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. Continue reading “Virus evolution — debunking anti-vaccine myth that they become less virulent”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a horrible experience for the past two years, but it had one silver lining – beating the flu.
As I have written before, the annual rite of winter life, flu outbreaks, became almost nothing during the 2020-21 flu season. On average, the flu infects roughly 30 million Americans every year and kills over 30,000. Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that over 650,000 people die of respiratory illnesses related to the flu.
As with COVID-19, the elderly, the poor, and people of color are all overrepresented among the victims of the flu. Moreover, the annual economic cost of the flu in the USA averages nearly $90 billion.
Of course, things changed during the 2020-21 flu season. The US had only around 2,000 cases of the flu. No, that is not a typo, there were only 2,000 flu cases in the USA during the 2020-21 flu season. In other words, there were 17,000 times fewer flu cases than the 35 million cases during the 2019-2020 flu season.
During the 2019-20 flu season, 199 children died of the virus. In 2020-21, only one child died.
In fact, other respiratory viruses nearly disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic – respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza, rhinovirus, and adenovirus. I’ve been watching infectious diseases for decades, and this was truly amazing.
So how can we stop the flu once the COVID-19 pandemic is done? And that’s where it gets complicated. Continue reading “Thanks to COVID-19, we beat the flu for the first time in history”
This article about Vaxxed producer, Del Bigtree, 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 few months, Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree, who formerly worked on the show The Doctors, has made numerous statements about vaccines and vaccine safety. His claims about fraud by the CDC have been addressed in the past, and the evidence doesn’t support his beliefs. But the claims he makes about vaccines go beyond the movie, and he makes an effort to present himself as an authority on the issue.
Mr. Bigtree’s statements are consistently inaccurate, suggesting he is not a good source of information about vaccines. It’s impossible to address every single wrong claim Mr. Bigtree has made about vaccines, of course. But these problems should demonstrate that Mr. Bigtree’s claims about vaccines cannot be relied on. Continue reading “Is Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree credible on vaccines? Not really.”
There’s a ridiculous anti-vaxxer trope, that getting measles can prevent cancer, that’s been circulating for a while. Of course, it was pushed by members of the disgraced Trump White House, so it has the same credibility as that White House showed for any science whether it was the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change.
Of course, your favorite ancient feathered dinosaur is here to correct this issue – a measles infection is not going to prevent any of the 200 or more cancers that afflict humans. Continue reading “Measles does not prevent cancer – debunking another anti-vaccine trope”
Since the anti-vaccine world lacks any evidence to support their tropes, they’ve decided to go with anti-vaccine Holocaust denial for their new operating strategy. But they just don’t understand what they’re doing again.
Recently, as more measles outbreaks occur across the world, there is consternation in governments, schools, and public health organizations about the dropping of measles vaccination rates in some areas. As a result, states like California are trying to clamp down on medical exemption abuse, and other jurisdictions, like Rockland County, NY, have banned unvaccinated children from public spaces.
And of course, during this COVID-19 pandemic, the anti-vaccine organizations are utilizing the same false equivalencies between vaccine mandates and the Holocaust. What are they thinking?
These actions by public officials were implemented to stop the spread of measles, a dangerous, and frequently, deadly disease. As you can imagine, the anti-vaccine religion has been whining and screaming about everything from their individual rights to some cynical conspiracy theory about something or another ever since “mandatory” vaccines became important to public health officials to reduce the spread of the disease. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine groups employ Holocaust denial tactics – disgusting behavior”
The old myth of the huge Big Pharma vaccine profits – it’s the subject of so many memes, tropes, and outright lies from the anti-vaccine activists. These vaccine deniers, who not only lack knowledge of science but also of basic corporate finance, believe that every Big Pharma CEO relies on vaccines for their next bonus check, which they use to buy their new Ferrari to show off to imaginary vaccine-injured children.
I am not naive – public corporations have an obligation to their shareholders and employees to maximize profits. That’s capitalism, I suppose.
