Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Medicine

Quoth Phillip Buckhaults: Oh, no! There’s DNA in COVID-19 vaccines!

It’s back! Just when you thought the “DNA in vaccines” stupidity had subsided, it’s back, courtesy of Dr. Phillip Buckhaults.

Here we go again with yet another viral video fear mongering about COVID-19 vaccines. This one features someone of whom I don’t recall having heard before, a Dr. Phillip Buckhaults, a faculty member at the University of South Carolina, who testified before South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Ad-Hoc Committee on DHEC last week. Here’s the video that’s been all over the antivax crankosphere today:

Here we go again, or maybe I should say: Once more into the fray!

Before I dig into the claims made in this video, in which Dr. Buckhaults resurrects fear mongering about DNA contamination in COVID-19 vaccines, an old antivax trope repurposed for COVID-19 vaccines thanks to another scientist gone rogue named Kevin McKernan, with help from one of the earliest purveyors of antivax disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Peter McCullough, let me just mention that it’s gone viral. Personally, I discovered this video because of two sources, one familiar and unexpected, one familiar and expected. Let me start with the familiar and unexpected source first:

Because this is a Blue Check account and can post much longer bits on the platform formerly known as Twitter, let me quote it all for those who do not have an X account:

I listened to Dr. Phil Buckhaults’ over 30 minute testimony and Q and A in South Carolina and saw good science raising concerns about contamination of COVID mRNA vaccine with DNA. South Carolina is fortunate to have @P_J_Buckhaults who raises safety concerns related to billions of pieces of DNA in each @pfizer vaccine vial. He suggests that better @US_FDA, @CDCgov and State oversight is needed. He explains how pieces of naked DNA allowed in protein vaccines at a certain threshold was not so problematic in a different era but that with encapsulation in liposomes they can now easily get into cells. If they get into cells they can integrate in the genome which is permanent, heritable and has a theoretical risk of causing cancer depending on where in the genome they integrate. There is need for more research into what happens in stem cells and I would add germ-line, heart, brain etc. I am also concerned about prolonged production of spike for months with the paeudouridine in the more stable RNA. Is it too much or just the right amount (for everyone?) This point was raised by

@P_McCulloughMD Blood clots, myocarditis, cardiac arrests and other adverse effects are documented. To have adequate informed consent, individuals need to know risks versus benefits and this is part of the concern. As @P_J_Buckhaults says, it may be OK for elderly at high risk of death from COVID but perhaps less so for younger people. Do athletes need better precautions? Why are some at higher risk for bad outcomes? Is it 5%, 10% and why? @P_McCulloughMD has raised those issues.

@theNASEM @NIH SC Senate Hearing – USC Professor Dr. Phillip Buckhaults

Prof. Wafik El-Deiry is an unexpected source to be so credulous about this because he is an oncologist and cancer biologist whose work influenced me as a graduate student 20 years ago and who is now the director of the Legorreta Cancer Center at Brown University. We first met him a long time ago opining on whether cancer research might be playing it too safe. More recently, I quoted one of his X posts (Tweets?) when he expressed concern about SV40 from DNA contaminants getting into cells and causing cancer. I expressed amazement that he would say something like this about tiny fragments of plasmids (circular DNA molecules into which the cDNA for genes encoding proteins of interest are often inserted in order to amplify in DNA) given his background as a cancer researcher who made seminal observations regarding the tumor suppressor genes p53 and p21.

In retrospect, I suppose that I shouldn’t have, because he’s doing it again. Still, even though Prof. El-Deiry is a familiar source now with a track record of credulity towards such claims, I was still nearly gobsmacked at how far down the rabbit hole he’s now gone. Seriously? Tagging Dr. McCullough, apparently unaware of how much of an antivax conspiracy theorist he is? Regurgitating antivax talking points echoing the “died suddenly” conspiracy theory about COVID-19 vaccines supposedly causing unprecedented numbers of athletes to drop dead? (Hint, they’re not.) This is not good at all. In fact, it’s very, very bad. Prof. El-Deiry should be embarrassed.

