vaccinated world. It can end up much worse than most of us are imagining. I very much hope it will NOT happen!

That’s the kind of statement someone who is too lazy to do research to gain understanding, and who values anecdotes over science, makes. Igor, your bullshit is bad, but your willingness to use the tragedies and health issues of others* to push your misinformation and lies about vaccines is reprehensible.

Assuming, of course, that we believe these stories of yours. Since you have a seemingly non-ending list of them, far more than anyone else has, the veracity of your posts is, at best, highly questionable.

@ Igor Chudov:

Oh, Igor, Igor, Igor!

I occasionally skim your articles on Substack and will not address specific topics or statements HOWEVER
I am rather proficient at viewing writers’ work globally…if I do say so myself.

You include talking points that are common amongst anti-vax/ alt med providers that have also been discussed and dismantled superlatively by Orac and his regulars many times since your arrival at RI. Now I realise that you may wish to attract a certain type of reader/ subscriber but I wonder, being that you have tried to learn, how you can persist? One example is that Covid is manufactured/ not zoonotic/ a ‘lab leak’. Orac has written about this mistaken assumption; a good article is from 8/8/22 explains why this is HIGHLY unlikely but that’s not the only place.

Most of your entries involve misleading ideas. Have you not read what Orac and others have written to you? You, unlike many scoffers/ contrarians at RI, have had the great privilege of having Orac himself ( metaphorically) sit down with you repeatedly giving you detailed instruction: other regulars have spent time discussing details in long carefully thought-out comments. Is it that they imagine that you may have something most trolls lack? Many regulars have studied medical/ life science although others have expertise in diverse fields but STILL are able to explicate material extremely well. You don’t need a degree in pre-med or bio to understand what Orac presents and I imagine that that is by design in order to make SBM issues accessible to non-scientists and serious adults beyond what is reported in the news.

So, SRSLY, what’s up? You can’t have it both ways: catering to alties and more realistic SB readers.

I don’t think that Igor cares, as long as someone honors his ‘heroism’. As a keyboard warrior, he wants his sacrifice to be recognized, and as a self labeled ‘independent thinkers’ (at least he stopped calling himself a ‘critical thinker’) he must see being corrected or questioned (or attached, as he must see it) as validation. As he seems incapable of questioning his own biases, of the accuracy of his conclusions.
And his readers must like his constant confirmation of their beliefs, both in the ‘evil’ of the medical ‘establishment’ and their own ‘superiority’.

All true Denice, but the implicit assumption in your message to Igor is that he’s interested in an honest debate and is willing to learn which points he’s pushing are wrong. We’ve seen enough of his comments, and his “personal anecdotes”, to know that he has no interest in either of those things.

@ David, Idw56old, Dr Bacon:

I know. I know but somebody has to be ‘good cop’.. why not me?

-btw- ” You can’t have it both ways” although Bill Maher tries

I have tried to engage with Igor, both on this blog and on his own substack, but he seems to prefer to interact with those comments that agree with his posts. I am interested in having a discussion with him, as well as those who adhere to similar viewpoints, but they seem to have little interest.
As for being a ‘good cop, I can do little more. If Igor, and other members of his church, are only interested in repeating the same mantras (Gates, Baric, china, mandates etc.), what else is there? What would you recommend?

Something else for Igor to “freak out” over:

Everyone who confuses correlation with causation eventually winds up dead.

@ David:

Know that your efforts are being read by people who are not yet entranced by anti-vax/ pseudo-science and that your ideas can inspire sceptics like the regulars here.

Notice that even Orac who frequently engages directly with him hasn’t transformed his thinking but many other people read those comments who can learn and apply that information in daily life.
So we’re more than just good cops.

David, I remember very well that I did interact with you, though perhaps not with every post you made. You are more than welcome to state your opinions. I never delete posts who disagree with me.

Denice, thank you for your comment. I know that you are a caring and smart person. I did read Orac’s thoughts on zoonosis, although possibly I did not see all his posts touching this matter.

I read a lot of materials on this subject.

It was not “zoonosis” and a lab was involved. The genes, cover-up by China, cover-up by the WHO, locations, past preparations, Fauci/Farrar/Holmes/Baric emails, etc make it completely implausible that Sars-Cov-2 is a purely naturally evolved virus that infected humans without any virology lab involvement.

You read onesided material. Like reference to genes. What HIV genes are present in SARS CoV 2 ? Compare sequences.
China is indeed secretive, all communist countries are. However, WHO´s first investigation deduced that that leak is very unprobable.

I suppose what I don’t get about people like you is this…if it did come from a lab…SO WHAT? Should we change how we manage a pandemic? If so, how? Why? What does a lab origin have to do with vaccines? Why the hell do you like to conflate the two??? Are you a nihilist? Are you a lunatic? Are you just a garden-variety, contrarian jerk?

