Justice Clarence Thomas says aborted fetal cells are used in COVID vaccines — wrong again

aborted fetal cells vaccines

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has just claimed that COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells. I can’t believe I have to write this again, but no aborted fetus cells are found in any COVID-19 vaccines. None. Nada. Nichts.

I can’t believe I’ve reached a point in my writing career, which generally does not focus on dissenting opinions written by a Supreme Court Justice, but here we are. So let’s get into this nonsense by stating once again that Clarence Thomas is wrong — there are no fetal cells in COVID-19 vaccines. But let’s look at the case and what Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion.

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Anti-COVID vaccine has morphed into anti-all vaccines — shocking

anti-COVID-19 vaccine

Back in the ancient times of early summer 2020, we noticed a huge uptick in anti-COVID-19 vaccine sentiment online, even though these vaccines were just barely starting clinical trials. And because the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna used new technology, mRNAs, it led to fear and loathing of these vaccines.

I remarked to a friend of mine that if the anti-COVID-19 vaccine forces gained traction, it was going to cause trouble for other vaccines because the goal of the anti-vaccine world wasn’t to block mandates and requirements for just the COVID-19 vaccines, they want to stop all vaccinations.

Unless you believe in unicorns and rainbows, it is crystal clear to me, and many others. Orac recently wrote:

Ever since the anti-vaccine movement rose to previously unattained prominence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, resistance to COVID-19 vaccine mandates (not to mention to all public health mandates to slow the spread of the coronavirus, such as masks and “lockdowns”), and the increasing affinity between anti-vaxxers and fascists, those of us who have been following the anti-vaccine movement have become increasingly concerned that anti-COVID-19 vaccination has been metastasizing to cover all vaccines. Unsurprisingly, it’s been doing exactly that. The endgame of the anti-vaccine movement has always been the elimination of all vaccine mandates of any kind, and increasingly right wing politicians are pushing for laws and policies that bring us closer to such a world.

And guess what? It appears that all of our fears have come to pass.

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Physicians for Informed Consent — VAERS-loving anti-vaccine group

physicians for informed consent

Physicians for Informed Consent is another one of those science-denying groups trying to pretend to be all about vaccine “informed consent,” but they spread anti-vaccine nonsense, no different than what we hear from the usual suspects like Del Bigtree and Robert F Kennedy Jr.

I’ve written about Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) a few times, but I wanted to tell you all about the characters that are at the forefront of this anti-vaccine group. Talk about the usual suspects.

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Dumb anti-vaccine bill proposed by Rep. Louie Gohmert in the US House

Louie Gohmert

I have been ignoring this, but I just had to write about the idiotic anti-vaccine legislation that right-wing nutjob Representative Louie Gohmert has introduced to the US House of Representatives on 2 November 2021. It’s like a treasure trove of anti-vaccine tropes and myths.

This anti-vaccine bill has almost a 0% chance of being passed in the current House, but with the Democrats running into a stiff headwind of typical midterm lack of support, crackpot Republicans will probably be running the House of Representatives in 2023, which means this dumb bill might get voted out of the House.

Let’s take a look at the bill, so you can laugh even more about Louie Gohmert.

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Supreme Court rulings on Biden administration vaccine mandates — explanation

Biden administration vaccine mandates

This article about recent US Supreme Court rulings on the Biden administration’s proposed vaccine mandates 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 January 13, 2022, the US Supreme Court, in two different decisions, struck down the Biden administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers to create a plan that requires employees to vaccinate or test and mask in the workplace and upheld a rule by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) requiring 15 different types of healthcare providers to vaccine mandates for their employees (subject to required medical and religious accommodations).

This post explains and analyzes both decisions regarding the Biden administration’s proposed vaccine mandates.

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What would a time traveler from 2019 think about the COVID pandemic

COVID-19 pandemic

I was thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic recently, and I wondered how we would communicate with a time traveler from just two years ago. I had to do this thought exercise a few years ago when I had to create a paragraph in modern English that would make no sense to a time traveler from 1965. Think about the words that we use in common conversation that would make no sense to them — gigabytes, smartphones, internet, WiFi, gluten-free, and so many more.

