Antivaccine nonsense Bad science

A mouse “died suddenly” of “turbo cancer” after COVID-19 vaccination

Last week, Stew Peters Tweeted out a link to a study in which a mouse “died suddenly” of “turbo cancer” after being vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This study is even more ridiculous than the usual “turbo cancer” study.

One of the more ridiculous bits of antivaccine misinformation to have arisen since the introduction of mRNA-based vaccines against COVID-19 by Pfizer and Moderna is the claim that the vaccines cause not just cancer, but “turbo cancer.” In this narrative, “turbo cancers” are much worse than just your average run-of-the-mill cancers in that, if you believe antivaxxers, they are much more rapidly growing and lethal. A variant of the “turbo cancer” narrative is that patients whose cancers were in remission have had sudden recurrences sometime after being vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. As I explained when discussing “turbo cancer,” the best evidence that antivaxxers can produce are either dubious case reports in which the relationship between the aggressive cancer described and vaccination is almost certainly coincidence rather than causation or even more dubious case series cited by antivaccine physicians and scientists, such as Dr. Charles Hoffe, Idaho pathologist Dr. Ryan Cole, and Swedish pathologist named Dr. Ute Kruege. As I’ve also explained, “turbo cancer” is just a more frightening variant of a very old myth claiming that vaccines cause cancer, a myth that antivaxxers have sometimes gone to truly cringeworthy lengths, from a scientific standpoint, to explain and justify. (SV40 promoter, not gene, anyone?)

This brings me to the latest study used to promote the myth of “turbo cancer.” Amusingly, it comes from Stew Peters, the “intellect” behind the conspiracyfest of a propaganda movie disguised as a documentary, Died Suddenly, posted on the official Died Suddenly Twitter account:

I like how Mr. Peters uses 7%, instead of just saying that it’s one mouse.

Where the study was duly amplified by the same sorts of accounts that promote scientific misinformation:

The first author also shared the work on LinkedIn:

This is exactly the sort of study that this blog was born for! Why? Because I’ve done many, many studies of cancer in mice going back to the mid 1990s! I’ve done experiments using both mouse tumors in immunocompetent mice (e.g, LLC) and xenografts in immunosuppressed mice (e.g., MDA-MB-231 breast cancer). So when I heard about this study, I just had to take a closer look. So here it is, B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma following intravenous BNT162b2 mRNA booster in a BALB/c mouse: A case report.

My first reaction upon reading the actual study was: WTF? A case report? Of a single mouse that died after two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine? We often publish case reports of human patients, but I can’t recall ever having seen a case report of a single dead mouse before.

My second reaction was: Frontiers in Oncology? Of course it had to be a Frontiers journal! It’s a network of bottom-feeding open access journals whose reputation is…not good. In fact, the whole Frontiers Media ecosystem would be considered by some to be…predatory. Basically, the most important criterion that Frontiers Media seems to use in its peer review process for submitted manuscripts is: Did the check clear?

For example:

According to researchers referenced in a 2015 blog post quoted by Allison and James Kaufman in the 2018 book Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy Against Science, “Frontiers has used an in-house journals management software that does not give reviewers the option to recommend the rejection of manuscripts” and the “system is setup to make it almost impossible to reject papers” (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2018).

A Frontiers journal is not a great choice if you want your science to be taken seriously. It is a great choice if you want to get any old crap published and have the money to pay. (As an aside and in the interest of total transparency, I contributed a chapter to the book cited.)

But what about the study itself? Let’s just say that it…belongs in a Frontiers journal and fits in well. That is not a compliment. I also immediately wondered why investigators from reputable Belgian universities like the University of Antwerp, Ghent University, and the University of Leuven were doing submitting such dross to a bottom-feeding journal like Frontiers in Oncology. (Maybe I have Belgian or European readers who can clue me in? I’m at a loss.)

First of all, what did Eens et al do? First, they hypothesized:

The emergence of malignant lymphoma following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination is one of such rare adverse events that has raised concern, although evidence for causality and a deeper understanding of the mechanisms potentially involved are lacking (8).

In this report, we present a first case of fatal B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma (B-LBL) diagnosed shortly following intravenous booster administration of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in a BALB/c mouse.

To look at whether the Pfizer vaccine causes lymphoma in mice, Eens et al took 28 12-week old BALB/c mice and split them into two groups of 14 mice each, one of which received the Pfizer vaccine, the other of which received saline placebo. The vaccine group got its second (“booster”) dose 14 days after the first dose.