He’s not. He doubled down:

Yikes. And I thought this man was a master of molecular biology!

And then this:

Yikes! Does Prof. El-Deiry that this bit about “sweeping generalizations” and, in particularly, his final question (“Are there nuances for children vs the elderly?”) is classic antivax rhetoric? I assume that he doesn’t. After all, he wouldn’t be the first scientist to find such rhetoric, divorced from a deep understanding of the issues involved in designing a vaccine program, to be compelling. (Cough, cough, Vinay Prasad, cough, cough.)

The familiar but expected source is an antivaxxer whom we’ve met before, Maryanne Demasi. When last we met her this spring, she was attacking scientific consensus as a “manufactured construct.” Unfortunately, she has a fairly long history of antivax stylings; so it was no surprise at all that she would be doing her darnedest to amplify a bit of antivax disinformation like the “DNA in vaccines” fear mongering. In any event, she has a Substack (because of course she does) and featured Dr. Buckhaults in a recent post entitled Researchers “alarmed” to find DNA contamination in Pfizer covid-19 vaccine. I can’t help but note that the word “researchers” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here, as in reality I am only aware of two or three “researchers” who are particularly “alarmed” at this finding, and, although I don’t know Dr. Buckhaults’ proclivities (yet), I know that two of them (e.g., Dr. McCullough) are raving antivax cranks. However many “researchers” are “alarmed,” let’s see what Ms. Demasi wrote about the testimony before delving into the video itself:

Phillip Buckhaults, a cancer genomics expert, and professor at the University of South Carolina has testified before a South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Ad-Hoc Committee saying that Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine is contaminated with billions of tiny DNA fragments.

Buckhaults, who has a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, said “there is a very real hazard” that these fragments of foreign DNA can insert themselves into a person’s own genome and become a “permanent fixture of the cell.”

He said it’s a plausible mechanism for what might be “causing some of the rare but serious side effects like death from cardiac arrest” in people following mRNA vaccination.

Buckhaults is not an alarmist and has been reluctant to go public with his findings for fear of frightening people.

He himself was vaccinated three times with Pfizer’s covid vaccine and recommended it to family and friends. He described the mRNA platform technology as “revolutionary” and said the vaccine has saved many lives.

“I’m a real fan of this platform,” Buckhaults told the Senate. “I think it has the potential to treat cancers, I really believe that this platform is revolutionary. In your lifetime, there will be mRNA vaccines against antigens in your unique cancer. But they’ve got to get this problem fixed.”

Ah, yes, the “I’m not an ‘alarmist'” trope that is inevitably followed by alarmism, coupled with the “I was vaccinated and so can’t be antivax” trope. Very nice. Very effective. Very old. I’ve heard this sort of patter so many times before dating back up to nearly two decades.

I could tell that Dr. Buckhaults was drifting into denialist territory early on in the video when he repeatedly claimed that the “Pfizer vaccine did a pretty good job of keeping people from dying but it did a terrible job of stopping the pandemic,” trotting out the whole claim that it didn’t stop transmission at all and “only lasted a month.” After that, he described how the vaccine was “contaminated” with DNA. What I found odd, however, is where he got the vials of vaccine to test:

The Pfizer vaccine is contaminated with plasma DNA. It’s not just mRNA; it’s got bits of DNA in it. This DNA is the DNA vector that was used as the template for the in vitro transcription reaction when they made the mRNA. I know this is true because I sequenced it in my own lab the vials of Pfizer vaccine that were given out here in Colombia. One of my colleagues was in charge of that vaccination program in the College of Pharmacy, and, for reasons that I still don’t understand, he kept every single vial. So he had a whole freezer full of the empty vials. Well, the empty vials have a little tiny bit in the bottom of them. He gave them all to me, and I looked at them. We had two batches that were given out here in Colombia, and I checked these two batches, and I checked them by sequencing. I sequenced all the DNA that was in the vaccine, and I can see what’s in there. It’s surprising that there’s any DNA in there and you can kind of work out what it is and how it got there. I’m kind of alarmed about the possible consequences of this both in terms of human health and biology but you should be alarmed about the regulatory process that allowed it to get there.

