Anti-vaccine physicians who provide false information about vaccines

anti-vaccine physicians

Recently, the vaccine deniers have pushed a list of anti-vaccine physicians, which gets copy-pasted from one website to another, and are similar to those lists of “scientists” who deny Darwinian evolution or climate change. But is this really made up of respected physicians and researchers? Does it really contain doctors who are experts or authorities on vaccines?

Well, thanks to Zared Schwartz, a senior at the University of Florida studying microbiology, cell science, and neurobehavioral, who took it upon himself to look up each of these individuals and see if they’ve got anything to offer in the discussions about vaccines. Guess what? It doesn’t appear so.

So if you run across this list of anti-vaccine doctors and researchers, wondering if any of them speak from authority, just check them out on this list.

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Cupping craze – Olympic swimmers love their pseudoscience

cupping

If you’ve been watching swimming at the super-spreader Tokyo Olympics, you’d have noticed some of the swimmers with odd bruises on them – it comes from cupping, a useless pseudoscientific alternative medicine belief. It was popular during the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, but I guess it’s still around.

Just in case you didn’t know, cupping doesn’t mean the protective equipment some male athletes use to protect their groinal (invented word, deal with it) regions. Although, for those athletes, that’s the most important cupping they will ever do.

Apparently, the cupping craze was first noticed because several members US Men’s swim team had awful-looking welts and bruises all over their bodies. Michael Phelps, probably the greatest Olympian ever with over 20 gold medals, was sporting several of the cupping welts on his shoulder.

Like homeopathy and chiropractic, which have little scientific evidence supporting any related clinical value, cupping is a fad without any scientific value. None.

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Cherry-picking – fake science that shows vaccines don’t work and ivermectin does

cherry-picking

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve noticed an epidemic of cherry-picking by people trying to prove this or that about face masks, vaccines, treatments, and mortality. If you don’t spend a lot of time reading the scientific literature on these points, you’d think that there was some sort of scientific debate on everything to do with COVID-19.

Even though some people will try to show that science is all over the place about this pandemic, it really isn’t. We know that facemasks worked, and probably helped reduce the infection rate. And it helped crush the seasonal flu across the world.

We know that the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe and very effective.

We know that all kinds of treatments don’t work from hydroxychloroquine to ivermectin to quack remedies from internet grifters.

And we know that the CDC isn’t intentionally inventing mortality numbers because of…reasons!

So, why does it seem like there are scientific debates about all of these? It’s because we seem to be in a world of false equivalence where cherry-picking one “science” article, irrespective of its merits, can “prove” a contradictory point. But this is not how science is done.

Not to be repetitive, but real science requires one to review all of the published evidence, giving more weight to published studies in respected journals, written by respected scientists, using respected methodologies and analyses, with respected conclusions. It is absolutely not cherry-picking those studies, irrespective of their quality (and they usually have no quality), just to support one’s pre-ordained conclusions. That’s pseudoscience.

I hate cherry-picking unless it’s gathering that delicious fruit. I can get behind that kind of cherry-picking.

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Do supplements prevent cancer or heart disease? No evidence

Do supplements prevent cancer or heart disease

One of the undying beliefs of some people is that a handful of expensive supplements prevent cancer and heart disease. Outside of a few cases where there is a diagnosed medical need for supplements, the only result of taking them is very expensive urine.

I’ve written a lot about various supplements and their potential to treat or prevent cancer and heart disease, and the evidence is sorely lacking. There are good ways to prevent cancer, like not smoking and getting the HPV vaccine, but not a single one of them includes swallowing a bunch of vitamins.

Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued draft recommendations on supplements – they were unable to give a single recommendation to any of the supplements that they examined. And as we do here, let’s take a look at what they wrote.

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Joe Mercola warned by FDA about quack COVID-19 treatments

joe mercola

One of our favorite alternative medicine quacks, Dr. Joe Mercola, DO, has been warned by the FDA to cease promoting useless COVID-19 treatments. This is not the first time that Dr. Mercola has run afoul of the FDA, and given his past activities, I doubt it’s his last.

