COVID-19 vaccine facts and debunking myths — the semi-complete list

COVID-19 vaccine facts

There are so many myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to post some facts about the new vaccines which we can use for debunking purposes. I used to think that the HPV vaccine brought the most hatred and misinformation from the anti-vaccine world, but it’s clear that the new COVID-19 vaccines are their new targets.

This article will only focus on the five vaccines that I believe will eventually receive FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ Janssen), and Novavax vaccines. I remain unconvinced that any vaccine made in China or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will ever get approved by countries with robust drug regulatory agencies. However, if they are, I will certainly add them to a future iteration of this list.

I’m going to make this in a basic chart form for ease of use in finding COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths. I will link to supporting evidence wherever relevant.

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HPV vaccine myth debunking – all the science facts fit to print

I’ve written nearly 200 articles on the HPV vaccine, debunking one myth after another. Despite the new COVID-19 vaccines being a recent target of various anti-vaccine myths and tropes, it has nothing on the FUD disinformation propaganda pushed against the HPV vaccine.

Like I did with the COVID-19 vaccines, I wanted to create easy-to-use charts for those of you who need a quick reference to debunk the nonsense out there.

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COVID vaccine development process – how it compares to “normal”

Back before the world of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine development process took a long time. Despite the nonsensical claims of the anti-vaccine zealots, the vaccine development process is robust and thorough. The safety and effectiveness of all of the pre-pandemic vaccines are settled science (read the article before you jump up and down screaming about “settled science”).  

However, the world of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that if we can save a few months or even years off the development timeline on a new COVID-19 vaccine, it could save hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of lives.

Of course, much of the optimism comes from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the few rational public health experts who are willing to speak up in Washington DC. Maybe he has seen some secret data only available only to him and Bill Gates that supports this optimism. Maybe he just is trying to be the national cheerleader for healthcare.

I don’t know the real answer, but a lot of vaccine experts who have spent their lifetime studying vaccines, like Dr. Peter Hotez, MD Ph.D., have expressed dismay at how politics may “trump” good science.

So, this article will try to lay out the COVID-19 vaccine development process, along with the independent controls that make sure that all vaccines are safe and effective.

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Vaccine development process – how it’s usually done

vaccine development process

Back before the world of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine development process took a long time. Despite the nonsensical claims of the anti-vaccine zealots, the vaccine development process is robust and thorough. The safety and effectiveness of all of the pre-pandemic vaccines are settled science (read the article before you jump up and down screaming about “settled science”).  

However, the world of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that if we can save a few months or even years off the development timeline on a new COVID-19 vaccine, it could save hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of lives.

Of course, much of the optimism comes from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the few rational public health experts who are willing to speak up in Washington DC. Maybe he has seen some secret data only available only to him and Bill Gates that supports this optimism. Maybe he just is trying to be the national cheerleader for healthcare.

I don’t know the real answer, but a lot of vaccine experts who have spent their lifetime studying vaccines, like Dr. Peter Hotez, MD Ph.D., have expressed dismay at how politics may “trump” good science.

So, this article will try to lay out the development process, along with the independent controls that make sure that all vaccines are safe and effective.

Continue reading “Vaccine development process – how it’s usually done”

HPV immunization herd effect — it’s reducing infection in unvaxxed

HPV immunization

Immunization against HPV (human papillomavirus) has had a positive effect not only on vaccinated individuals but also on unvaccinated females according to a new peer-reviewed study. And the unvaxxed can be thankful that more and more young men and women are getting their HPV immunization.

I am a large proponent of the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine because it prevents several different cancers. Unfortunately, this same study showed that the HPV immunization rate is still quite low compared to other vaccines.

Let’s take a look at HPV, the HPV vaccine, and this new research.

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Intercessory prayer in medicine — systematic reviews say it does not work

intercessory prayer

Intercessory prayer, where people pray for the health of someone in a hospital, has been studied for a while to determine whether it is effective. I keep reading that people believe it has been “proven” to work, but I have always been skeptical.

I didn’t realize that there are published studies about intercessory prayer, but I shouldn’t be surprised. There are even systematic reviews that examined the body of research — spoiler alert, there isn’t much evidence that it works.

If intercessory prayer works, I would want to rely upon that famous Carl Sagan quote — “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The indisputable medical evidence supports real medicine, not prayers. The prayer supporters haven’t even been able to provide ordinary evidence.

So let’s take a look at some of the science supporting or refuting the effectiveness of intercessory prayer.