So let me get this straight. A faculty member in the college of pharmacy kept all the vials after the vaccine had been administered? Here’s where chain of custody and storage conditions become very important. As Dr. Buckhaults points out himself in his testimony, DNA is much more stable than RNA in solution. If these vials of used up vaccine containing small amounts of vaccine left over weren’t stored properly, the tendency would be for the RNA to degrade much more rapidly than any DNA, thus apparently elevating the DNA-to-RNA ratio in the solution. It’s the very same issue that I wondered about when Kevin McKernan—remember him?—started the fear mongering about DNA fragments from the plasmids used to generate the mRNA in COVID-19 vaccines. I pointed out that McKernan tested two vials of expired Pfizer vaccine and two vials of expired Moderna vaccine. I noted that he said almost nothing about where he got the vials or how they had been stored. These things matter, particularly if you’re going to do assays as sensitive as PCR can be.

Issues of storage of the vaccines aside, Dr. Buckhaults presented this slide early on:

Buckhaults cancer
Tell me you are fear mongering about DNA without telling me you are fear mongering about DNA

First of all, there is zero evidence or biological plausibility to link minuscule amounts of short fragments of DNA to cardiac arrest or sudden death. This is just wild speculation on Dr. Buckhaults’ part. So is the part about insertional mutagenesis, the process by which DNA can insert itself into the genome and introduce mutations. Here’s the thing. Insertional mutagenesis can only lead to cancer if the mutation either activates or increases the expression of oncogenes (cancer-causing genes) or inactivates tumor suppressor genes. These genes only take up a small percentage of the genome, and the mutations have to be of very specific types to have even a chance of inducing cancer. In other words, it’s a very inefficient process, particularly in cells that do not divide, like the muscle cells into which vaccines are injected. What he’s blathering about sounds scary but is incredibly unlikely.

And that bit about autoimmunity? It’s a very old antivax trope about DNA somehow recombining in the nucleus to produce fusions between foreign and human genes that result in non-self proteins that can provoke an immune response. Basically, it’s “molecular mimicry” by HPV vaccines, and “homologous recombinaltion tiniker” all over again. (That latter one briefly became a meme used to mock antivaxxers because of the misspelling.) Yes, it’s Sin Han Lee all over again when a decade ago he used an incredibly sensitive nested PCR assay prone to false positives to “prove” that there was “fetal DNA” in Gardasil, even though what he discovered, if legit, was still such an incredible small quantity of DNA left over from the cell line used in the manufacture of the vaccine as to be harmless. In order to leave no potential mechanism, no matter how, left out, Dr. Buchaults even speculates that the DNA might even get into stem cells to make the cancer risk so much worse and even advocates testing people’s stem cells to look for these fragments, while bluntly stating, ““And I will not get the vaccine again myself unless I get a batch and find out that it’s free of DNA,”

Because minute amounts of random DNA fragments are so scary. So very, very scary.

I’m especially calling bullshit on the autoimmunity part, given this graph that Dr. Buckhaults showed:

Buckhaults fragment size

What this shows is that the average size of the DNA fragments found in the vaccine is around 120 base pairs, with a long tail out to some larger sizes. Remember, these are fragments of a plasmid, most of which doesn’t code for relevant protein, which is why I laughed when Dr. Buckhaults said:

The autoimmunity thing is not my wheelhouse I’m not an immunologist but the cancer risk is that’s my bag I know this is a thing and it is a possibility

“The autoimmunity thing is not my wheelhouse”? That’s an understatement!

Like McKernan, Dr. Buckhauts goes on to fear monger using large numbers, estimating that in each vaccine there are two billion copies of the small fragment that he did quantitative PCR to measure and possibly as much as 200 billion fragments altogether. Scary! Well, probably not, even if true. Do I have to whip out Avogadro’s number (6.023 x 1023/mole) again to tell you just how much this is? (2 x 109)/(6.023 x 1023/mole) = 3.3 x 10-15 mole or 3.3 femtomole, an incredibly tiny amount. Even 100 times that—200 billion!—would only be 3.3 x 10-13 mole, or 0.33 picomole, again a very small quantity. Certainly, expressing the quantity of DNA fragments claimed to have been found as femtomole or picomole quantities would not have sounded nearly as scary as “billions and billions” of fragments.