I also note that looking for “turbo cancer” was apparently not the original aim of this study:

Five-week-old male BALB/c (substrain OlaHsd) mice were purchased from a commercial animal breeder (ENVIGO, Horst, The Netherlands) for use in an experimental study aimed to establish a mouse model of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine-induced myocarditis, as described earlier (approval nos. 2021-67 and 2022-68 (University of Antwerp Ethical Committee)) (see Figure 1) (9).

While it is fair enough to report an unexpected observation unrelated to the original outcome measure of your study if it’s interesting enough, none of this excuses the massive artificiality of this experiment, which makes it so flawed as to be uninterpretable, as I will explain.

I’ve done a lot of experiments over the last 27 years using mouse tumor models; so I zeroed right in on the specifics of the experimental protocol, leading me to two huge questions. First, why did the investigators inject the lateral tail vein, instead of giving the vaccine the way that it’s given to humans, intramuscularly. We generally inject the lateral tail vein for two reasons. The first reason is very mundane: It’s a convenient vein to use to dose a mouse with an intravenous medication. Another reason that we sometimes use it is for lung metastasis models in which we inject tumor cells into the tail vein, which leads to them implanting in the lungs because after blood reaches the heart it goes next to the pulmonary circulation to be oxygenated before returning to the heart to be pumped to the rest of the body. Already, this model is nothing like a mouse model of vaccination. It’s as though the investigators wanted to inoculate the lung with a lot of mRNA from the vaccine.

This brings us to my second question: Why did the investigators use so much mRNA vaccine? The next part of the protocol that I zeroed in shows that the investigators gave what we in the biz call a crapton of vaccine:

To this end, one group of animals (n=14) was immunized intravenously via the lateral tail vein with the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech) following a two-dose regimen, while another group (n=14) received normal saline injections and served as control. The second dose of BNT162b2 was administered 14 days after the first priming dose, at 12 and 14 weeks of age, respectively. Each dose contained 6 ”g of BNT162b2 diluted in a total volume of 60 ”l of normal saline (± 0.25 ”g BNT162b2 per gram of body weight).

Let’s translate that to something a bit more relevant to human. If a 6 ”g dose equates to ~0.25 ”g/gram body weight, that means that the mice weighed around 24 g at the start of the experiment. I’ve never worked with BALB/c mice specifically, but based on the other mouse strains with which I’ve worked, this sounds about right for a 12-week-old mouse. Now, let’s compare to what a human gets. The typical human dose of the Pfizer vaccine is 30 ”g, which is only five times the dose that each mouse got for nearly 3,000 times—2,917 times, to be more precise—the weight if you use the “typical” 70 kg human, meaning that each mouse is receiving close to 600 times the usual human dose on a per-weight basis (583 times, to be a little more precise). Another writer used slightly different numbers to estimate that the mice got around 480 times the human dose, but you get the idea.

While it is true that there can be wide variation in the weight of humans, given that, for example, children 12 years old and up get a full adult dose, no matter how you slice it, the amount of mRNA each mouse got was hundreds of times the human dose, and they got it intravenously, not intramuscularly. The authors do acknowledge this issue in the discussion but do not do the obvious calculation of the magnitude of the difference between the mouse and human doses. They also wave away the issue of using the tail vein by noting that there is occasional “inadvertent intravenous injection of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.” That’s not even noting that two weeks to a mouse is a large time interval for a mouse, whose median lifespan is generally between 13-22 months.

Before I go on, I will acknowledge what they found. Two days after the second injection of vaccine, one mouse in the experimental group “died suddenly” hours before the experiment was scheduled to be terminated anyway and the mice euthanized. This observation made me wonder: Why was the experiment designed to end only two days after the second dose of vaccine and 16 days after the start of the experiment? It makes little sense, but that’s how the experiment was designed. In any event, Here are tissue sections demonstrating the B-cell lymphoblastic lymphomas:

"Turbo Cancer" in a mouse
“Turbo Cancer” in a mouse?

Let me just say one thing here. In all my previous years working with mouse tumor models, I am not aware of any that go from undetectable to killing the mouse in under 16 days. The fastest-growing mouse tumors that I’ve ever worked with had a doubling time on the order of a week, maybe a little less. The most likely explanation is that this mouse had the cancer developing even before being injected with the first dose of Pfizer vaccine. Moreover, the investigators’ own data suggest this.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this figure, in particular Panel A:

Turbo cancer and mouse weight?
Notice anything funny about the weight curve of the mouse that died?

The red dotted line represents the weight curve for the mouse that died. Notice anything funny in Panel A? I noticed immediately that its weight had started to fall before the first dose of vaccine, roughly by 10%. That’s a huge weight drop, and it started one week before vaccination! Indeed, by the time the mice received the first dose of vaccine, this particular unfortunate mouse weighed less than all of them. Again, the most likely explanation is that the mouse had cancer before being vaccinated. Moreover, BALB/c mice are often chosen as an experimental model precisely because they are prone to develop a variety of spontaneous cancers, most commonly B-cell lymphomas.