You are asking:

if it did come from a lab…SO WHAT?

Then the officials could explain the situation to people, and it would be something like this:

Dear People:

The virus came from a lab
And we knew it came from a lab
But we misinformed you with fake “zoonosis studies”
The press we own told you that suspecting lab origin was a manifestation of “extreme right-wing anti-Asian hate”
And trust us, we really developed the Covid vaccine in “just two days” (past vaccines took many years to develop)
Trust us, the NIH B-roll video showing a box with “Novel Coronavirus vaccine” dated Jul 2019, is totally unrelated to the Covid vaccine we “developed in just two days” half a year later
And trust us, it was a random moment of serendipity that Bill Gates invested $55 million into BioNTech on Sep 6, 2019. BioNTech was a mRNA startup which to that date never produced a vaccine – but was to become the largest manufacturer of Pfizer Covid vaccine
And trust us, Event 201, held on Oct 12, 2019, simulating a global coronavirus pandemic, under the auspices of BMGF, China CDC, World Economic Forum etc we also a random coincidence
And trust us, the Pradhan “HIV insert” study was withdrawn in two days on a Sunday because it was such a poor quality study, not because we forced the withdrawal

Perhaps the public would also get the explanation why Dr Fauci, David Morens, and Jeffery Taubenberger detail (in Cell Host and Microbe Jan 23) why coronavirus and respiratory vaccines could never be expected to work, despite Dr Fauci promising to us in 2020 how the vaccines would stop the pandemic.

It was not “zoonosis” and a lab was involved.

That’s a bold statement. Where’s your proof?

The genes, cover-up by China, cover-up by the WHO, locations, past preparations, Fauci/Farrar/Holmes/Baric emails, etc make it completely implausible that Sars-Cov-2 is a purely naturally evolved virus that infected humans without any virology lab involvement.

No proof there: your crap about the genes has been shot down multiple times by others, the bit about emails is simply conspiratorial bullshit, and your conclusion is based on nothing more than your desire to push a particular result.

So again: where’s your proof that the virus was designed in a lab? So far you have presented none — but you never have proof for any of your assertions, so at least you’re consistent.

A bit of research (to use the term in a form recognizable to antivaxers who graduated from Google U.) would have shown Igor that 1) atrial fibrillation has been a recognized form of cardiac arrhythmia for close to 120 years, and 2) up to 30% of cases are idiopathic, meaning that there is no obvious cause.

And what’s with putting “atrial fibrillation” in scare quotes? Is it that you don’t believe in it, or that Evil M.D.s are diagnosing Afib in order to cover for the ravages of vaccine “toxins”?

“So, SRSLY, what’s up? You can’t have it both ways: catering to alties and more realistic SB readers.”

Maybe Igor has a bizarre hope of boosting his Substack subscription numbers by advertising on RI. Frankly, there are so many people attempting to monetize antivax rhetoric and Covid-19 denial that blogs like his are becoming superfluous. That’s probably the real reason he’s “freaking out”.

I remember Patton’s definition of heroism: Your job is not to die for your country. It is to make some poor German to die for his.

I’m not sure whether my observation is funny, bizarre or nefarious:

I read tweets of several well-known anti-vaxxers and one of the most floridly expressive about vaccines, natural health and ersatz science had an odd tweet yesterday of herself ( I think) pictured nude in the shower! It was there and when I checked again, it was gone. Later, Twitter said that the account doesn’t exist. She had recently been championing breast feeding so was that her attempt to illustrate ability or capacity? Did she post the photo herself to test Twitter’s limits? Or did someone hack her account to sabotage her? The photo wasn’t sexy or shaming in any way and not very clear because of water streaming although you could see she was indeed nude.
Usually, she has photos of farms and diagrammed microbiota/ GI fxs.

Igor’s dancing around this, but the “COVID came from a lab” theory seems based in a demonization of the Chinese government (well beyond its many genuinely awful actions and policies) and used to suggest that the vaccines are part of the same secret plan for which the virus itself was created.

@Steeveecom, there are all sorts of people and all sorts of opinions. In my own opinion there seems to be too much blame placed on China. A false dichotomy: it was either “zoonosis”, or a “China lab leak”. A lot of China blaming comes from our Republican lawmakers.

The problem with this dichotomy is that likely it was not just China, and it was likely not a “leak”.

Sars-Cov-2 development was not undertaken in China alone. Covid-19 has a history that is still mysterious.

I can just imagine you getting angrier, and angrier writing this. Eventually banging your head against the keyboard in furiosity. (is that a word?)

And I don’t bloody blame you. This is fascism, straight up. Blaming the “weak” for their own demise. But then, that’s always been the modus operandi of the anti vaccine movement.

As you say, nothing changes.

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