Also, as has been pointed out, the data regarding DNA content of the vaccines has long been known to regulatory authorities, for example:

In other words, it’s a nonissue.

I was amused when Dr. Buckhaults was asked whether he had tried to publish his data in a peer-reviewed journal or not or whether he was planning to. I bet you nkow the answer to that one:

No and no. they’re not as of now they are interesting and concerning but not they don’t rise to the level of a peer-reviewed publication. The most likely, the best possible outcome would be that I would check with a bunch of people and find out it never integrated and this is not a problem and then it will never be published because papers don’t publish negative results. Kind of the worst outcome is, I can check with a bunch of people and I find out it integrated and it’s caused these horrible things and yeah then I’ll get a paper and be famous. But I’m hoping that that’s not the way it goes.

Even Dr. Buckhaults appears to know, deep down, that what he’s doing here is bad science and unlikely to be published—but not for the reasons that he goes on to complain about, such as “perverse incentives in academia” and the lack of a desire to publish negative results. Rather, I bet he never publishes because he knows that his work won’t pass muster. It’s a win-win bet on my part. If he doesn’t publish, I know for sure that my assessment of Dr. Buckhaults’ work is likely accurate. If he does publish, I might learn something. But he won’t publish, and, likely, neither will Dr. McKernan. Then they’ll claim it’s “censorship” or “fear” of publishing anything casting doubt on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, the usual antivax suspects will continue to use results like this to spread fear of COVID-19 vaccines.

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]

57 replies on “Quoth Phillip Buckhaults: Oh, no! There’s DNA in COVID-19 vaccines!”

I am. Well, as soon as my preferred local pharmacy gets the latest booster in; they’re expecting a shipment next week, so I’m hoping to schedule for next Friday (like our esteemed host, I prefer to schedule my boosters on a Friday so I can recover over the weekend).

The following is completely anecdotal, but that’s a kind of data, right?

I had a fairly strong reaction to the original two-dose Pfizer series. I happened to get them on a Friday, and I wound up being glad of that, because I felt like crap the next two days. After that, I was fine. No myocarditis or anything. I’ve had every recommended booster since then, and each time it seemed to hit me less hard. After the last booster, I felt kind of tired and a bit out of it the next day, but unlike previous doses, I was up and around and pursuing my normal weekend activities.

The upside of at most a couple of days feeling like crap after each shot? I’ve never had Covid, or at least if I did, it was completely asymptomatic.

I also conscientiously masked when and where recommended, followed social distancing guidelines, and got into a habit I still have of frequent hand washing.

Of course, I don’t actually know which if any of those practices, or what combination of them, resulted in me personally never having had symptomatic Covid. Maybe I just won the genetic lottery and happen to be highly resistant to this particular virus.

But I still plan on getting a Covid booster whenever it’s recommended, along with my annual flu vaccine, and any other recommended vaccines as I get older and new vaccines are formulated.

I am. For the same reason I get a flu vaccine every year.

It sure beats having a week at home feeling sick and miserable.

Frankly only idiots, in my opinion, would prefer to catch COVID, rather than get a vaccine and reduce the risk of getting ill.

Less frequently, for a shorter time and typically less severely though.

I mean nothing is certain, but when I drive to work in the morning I still put on my seat belt and remember to use my turn signal. I might still die in a car crash, but taking precautions makes that less likely.

Or do you think that it’s better to get sick worse, for longer and be more likely to suffer long term issues? Because that’s what you seem to be suggesting here, that you want as many people to get as sick as possible.

…wait a minute, are you one of the omnicidal maniacs that Igor is so worried about? Is your plan to try and convince people to take actions that put themselves as well as others at risk of harm?