As this fact check by Dr. Adrian Wong notes:

Finally, it is important to point out that BALB/c mice are popular in cancer research because they are more susceptible to carcinogenesis, and can spontaneously (naturally) develop lymphomas.

This study, for example, shows that most of the lymphomas that spontaneously developed in BALB/C mice are of the B-cell type – similar to what was seen in the Belgian experiment.

Considering that only one mice (out of fourteen) developed B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, that could fall within this “baseline” of spontaneously occurring B-cell lymphomas in BALB/c mice.

I have a minor quibble with Dr. Wong here. It’s actually one out of the whole population of mice used, in other words, one out of the 28 mice that were used for this experiment (or 3.6%), and the mouse who developed the B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma just happened to be in the vaccinated group by random chance alone.

In fairness, as Lead Stories notes in its debunk, the authors do seem to realize that their results do not show causality. On the other hand, they never directly say that. Instead, they make gauzy, vague statements like this last sentence in their discussion:

Although strong evidence proving or refuting a causal relationship between SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination and lymphoma development or progression is lacking, vigilance is required, with conscientious reporting of similar cases and a further investigation of the mechanisms of action that could explain the aforementioned association.

The problem, of course, is that even their study, as artificial as it is with its intravenous injection of massive amounts of vaccine into a mouse strain prone to develop spontaneous cancers, doesn’t show an association between vaccination and the development of cancer, be it “turbo cancer” or any other sort of cancer. The authors clearly want to try to have it both ways, implying that their experiment suggests an association between vaccination and B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in a single mouse when it does nothing of the sort, yet maintaining a plausible deniability that that’s what they’re doing by framing their results as “just asking questions.” Even the main article cited by them as further evidence that there is an association between lymphoma and COVID-19 vaccination states explicitly:

We are aware that the link between COVID-19 vaccination and lymphoma most likely is a chance phenomenon, and that COVID-19 vaccines represent very efficient products for many people around the world. However, we believe that clinical events, even if only temporally associated with novel treatments or novel vaccines, should be reported for the benefit of the patients and the scientific community.

Again, as I like to point out, whenever you vaccinated hundreds of millions of people in a short period of time there will be cases of people who are diagnosed with cancer not long after vaccination just by random chance alone. It takes careful epidemiology to determine if the sum total of such cases produces a rate higher than the baseline rate that we would expect to see by chance alone. Failure to do so is known as the base rate fallacy, which is unsurprisingly a fallacy that antivaxxers love.

Not only does this paper not show that massive doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are in any way associated with B-cell lymphomas, but it doesn’t even show that there is reason to be concerned that the COVID-19 vaccine administered to the mouse that died was likely to have caused its demise from a B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. Indeed, the observation that the mouse that died had started to lose weight a week before its first dose of vaccine strongly suggests that it already had cancer before the vaccine. I realize that antivaxxers will then claim that the vaccine caused that cancer to take off as a “turbo cancer,” but mouse cancers can and do grow rapidly, and a cancer that had already caused a mouse to lose weight was likely already advanced.

I conclude by wondering once again why the investigators did this study. The design was so artificial with its intravenous dosage of a vaccine not intended to be administered intravenously plus its use of such a massive dose, that, no matter what the results of the study, they would not be applicable to humans. Basically, 28 mice lost their lives for no purpose whatsoever; that is, unless you consider being used as antivaccine disinformation a purpose.

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]

80 replies on “A mouse “died suddenly” of “turbo cancer” after COVID-19 vaccination”

but mouse cancers can and do grow rapidly, and a cancer that had already caused a mouse to lose weight was likely already advanced.

It doesn’t take a huge change in volume to be a substantial proportion of such a small animal’s body weight. And, it wouldn’t even require a large difference in cell doubling rate relative to a human cancer. Mouse gestation period is like 20 days compared to 40 weeks for a person. You would expect cancer to be way faster for them.

Well, OK, the study design is goofy. And the index mouse was either ill before vaccination or surreptitiously taking Ozempic.

That said, who is going to notify all the BALB/c mice in the world and warn them to avoid mRNA vaccines? By extension of the authors logic (can we really call it logic?), just multiply 7% by the estimated 1.3 billion humans in the EU and US alone that received mRNA vaccines and that means 91,000,000 humans likely died suddenly of B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. How did the CDC, FDA. EMA and WHO keep those data hidden??

For the love of god, somebody has to warn the mice!!

This research has all of the scientific rigor of the infamous (and retracted) Seralini paper, which purported to link cancers in mice to ingestion of GMO corn and glyphosate. Expect lots of social media posts by antivaxers showing mouse necropsy photos with enlarged organs, as in the Seralini affair.

