Vaccine adverse effects may be in our heads — a systematic review and meta-analysis

Vaccine adverse effects are a point of contention with anti-vaccine activists. They always seem to overstate their frequency and claim that it’s much more frequent than reported. On the other hand, many of us on the science side agree that the number of adverse events is vastly overstated, especially in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), which is not a very good system for tracking these things.

Well, a new systematic review and meta-analysis, published in a respected journal, indicates that many reports of adverse effects in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials can be attributed to the placebo effect. As I like doing, let’s review this new paper.

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Robert F Kennedy Jr is no liberal — he denies vaccines and science

Robert f kennedy jr vaccines

Robert F Kennedy Jr is often portrayed as some liberal icon, but I just think he’s a science-denying anti-vaccines troglodyte that has little evidence supporting any of his points of view. The only reason some people “think” he’s a liberal is because of his family name.

I write a lot about RFK Jr because he’s one of the most famous anti-vaccine activists out there. And he seems to lack any open-mindedness to vaccines, despite being pro-science on some subjects like climate change. It boggles the mind that he accepts the scientific consensus on climate change, yet rejects the settled science of vaccines. Nothing annoys me more than so-called liberals rejecting or accepting scientific facts based on political expediency rather than evidence. That’s what Republicans do.

And just this past weekend, during an offensive speech to anti-vaccine protestors, he claimed that Anne Frank was better off hiding in a wall in a house in Amsterdam than dealing with vaccine mandates in the USA. By ignoring the fact that Anne Frank was eventually murdered by the Nazis, RFK Jr shows himself to be antisemitic much like his buddy, Del Bigtree.

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Fertility impacts of COVID vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 infections

COVID vaccines fertility

A new peer-reviewed article examined the effect of COVID-19 vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 on the fertility of men and women. Spoiler alert — the vaccine has no impact on fertility, but a COVID-19 infection lowers male fertility.

For some reason, one of the major tropes of the anti-vaccine world is trying to claim that vaccines have some effect on fertility. For example, I’ve written several articles debunking these claims about the HPV vaccine. I think they push these tropes about vaccines because it is an adverse effect that would strike at the heart of anyone thinking about the vaccine.

They have done the same thing with the COVID-19 vaccines — they want you to believe that they have some effect on fertility. But they’re wrong because we have even more powerful evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines do not have any effect on fertility.

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High fructose corn syrup — debunking the myths with science and facts

high fructose corn syrup

People demonize food “chemicals,” like high fructose corn syrup, all of the time — see monosodium glutamate, as just one example. And there’s high fructose corn syrup, a sugar that is blamed for everything from cancer to diabetes to climate change. OK, maybe not climate change.

High fructose corn syrup is just sugar, but because it has a complicated name, it must be bad. It’s part of the “chemophobia,” the fear of anything that sounds like a chemical.

The so-called Food Babe has made a lot of money endorsing a belief that all chemicals are evil. Of course, such claims ignore the simple fact that all life, the air, and water are made of chemicals.

They want us to believe that man-made chemicals are more dangerous than “natural” chemicals, but that betrays several things about science:

  1. Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
  2. Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
  3. Nature isn’t always better.

And high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is considered one of the evil “chemicals” that are destroying humanity. But is it? Let’s answer that question.

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Hey vaccine deniers — yes, the COVID-19 virus does mutate

COVID-19 virus mutate

Some of the latest nonsense from anti-vaxxers is that “viruses don’t mutate” or “the COVID virus does not mutate in the unvaccinated.” They use this unscientific garbage to justify their own lack of vaccination or why the vaccine is useless.

Of course, most of us understand that those two statements are fundamentally wrong. I partially discussed this in a previous post that attempted to refute a common anti-vaxxer claim that viruses become less virulent over time. That claim wasn’t even close to the truth.

So let’s take a close look at these nonsensical claims from our anti-vaccine friends that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 does or does not mutate. (Note — for simplicity, I’m going to call it the COVID-19 virus just because fewer people are familiar with the term, SARS-CoV-2.)

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Pregnant women who get the COVID vaccine have better outcomes

pregnant woman COVID-19 vaccine

Another large study has been published that adds to the body of evidence that pregnant women who received had the COVID-19 vaccine have better outcomes for themselves and their babies. As I have written so many times, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women.

As you can predict, I’m here to write about that article so that you have it ready when you need to convince a friend, a partner, a family member, or even yourself that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the right and best thing to do when pregnant.

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Virus evolution — debunking anti-vaccine myth that they become less virulent

virus evolution

Apparently, a 125-year-old debunked idea about virus evolution has circulated around the anti-vaccine world. They believe that if viruses are left on their own, they always evolve to become less virulent to humans. That’s why they falsely claim that the Omicron variant is almost nothing and very soon SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will evolve into something that we can ignore.

The old Skeptical Raptor is going to take a deep breath and hope he doesn’t lose any brain cells repeating that to all of you. Anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 deniers are wrong, completely and utterly wrong. It’s as if they never took a class on virology, evolution, or anything else germane to the discussion.

I know that any of you spending time reading this article are already listing out a dozen things that debunk this myth. Because we all know that first, that’s not how evolution works, and second, there are dozens of viruses that are known from the dawn of human history that have remained virulent over thousands of years.

Let’s take a look at this nonsense. Maybe I’ll give you some information to debunk some anti-vaxxer or COVID-19 denier nonsense.

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Meryl Nass – Robert F Kennedy Jr anti-vaccine acolyte – medical license suspended

Meryl Nass

Dr. Meryl Nass, MD, had her Maine medical license temporarily suspended for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. I might have ignored this one, except Dr. Nass has written misleading articles about COVID-19 and vaccines for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., one of our favorite anti-vaxxers.

State medical licensing boards are fighting back against COVID-19 disinformation, and Dr. Meryl Nass should have known better, but my expectations are obviously too high.

Let’s take a look at the case.

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“Flurona” — you need both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines


As I wrote before, this pandemic has given us a bunch of new terms, the newest one is “flurona” or contracting both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. It’s not a new disease, but it is worrisome since it could make our public health crisis worse.

This brief article will take a look at this flurona phenomenon and whether it’s something that requires concern.

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Gayle DeLong, anti-HPV vaccine and anti-autism, died from breast cancer

Gayle DeLong, who wasn’t a scientist, let alone a vaccine scientist, and who wrote an article that tried to claim that the HPV vaccine causes infertility, recently died of breast cancer. Of course, she blamed her breast cancer on her childs’ autism.

In general, I try to forgive people for their mistakes, especially when they are no longer able to respond to criticism. But, I just can’t. Her unscientific rants against the HPV vaccine probably lead to enough people refusing to get the vaccine, and that will lead to additional deaths from HPV-related cancers. That is unforgivable.

Despite that, I don’t wish she had died, especially of breast cancer. No one deserves that fate.

But I wanted to take one last look at her disinformation campaign about the HPV vaccine and some of the things she said in her life. She shouldn’t be remembered as a hero to the anti-vaccine world, but as someone whose words ostensibly have led to cancer and the deaths of too many people

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