Seems odd how you say this but what’s been happening around myself, friends and family is the complete opposite. People who have taken the vxn are prone more to having bad bouts when they have cvd… at home in bed.
37% of our medical staff had time off with reactions to the Pfizer vxn…

I often lurk around space-science posts on Zuckerberg’s Wretched Hive, and I see this tactic quite a bit — variations of “Who even believes in the moon landing any more?”.

I suppose false appeals to popularity can be effective in persuading some people, especially the ignorant and weak-minded.

As far as what-used-to-be-Twitter terminology, what I’ve seen which is like is Replacing “Tw” with “X” and pronouncing it the way it is on several non-English languages, like Chinese (not sure which form), Spanish (Mayan?), etc. etc. where it’s pronounced like “Sh”. So “Shitter” and a “tweet” becomes “shee-it” (picture a stereotypical southerner from a movie saying “shit” in an elongated way).

Orac, Orac, Orac…..don’t you have anything better to do than rave about “antivaxers”? Smell the roses? Feel the sun on your face? Go fishing?

Since apparently you don’t have anything better to do, as evidenced by your copious self righteous, sanctimonious drivel, I will offer you context, to address your apparent incredulousness that people listen to so called “cranks”. It is unlikely I am sure, but perhaps mulling this over may inspire you to contemplate something else, like how nice the sun on your face feels. Btw, when I use the term “cranks” you are a definitive example of a crank.

I know, I know, you think a “crank” is one who is “anti science”, a ludicrous definition since it’s based on anyone who embraces skepticism in pursuit of executing science….rather an oximoron considering skepticism is the very foundation of true science.

A “crank” isn’t for or against anything….science or otherwise. A crank is one who is totally oblivious, and willfully blind, to their one dimensional thinking. A crank is one completely self absorbed in a one dimensional view of reality, and thus pontificates endlessly about that one dimension. Cranks aren’t necessarily “wrong”. The problem with cranks is, they do believe they are completely ” right”, when the fact is, there is no such absolute in just about anything.

In your case, vaccines and COVID appear to be your passion and one dimensional prison. You conflate so called “antivax” attitudes with “anti-science”….and thus you construct the perfect straw man boogey man, the bespoke free range “antivaxer” in the wild, of which you rail and rave against, as if the entire horror of wrong think would be cured with right think, if only such “antivaxers” would cop on to “science”.

Science has nothing to do with it…and the fact you are oblivious to this reality is why you too are a prime example of a crank. Like all cranks, you are oblivious to context. In the case of your passion….vaccines generally and COVID vaccine specifically, the context for people’s views isn’t science at all (and that includes you)….the context is whether one subscribes to societal establishments. Establishments in this context are the narratives that evolve among people sharing common beliefs. The establishment you are defending isn’t science at all….it’s the establishment behind our public health, and the establishment that caused the unmitigated disaster of the COVID pandemic response (and probably caused the pandemic to begin with).

You are incredulous that “antivaxers” exist…. particularly learned individuals as you cite in this post. Why so? The fact is, you never, not once, not so much as a word, expound on anything wrong with the COVID response. Hence, you, and all the other “experts” you embrace are seen by a substantial portion of the population as nothing more than shills for the establishment that caused far, far, more harm during pandemic than did help the situation.

If you honestly don’t see why people have lost faith in societal establishments….if you truly are oblivious to the fact our public health establishment, political establishment, and media establishment exhibit zero introspection, let alone accountability, for the disaster that was the COVID pandemic response, well then, you win the award for first class crank.

People may be misguided when it comes to listening to the McCollughs of the world. But, those same people can plainly see how corrupt the establishment order is. It destroyed so much over the pandemic. We literally live in the context of “before” the pandemic and “after” the pandemic. Everything has changed thanks to the incompetent and unscientific response to the pandemic. There has been no reckoning. No accountability. No repercussions. And you, the self righteous “truth sayer” never utters a single word about this fact. Your one dimensional message is : believe..we are “right”….we are “science”.

And you take umbrage with why folks are skeptical of just shutting up, accepting the views of the Orac cranks, rolling up sleeves, as a dubious, if not pointless, injection slides under skin, while they breath fetid air through a pointless mask? Really?