The idea of huge organomegaly and death due to lymphoma manifesting in such a short period after vaccination is extremely far-fetched (apparently there were no mouse doctors in tiny lab coats available to give physical exams and CT scans to rodents participating in the experiment, to rule out pre-existing disease). Here’s a study of aggressive B-cell neoplasia in mice with genetic defects predisposing them to highly malignant lymphomas. Note the survival curves showing that all or virtually all study animals were alive two weeks into the study.

I like how Mr. Peters uses 7%, instead of just saying that it’s one mouse.

I’m sure it’s no surprise to most others here that deniers love percentages when the sample sizes are small, and raw counts otherwise, with both choices made to artificially inflate whatever dire consequences they claim exist.

…whenever you vaccinated hundreds of millions of people in a short period of time there will be cases of people who are diagnosed with cancer not long after vaccination just by random chance alone.

I’ll guess the researchers do know this, and they also realize that the gullible anti-vax folks [igor, john, mjd, etc] have no clue about randomness.

So you’re proud of your ignorance eh mjd? Not that surprising considering how often you put it on display.

“I’ll spare you the disgusting photos of the necropsy of the mouse that died”

Except that presumably those were the photos in the original tweet at the top of the article, right?

I’ll spare you the disgusting photos of the necropsy of the mouse that died

Aren’t those photos in the original tweet at the top of the article?

Great story!

My expertise around mice is mostly about how to catch them in my house, where they wander occasionally, especially in the fall.

That said, what is interesting about this cancerous mouse is that it had a lymphoma, of similar type as the cancer that affected Dr. Michel Goldman, a European immunologist and a Covid vaccine advocate, whose story was published in The Atlantic a while ago. (DID A FAMOUS DOCTOR’S COVID SHOT MAKE HIS CANCER WORSE)

What The Atlantic did not say is that likely, Dr. Goldman’s cancer started right when he received his second Pfizer shot in April of 2021, and was made worse by his booster shot in the fall.

A cancer that kills a mouse in two weeks is definitely a very fast cancer. Orac explains very well ==> “Let me just say one thing here. In all my previous years working with mouse tumor models, I am not aware of any that go from undetectable to killing the mouse in under 16 days. The fastest-growing mouse tumors that I’ve ever worked with had a doubling time on the order of a week, maybe a little less. The most likely explanation is that this mouse had the cancer developing even before being injected with the first dose of Pfizer vaccine.”

That’s fast!

Did this mouse get cancer prior to the injection? We cannot be sure. Yes, there was a one-day weight drop in this mouse prior to the injection, but that is not unusual, if you look at weight charts of other mice. They also experience similar random weight drops, but overall gain weight as they age, just like people.

My main complains about all Covid vaccine mouse experiments is that all animals were sacrificed shortly after injections. Mice are like time machines and they age 25 times faster than people. By keeping a few dozen vaccinated mice for 14 months, they would age by the equivalent of 37 years in humans.

If such mice were kept alive and followed, we could know, for example, that Covid vaccines do not present a long-term cancer danger to at least their species. That could, possibly, decrease vaccine hesitancy!

No such experiments were done, and even in the study described by Orac, the mice were scheduled to be sacrificed, except one died from a turbo-cancer and that was published.

We cannot really extrapolate this to people with any degree of certainty, but what if in the human age scale, covid vaccine would cause turbo-cancer in 1 out of 13 humans? That would NOT be a good thing (except for reductions in CO2 consumption) and we have no assurance that this would not happen. We could have some amount of such assurance if scientists could follow a few lab mice for a year.

“Yes, there was a one-day weight drop in this mouse prior to the injection”

One week. It dropped one week before the injection and continued for a while afterwards before plateauing.

This is only one of the ‘obviously didn’t pay attention to what was written’ moments in your post.

“What The Atlantic did not say is that likely, Dr. Goldman’s cancer started right when he received his second Pfizer shot”

What’s really worrying here is not that you don’t have any evidence for this, it’s that you don’t even realise that you need it.

You know that childrens toy? The plastic ball with the different shaped holes? Hours of fun for toddlers trying to stuff a crescent moon through a star shape. That’s you that is. If it says what you believe it slips neatly into your mind. If it doesn’t, you mash it through the same hole and claim it does.

“Yes, there was a one-day weight drop in this mouse”
No, it was a sustained decrease in body weight across most of the study period. That’s not “oh, we weighed #7 before it ate”, that is “this mouse is not gaining weight like the rest of the mice”.

That is a sick mouse, and frankly the researchers should have picked up on that difference during the trial and at least had the facility vet check it out, since a mouse that is already sick will mess with the results of the study (as seen here).