The FDA told Joe Mercola that three products he markets with COVID-19 treatment claims are are “unapproved new drugs” and “misbranded drugs” being sold in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The three products are – Liposomal Vitamin C, Liposomal Vitamin D3, and Quercetin and Pterostilbene Advanced.

In case you don’t feel like reading what Joe Mercola has done this time, I’ll save you a bit of time. There is no evidence that any of these products do anything to treat COVID-19. But let’s take a look at Mercola and his quack treatments.

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Vitamin D treatment for COVID-19 – the evidence is really weak

Two recent papers have been published recently that seem to support that vitamin D does something to prevent or treat COVID-19. Except for a tiny little problem – both of the studies terribly weak and are unconvincing except to those who just want supplements to do something to end this pandemic. Don’t get your hopes too high.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused interest in vitamin D to skyrocket, because there has been a belief that vitamin D improves the immune system against the disease. The sales of vitamin D supplements have increased substantially since pre-pandemic times.

But is there any evidence supporting its use to prevent COVID-19 or improve outcomes for serious cases? Yes, there is evidence, but it’s far from convincing. There are better ways to prevent a COVID-19 infection, and vitamin D is not one of them.

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Flu treatment quackery – it is all woo, so get your influenza vaccine

flu treatment

It’s that time of year when we are bombarded by flu treatment quackery from “immune-boosting” miracle supplements to junk that “cures” every single virus known to medical science. During this world of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems to be even louder

This article will attempt to debunk the myths of flu treatments such as “boosting the immune system,” magical supplements, and other nonsense involved with the world of flu treatment pseudoscience.

The one way to prevent the flu, other than hiding in a bubble during the winter (which may be a good thing with the COVID-19 pandemic), is the seasonal flu vaccine. But that’s not a treatment, it prevents the flu.

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Anti vaccine social mobilization is a virus in the coronavirus world

anti-vaccine-social-mobilization

This article about anti-vaccine social mobilization 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.

Viruses are the ultimate parasites. Viruses are little packages of genetic material whose whole existence is about finding a host cell they can enter, use the cell’s machinery to make copies of themselves, often killing the cell in the process, and move to another cell – often inflicting substantial damage on the whole host organism (when the host is not a single cell).

Obviously, no human is like that. Nor is a movement like anti-vaccine social mobilization. But the term “viral” has been used to describe things that are not actually viruses. In several ways, the anti-vaccine movement can be argued to have similar qualities to viruses.

First, viruses succeed by misrepresenting themselves. They get into cells by convincing the cell’s receptors that they should be pulled in, that they belong. In a similar way, anti-vaccine social mobilization simulates other social movement’s use of the law by misrepresenting legal claims – blatantly or less blatantly.

They present settlements as wins. They present a case that rejected an argument that the Childhood National Vaccine Injury Act embodied the idea that vaccines are “unavoidably safe” by saying “US supreme court ruled vaccines “unavoidably UNsafe” [sic] in 2011.”

Second, anti-vaccine activists are parasitic in the sense that they coopt previously successful legal claims used by other movements. For example, in attacking laws trying to tighten vaccine mandates anti-vaccine activists compared them to segregation, going as far as to refer to Jim Crow, Rosa Parks, and separate water fountains.

In more than one lawsuit they cited Brown v. Board of Education to support a claim of discrimination (Reiss, 2018). More recently, they invoked the language of “my body, my choice” used by supporters of reproductive rights, and to the Me Too movement.

Third, anti-vaccine activists’ content goes viral. Although the content does not often break outside their network, the coordinated nature of their network and their sophisticated efforts make it quickly go viral within the network.

In these different ways, the anti-vaccine social mobilization has a viral-like quality, with more than one meaning, that is unlike the social movement previously written about.

As the editor, I’d like to add a fourth point. Viruses have no intelligence or free will. They are organisms at the edge of life, barely living. Compare that to the anti-vaccine social mobilization. Just saying.  