Orac, Orac, Orac…..don’t you have anything better to do than rave about “antivaxers”? Smell the roses? Feel the sun on your face? Go fishing?

What makes you think that I don’t also do things like this. Oh wait. I do. Like my 25 mile bike rides over the weekend and other extracurricular activities/hobbies besides writing this blog, such as photography and weight lifting? One could be equally justified in ask you why you take the time to write nearly 700 word rants to post the comments section of a blog, where they’ll only be seen by a subset of the blog’s readers—and then only if I, the benevolent dictator of the blog, allow it.

Your science-free rant is noted and, as usual, easily dismissed.

Reminds me of wooists whose arguments are thoroughly demolished and then flounce off, saying “I have better things to do with my time” – after a diarrheic output of bullshit.

I get a big laugh at the slack-jawed astonishment that anti-health activists express when they encounter someone who can devote a little time each day to smack them down; Portnoy’s complaint (get it!) seems to be that Orac can expose Portnoy’s deficiencies during a brief break between actually challenging tasks, and that’s just so unfair. Sorry dude.

Oh, well. Back to work.

It’s a very old crank technique to discredit doctors who refute their BS. They used to use it all the time back when I first started the blog, nearly 19 years ago.

“A “crank” isn’t for or against anything….science or otherwise. A crank is one who is totally oblivious, and willfully blind, to their one dimensional thinking. A crank is one completely self absorbed in a one dimensional view of reality, and thus pontificates endlessly about that one dimension. Cranks aren’t necessarily “wrong”. The problem with cranks is, they do believe they are completely ” right”, when the fact is, there is no such absolute in just about anything”

I have to say that this is the most accurate thing I’ve seen posted by Portnoy bliss. The lack of self awareness is astonishing but I suppose that’s the point.

Your assumption that Portnoy lacks self-awareness is naive. So many pro-science pro-public-health folks just can’t figure out how the other side works. Portnoy’s post is dripping with self-awareness. I dare say it couldn’t have been written in that form without it. The thing is Portnoy not only just doesn’t care about the contradiction, but revels in it, and no doubt is engaged in smug self-congratulation at their cleverness in turning the critique of crankery back at Orac (and, by extension, the rest of us).

The cleverness includes defining crankery as willful blindness to the one-dimensionality of their thinking. On the contrary, cranks can’t help but be made aware of their obsessiveness as they interact with others, be that in conflict with those who don’t share their monomania, or in positive reinforcement of those who do. They celebrate their single-mindedness.

The most accurate thing Portnoy notes and flips about crankery is:

the context for people’s views is whether one subscribes to societal establishments… the narratives that evolve among people sharing common beliefs

As I keep pointing out, to understand their rhetoric you have to realize their statements are not truth claims, not ‘about’ their manifest content. Their significance lies in the act of making them. More specifically, they are provocations, acts of verbal aggression… volleys from one social formation against the supposed Big Bad Whatever.

You can think of this is a related phenomenon to teenagers saying something “stupid” just to anger their parents. More directly akin examples are now dominating right-wing propaganda — a very deliberate attempt to turn everything upside down. Trumper (i.e. fascist) Jim Jordan accuses the Democrats of weaponizing the Federal Government. Freedom of Speech becomes code for accomodating bullying and worse. Civil rights activists are the real racists. And on and on. It’s gaslighting. The gross hypocrisy, the obliteration of irony are not bugs, but features. And yes, people like Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson know exactly what they’re doing.

Yet, Igor e.g. will continue to post his antivax conspiracy posts here, and the minions will continue to call him stupid and complain that he doesn’t learn from the debunking offered here on the science facts. But his posts only present the superficial form of being about knowledge, of existing in s domain in which ‘learning’ is s relevant value. They’re demonstrations of partisanship and power – specifically the power to make truth and fact and all that good stuff irrelevant.

“They’re demonstrations of partisanship and power – specifically the power to make truth and fact and all that good stuff irrelevant.”

A troll posturing in front of his his mates then?