Using cancer prone mice for cancer testing won’t do. They are geneically prone to cancers.
If cancer would star immediatley afer vacinaion an develop that there would be a cancer epidemic now.

Is it just me, or are the crazies going off the rails more often, and punching the accelerator harder?

@ Matt G:

Yes they are.

I read articles/ hear broadcasts and am amazed at the cluelessness:
( AoA, today) Ann Dachel believes autism will bankrupt countries and then it will be noticed. In the old days, we never had these expenses- special ed teachers, adult placements, police training etc. She is over 70 and a teacher!

We didn’t have those expenses because people with autism were warehoused in institutions or struggled at home with family care. Some were able to barely get by in schools and by doing less skilled work.
She seems to miss the stories about institutions that were common and often, still exist as building complexes.

So many other BS stories recently

I thought of an analogy for anti-vaxxers’/ alties’ thought processes:
a student goes on the internet and reads an article about Impressionism: they find it intriguing and seek out other articles and images. After a year, they fancy themselves to be art experts and write about it on blogs and Twitter ( if it still exists), explaining artists’ ideas/ styles and their own reflections. One day they walk into a world class art museum looking for important paintings and are shocked that there are other forms of art. Perhaps they don’t even consider these “outliers* to be art at all.

If you only look at what you select and focus upon, you miss the actual meaning of the subject you think you’re exploring. ( see Orac’s scoffers)

Donald Trump is leading the polls for the GOP POTUS nomination by 50 percentage points. The GOP majority in the US House is doubling down on a “deep state” conspiracy theory that conservatives ( like, you know, the January 6 patriots) are being persecuted and the “Biden crime family” protected…. by the FBI.

I consider the larger (social, psychological) sickness of which those are symptoms to be a definitive answer to your question. COVID craziness is but one channel in a much larger river of off the rails acceleration.

I’d like to hear your take on what you think has led to the current state of affairs. Why now?
I may be wrong but are 30-40% of people consistently out of touch with reality on important issues?

I had an interaction with Orac about what signs show you an altie writer is already off the rails ( e.g. hiv/aids denialism, germ theory denialism etc)- there are surely signs for political and social issues.

You and I are fortunate because we live in less cray-cray towns. Imagine the alternative.

There are many flavors of denial causing increasing cray-cray. Virus denial is only one variant. The idea that the Earth is finite (and therefore infinite growth is physically impossible) is a near universal denial. Even the environmental groups rarely admit this, pretending that we can give up concentrated (and depleting) fossil fuels without having to change the way we live. I suspect the subconscious understanding that we have collectively rejected the environmental warnings of decades ago is part of the reason for our societal decline of mental health.

So in 2020 telling people that they / we are vulnerable to a “virus too small to be seen on a video camera” (quote from “Contagion” the movie) triggered all sorts of repressed fears that have never been dealt with. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The first three is where most are stuck at. Of course, viruses don’t care about anyone’s opinions or defense mechanisms.

If he really is unvaccinated against Covid, I’m waiting to see what sort of experience with the virus RFK Junior has. Will he get a Herman Cain Award or will he secretly get mRNA or Paxlovid to avert that tragedy …

I’m not completely sure about those environmental groups. I hear enough environmental groups saying we have change our ways and have to degrow. It is often economists, that warn that degrowth isn’t possible, without drastic measures, which the people don’t accept and are just possible in a dictatorship. They often want growth, because there is money needed to invest in climate friendly alternatives.

@ Denice
I don’t know about percentages overall — given that polling may not reflect people who just don’t pay attention to any of this, but nevertheless, even if it’s only 10%, there is a huge disturbing number of people off the rails. But it’s not just that they’re out of touch with reality, but that they inhabit an alternative reality that is upside down from empirical reality on these important issues. ‘Diseases are benign and vaccines kill,’ being the example at hand.

Perhaps instances of inversions are a tell of derailment across different subject matter, though distinguishing such from valid questioning of “conventional wisdom” may be tricky. (??)

I really only have guesses as to where this comes from but I’ve been thinking part of it is along the same line as Mark suggests: a deep subconscious apprehension of climate disaster. The crazy has certainly been accelerated by the pandemic, and not only has Mark offered a good concept of how peoples’ operative models of the world are undermined by threats too small to see, but one that parallels climate change — these are powerful threats that exist outside a scale of individual response. As individuals we may feel utterly helpless against them.

