COVID herd immunity – vaccine denial may make that impossible

person aspirating the vaccine from the vial

The only way to COVID-19 herd immunity is going to be via vaccines, but people throughout the world, especially in the USA, are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. The anti-vaccine world is doing everything it can to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about these vaccines, despite our efforts to counter the disinformation campaign.

Let’s talk about COVID-19 herd immunity and how vaccines are important. And why we probably can’t hit herd immunity, a terrible consequence of the anti-vaccine rhetoric and lies.

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Create an independent FDA, CDC – new COVID-19 vaccines required it

independent CDC FDA

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent rush for treatments and vaccines for the virus have renewed calls for a more independent FDA and CDC. Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, who is a frequent contributor to this space, has written two powerful articles arguing for an independent CDC and FDA.

If you have followed the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responses have been politicized to the point that even those of us who have strongly supported those two agencies are appalled. 

The CDC has been pushed to scrub information and data to make the Trump administration look good. Recently, it was reported that one of Trump’s minions tried to pressure CDC regarding the transmission of the virus to kids to get it in line with the nonsense being pushed during Trump’s failed presidential campaign.

And then the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) to hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the data showed that hydroxychloroquine does not work and remdesivir has only a marginal effect on outcomes. In each case, it appears that the FDA was more interested in promoting these drugs to support President Trump’s wild claims that he was “doing something” about the pandemic, rather than relying upon robust science.

Professor Reiss has written two articles about how we might create a more powerful and independent FDA and CDC by utilizing the types of structures of actual independent agencies within the Federal Government. I want to quickly review what she proposes because I think it’s a conversation that we hope that President-elect Joe Biden might embrace during the next few years.

The problem is that 

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Pro-science Joe Biden – he deserves our support for President

Joe Biden science

In case you’re living under a rock and reading this, the United States will choose either pro-science Joe Biden or science-denying Donald Trump to be our next president. There are a lot of reasons to support former Vice President Biden over Trump, but the biggest one for me is that he’s pro-science.

Science matters. And it matters more than just climate change, vaccines, COVID-19 pandemic, and many other issues that are critical to the world these days. It is also relevant to healthcare, women’s health, abortion, and competitiveness in today’s world.

I know that none of you who read this blog will be surprised that I give my strongest endorsement of the pro-science Joe Biden over that Nazi Republican Donald Trump. But let me show where Biden and science are sympatico with mine. And hopefully, yours. Continue reading “Pro-science Joe Biden – he deserves our support for President”

COVID-19 herd immunity without vaccines? That will lead to genocide

COVID-19 herd immunity

Yesterday, I spent a bit of your time writing about the Great Barrington Declaration which strives to create COVID-19 herd immunity, without a vaccine,  by opening up the economy and allowing people to get infected. It was based on pseudoscience and callous disregard for the health of people across the world. Numerous other scientists showed their disdain for it like David Gorski and a friendly microbiologist

I was going to move on to other things to discuss when it became clear that Donald Trump supports this pseudoscientific nonsense. Of course, Trump has promoted all kinds of equine feces about the coronavirus from pushing hydroxychloroquine to trying to take shortcuts in producing a vaccine

Then it became clearer to me that trying to create COVID-19 herd immunity without a vaccine was worse than I thought. Maybe I’m buying into hyperbole, but I don’t think so. Let’s get into it.

Continue reading “COVID-19 herd immunity without vaccines? That will lead to genocide”

Flu vaccine and coronavirus – more than ever, it can save your life

Flu vaccine and coronavirus

It’s flu season, but in this horrible year, we need to talk about the seasonal flu vaccine and coronavirus. Before we start, I am not claiming that the flu vaccine will prevent COVID-19, but it might save your life.

President Trump, who has all of the science knowledge of an amoeba, has been attempting to convince us that COVID-19 is nothing more than the flu, despite his just being in a hospital for treatment of COVID-19 and after over 210,000 dead Americans (as of 6 October 2020) because of this disease.