While at my local coffee joint drinking my favorite and writing my previous blog post, someone said to me, “cool mask.” It’s a Star Trek mask — yes, I am a Trek nerd, don’t get me started. I then realized back in 2019, there is no way someone would put those two words together and make sense.

So, just to have fun on this Friday afternoon, I thought I’d list out some of the terms we use today that would be foreign to someone from 2019. Just a caveat first — some of these terms would be known by scientists and those who were involved with vaccines. But most would not have been said or understood in normal conversations.

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Medicaid and Medicare vaccine mandates legal review

brown wooden gavel on brown wooden table

This Medicaid and Medicare vaccine mandates legal review 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.

Over the past weeks, several courts around the country have stayed the Medicare and Medicaid vaccine mandates. As of today, December 20, 2021, the mandate is stayed in 25 states, and in force in 25.

Staying this mandate is more surprising than staying the OSHA mandate we have discussed before because while a vaccine mandate is new (but not other broad workplace regulations), and OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards require a high bar rarely met, there is a long history of extensive, broad funding conditions under Medicaid and Medicare.

I have decided to do this as an overview rather than a full analysis of each of the Medicare and Medicaid vaccine mandates decisions, simply because I want to get it out promptly. I will say that my view is that the strongest argument against the rule is that it was enacted without notice and comment, and that, itself, is not a very strong argument. 

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Court stays the Biden OSHA COVID vaccine mandate — an analysis

OSHA COVID-19 vaccine mandate

This article about the Court of Appeals stay of President Biden’s OSHA COVID vaccine mandate 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 November 6, 2021, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed President Biden’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) – the emergency temporary standard by which OSHA required large employers to adopt a COVID-19 vaccine or test mandate – citing grave constitutional and statutory concerns.

On November 12, 2021, the Fifth Circuit published a decision keeping in place its stay and elaborating on the reasons. The decision is concerning — first, the legal analysis does not follow established law in several ways, and the innovations (or misapplications) are not well reasoned. Second, the decision suggests a lack of close reading of the Emergency Temporary Standard the decision is putting on hold. And third, and perhaps most concerning, the decision suggests the panel attributes little to no importance to halting COVID-19, or to the fact that over a thousand people in the United States are dying from COVID-19 every day, or to the fact that the ETS is estimated to save thousands of workers lives and prevent a quarter of a million hospitalizations, under conservative assumptions.

All of these give cause for concern if the Fifth Circuit is the one chosen under the lottery to hear the cases against the mandate. A panel that clearly ascribes little importance to protecting employees from COVID-19 is unlikely to consider the need for a mandate carefully. 

To be clear, the bar for putting out an ETS is high. Another panel may end up not upholding the ETS for not meeting that high bar, and that would be well within the lines of existing jurisprudence. But this decision isn’t it. 

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COVID vaccinated are NOT as likely to spread the virus as unvaccinated

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I keep seeing the anti-vax claim that those who have received the COVID-19 vaccinated are just as likely to spread the virus as unvaccinated individuals. Another day, another myth from anti-vaxxers that must be debunked, because this is utterly ridiculous.

I know, it’s been debunked so many times, it seems fruitless to do it again, but it’s being used as one of the excuses to not get the vaccine. Among all of the dumb claims of the COVID-19 vaccine deniers, this is one of the dumbest.

This claim about those vaccinated against COVID-19 are as likely (or sometimes more likely) to spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus as unvaccinated is not supported by any scientific evidence. Yet, your local Twitter or Facebook anti-vaxxer loves to spread this inane trope, mainly because they can. And because people seem to believe any outlandish claim made about the vaccine.

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COVID vaccine mandates are working

pexels-photo-5863389.jpeg

I know we keep reading about lawsuits and protest about COVID-19 vaccine mandates, but I think we (pro-science, pro-vaxxers) are too focused on the negative. Actual data is showing us that these mandates are working and they are substantially increasing vaccination rates.

There have been a ton of court rulings and public protests about COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has written about a few of them, but she is barely keeping up with them. I’m on a mailing list from her, and I swear that it appears that there is a new lawsuit against these mandates every single day. And court rulings have been both positive and negative.

But, as I said above, there is good news. The mandates are actually working. So, let’s take a look at what we know.

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