So again, when the repressed fears return, the resulting denial and anger flip things upside down: ‘science’ is offering hurtful lies, not helpful facts. (Also, a recognition that science had a big role in getting us into these messes comes out in deflected ways…)

I’d add to that a suggestion that the pandemic and the weather disasters may be tipping points of unease that’s been building for some time, since the dawn of the industrial revolution, urbanization, etc. One vivid memory I have from my freshman psych class was a film about social experiments done with mice, one of which involved putting a bunch of them in a crowded ‘mouse city’, resulting in many of them going ‘mouse crazy’. Then, as a boomer, I have to add growing up amid ‘duck and cover’ nuclear terror/insanity.

As a ‘critical theory’ academic, I can toss in a handful of ideas I’ll loosely gather under the rubric of dehumanization – alienation of labor, commodity fetishism, panopticism, “precession of simulacra”, “the hysterical sublime” etc. – which may be having some cumulative effect across generations.

Finally, as a media studies person, I’d acknowledge that dystopian effects of algorithm driven social media are a ‘usual suspect’ that is actually deserving.

IOW, I’m guessing this upside-down cray-cray is in theory-speak “overdetermined” or in more social-science-speak(?) “multifactoral”.

Where that leaves us, I dunno, but I gotta head out to my volunteer gig, so that’s all I’ve got for now.

Finally, as a media studies person, I’d acknowledge that dystopian effects of algorithm driven social media are a ‘usual suspect’ that is actually deserving.

Oh, definitely. The algorithms by design amplify material that gets the most “engagement,” which is often driven by emotional reaction, negative or positive. Conspiracy theories and misinformation are very good at producing such engagement.

Thanks for your excellent responses. Woo hoo.

I threw out 30-40% as a rough approximation of conjoined anti-vax/ political cray.

A few things I notice:
internet/ social media growth supplanted regular news for many people through democratisation of opinion writing/ citizen journalism and self-proclaimed experts which disseminates easily
and fits right in with a deep mistrust ( some of it justified) of government, science and even the arts ( conservative rejection of motion pictures/ music culture) leading to chaotic ‘news’ reportage.

The anti-expert trend also echoes distrust of higher education and professionals in general which is painfully apparent when you read woo/ anti-vax commentary on physicians and scientists as being criminal rather than benevolent. This rejection of expertise/ education seems to be somewhat biased towards one side in contradistinction to earlier eras when it was the left who “dropped out”.

Psychologists who study anti-vax/ CT believers point out a trend towards narcissist and paranoid ideas in these subjects. Possibly the environment described above may be a creation rather than a reaction by highly susceptible personalities to modern problems.

Amongst those I survey regularly there is idealisation of living on farms, traditional family roles, pure foods, occupations based in crafts and nostalgia – a vintage lifestyle – leaving realistic concerns of the good old days out of the picture. Some of the alties rely solely upon Nature which is often a code word for g-d.

Covid 19 has had demonstrable negative effects on human psychology. The fact that the same folks who sought out the disease are now suffering from increased mental infirmities is no surprise at all. We should not blame them for their increasingly erratic behavior and diminished ability to control their weird impulses – but we should take efforts to protect normal folks from them.

What strikes me about this study is how under-powered it was for its original purpose. For a phenomenon that occurs at about 10 cases per million vaccines, using 14 mice is a sure way to find nothing. Under-powered studies on animals are unethical in my opinion and it is high time ethics boards stopped approving them.

Yeah. Very underpowered. Like the Pfizer trial of 8 mice, on which the FDA based its approval of the “bivalent booster” to millions of credulous people.

on which the FDA based its approval of the “bivalent booster”

Provide proof — not your usual fact-free rambling, hard proof — that the single study you reference was enough for the FDA to vote approval.

You can’t — you’re just lying again, Igor, as usual.

Here’s the FDA presentation from Pfizer that was submitted to approve the BA.5-based bivalent.

Most of it describes data pertaining to the unrelated Ba1 based booster. Ba5 based data is very sparse and is on page CC-25 and describes a trial of eight mice.

By the way, ridiculously enough, the trial actually showed a FAILURE of the BA.5 booster to elicit consistent antibody response.

The bivalent booster was extremely INCONSISTENT when producing antibody responses against Ba.5 variant. Look at the rightmost bar. It uses a logarithmic scale.

The highest titer was about 22,000, the lowest titer was about 300. The difference (among only 8 mice) was 73 times! (despite the mice being very identical with identical vaccination histories)

Nobody besides me actually noticed it. I did, I wrote about it, and my post had 80,326 views and garnered 269 free susbcribers (I was not offering paid subscriptions at the time).

All mice were killed promptly after the experiment, instead of following them up to see if they would die from myocarditis, pericarditis, or turbo cancer.

“Nobody besides me actually noticed it. I did, I wrote about it, and my post had 80,326 views and garnered 269 free susbcribers (I was not offering paid subscriptions at the time).