In fact, the flu kills a lot of people worldwide every single year, around 250,000 to 500,000, and the coronavirus, so far, is much worse with over 1 million deaths worldwide as of September 2020. In a normal year, influenza is a very dangerous disease, despite the claims of the anti-vaccine world. It could be much much worse when we get a double hit from the flu and the coronavirus.

Although there are all kinds of mixed messages and false claims about a “real soon now” potential coronavirus vaccine, we have to stop this pandemic with social distancing, face masks, hand-washing, and other efforts. And to reduce potential mortality from the coronavirus, we must get the flu vaccine. 
Continue reading “Flu vaccine and coronavirus – more than ever, it can save your life”

Trump coronavirus vaccine – in this one specific case, I’m anti-vax

trump coronavirus vaccine

As I’ve discussed previously, the FDA may use its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) powers to push the Trump coronavirus vaccine out on the citizens of the USA before it’s been fully tested. Using Vladimir Putin’s example of pushing out a vaccine before it’s fully tested, Donald Trump keeps insisting that we’ll get a new COVID-19 vaccine soon, well before phase 3 clinical trials are done.

All vaccines currently on the market have been tested thoroughly. And the science that these current vaccines are very safe and very effective is settled. I am thoroughly convinced of the evidence that we have excellent vaccines, so it is clear that I am thoroughly pro-vaccine – I do not have to convince anyone of that.

However, for the Trump coronavirus vaccine, I am anti-vaccine. But it is a very narrow, very unique situation. 

I have been troubled by the speed of the coronavirus vaccine research. I think it can lead to a bad vaccine on the market. Recently, Astra-Zeneca had to put a hold further testing of the so-called University of Oxford vaccine, because of a suspected serious adverse event in one individual. Astra-Zeneca will investigate the adverse event to determine if the vaccine caused it.

This is not uncommon in clinical trials – there is an abundance of caution while investigating new drugs, despite what people believe about how clinical trials are managed. That’s why vaccine research is difficult and not a slam dunk. 

On the other hand, there will be serious consequences to a rushed Trump coronavirus vaccine, because we might not get these safety signals that can appear in large clinical trials. And if we do this wrong by avoiding large phase 3 clinical trials, people who may be on the fence about vaccines become convinced by anti-vaxxers that this awful process was used by all other vaccines. It wasn’t.

Dr. Peter Hotez, MD Ph.D., one of the leading vaccine scientists in the world,  posted a Twitter thread where he discussed his concerns about a potential Trump coronavirus vaccine.

I want to review each of the 12 concerns he posted along with my own opinions on each. Continue reading “Trump coronavirus vaccine – in this one specific case, I’m anti-vax”

Coronavirus vaccine EUA? Bad science from a desperate president

coronavirus vaccine EUA

Because of recent emergency use authorizations (EUA) from the FDA, there is trepidation that they will approve a coronavirus vaccine EUA to make a big splash for a desperate Donald Trump. This is unsettling to those of us who are “pro-vaccine,” because it could cause hesitancy towards this vaccine, and frankly, all vaccines, to skyrocket.

Democrats in Congress are trying to make sure that a coronavirus vaccine EUA does not endanger the health of the country or cause Americans to become even more vaccine-hesitant. So, this article will examine what is and is not a part of an emergency use authorization. And what this all means for a potential coronavirus vaccine EUA. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine EUA? Bad science from a desperate president”

Oleander extract for COVID-19 – another moronic and useless treatment

oleander extract

And here we go again – President Donald Trump is pushing oleander extract as the new miracle cure or prevention for COVID-19. This is right up there with the hydroxychloroquine nonsense he was (and I suppose still) pushing earlier in the pandemic.

So instead of listening to his scientists, public health experts, and anyone else with functioning neurons, Trump pushes these useless treatments instead of actually focusing on leading the country to fight this coronavirus pandemic. It is his fault that nearly 180,000 Americans are dead, but he prefers to push this quackery because it is so much easier to do than the actual work of managing a historic pandemic.

