COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths – UPDATED info about the new vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine facts
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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. I will link to supporting evidence wherever relevant.

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

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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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Catie Clobes v NBC – problematic anti-vaccine lawsuit against a journalist, Part 1

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This article about the Catie Clobes v NBC lawsuit 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 disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On September 24, 2021, anti-vaccine activist Catelin (Catie) Clobes filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Minnesota against NBC and two of its journalists, Brandy Zadrozny and Aliza Nadi, alleging defamation, emotional distress [sic], and “reasonable care” [sic].

The review of Catie Clobes v NBC is quite long, so this article will be published in two parts, with the second one being available tomorrow.

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

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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 licensing primer – correcting anti-vaccine misinformation

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This article about vaccine licensing 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 disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Anti-vaccine activists want to claim the Pfizer vaccine is still experimental despite FDA licensing.  They base that claim on a footnote in a document reauthorizing Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).  FDA is clear that the now fully-licensed vaccine is identical to the EUA vaccine (except of course for the labeling: the EUA vaccine still bears its EUA label), and that both can legally be marketed.  The anti-vaccine claim is being made because the full licensure of the Pfizer vaccine renders moot their claim (not yet decided by a court) that you cannot mandate a vaccine licensed under the EUA. 

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Vaccine informed consent – is it in tension with school mandates?

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This article about vaccine informed consent 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 disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Several people have asked me whether having school mandates is in tension with the idea of vaccine informed consent. The answer is no. While school mandates have some effect on parental autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent should not be conflated with autonomy.

For a somewhat different reason, imposing sanctions on those who do not vaccinate is also not a violation of informed consent.

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Don’t fall for the Nirvana fallacy – COVID vaccines are safe and effective

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I bet you’ve read that the new COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% perfect, so employing the Nirvana fallacy, must be avoided. That’s just not how one should look at medical data – whether examining vaccine safety and effectiveness or the usefulness of chemotherapy in treating cancer.

No medical procedure is perfectly safe or perfectly effective. Physicians and scientists never make those kinds of claims. In evidence-based medicine, benefits are weighed against risks based upon peer-reviewed published data.

I always like to say that when a physician reduces a fracture of the arm or leg, there is a small, but statistically significant chance of dying from something like a clot forming that goes to the heart or lungs. However, if you don’t reduce the fracture, there is a might higher chance of dying or permanent disability. Yet, I doubt that anyone would refuse the procedure despite the inherent risk.

Unfortunately, the bad math of the anti-vaccine world means that any risk that is not absolute 0% is rounded up to 100%, and vaccine effectiveness that is not absolutely 100% is rounded down to 0%. Yet, I’m sure if they had a broken arm, they would have the fracture reduced immediately.

This article is going to take a look at the Nirvana fallacy and how it relates to the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccines.

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COVID vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant –

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During the 17 September 2021 FDA vaccine expert committee meeting, the COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant was reviewed. I want to assess some of the results so that we have a better understanding of how the vaccines are working against the Delta variant.

I have read all kinds of comments and reports about the COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant, but it will be good to see what data was presented to the top vaccine experts in the country. Let’s take a peek at the data.

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Is natural immunity from COVID better than vaccines? Not really.

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Another non-peer-reviewed preprint article about natural immunity versus vaccines for COVID-19 is being used as the “gotcha” moment for the anti-vaxxers. And on the surface, the article might be interesting, but it’s being misused. What a shocker.

I’m going to do a quick review of the article, then remind everyone why vaccinations are ALWAYS better than natural immunity. Outcomes from diseases that are prevented by the vaccine must be weighed against the safety and effectiveness of that vaccine. This is a necessary risk-benefit analysis that is required by every procedure or pharmaceutical in evidence-based medicine. And, this is the point that is missed by those pushing this new preprint.

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Nicki Minaj, COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause swollen testicles or impotence

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I don’t know what it is about vaccines and fear of infertility, but now rapper Nicki Minaj has stepped into the COVID-19 vaccine “discussion.” And like every claim that, in some magical way, vaccines have an effect on fertility, she’s wrong.

Worse yet, Nicki Minaj knows as much about vaccines as my cat, yet she gets to use her platform on social media to spread her misinformation. That’s the battle for the hearts and minds of people in these vaccines discussions is so difficult – maybe 10,000 people will read this article in which I debunk the “COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility” myth for the 10th time. But millions will see her social media posts.

So, here I go again, I’m going to tell you again that vaccines, specifically the ones for COVID-19, are not going to cause infertility in men or women. Sigh. And the thought that I have to write a debunking of something from Nicki Minaj is surreal.

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Anti-vaxxers misuse VAERS against COVID-19 vaccines – bad science

COVID-19 vaccines VAERS
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Recently, a poorly written pre-print article uses VAERS “data” to show that the COVID-19 vaccines cause myocarditis in children 12-17 years old. Although we do have some data that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines may be linked to myocarditis in some age groups.

I, and many others, have frequently criticized the use of VAERS, and I will do it again in this article, so just hang on. It cannot be used for anything by gross observations, and it certainly cannot be used as the basis for an article that condemns a vaccine.

So, let’s once again go down the rabbit hole of misusing VAERS to evaluate the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

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Zombie apocalypse epidemiology, vaccines, treatment – peer-reviewed research

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Yes, there is peer-reviewed research on the epidemiology of the zombie apocalypse. And in real medical journals like the BMJ. No, this is not a joke.

Zombies are known as biters, cold bodies, creepers, dead ones, floaters, geeks, lamebrains, lurkers, monsters, roamers, rotters, skin eaters, and walkers, according to the historical TV show The Walking Dead. Other historical documents have called them Zeds, Zs, Zekes, and ghouls.

The scientific consensus about the zombie apocalypse is that a true zombie must meet three criteria (for an exception, see Note 1):

  • It is a reanimated human corpse,
  • it is relentlessly aggressive, and
  • it is biologically infected and can pass that infection to healthy humans.

Recently, a researcher on the science of zombies, Professor Tara C Smith, Ph.D. (see Notes 2 and 3 ), professor of biostatistics at Kent State University, published a review article on zombie epidemiology in BMJ, which examines the history, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of zombie infections. Prof. Smith is no slouch in the field of peer-reviewed zombie apocalypse research – she has written another one that teaches mathematical modeling of the zombie apocalypse.

In case you don’t know of her, Professor Smith is a solid pro-vaccine researcher with an impressive list of published articles. It’s ironic that Smith publishes real science about the zombie apocalypse in respected journals, whereas anti-vaxxers can’t publish their “research” in anything but predatory journals.

But let’s stick with the zombie apocalypse, because if there’s anything that makes it feel like we’re in a dystopian future with zombies, it’s the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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