Best David Attenborough voice:

And here, we see, the smug tit, in its natural habitat. Watch, as it plumps it’s plumage and performs its shuffling mating dance. It may be dull and tattered, but, in its own mind, it is a glorious bird of paradise.

Aarno, read that document closely, most pages discuss another unrelated “bivalent” booster based on Ba.1 variant.

Ba.5 data starts from page CC-16 in your document

What was the end-point of the Pfizer experiment, Igor?

Oh yes, it was pseudoviral neutralisation titre. How many mice will you need to determine with 95% confidence that a vaccination increases antibodies against the target, Igor? You claim to be good at this math stuff, Igor, you should be able to do the power calculation.

All mice were killed promptly after the experiment, instead of following them up to see if they would die from myocarditis, pericarditis, or turbo cancer.

What are the expected rates of these outcomes in mice vaccinated with mRNA vaccines, Igor? We know from humans the rate of myocarditis is about 10 in a million. There would be no point keeping the mice alive to measure such things, because they would be unlikely to be found.

You claim to have all this expertise, Igor, but when it comes to it, you are just another ignorant poseur.

Nah, he wants the mice to have been left alive to die of natural causes because rodents tend to die dramatically when they do and those dramatic deaths are what he wants.

‘One mouse died of convulsions!’ ‘One stopped eating and the next day was dead!’ ‘This one got huge tumors!’ ‘This one ended up paralyzed in its back half.’

I say this not as a medical expert or mouse expert, but as someone who kept pet rats. Lovely animals, but when they go they go fast and it tends not to be pleasant.

Thanks for the link.
I notice page 1 cites myopericarditis in the affected age group ( 12-29) after a second dose as 40.6 per million.
Whenever I look up rates of serious adverse events, I keep running into numbers like that HOWEVER anti-vaxxers usually leave the numbers out and instead discuss sudden deaths incorporating the base rate fallacy.

I received the one shot J&J and read about the blood clotting disorder which was found in a very small number of people in a particular category.
Don’t anti-vaxxers comprehend that when millions get a vaccine/ med, extremely rare side effects might crop up that didn’t show up when only 100s of thousands were studied?
Numbers are your friend, people.

My friend’s nephew died from a blood clot due to J&J, this kind of jumpstarted my anti-Covid-vax interest in May/June 2021

My friend’s nephew died from a blood clot due to J&J

Proof of the cause? [Not that I believe your story anyway, but based on your previous posts it’s a shame you didn’t visit this person and cause a “miraculous” recovery.]

Or he just died of a blood clot because did you know that happens sometimes?

Unpleasant as it is, sometimes people just die. it’s human nature to look for patterns, causes, reasons to explain things happening because the truth is that often, things just happen without reason or cause.

I know that can be frightening, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind when you try to understand the world around you.

Are you sure it was due to the vaccine? Wasn’t J&J associated with a very specific type of clotting disorder?
It’s a shame when anyone dies though whatever the cause. Sorry.

I cannot be sure it is due to vaccine, no. I did see that nephew at parties before but I did not interact with him personally. All I know is that it was a young guy in his 20’s.

He was autistic and worked at a company providing jobs to special needs people, parting out old PCs. One day a vaccination van or some such showed up and they were told to go vaccinate. He died a day or two thereafter.

I do not know him personally and experience no personal grief but it was a shocking event that made me highly uncomfortable about Covid vaccines.

He died around May 21-22 or 2021.

< blockquote> I cannot be sure it is due to vaccine, no

Ok, assume we believe your story about this death [I don’t, but pretend.] You can’t be sure it was due to vaccine, yet you present it as though the vaccine was the primary cause. Why? Because it brings you subscribers?

You have a habit of misrepresenting results of studies, referencing things that provide no support for your views, and flat out lying about things [“huge” numbers of excess deaths, dangers of vaccines, etc.] Your ‘regressions’ are a joke, inappropriately done, and you draw conclusions that wouldn’t be justified if the work had been appropriate. Based on your history here and at your constack blog, there is no reason to take anything you say seriously. IF you really did go to U Chicago, how did you fail so massively at learning anything?

“this kind of jumpstarted my anti-Covid-vax interest”

Igor’s antivax beliefs were no doubt festering long before that alleged event. You don’t dive down every available rabbit hole without a strong predisposition.

Don’t anti-vaxxers comprehend that when millions get a vaccine/ med, extremely rare side effects might crop up that didn’t show up when only 100s of thousands were studied?

No, they don’t. And, as the ones who post here show, they always believe that if some bad event follows a vaccination the vaccination caused it. They don’t need any fancy “science” or “statistics” to support their statements: they just know.

