Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Medicine

Shedding: COVID-19 antivax quacks never give up pushing it

I once discussed how antivax quacks’ purported mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccine “shedding” reminded me of homeopathy. The nonsense continues, as these quacks never give up.

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how the arguments made by antivax quacks like “A Midwestern Doctor” (AMD) for the existence of “shedding,” be it of mRNA, spike protein, or evil humors, from people vaccinated with the mRNA-based vaccines against COVID-19 reminded me of the same sorts of fantastical biological “mechanisms” claimed by homeopaths to support their magical mystical remedies. (Memory of water, anyone?) At the time, I left open the possibility for the need for a part two of this discussion because in his—hers? its?—original post, AMD promised a summary of what he thought to be the best evidence for COVID-19 vaccine shedding. Of course, I predicted that whatever fantastical biological “mechanisms” AMD might suggest would almost certainly be just as much bollocks as the dubious mechanisms that he had already suggested, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth deconstructing. Why? Because antivax quacks across social media are pointing to AMD’s new magnum opus on “shedding,” Unraveling the Mysteries of mRNA Vaccine Shedding, as though it were some definitive new answer to all the criticisms that those who claim that shedding from COVID-19 vaccines is making the unvaccinated sick don’t know basic biology and biochemistry.

I mean, even antivax quack Dr. Pierre Kory is trumpeting the post:

When Pierre Kory thinks you make sense, you are almost certainly a quack.

Unfortunately, when I was writing last week’s post, I didn’t notice that AMD had posted this new epic, but I don’t mind waiting a while for something like this. So let’s dig in.

Shedding: It’s more magic!

When examining the claims of quacks like AMD and Dr. Kory about something like shedding, I sometimes like to refer to it as Hogwarts science. Of course, that’s an insult to the magic taught at Hogwarts, because within the fictional world of Harry Potter magic actually works in a reproducible manner following established principles that could be investigated scientifically and falsified. Not so nonsense like what AMD wrote.

Let’s start with AMD’s main claims, his “executive summary,” if you will. I’ll start with the second claim first:

Since shedding of mRNA vaccines in theory should not be possible, whenever those individuals (who are often suffering immensely) share their stories, they are immediately ridiculed and dismissed.

AMD should have stopped there and changed the wording to say that shedding “is not possible.” This assertion is based on decades of science regarding mRNA, mRNA delivery in liposomes, how mRNA is translated into protein, what happens to that protein, and how minuscule the amount of protein is that results from mRNA vaccines. This conclusion is based on science more solid, replicated, and understood, to the point where it would take some truly compelling evidence to make molecular biologists, scientists, and physicians start to doubt the impossibility of shedding that can actually sicken others. As I will describe, nothing presented in AMD’s post counts. It’s just anecdotes and handwaving about biology that AMD clearly understands, at best, superficially or, at worst, not at all.

Over the last two years, we have collected a significant amount of data that suggests a sizable number of unvaccinated people will become ill around individuals who were vaccinated in a fairly consistent and repeatable manner.

No, not by a long shot. All that I’ve ever been able to find from AMD and Dr. Kory are anecdotes that aren’t even particularly compelling and, surprisingly given how many patients Dr. Kory claims to have treated, not all that many of them. This article is no exception. After seeing this first claim, I read the rest of the article, specifically looking for the evidence behind this assertion. All I found was a repetition of much of the “clinical evidence” claimed and unsupported assertions made in the post that I discussed the first time around, including that:

