Anti-vaccine Robert F Kennedy Jr Instagram account was taken down on Wednesday, 10 February 2021. RFK Jr. has been the subject of numerous debunkings and takedowns by myself and Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, and so many others across the interwebs, it is good to see that his anti-vaccine nonsense has been forced off of one social media platform.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, RFK Jr has doubled-down on his anti-vaccine rhetoric. He has made up or repeats all kinds of nonsense about the COVID-19 vaccine, most of them I and others have spent time refuting. So, let’s take a look at what happened with Instagram.
Here we go again – I keep seeing the new anti-vaccine claim that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are not, in fact, vaccines but are either “medical devices” or “gene therapy.” I keep trying to stay up with every single myth and trope pushed by the anti-vaxxers, but I swear that there’s a new one every day.
I would really love to write about something other than COVID-19 vaccines – I’ve got a ton of articles I want to write about GMOs, supplements, and cancer that are just sitting in a virtual pile on my desk. Unfortunately, I’m very worried that the anti-vax hatred of these new vaccines will allow this pandemic to keep going. That’s why many of us keep doing the best we can to stamp out the myths.
Just to be clear, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are actually vaccines – they are biological preparations that provide active acquired immunity to an infectious disease, in this case, COVID-19. But, I’m going to have to debunk these myths.
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) has submitted an application for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine. In phase 3 clinical trials, results showed that it was effective against the illness, and it was especially robust in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 along with death.
The COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed by JNJ subsidiary Janssen Biotech, will be reviewed by an FDA advisory committee on 26 February 2021. If that review goes well, the FDA Commissioner could issue the EUA within a few days.
One of the enduring myths about vaccines is that they’re rushed to market, which has continued with COVID-19 vaccines. This myth doesn’t arise because the anti-vaxxers have some “gotcha” information about these vaccines, it’s because they are intent on pushing fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
If you read my articles since March about the development of this vaccine, I was very troubled about the speed of development. Most vaccines take 5-10 years to develop, mostly because we want a better handle on the expected effectiveness and to uncover any potential (and extremely rare) serious adverse events.
But were the COVID-19 vaccine rushed? Not really. Basically, two massive resources – money and brainpower – were thrown at developing a vaccine so that we could stop the inexorable march of the pandemic. The best scientists in the world collaborated with the best pharmaceutical companies with the backing of the richest countries to develop and manufacture safe and effective vaccines.
It wasn’t a magical process where scientists pulled ideas out of thin air to make these vaccines using dangerous technologies. They didn’t.
We know how to train the adaptive immune system to prevent pathogenic diseases with vaccines using all kinds of technologies. Once we were able to isolate the SARS-CoV-2 virus and determine what parts of its structure were the most immunogenic, we knew what to do, it wasn’t a huge mystery at that time.
Here we go again with another anti-vaccine myth about infertility and COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. The anti-vaccine zealots are so predictable. They grab onto a trope and hang on for dear life. They tried this nonsense with the HPV vaccine which was based on a retracted study, and they failed. They tried to claim that the tetanus vaccine caused “mass sterilization” in Africa, and they failed there too.
This time, it’s the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will cause infertility. Anti-vaxxers are trying to use some seriously twisted “logic” to get from the facts about these vaccines to a major myth that somehow, in some magical way, these vaccines will cause infertility.
Let’s get right to the point – no, they don’t. But let me give you the science.
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.
For several weeks, anti-vaccine activists from all around the world have targeted a nurse from Tennessee, Tiffany Dover, stalking and harassing her, her employer, and her family. This post describes the kind of behavior Tiffany Dover was subjected to, offers some steps people in that situation can take, and points to the features of social media that make this kind of targeted harassment possible.
Ms. Dover was not the only – or even the worst – case of this kind of sustained harassment in the past years. The worst is probably the extensive, ugly, horrible targeting of the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook shooting.
This kind of behavior is highly problematic and needs a response.
With all of the bad news across the world regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the one tiny bit of good news is the substantial drop in influenza incidence during the 2020-21 flu season. Despite the weird and unfounded myths from the anti-vaccine and COVID-19 denier crowds, there is no conspiracy that someone is hiding the flu numbers by boosting COVID-19 numbers.
The only reason why the influenza incidence has dropped precipitously is because of the public health strategies to contain COVID-19. That’s it – nothing deeper than that.
On 30 January 2021, anti-vaccine protestors shut down mass COVID-19 vaccinations at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. About 50 protestors blocked access to the stadium which kept people who had been waiting for hours to get vaccinated against the diseases.
I know that some of you out there think we should treat these anti-vaccine lunatics with respect and professionalism. Why?
These people are vile, ignorant, hateful, narcissistic liars who have no concerns for the lives of other human beings. If these morons want to deny the settled science on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, they can join with flat-earthers and other conspiracy idiots to share their backward beliefs with one another. They don’t have to stop others, who are rational and accept the science of actually trained people, from getting the vaccine.
I’m tired of these anti-vaccine clowns, but the blocking of mass COVID-19 vaccinations in Los Angeles is a step too far. There is no further need to pretend that these people are “misguided,” they are a clear and present danger to our citizens.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about how the new COVID-19 mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The purpose of this article is to give the casual reader a 15 minute (plus or minus an hour) scientific review of the mRNA technology that is the basis of those new vaccines.
There will be several new COVID-19 vaccines that should be available widely in the next few weeks, but none of those will use mRNA vaccine technology. When those become available, I’ll try to write up a similar review of those technologies.