It could be an animated short. The evil CDC director Crazy Vax forces all the mice to be immunized against Covid-19. Ignatz develops turbo cancer, but before passing away, inspires all his fellow rodents to rise up and install fiercely pro-vaccine Robert Mouse, Jr. as lifetime leader of the Murine Republic, along with his faithful sidekick Del Mousetree.

It’s a natural for Andrew Wakefield’s 7th Chakra Films.

There’s an old joke about these sorts of studies that fits here:
“We gave our new drug to a group of mice. 33% of the mice got better. The drug had no effect on an additional 33% of the mice. The third mouse ran away.”

@ Igor Chudov

Besides what Orac wrote, here is another article refuting your typical stupid unscientific antivax position:

Reuters Fact Check (2022 Dec 14). No evidence COVID-19 vaccines cause ‘turbo cancer’.

And it has now been three years since outbreak of pandemic with no significant increases in cancer; however, there was an increase in cancer deaths because hospitals were short of staff and focusing on COVID, so many went untreated or delayed treatment.

However, in one respect you are right. Vaccines sort of contribute to cancer because cancer mostly occurs in older people and vaccines prevent people from dying young from infectious diseases.

” However, in one respect….. infectious diseases”
Best retort ever.

@Joel A. Harrison:

Some vaccines surely don’t increase cancer incidence … the ones that actively prevent cancer, like the hepatitis vaccines and Gardasil.

@ Carl Fink

Of course I am well-aware that some vaccines prevent cancer. I am old and tired and just don’t write everything in my comments

I have been a supporter of vaccines since 1955 when I got polio vaccine. Prior to that my mother would not allow me to go to municipal swimming pool, movies, etc. during polio season. And I have a dozen books and 100s of papers on polio, history, vaccines, etc. Same with smallpox, personally got three times smallpox vaccine, latest 1975 and most recently was volunteer in Moderna COVID trials and have gotten booster, Omicron bivalent, and booster and plan in Sept to get next booster as well as RSV vaccine and flu shot.

@ Igor Chudov

You give anecdotes; e.g., second COVID shot cancer worsens. What you don’t understand and refuse to understand is if we had info on every cancer patient in world, we would find non-causal associations based on a myriad of events. For instance, if someone drinks orange juice and has doctor visit that morning and discovered cancer worsened, did the orange juice cause it? NOPE! Everything occurs after something.

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “Yeah. Very underpowered. Like the Pfizer trial of 8 mice, on which the FDA based its approval of the “bivalent booster” to millions of credulous people.”

Actually they gave boosters to people and measured their antibody titers.

Not Ba.5 based boosters — those were only tested on 8 mice – see my another reply (search for “CC-25”)

Not Ba.5 boosters – reaction to those was ONLY measured in 8 Pfizer mice and 10 Moderna mice

@ Igor Chudov

I won’t bother doing further research. I understand immunology, thus vaccines. Getting a booster of the same vaccine is as safe as one can get. Yep, nothing is totally safe, so, perhaps, 1 in a million will have an adverse reaction; but despite your total dishonesty, the vaccines have save literally many millions of lives, so if booster harms a minuscule number, sad; but worth it.

If anyone follows your stupid unscientific non-understanding of immunology, etc. and doesn’t get vaccinated and dies, as far as I’m concerned you are a murderer.


A lot of mice have died suddenly at our place in the past couple of years.

They only wander into traps because they were dazed by our shed spike proteins from vaccinations.

The image Orac uses at the beginning of this post reminds MJD of randomness. Specifically, look at the dark speck located on the submerged needle. Now, what would happen if that dark speck was a dislodged piece of the vial septum made from natural rubber latex?

@ Idw56old,

Is the randomness of vaccine solution contamination from vaccine packaging acceptable?

First mjd, I have no reason to believe you have any understanding of randomness, probability, and statistics.

Second: You haven’t asked a well defined question: are you implying any randomness in manufactured items is unacceptable? If so, you are an idiot. [Ok, given your fixation on latex issues as causes of everything, and the crap you pay to publish, the conclusion of your idiocy is a sure thing, but

Third: What are you trying to imply about packaging? That it is all the same?

Fourth: What metric would you propose using?

Finally, it’s pretty clear that, as always, you’re not asking an honest question, but trying to set things up to flog another of your bogus bits of “research”. Follow Narad’s suggestion in [post of July 14, 1:39pm]

Idw56old writes,

“Finally, it’s pretty clear that, as always, you’re not asking an honest question, but trying to set things up to flog another of your bogus bits of “research”’.

MJD says,

That hurts, Idw56old. As a coincidence, I’ve just published a review article titled “Allergy-assisted cancer therapy.”

@ Orac,

Thanks for allowing MJD to share his perspective on randomness and coincidence.

So you were looking for a way to flog your bullshit. No surprise there.

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