But where this trope goes off the rails is when you realize that vaccine profits would be eclipsed by medical industry profits if Big Pharma simply stopped producing vaccines – mass epidemics would mean that hospitals would be filled with patients, just look at the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s ironic that the anti-vaxxers claim that Big Pharma’s greed gives us vaccines, but if they were truly greedy they’d be out of the vaccine business.
This article is not going to be as much science as I usually do – it’s going to focus on finance and accounting. Yes, I’m a finance and accounting geek as much as I am a science aficionado. Continue reading “Vaccine profits from Big Pharma – let’s take a closer look at this trope”
This article about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program 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.
In this post I explain how one goes about proving a case in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), and how that differs from proving a case in the civil courts, focusing on what it means to have a no-fault program and proving causation.
I will use a case that started with the tragic death of a young child after a vaccine to illustrate the complexity and operation of the program, and also to address the idea of federal preemption, and how it limits the ability of those claiming vaccine injuries to use state courts for their claims.
Continue reading “National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program facts”
With so much sense and nonsense about coronavirus, I set to the side an important MMR vaccine systematic review that I’ve been wanting to review for a few weeks. Well, it’s time to focus on that.
Ever since Mr. Andrew Wakefield published his fraudulent, and subsequently retracted, study that seemed to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the anti-vaccine crowd has embraced it as if it were a scientific fact. Of course, they ignore over 150 published scientific articles that show that there are, in fact, no links at all.
This Wakefield chicanery has spawned a cottage industry of other anti-vaccine zealots like Del Bigtree and his fraudumentary Vaxxed, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Tetyana Obukhanych, and many others.
And now we have a new, large, impressive MMR vaccine systematic review that once again provides affirmative evidence that there are no links between ASD and the MMR vaccine. None. Continue reading “MMR vaccine sytematic review – science finds no link to autism AGAIN”
The old Skeptical Raptor took a bit of a break to recharge their batteries to tackle all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 1 – the queen of the false authority of the anti-vaxxers – Tetyana Obukhanych.
One of their favorite pseudoscientists of the anti-vaccine religion is Tetyana Obukhanych, someone who appears to have great credentials. Unfortunately, once you dig below the surface of her claims, there is no credible evidence in support.
One of the most irritating problems I have with the anti-vaccine movement is their over-reliance on false authorities – they overrate publications (often in worthless predatory journals) or commentary from someone who appears to have all of the credentials to be a part of the discussion on vaccines, but really isn’t close to being a real vaccine scientist.
Nevertheless, credentials don’t matter – an “authority” on vaccines must follow the evidence that vaccines are safe and effective unless those “authorities” can provide robust, peer-reviewed, published evidence that vaccines aren’t. Someone like Tetyana Obukhanych almost never does.
For example, Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic, two researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia, have, for all intents and purposes, sterling credentials in medicine and science. However, they publish nonsense research (usually filled with the weakest of epidemiology trying to show a population-level correlation between vaccines and adverse events) in low ranked scientific journals.
Following in the footsteps of Shaw, Tomljenovic, James Lyons-Weiler, and Christopher Exley, let’s take a look at the background and education of the anti-vaccine hero, Tetyana Obukhanych. Continue reading “Tetyana Obukhanych – another anti-vaccine appeal to false authority”
The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 3 – Jenny McCarthy.
Honestly, I thought she had faded from the anti-vaccine world, but I guess over 150,000 people still researched her.
Jenny McCarthy was once the MTV drunk college dating game hostess and former “journalist” on The View. I remember when she joined The View – there was widespread condemnation of her hiring from scientists, journalists, and yours truly because of her loud and annoying anti-vaccine rhetoric. Clearly, no one of any note supported her being hired on the View, except for websites like the Age of Pushing Nonsense To Harm Children. Continue reading “Jenny McCarthy, with help from Oprah Winfrey, lies about vaccines”