Debunking COVID-19 conspiracies – top 6 for entertainment purposes

COVID 19 conspiracies

Since I can only write so much about coronavirus vaccines without going mad, let’s talk about COVID-19 conspiracies. There are so many, but I wanted to focus on the six that are most frequently circulating around the internet.

I wonder what conspiracists before the existence of the internet. It’s possible that they were limited to those awful trash papers you could buy at the grocery story line checkout. Back when we actually stood in grocery store lines.

Today, we can’t have any science without someone inventing some conspiracy to go around it. You know, like vaccines contain nanobots or something. Actually, medical research is studying the use of nanotechnology for treating diseases – can’t wait for the ridiculous myths to surround that when it appears.

I know that 99.9% of the readers of this blog probably reject all conspiracies as pure, unfettered nonsense. But we need to have a little snark and fun during these dystopian times.

One little housekeeping note – I’m not going to link to any conspiracy website or anything. Why give them the clicks?

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Judge orders the Genesis II Church to stop marketing MMS for COVID-19

mms for COVID-19

This article about MMS for COVID-19 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.

On April 17, 2020, a Federal judge issued a temporary order prohibiting the Church of Genesis II from selling its Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) for COVID-19 – in reality, MMS is a dangerous industrial-strength bleach. The order is a response to an action by the FDA based on the Church’s promotion of MMS for COVID-19. The response of most reasonable people familiar with MMS is, probably, “about time.”

Miracle Mineral Solution is an industrial-strength bleach. As far as I know, it has no proven benefits, and obviously, ingesting concentrated, industrial-strength bleach – or worse, taking it as an enema – can cause harm.

It has been sold by the Genesis II Church both as a sacrament and as a miracle cure for all ills. Among other uses, it has been used by parents of children with autism against their autistic children, either by providing it orally or as an enema, with harmful results

The FDA has warned about MMS in the past and conducted several investigations and actions addressing it.

On April 8, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to the Genesis II Church stating that:

[b]ased on [FDA’s] review, MMS is an unapproved new drug sold in violation of section 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), 21 U.S.C. § 355(a)…

They also demanded that the Church,

cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of COVID-19. Further, FDA has previously warned consumers about the dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects of MMS…

In other words, the FDA concluded that MMS, to be sold, needs to be licensed as a drug – which would require the sellers to provide evidence that it’s safe and effective (which they’re unlikely to be able to do, but they have as much chance of trying as any other sellers). Since MMS has not gone through the approval process, it’s in violation of the act.

On the FDA’s site, the FDA Commissioner, Stephen M. Hahn, MD, added more:

Despite previous warnings, the FDA is concerned that we are still seeing chlorine dioxide products being sold with misleading claims that they are safe and effective for the treatment of diseases, now including COVID-19. The sale of these products can jeopardize a person’s health and delay proper medical treatment. We continue to take action and keep up our efforts to monitor for fraudulent treatments during this public health emergency and remind the public to seek medical help from their health care providers. 

After the Church, apparently, did not stop selling and promoting MMS, the FDA went to court. Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act,  the FDA can request an immediate temporary restraining order in situations like this, for the public health, and does not have to meet the high bar regular civil plaintiffs would have to meet to get such an order.

The Court granted the order, ordering the church, among other things, not to:

directly or indirectly, label, hold, and/or distribute any drug, including but not limited to MMS, that does not have an approved new drug application pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 355(b) or abbreviated new drug application pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 355(j), or an investigational new drug application in effect for its use pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 355(i), or any drug that is misbranded within the meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 352.

This means that the Church is not supposed to sell MMS for any use, not just as a (fake) treatment for COVID-19 for the moment. The next step is a preliminary injunction hearing, and it may end with the prohibition extending until the end of the case (though it can be lifted). 

As I said, about time. Here is hoping the prohibition becomes permanent, and that appropriate sanctions be imposed on those promoting MMS for COVID-19, a dangerous substance, as a cure.