  • Individuals “appear to be affected by being in proximity to a vaccinated person (particularly if they are quite close to them), by touching something a vaccinated person contacted (particularly bed sheets), and for particularly sensitive individuals, being in an area which had previously been densely occupied by shedders (conversely being outdoors, presumably due to airflow, reduces how much a shedder affects someone nearby).” There is zero evidence other than dubious anecdotes to support these assertions.
  • The effects of shedding will resolve once the person claiming to be affected by the shedding “simply stops being in contact” with the “shedder.” Again, no evidence other than assertions based on anecdotes is made for this claim. AMD also claims that “most people” are not affected by shedding. I would alter that to nobody is effected by shedding from individuals vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines because there is no biochemical or biological mechanism for shedding even to occur, AMD’s and Dr. Kory’s handwaving notwithstanding.
  • Susceptibility to shedding varies among individuals and that shedding is strongest soon after vaccination or boosting, with some people supposedly shedding a lot more than others. I realize that I’m getting repetitive, but the only evidence for this is Dr. Kory’s claims about patients upon whom he’s plied his quackery.
  • Magically, effects of “shedding” are “typically either immediate (e.g., nosebleeds, headaches and dizziness), onset in 6-24 hours (e.g., menstrual issues) or gradually show up over time.” Again, no good evidence other than Dr. Kory’s descriptions of the various cases he claims to have treated is presented.
  • Vaccinated individuals have a specific “smell” to which the unvaccinated affected by shedding are sensitive. AMD even cites a large number of anecdotes (e.g.1234567, 891011121314151617181920212223242526272829303132). AMD claims, “The labels I’ve seen used to describe the smell are as follows: ‘mild sickly sweet,’ ‘rotting [or dying] flesh,’ ‘magnetic onion,’ ‘unpleasant,’ ‘distinctive,’ ‘the smell of death,’ ‘medicines plus latrines’ ‘musty plus rancid‘ ‘dead animal,’ a ‘decomposing body,’ ‘road kill,’ ‘like ammonia but not as strong,’ ‘sweet,’ ‘sour stomach’ ‘elderly person as their flesh breaks down with age,’ ‘a chemical flu smell’ ‘of seaweed,’ ‘putrid,’ ‘sweet meat’ ‘strange and metallic‘ ‘sharp, pungent and toxic’ ‘horrible’ ‘unique odor’ ‘chemical,’ ‘vinegar,’ ‘subtle like a pheromone.'” AMD further notes that the bolded descriptions were reported by more than one person. Personally, my first impression was that, contrary to what AMD claims, these statements aren’t consistent. They’re all over the place. Moreover, my first move would not to be to take these claims at face value, but to challenge AMD and Dr. Kory to do a double-blinded test of the people making these claims to try to figure out if they really can “smell” the vaccinated, thanks to shedding. My guess is that an actual rigorously administered test would fail to find any such ability, which is why Dr. Kory and AMD show no interest in doing such an investigation.
  • “Injury” from “shedding” is due to “circulatory impairments (e.g., microclotting). Again, no evidence is presented other than known evidence that COVID-19 infection can cause disorders in clotting. Again, vaccination produces far too little spike protein to do this. Hilariously, AMD comes very close to homeopathy when asserting that the clotting is due “their adverse effects on the physiologic zeta potential (which once treated appears to fix spike protein injuries) and to a lesser extent activating the cell danger response).” If you go to those links (particularly this one), you will find that AMD believes in some serious water woo to increase the “liquid crystalline water in the body.” He even cites Masaru Emoto, a true blast from the past. Emoto, you might remember, claimed that you could impress your “intent” upon water through sound imparting its “vibrational frequencies” to the water. Yes, basically, Emoto would talk or sing to the water and claim that the water now had magical healing properties, because, you know, we are all water. His basic idea was that human consciousness could affect the actual molecular structure of water. (I first wrote about him 18 years ago.)

Let’s just put it this way. If you’re citing Masaru Emoto for anything, you are truly heading into homeopathy-level bullshit. Seriously:

The extraordinary life work of Dr. Emoto is documented in the New York Times Bestseller, The Hidden Messages in Water. In his book, Dr. Emoto demonstrates how water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations. He did this through Magnetic Resonance Analysis technology and high-speed photographs.

You get the idea. Come to think of it, though, the very idea of “shedding” of COVID-19 vaccines to sicken some of unvaccinated who come into contact with a vaccinated individual does rather remind me of the principles of Emoto’s water woo in that it relies on the same sorts of pseudoscience to justify it. Maybe it isn’t a big surprise that AMD would be drawn both to antivax conspiracy theories about shedding and to Dr. Emoto’s water woo.

Here’s the bullet point that caught my attention and led me to want to write this part two, though:

We have identified a few plausible mechanisms (and the evidence to support them) to explain why this transmission occurs. These include exosome mediated shedding (most likely), asymptomatic COVID-19 shedding and transfected bacterial shedding.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Scientifically, at least.

Before I look at the specific claimed mechanisms, such as exosome mediated shedding—spoiler alert: this is not a thing for mRNA and spike protein—let’s look at some other claims:

In this article, we will explore some of the greatest concerns surrounding shedding, such as what’s currently known about sexual shedding, the odor some notice shedders emit, receiving vaccinated blood transfusions, cancer and shedding, and the existing methods which can be used to mitigate the harmful effects of shedding.

I like how AMD says “explore some of the greatest concerns surrounding shedding.” That’s because, yes, thanks to antivax quacks like AMD, there are many concerns about “shedding.” None of them are based in science, as I started to discuss two weeks ago. Again, AMD seems to think that unsupported anecdotes trump science:

To help unravel this mystery, we recently put out a call for individuals to share their own shedding injuries and see if those accounts matched what we had observed. These is understandably a lot of interest in this subject (e.g., a Tweet about it received 555k views) and we’ve now collected hundreds of stories (which can be viewed here).