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Science mistakes — the favorite trope of the anti-vaccine world

science mistakes

Those people who disagree with science love to remind us that science makes mistakes. I keep observing this same ridiculous, illogical argument being used by all of the science deniers, repeating various “science mistakes” tropes as if it is all the evidence they need to refute scientific claims. Honestly, I think the pseudoscience pushers meet annually in Sedona, Arizona, ground zero of woo, to discuss which trope they’re pushing each year.

The anti-vaccine zealots, creationists, anthropogenic global warming deniers, and whomever else pretends to use science to actually deny science frequently focus on this theme of “science mistakes.”  And then they produce a list of cherry-picked examples that “prove” that science is wrong (see Note 1). Of course, this indicates more of a misunderstanding of what is science and the history of science than it is a condemnation of science. But your typical science denier is probably not going to let facts get in the way of maintaining faith in their beliefs. So let’s deconstruct and discredit this “science mistakes” trope.

By the way, in my story, I admit that there are many “science mistakes,” so read on. Hopefully, it’s somewhat enlightening.

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The tragic passing of the son of Nick Catone – vaccines are not responsible

person standing near lake

This article about the tragic death of the son of Nick Catone was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On May 12, 2017, the son of retired UFC fighter Nick Catone, Nicholas Catone, by all accounts a healthy, sweet, happy, child, died in his sleep. It’s horrible to lose a child, and I want to start by extending my condolences to the family.

Sadly, I can’t stop there. His parents blame vaccines. The story is being spread in mom groups and understandably scares moms from vaccinating. But Nicholas’ tragic death is not a good reason to refuse vaccines. First, the alleged link to vaccines is extraordinarily weak. There is no good reason to blame vaccines for the boy’s tragic death. Second, even if this was linked to vaccines – and there’s no evidence of that – it’s still safer to vaccinate.

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The risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after COVID mRNA vaccines is low

Guillaine-Barré COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

I keep reading anti-vaccine commentary that Guillain-Barré syndrome had been linked to the COVID-19 vaccines according to a deep dive into the VAERS database. Those of you who read my works know that I am apt to dismiss almost any claim that is based on VAERS. it is not built to show correlation let alone causation between Guillain-Barré syndrome and COVID-19 vaccines.

However, as I have said before VAERS can send a safety signal that should be investigated more thoroughly. And that’s what a vaccine research team did — they went to a better vaccine safety database and performed a thorough study. And what they found is that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, were not linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome. However, they did find a link to the JNJ COVID-19 vaccine, which confirms what was being discussed a few months ago.

Let’s take a look at this study so that we can at least partially debunk anti-COVID-19 vaccine claims.

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Examining the anti-vaccine movement — a podcast from Brandy Zadrozny

zadrozky vaccines

I don’t usually do this, but I wanted to post the transcript from the outstanding Brandy Zadrozny podcast about how the anti-vaccine movement treated Tiffany Dover who fainted after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine 18 months ago. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss wrote an in-depth article about Dover soon after it happened, and we have updated it as we have gotten more information. Not to give away a spoiler, but she’s still alive.

I have posted the full transcript of episode 4 because it gives you a history of the anti-vaccine movement and the various “truthers” who pass fall information about it. I’m not going to edit the transcript, but I will add in my commentary here and there (it’ll be in bold type) and links for more information, something you can’t get from a podcast. This is very long, but it’s filled with great information. I have made minor edits to spelling and punctuation to make it more readable.

I’m someone who prefers reading content to listening to podcasts or watching YouTube because I like clicking on links or researching more. If you’re like me, then you’ll love this.

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One vaccine clinical trial to rule them all — moving goalposts

woman holding books

If you spend time listening to anti-vaxxers, you would hear that they would support vaccinations if there were better vaccine clinical trial design. The problem with the anti-vaxxer demand for a better vaccine clinical trial design is one of several moving targets for their denialism, relying on a form of the Argument from ignorance, claiming that if we can’t absolutely “prove” that vaccines are safe, then it must be absolutely unsafe. It’s trying.

For example, there are literally thousands of articles, (an example here and was discussed here), that provide overwhelming evidence of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines using real science, real statistics, and real hard work. The antithesis of the fake science, bogus statistics, and 2 hours of Google.

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COVID vaccines may prevent long COVID conditions

woman lying on bed while blowing her nose

A new peer-reviewed paper examined the incidence of new-onset hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease in people who received COVID vaccines compared to unvaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections. The study showed much lower risks in the COVID-19 vaccines group compared to unvaccinated individuals.

I know that, for most of the world, we’re close to reaching the point that we probably cannot convince many more people to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines. But in case there are some people who are still on the fence about the vaccine, I hope this is convincing evidence to consider the vaccine.

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