I hope this article will be short because there really isn’t much to say since there is no legitimate evidence that oleander extract works on any disease, let alone COVID-19. But this old feathered dinosaur is here to provide science with an extract of snark, just so you be assured that your best hope for preventing COVID-19 is a vaccine. Continue reading “Oleander extract for COVID-19 – another moronic and useless treatment”

Russian coronavirus vaccine – tested by showing it a photo of the word “test”

Russian coronavirus vaccine

A new Soviet Russian coronavirus vaccine, called “Sputnik V” was approved by the Soviet Union Russia. The “first” vaccine to be approved was announced by Soviet General Secretary Russian President Vladimir Putin, otherwise known as Donald Trump’s best friend forever.

Amusingly, the “Sputnik V” name harkens back to the Space Race, a Cold War competition between the USA and the Soviet Union in the 50s and 60s to see which country could build the best space program. Sputnik was the name of the first orbital satellite launched by the Soviets beating the USA to space by two months. It didn’t really do much but beep every few seconds while orbiting the earth – we’ll take that as an excellent metaphor.

Not to be totally cynical, the name is an obvious propaganda statement by Putin that the Soviets Russians won the coronavirus vaccine war. 

Of course, the scientist in me says “not so fast there Comrade.” Let’s take a look at the science, or better still the lack of science, of this new Russian coronavirus vaccine. Considering how skeptical I am of the US coronavirus vaccine effort, you can imagine what I’m going to write about Putin’s effort. Continue reading “Russian coronavirus vaccine – tested by showing it a photo of the word “test””

Hydroxychloroquine ineffective for COVID-19, demon sperm, and zombies

hydroxychloroquine

Just when I thought I was out of the hydroxychloroquine pseudoscience, they pull me back in. And here we are, a group of fools is pushing it again. Sigh.

This all started because of an awful study from France published back in March of 2020. At that time, Donald Trump, desperate for a “win” against the coronavirus along with other non-scientists pushed hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for coronavirus. Of course, me and many others like Orac, who has written several articles about it,  found the evidence that hydroxychloroquine, usually with the antibiotic azithromycin, had any effect on COVID-19 was very weak, even non-existent. 

And my mind hasn’t been changed in the meantime. And Orac is back calling hydroxychloroquine the “Black Knight,” a reference to a fictional character in the wonderful film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Oh, you never saw the movie? Well, I’ll let Orac tell that story:

In the film, King Arthur encounters him guarding a rather pathetic bridge and asks him to join his quest to seek the Holy Grail. The Black Knight refuses and then blocks Arthur’s passage with a menacing, “None shall pass.” The battle is joined, and Arthur, one by one, chops off all of the Black Knight’s limbs in a truly warped comedy sequence. After losing each limb, the Black Knight says things like, “‘Tis but a scratch” and “I’ve had worse.” Before his last leg is chopped off, the Black Knight proclaims (while hopping around), “I’m invincible,” to which Arthur retorts, “You’re a loony.” After losing his last limb, the Black Knight finally concedes, “All right, we’ll call it a draw.” Then, as Arthur crosses the bridge and rides off, the Black Knight yells, “Oh. Oh, I see. Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to ya! I’ll bite your legs off!”

In other words, this damn story about hydroxychloroquine keeps coming back despite having all of its limbs removed. “Tis but a scratch.” 

Now, I prefer zombie metaphors (and I believe so does Orac, but I have to give credit to him for the Monty Python reference), because, like many of the tropes we see in the anti-vaccine world, no matter how many times we kill this belief, it keeps coming back. In the world of zombies, one needs to destroy the brain. That’s why I try to present evidence!

Of course this time around, this claim includes demon sperms and alien DNA. I kid you not.

Continue reading “Hydroxychloroquine ineffective for COVID-19, demon sperm, and zombies”