John, ain’t nobody making you stay and read. You can leave whenever you want and never think about any of us ever again.
The exits are thataway! (Spins in a circle.)

Just a couple of comments, Portnoy:

Orac, Orac, Orac…..don’t you have anything better to do than rave about “antivaxers”? Smell the roses? Feel the sun on your face? Go fishing?

I caught COVID-19 about a month ago. I thought it was my allergic rhinitis acting up but I did a test later which came up positive. While I was symptomatic, I was on a 6 day backpacking trip in Yellowstone (Bechler River Traverse). Got through it okay with a little more fatigue than usual, nothing major.
Yes, I felt the sun on my face and smelt the fresh air and vegetation. I am up to date on all the boosters, which is likely why I didn’t end up on a ventilator in an ICU somewhere in Wyoming, despite my age (senior).
I’m glad I took the vaccines. Not much sun and fresh air in an ICU.

Orac is a prolific writer, researcher and surgeon. He also describes other non-medical activities he is undertaking. Perhaps the old quotation, attributed to multiple authors, applies here:

“If you want something done, ask a busy person”

Made an appointment for the newest booster last night. Was both pleased and disappointed that I have to wait a full month because demand was so high in my area.

I had the previous booster Aug 9. When the two months (I think that’s the time) is up I’ll get the new one.

A crank is one who is totally oblivious, and willfully blind, to their one dimensional thinking.

That’s you bliss: willfully ignorant, uneducated about the issues, and willfully dishonest

Yeah, it just became available here. I need to pick a Friday to get it. (I always do it on Fridays, in case I feel crappy the night after, which has happened with most of the shots.

I normally read this blog without commenting, John, so I’m very familiar with your schtick. But this is just too much.

You will use a financial motive to discredit anything that supports vaccines in any way. But when it comes to a health insurance company, a company which profits by withholding care, you don’t question their motive for withholding care for a second.

In any case it looks like you were misrepresenting this story as well, which is no great surprise. Denying coverage? Not so much, it appears that what’s happening is they’re slow to update their paperwork. They don’t have the billing codes for the new vaccines yet. That’s it. You so badly wanted this to be evidence that at least the insurance companies, among the most hated companies in the country, agree with you. Nope, it was just a bureaucratic holdup.

CICP would cover non imbursed costs (including lost working days). Go to there, if there is an actual side effect.

“Crazy that some insurance won’t cover, 🤔”

Nobody in the US has to pay for the Fall Booster:

Private insurance companies are mandated to cover this vaccine with no copay.
Uninsured or underinsured adults: CVS/Walgreens are required by federal law to cover your vaccine at no cost to you, thanks to the new “Bridge Program”.
Uninsured or underinsured kids: “Vaccines for Children” cover all kid’s vaccines, not just Covid-19, for those that cannot pay.

And I don’t even live in the US.
Thanks for playing though.

Anti-GMOers also profess fear of DNA (foreign! genetically engineered!) coursing through our precious bodily fluids and altering our genomes. After all, DNA from the plant and animal foods we eat is not completely broken down during digestion and billions, or even trillions of DNA fragments enter the bloodstream daily and are carried to our organs, causing who knows what mayhem!

Not to worry though.,without%20having%20any%20known%20effect.

El-Deiry: “I am also concerned about prolonged production of spike for months”

I’m puzzled by this claim, a favorite of antivaxers who simultaneously hype the vaccines’ waning effectiveness over time. If vaccinated people’s bodies were churning out spike proteins over such a long period (or indefinitely), a single shot would be all we’d need for protection.

But it doesn’t work that way.

Why oh why must they show up in a crappy lab coat? This isn’t 1970. It has long-since lost its power to mesmerize…

I noticed the lab coat right away.

But we all know that testifying before a committee can turn into a pretty messy business when the bodily fluids start flying everywhere.

As a lab scientist my response whenever I see a lab coat out in the wild is “eww” – because to lab folk your lab coat is something worn only in the working lab spaces, never anywhere near food/offices. (A common rule is “no lab coats on the carpet”.)