I’ll give you an idea of the sorts of stories that this request garnered by citing just one, from a “holistic” practitioner who had urged her husband not to be vaccinated. He did anyway, and this is what was reported (I quote liberally, to give you the full quality of what I’m talking about):

He “put off” his second shot until February. (Later on, I checked his batch number and it was a “hot” batch that caused more deaths and severe adverse reactions than other batch numbers.) Unfortunately: the body takes about 72 days to produce sperm. 72 days to the date, I was ovulating and we didn’t use protection. Minutes after completion, I felt an aching, throbbing, stabbing sensation on one side of my lower abdomen. It slowly spread to the other side. About 15 minutes later, my back (kidney-region) on both sides had started throbbing. I’ve never experienced anything like that before (I’m now 42); my cycles have always been normal and on time. Two weeks later, my menses started and my menstrual cup was filled with large half-dollar+ sized clots for the duration of the cycle. Again, new to me. I immediately scheduled with my OBGYN, who did a scan and told me that since my normal annual checkup 3 months prior, I’d developed several large uterine polyps, one directly blocking the cervix/uterine entrance. (I believe that my body was trying to protect me from that point of entry). “Surgery is the only option if you want kids.” Well, not for me. 

Daily visualization coupled with Chinese meds to treat BLOOD STASIS in the lower house took care of it. A couple of weeks later, the scans were normal and surgery was avoided. I have continued, with some reservation, to sleep with my partner, given he is not boosted. My clots seem to fade/lessen with addition of proteolytic enzymes, fiber, ivermectin, and avoidance of people recently vaccinated. They worsen each time there’s a widespread vaccination event (like this fall/winter 2023-24). We did become pregnant over the summer ’23, but the spotting was more than it should have been and we miscarried around 5 weeks. I suspect autoimmune/crosswiring with the spike protein molecular mimicry, preventing continuation of the pregnancy. 

During the pandemic, there were studies demonstrating that among men who had recovered from severe covid, several had spike protein in sperm samples. How it migrates there, I don’t know. Based on my symptoms and the science I’m aware of, it seems obvious that the spike protein migrates to the testes and semen, and is transferable during sex. It seems less obvious but still concerning that perhaps this IS a bioweapon, and one of its tactics is to destroy fertility, male and female alike.

I’ll just point out that there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines impair fertility. You get the idea, though.

“Speculative hypotheses” about shedding

The most honest thing that AMD writes in this post is arguably this:

Since mRNA “shedding” is such an inexplicable phenomenon, attempts to explain or predict it inevitably result in a large number of highly speculative hypotheses being raised.

Of course, what AMD does after this is—you guessed it—to suggest a number of highly speculative hypotheses. It’s worse than that, though. Not only does he speculate wildly, but he does so while demonstrating that he doesn’t understand some very basic molecular biology and biochemistry. I mean, seriously, look at how he tries to “explain” the “variable sensitivity” of people to contact with the vaccinated who are “shedding”:

From all the previously received case reports, it has been established that the sensitivity to either the spike protein (or a yet unknown vaccine component) varies by orders of magnitude (discussed further in the first half of this series). While this does not explain how the vaccine is able to “shed” it explains why some people can be relatively unaffected by high concentrations of it (e.g., the asymptomatic shedders) whereas others get very ill from the tiny amount of the shedding agent which exits the body and can be absorbed from the environment.

This in turn is consistent with the hypotheses that the spike protein’s toxicity is partly a result of it being an allergen (some people are extraordinarily sensitive to an allergen) and it being an agent which collapses the physiologic zeta potential (as everyone has a differing critical threshold below which impaired zeta potential will trigger microclotting throughout the body).

There’s that zeta potential again! It is true that zeta potential is a real thing, but it is not so much true that it works this way in the human body. Material scientists define zeta potential thusly:

Zeta potential is a measure of the magnitude of the electrostatic or charge repulsion/attraction between particles and is one of the fundamental parameters known to affect stability. Its measurement brings detailed insight into the causes of dispersion, aggregation or flocculation, and can be applied to improve the formulation of dispersions, emulsions and suspensions. 

Let’s just put it this way. Zeta potential is a variable used in optimizing waste water treatment processes in which size, density, and charge of particles to be removed are considered. Zeta potential is also used in optimizing drug delivery systems and in enhancing hemagglutination, but, contrary to AMD’s handwaving, there is no evidence that it has anything to do with “shed” spike protein from vaccines causing hypercoagulability of the blood. Again, AMD is doing some highly speculative handwaving here.

Next up is exosome shedding. I can’t help but remember that one common appeal to exosomes that I first encountered during the pandemic came from germ theory deniers who claimed that SARS-CoV-2 didn’t exist and that it was, in fact, exosomes. What are exosomes? In brief, they are small extracellular vesicles (like bubbles) that bud off from cells and can bump into and fuse with other cells. They were first discovered nearly 40 years ago. According to a 2020 review article:

Exosomes are EVs with a size range of ~40 to 160 nm (average ~100 nm) in diameter with an endosomal origin. Sequential invagination of the plasma membrane ultimately results in the formation of multivesicular bodies, which can intersect with other intracellular vesicles and organelles, contributing to diversity in the constituents of exosomes. Depending on the cell of origin, EVs, including exosomes, can contain many constituents of a cell, including DNA, RNA, lipids, metabolites, and cytosolic and cell-surface proteins. The physiological purpose of generating exosomes remains largely unknown and needs investigation. One speculated role is that exosomes likely remove excess and/or unnecessary constituents from cells to maintain cellular homeostasis. Recent studies reviewed here also indicate a functional, targeted, mechanism-driven accumulation of specific cellular components in exosomes, suggesting that they have a role in regulating intercellular communication.

So let’s see how AMD invokes exosomes:

During COVID, we noticed that the virus appeared to poison the exosome system and in turn that injecting healthy exosomes into the blood stream often produced remarkable results for those patients (as well as for long COVID and to a lesser extent vaccine injuries). In the case of the vaccine, this makes a lot of sense, as the vaccine works by causing cells to mass produce spike proteins (which get pushed to the cell surface at which point they can bud off into toxic exosomes that traverse the body). In turn, it has been shown this does indeed occur after vaccination (and I suspect, due to the vaccine design, much more frequently than is seen in COVID—which may account for why “vaccine” shedding differs from COVID-19 shedding).

The study cited above did indeed find that there were exosomes with spike protein in them released from cells after vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine. It studied both mice and humans. One thing that maddened me is that, while it reported the concentration of anti-spike antibodies, the study reported spike protein concentration in relative densities (i.e., increase in spike), which was far less helpful. However, we know from previous studies that the concentration of spike protein that gets into the circulation is very tiny, meaning that (1) it’s incredibly unlikely that any of it is “shed” anywhere and (2) even if it were it would be at such a tiny amount that one would have to postulate it to be the most powerful toxin in the world to cause any effect whatsoever. Again, I say, “Plausibility. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Basically, AMD is pointing to a phenomenon observed in one study that is irrelevant to the question of whether “shedding” from COVID-19 vaccines even occurs, much less that minuscule quantities of spike protein are transmitted from the vaccinated to the unvaccinated in a quantity that has a biological activity. When I made my reference to homeopathy last week about this phenomenon, I wasn’t kidding. It’s basically the magical Law of Contagion all over again, just like with homeopathy.

So what evidence does AMD cite besides the aforementioned study? This:

A 2023 peer-reviewed study found that unvaccinated children who were around COVID-19 vaccinated parents developed an immune response to the spike protein that was not seen in children with unvaccinated parents. Additionally, they were also able to find spike protein antibodies in surgical masks worn by the physicians. This led the authors to hypothesize that antibodies being directly transferred through the parent’s breath to their children.

This study is also totally irrelevant to shedding, as it demonstrates that antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 might possibly be transferred from mother to baby, not spike protein. Truly, AMD is either ignorant or lying about some very basic biology here. Take your pick. I know which one I pick, based on what AMD says next:

I however would argue the results suggest spike coated exosomes (which produce spike antibodies once they arrive in the childen) are being transferred. This is because, to the best of my knowledge, it has not otherwise been shown antibodies can be directly transferred to someone else through breath (this would change a lot of the fundamental principles of how herd immunity works in the population) and if the transference were to occur, the concentration in the child would be dramatically lower than the parent (which as best as I can tell was not what the study found).

Let me cite the actual paper:

The simplest interpretation of our results is that 1) aerosol transmission of Ab can occur and that 2) the propensity for this transfer is, unsurprisingly, directly related to the amount of nasal/oral Ab found within those in the population possessing immunity. We have yet to encounter an equally parsimonious interpretation, although admittedly this does not mean one does not exist. 

Correct. For AMD’s speculation to be true, there would have to be a lot of spike protein in the respiratory tracts of the vaccinated. There is no evidence that there is, at least not any presented by AMD and not any that I’m aware of. Again, consider plausibility. Given the incredibly tiny amount of spike protein generated by vaccination, it is incredibly implausible that there would be enough in the respiratory passages of the vaccinated to transfer enough to another person to provoke an immune reaction.