Even Dr. Buckhaults appears to know, deep down, that what he’s doing here is bad science and unlikely to be published—but not for the reasons that he goes on to complain about, such as “perverse incentives in academia” and the lack of a desire to publish negative results.

Going straight to legislators with data that you’re unlikely to publish is by definition bad science; he’s avoiding any sort of review or replication and using his credentials to impact public policy directly. That should be grounds for stripping credentials. He ostensibly knows better. If you stand by your work, you should be willing to subject it to peer review. No frontier result becomes core science without that.

Philip K. Dick said reality is that which continues to exist when one stops believing in it. Also worth remembering that 45 and also the Governor of Flori-Duh are both on record saying vaccines keep nearly everyone out of the hospital. And nearly all of the top Republicans were vaccinated, as soon as they could be. Their followers? Not as much, and the death disparities show it.

Looks like it.
— alties/ anti-vaxxers I follow sound quite right wing, even those who started out somewhat liberal. They replay extreme videos and present guests who sound like that- preppers, sovereign citizens, gold bugs etc ( NN, They used to partially appeal to left leaning granola/ naturalista moms. Many rants about woke, trans, grooming “crimes” often with a conservative Chistian slant.
— Rand Paul has a new book about Fauci called Deception: The Great Covid Coverup, aping RFKjr’s perhaps?
— liberals are universally despised on these sites; conservatives applauded
— like right wing media, they attack Ukraine and the US/ UK/ EU’s position contra Putin. They hate Canadian, Australian, NZ PH and some leaders- Trudeau, Ardern especially.

Sometimes they sound more political than health oriented.

Two reminders:
A. The tweets you have above showing it’s a non-issue are from July 2023. It is now September. Dr. Buckhaults has been making this claims since July, had them answered then, and should have known when he went to the legislature that this is a non-issue.

B. As you said in other posts, COVID-19 vaccines undergo a lot of scrutiny, and that scrutiny does not show a causal connection to heart attacks (though it does to rare – and usually, though not alway, mild – cases of myocarditis) or autoimmunity.

Speaking of Covid vaccines and the heart: there’s a newly published study in a Nature journal in which pathologists found PCR evidence of Covid vaccines in the hearts of autopsied patients, and antivaxers are going to town on it.

While I’m a non-expert when it comes to evaluating research and am not at the exalted level of Mass. General pathologists, I see multiple problems with this study, including small numbers of patients evaluated, a disproportionately tiny control group, and lack of localization of vaccine marker(s) to the apparently small areas of myocardial damage reported. Add in that the authors thought the spots of damage were likely due to pre-existing conditions (and not the vaccines), and that no deaths were attributable to vaccines, and there doesn’t seem to be much raw meat for antivaxers, not that they’ll care.

Would be interested to hear other pathologists weigh in on the article (expecting to see endorsements by the likes of Ryan Cole and Clare Craig any time now).

Update re Dr. Buckhaults: he’s not happy about the negative attention he’s gotten for his DNA-in-vaccines alarm. The good doctor has reminded us (on Twitter) of sacrifices he’s made for the sake of Truth, quoting a famous passage from Kipling:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

This hilarious bid for martyrdom is accompanied by a link to an “exclusive” Substack interview Buckhaults granted to Maryanne Demasi, a repeat contributor of antivax writings to the Brownstone Institute. It’s an odd choice of interviewer for someone who insists that he’s not antivaccine.

[…] 75% of infants hospitalized with COVID-19 born to unvaccinated women Cause of increased heart risk from COVID infection revealed Nobel Prize Awarded to Covid Vaccine Pioneers “We Can’t Eat Prestige”: Inside the Unionization of the Science Museum of Minnesota Magpie swooping: Inside the Australian bird’s annual reign of terror Quoth Phillip Buckhaults: Oh, no! There’s DNA in COVID-19 vaccines! […]

I don’t understand how this dude has a PhD in anything related to genetics, and is completely neglecting how recombinant DNA as a process works. His “theoretical concept” is NOT HOW IT WORKS when there are no restriction enzymes or DNA ligase involved! It’s ridiculous!

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