None of this stops AMD from paddling further and further into wild speculation:

Significant amounts of (RNA containing) exosomes can be found in your breath, and those exosomes (which derive from the lungs) vary depending upon on the disease state someone has (“sicker” people have “worse” exosomes). To illustrate, see this 2013 paperthis 2020 paper and this 2021 paper

The first paper (from 2013) detected micro-RNAs in exosomes. Although they are RNA molecules, micro-RNAs are not the same thing as mRNAs; rather, they are short lengths of specialized RNA that regulate gene expression, and this study looked at them in the breath of patients with asthma, not with infectious disease, compared to normal controls. Seriously, it’s almost as though AMD knows that his readers won’t read or understand the actual study, which in this case is a brief study presented as a letter. The second study (from 2020) did indeed detect extracellular vesicles and proposed that they might be useful biomarkers for disease. The third study (from 2021) again examined exosomes in the breath of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (like asthma) and again proposed them as potential biomarkers in chronic pulmonary disease. Let’s just say that none of these studies are particularly relevant to the claims being made by AMD that somehow exosomes with spike protein are being “shed.” Again, given the tiny quantity of spike protein even made after vaccination, AMD is paddling further and further down the river of scientific implausibility towards homeopathy-level implausibility.

Finally, AMD proposes—surprise! surprise!—plasmid DNA contamination as a “plausible” mechanism by which vaccine shedding could occur. Of course, as I’ve written a number of times before, this plasmid DNA contamination is minor and not harmful, nor does it integrate into the genome to cause “turbo cancer.” I think, though, that I’ll let you read a decent chunk of AMD’s justification for his invocation of “plasmidgate,” just to give you a good laugh:

In turn, I believe it is quite possible those plasmids are in turn integrating into the recipient’s genome or their microbiome. Assuming they are in fact integrating into the microbiome, the transfected bacteria will reproduce the spike protein plasmid and can hence transfect other bacteria in the microbiome (which in turn can produce the spike protein). In turn, since we are always spreading our microbiome (including through the air) to those around us, spike transfected bacteria provide a way that the vaccine could allow a replication competent organism to be transmitted to those around us—something which on the surface appears impossible with the mRNA technology (and is hence frequently used to argue against the possibility of shedding).

Presently, the following data points exist to support this hypothesis:

1. It is now known that the most dangerous vaccine lots also had higher amounts of the plasmid contaminants.

2. One system of medicine (based on terrain theory) believes the microbiome transforming into a pathologic state is the root cause of many illnesses. In turn, this system “treats” a variety of diseases by providing plasmids extracted from healthy states of the common organisms found within the body under the theory that unhealthy ones will take up those plasmids, transform into the healthy ones that live with the body and then produce more of the “healthy” plasmids. In essence, this approach seeks to restore health is exactly the opposite of what the (spike protein plasmid containing) COVID vaccines are doing.

While I do not follow the fairly complex protocols adherents of this school of medicine ask patients to follow, I have found that some of their remedies are extremely helpful for specific diseases that are otherwise quite difficult to treat. With spike protein injuries, we’ve found one remedy this system believes “treats” the microorganism which causes blood clotting is quite helpful for both vaccine injuries and long-haul COVID. This in turn suggests to us that something about the spike protein pathologically alters the microbiome until it is reversed with a healthy plasmid.

First off, no, it is not “known” that the “most dangerous vaccine lots also had higher amounts of the plasmid contaminants.” Those were bogus, crappy studies done by antivax ideologues using poor methodology.

Second, that “one system of medicine” is something called Sanum Therapy. Oddly enough, I don’t recall having heard of it before, but its main proponents call it a “unique naturopathic form of therapy” described thusly:

SANUM therapy is a unique therapeutic concept that uses medicinal products from various microorganisms to support or restore the microbial balance and thus the regulatory capacity of the body. The medicines are made from specific bacteria (Bacto preparations) and lower fungi (Myco preparations) according to a traditional and proprietary process. Depending on the disease, these can be used as single remedies or in combination with other SANUM preparations from plant and organ extracts, physiological carboxylic acids as well as from mineral and trace elements in the therapy. SANUKEHL® preparations, which are also produced from bacteria or fungi in a specific process, represent a special group of medicines and expand the range of applications of the entire range of medicines for especially chronic diseases.

Again, this is all based on the terrain theory of medicine by Antoine Béchamp. In the late 19th century terrain theory was in competition with Louis Pasteur’s germ theory and ultimately lost out. Basically Béchamp argued that microorganisms were not the cause of disease but rather the consequence of disease, that injured or diseased tissues produced them, and that it was the health of the organism that mattered, not the microorganisms. In other words, the “terrain” was all. Claude Bernard, another scientist supporting terrain theory at the time, described the milieu intérieur, the interstitial fluids regarded as an internal environment in which the cells of the body are nourished and maintained in a state of equilibrium, which he and others also called terrain.

Béchamp’s idea, known as the pleomorphic theory of disease, stated that bacteria change form (i.e., demonstrate pleomorphism) in response to disease. In other words, they arise from tissues during disease states. Béchamp further postulated that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes, that microzymas are normally present in tissues, and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. Ultimately, Pasteur’s theory won out over the theories of Bernard and Béchamp, based on evidence and experiments, but Béchamp was influential in the 19th century, and, given the science and technology of the time, his hypothesis was not entirely unreasonable. It was, however, superseded by Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and Koch’s later work that resulted in Koch’s postulates.

As I’ve written many times before, though, antivaxxers love to invoke terrain theory, for a very simple reason: If microorganisms aren’t the primary cause of disease then vaccines are unnecessary. These days, as AMD does in his post, antivaxxers love to invoke terrain theory in the form of changes to the microbiome, which is the ecosystem of normal bacteria and other microorganisms that live on and in us, benefiting both the microorganisms and us. While the microbiome does indeed impact health, as one can see by, for instance, antibiotic-induced diarrheas that can result from wiping out the normal flora of the gut, antivaxxers and quacks attribute near-magical powers to the microbiome. Indeed, in this case, AMD cites a single study in a dodgy journal that reported that SARS-CoV-2 could infect gut bacteria and then suggests this as one piece of evidence that shedding from the vaccine is possible. Even if the study is valid and reproducible, it’s utterly irrelevant to the claims of “shedding” from COVID-19 vaccines. AMD also cites two abstracts from a known antivaxxer (just look at her X/Twitter feed if you don’t believe me) claiming that COVID-19 vaccination decreases the amount of a beneficial species of bacteria in the gut flora. Again, even if this were true, it would be irrelevant to the question of whether “shedding” occurs.

AMD also mentions in passing the possibility of pheromones or even allergic reactions to “lipid nanoparticle breakdown products” being behind the “shedding” phenomenon. The less said about these unsupported speculations, the better.

A purity cult

AMD concludes with this hilarious characterization of the post that I just powered through, trying not to laugh too hard:

Given how controversial the idea an injection being given to billions of people could actually be actively harming unvaccinated people is, we’ve put a lot of thought into if we wanted to broach this topic. For this reason, we’ve spent a long time researching the topic and tried to stick to claims we could provide the evidence to substantiate.

At this point, I feel we have been able to answer many of the questions numerous people have asked us to explore. Nonetheless, there are a few topics that have not yet been covered I know many of you still want some guidance on. The dilemma we face is that most of those answers rely more speculative evidence and our fear is that if they are associate with these points, they will be focused on and hence used to dismiss the rest of the critically important points raised throughout this article.

I have little doubt that AMD and Dr. Kory “spent a long time researching the topic,” but clearly “claims we could provide evidence to substantiate” mean something very different to them than the term means to me or actual scientists with actual knowledge of the basic science relevant to their claims. All that AMD managed to present were anecdotes with no controls as evidence, wild speculation based on either misunderstood (or intentionally misrepresented) science, and fear mongering.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Antivax is, at its core, a purity cult. Moreover, you will find few better examples illustrating that it is a purity cult than the idea of vaccine shedding, which, unlike the case of live attenuated virus vaccines (which can shed), is near homeopathy-level implausible in the case of COVID-19 vaccines. Think of it this way. To the antivaxxer, being vaccinated is such a “contamination” of one’s “purity,” that your associating with someone who has been vaccinated risks contaminating you too. That’s because the purity involved is not a scientific concept, but rather a moral and mystical one, in which vaccines somehow corrupt your “purity of essence” (phraseology intentional) so badly that you must be cast out, lest you contaminate those who remain “pure.”

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]

35 replies on “Shedding: COVID-19 antivax quacks never give up pushing it”

Why am I reminded of the people who say they can detect cellphone radiation, because it makes them feel all kinds of ailments?
I wonder how much overlap there is between the people who can feel if they are around vaccinated people and those who can feel cellphone radiation.

Why am I reminded of the people who say they can detect cellphone radiation, because it makes them feel all kinds of ailments?
I wonder how much overlap there is between the people who can feel if they are around vaccinated people and those who can feel cellphone radiation.

There’s probably a great deal of overlap between people who doubt vaccines and those who say they can feel cellphone radiation because it takes a great deal of gullibility and lack of knowledge to be in either group. We did have a a company here in Kalamazoo that tried to take advantage of gullibility about cell phones — Kids Armour — but it seems to have gone by the wayside. However other businesses still seem to be around. For example

But if the case blocks the radiation from the cellphone, wouldn’t that make the cellphone useless?

My guess is yes. I will also guess that they say they can block the radiation but still allow the phone to work due to some secret organization.

Be aware though, I’m neither a physicist nor an engineer, so my guess may be wrong. Possibly someone more up on these things than I am will be along to suss out the answer.

Isolating cell phones is not easy.

I once did a strange experiment trying to show the effect of a “faraday cage”. I took a cell phone and put it inside a round steel box for Royal Danish cookies. Closed the box.

I was sure that the cell phone was properly isolated electromagnetically.

Then I dialed the number – and the phone rang – inside the steel cookie box!

I know a woman who got her pilot husband a baseball cap for this type of shielding. She says it’s worse at 30,000 feet. I wonder if he wears it? They order large boxes of super greens and lots of supplements (I distribute the packages that arrive at one of their homes), but I kinda think he wouldn’t wear this hat in the cockpit–or even be allowed to?

She of course, when questioned at all, simple replies that “science doesn’t know everything”, and “BigPharma killed my mother”.

Especially magnetic onion. Would be a nice name for some unknown psychedelic 60s band.
I’m currently reading a book about those and I see some pretty weird names, like:
The Peanut Butter Conspiracy
Kak (I suppose that name would cause some laughs in The Netherlands, where it would mean something like Sh!t)

I wonder if that Netherland effect is intended or an accident, like the Toyota MR2.

@ Dorit Reiss

If I read the story right it seems the group Kak was named after a house they lived in.

Regarding the idea that vaccinated people have a different/objectionable odor: there’s a a tiny germ of evidence behind this claim.

A study published back in 2014 used “biosensor mice” and a maze to supposedly show that the mice were able to differentiate the urinary odors of mice vaccinated against rabies from their non-vaccinated counterparts.

Of course, there’s more than a whiff of disbelief when it comes to generalizing from this study to concluding that that the Purity Brigade is able to sniff out humans immunized against Covid-19.

To contribute a data point: our field spaniel Pluto who has a superb nose, has not reacted differently to his humans’ bodily aromas since Covid vaccination.*

*including frequency of butt-sniffing, a habit we’d prefer that he break.

What ideas betray alt med mis-information to the casual reader?
I used to think that germ theory denialism would be a dead giveaway but NO! it seems to thrive in the current denialist milieu: just last week, Adams ( NN) discussed how viruses- and virology itself- were basically fictional and Null ( PRN) praised the pioneering work of Bechamp ( pronounced beeCHOMP).

Thus, how can sceptics alert the public about how anti-vaxxers/ alt med denialists/ SubStackers deceive their audiences IF they had not already studied life sciences deeply, or, at all?

Of course, alties usually pick material that is not general information and/ or is very new, so that they can free associate their own “science” without limitation. But there must be other clues that one is being bullshat upon.

I venture a few guesses which I imagine others can expand:
— they speak with absolute certainty and confidence
— they charge standard SBM with various crimes and greed
— they dismiss standard sources of information like the media, universities, governmental agencies, experts, Wikipedia/ online fact checkers
— they provoke outrage/ grievance in their “victimised” audience
— they assert their own “humanitarian” aims and charity work
— their grandiose manner and complacency stifles your respiration

What ideas betray alt med mis-information to the casual reader?

Antivax. I haven’t yet encountered an alt-med BSer who accepted the scientific consensus on vaccination.

They claim that the same patent medicine or supplement mix or diet or exercise routine can cure a wide variety of problems.

Or, everything they have to offer is to “improve” chronic conditions that have good and bad days or weeks even without treatment.

TBruce and Vicki:

So true for both comments.

Ironically enough, two alt med/ anti-vaxxers I read bemoan the extremely poor quality of education for kids/ young people today where DEI reigns and grades/ degrees are unfairly given stating that
” when WE got our doctorates**, WE had mastery of field”
THEY critique the educational system!

** which came by post

If you go to those links (particularly this one), you will find that AMD believes in some serious water woo to increase the “liquid crystalline water in the body.” He even cites Masaru Emoto, a true blast from the past.

Having not completely finished reading Orac’s post yet -he may say more that I might be useful commenting on- as a liquid crystal physicist who has specifically published on liquid crystalline DNA, I dared look at that link. As far as I can see, there is effectively zero understanding whatsoever of liquid crystals at that site. I will say one thing that will come as a surprise to no one here: water does not form a liquid crystal. It can contribute to making liquid crystals of other substances by acting as a solvent, but it can’t do so by itself. The phases water makes are purely crystalline or purely liquid. Water is too simple structurally make a thermotropic mesophase by itself. Lyotropic phases, which frequently involve water as a solvent, generally have large concentrations (huge HUGE, like measured in volume fractions of 0.5 as opposed to molarity) of other stuff in order generate mesophases. I’ll stay away from Masaru Emoto… a long-standing pox there.

I personally found this comment particularly amusing:

While I do not follow the fairly complex protocols adherents of this school of medicine ask patients to follow, I have found that some of their remedies are extremely helpful for specific diseases that are otherwise quite difficult to treat.

Not only is this not science, it’s not even magical thinking. It’s pseudo-magic. In “real” magic, the “fairly complex protocols” of a magical ritual are key. Homeopaths don’t just dilute their nostrums, they follow “fairly complex protocols” to succuss them (to the exact number of times you vigorously shake each dilution).

For AMD, magic rituals are too much work, so they just kind of handwave it, do something that’s kind of like it, and decide it’s good enough.

AMD isn’t just sloppy and unscientific. They’re lazy.

Relating to SANUM, how do ‘traditional’ and ‘proprietary’ apply to the same process? With the addition of money and lawyers most likely.

As an aside:
over the past 24 hours, courtesy of Adams, Null and Wolf, I have heard interviews or long excerpts from Roger Stone, Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon.
As Orac says, alt med/ anti-vax and the right wing, have converged, despite their historical so-called ‘liberal’ posture. Is it their true belief or the fact that the right hate taxes and the alties all have money?

When you get right down to it, the ‘belief’ of alt-med grifters isn’t left-wing or right-wing, it’s ‘I should be able to do and say what I want without the government stopping me’. On the left-wing side of that, you have hippies. On the right-wing side of that, you have libertarians. Only one of those two subgroups has access to funding and the ears of powerful people to turn their active undermining of the government into public policy, and it isn’t the hippies.

To be fair to the old stereotype of AV and alt-med as an essentially ‘liberal’ granola-crunchy subculture typified by Marin and Sonoma counties in CA: those folks are still not right wing, and are generally quite well-off (these are very expensive places to live). They’re not genuine hippies (fully counter-cultural) outside of Bolinas, more hippie-ette, but those districts do vote D despite their affluence.

My long-standing critique of describing these folks as left-wing is that I don’t see them as primarily political, and certainly not immune from the sort of haute bourgeois solipsism and narcissism that characterizes antivax.

Since my (very much not wealthy) SIL lives up there, I’ve some time visiting there, and I can report that the common forms of shall-we-say ‘milder’ alt med are still very much a thing. But the signal fact is that in the face of the pandemic, these areas became less antivax not more. COVID vax uptakes were significantly higher than average fir the state, people masked up in public, etc.

I’ll suggest this evidences a couple cautions about making broad categorizations, putting different things in the same bucket because they have some similarities. IMHO skeptics do this too often (especially with alt-med).

Relatedly, the difference between libertarians and hippies is that libertarians indeed reject and governmental influence over their actions as individuals, while hippies posit an alternative collectivity against a mainstream one. IOW, they care about other people, seek to work together and what not. Human beings being what they are, we have to recognize the likelihood that positions will spring up between these apparently mutually exclusive poles, embodying a variety of contradictions.

Perhaps attraction to a certain variety/degree of conspiracy theory is closer to the brain-stem than ideology. E.g. I have observed for quite some time that AVs will become bedfellows with ANY sect that offers their obsession any traction.

Actually, I have difficulty naming these factions and just say “blue” for Marin/ Sonoma and the NYC area. Lots in common – how they vote, not anti-vax or anti-government and ( mostly) affluent. Educated. Edgy. Artsy.

Grifters target audiences and taylor marketing to what they PERCEIVE is the most prevalent political stance ; so maybe 20 years ago, they sounded liberal but they slowly drifted towards Bannon, Tucker and Stone. I find that this rightward move became apparent after the 2008-9 Financial Crisis: perhaps they lost sales as people lost jobs/ savings/ homes. They ranted against the government for not bailing them out as they did for banks.

I sometimes wonder what audience they are addressing when they describe cities as poop soiled dens of thieves, junkie camps and child trafficking hubs. Can’t be people who live there and have television news.

re ” brainstem” Haha- probably true

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