Experimental COVID vaccines? Another anti-vaxxer trope to be debunked

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And here we go with another one of those silly anti-vaxxers tropes – the COVID-19 vaccines are experimental, and the government/Big Pharma/Bill Gates are conspiring to test the vaccine on innocent people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The claim that the COVID-19 vaccines are experimental probably arises from the fact that most of them received anEmergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the USA and other countries. The anti-vaxxers what to use the EUA to make a strawman argument that EUA is equivalent to “a risky, experimental drug that will cause great harm to you.”

But if these anti-vaccine activists spent just a little bit of time to understand the high-quality science behind these vaccines and the Emergency Use Authorizations, they might move on to some other topic. But in case someone finds this article among all of the nonsense on the internet, looking to find out if COVID-19 vaccines are, in fact, experimental, let’s debunk that with actual facts.

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Scientific consensus – collective opinion on vaccines, evolution, climate change

scientific consensus

In the hierarchy of scientific principles, the scientific consensus – that is, the collective opinion and judgment of scientific experts in a particular field – is an important method to separate real scientific ideas and conclusions from pseudoscience, cargo cult science, and other beliefs.

I often discuss scientific theories which “are large bodies of work that are a culmination or a composite of the products of many contributors over time and are substantiated by vast bodies of converging evidence. They unify and synchronize the scientific community’s view and approach to a particular scientific field.”

A scientific theory is not a wild and arbitrary guess, but it is built upon a foundation of scientific knowledge that itself is based on evidence accumulated from data that resulted from scientific experimentation. A scientific theory is considered to be the highest scientific principle, something that is missed by many science deniers. In addition, a scientific consensus is formed by a similar method – the accumulation of evidence.

I have written frequently about the scientific consensus because it is one of the most powerful pieces of evidence in a discussion about critical scientific issues of our day – evolution, climate change, vaccines, GMOs, and many other areas of science.

This tome has one goal – to clarify our understanding of the scientific consensus, and how we arrive at it. Through this information, maybe we all can see the power of it in determining what is real science and what are policy and cultural debates.

But the most important thing is that the scientific consensus (and theories, for that matter) are not opinions. They aren’t random thoughts pulled out of the ether. Scientific consensus is based on overwhelming scientific evidence published in respected journals.

Continue reading “Scientific consensus – collective opinion on vaccines, evolution, climate change”

Scientific consensus – collective opinion on vaccines, climate change, evolution

scientific consensus

In the hierarchy of scientific principles, the scientific consensus – that is, the collective opinion and judgment of scientific experts in a particular field – is an important method to separate real scientific ideas and conclusions from pseudoscience, cargo cult science, and other beliefs.

I often discuss scientific theories which “are large bodies of work that are a culmination or a composite of the products of many contributors over time and are substantiated by vast bodies of converging evidence. They unify and synchronize the scientific community’s view and approach to a particular scientific field.”

A scientific theory is not a wild and arbitrary guess, but it is built upon a foundation of scientific knowledge that itself is based on evidence accumulated from data that resulted from scientific experimentation. A scientific theory is considered to be the highest scientific principle, something that is missed by many science deniers. In addition, a scientific consensus is formed by a similar method – the accumulation of evidence.

I have written frequently about the scientific consensus because it is one of the most powerful pieces of evidence in a discussion about critical scientific issues of our day – evolution, climate change, vaccines, GMOs, and many other areas of science.

This tome has one goal – to clarify our understanding of the scientific consensus, and how we arrive at it. Through this information, maybe we all can see the power of it in determining what is real science and what are policy and cultural debates.

But the most important thing is that the scientific consensus (and theories, for that matter) are not opinions. They aren’t random thoughts pulled out of the ether. Scientific consensus is based on overwhelming scientific evidence published in respected journals.

Continue reading “Scientific consensus – collective opinion on vaccines, climate change, evolution”

Sharyl Attkisson says science-based websites are astroturfers

Once upon a time, I was told of an article published on the website of “journalist” Sharyl Attkisson where she accused a lot of people of being astroturfers, including this old snarky feathered dinosaur. Now I admit to not being up-to-date on every cultural term that flows through the internet every day (who could?), but I had to find out more.

Well, what is an astroturfer? Supposedly, it’s a pejorative term that describes a fake grassroots effort. Astroturf is fake grass, so that’s its roots (pun intended).

I’m not really sure of the logic of placing science writers and evidence-based websites into the “astroturf” category, but she does it. It’s like the Big Lie, I guess if she keeps repeating it, people will think it’s true.

Of course, let’s not forget that if we’re going to accuse any person or group of being astroturfers, we should straightaway look at anti-vaccine groups led by Del Bigtree and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. I mean they are the epitome of astroturfers. To quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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Vaccine profits from Big Pharma – let’s take a closer look at this trope

vaccine profits

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”

Peter Doshi discusses COVID vaccine clinical trials – once again, he’s wrong

anti-vaccine peter doshi

One of the most annoying anti-vaccine activists is Peter Doshi who has decided to pontificate on COVID-19 vaccine trials. He is bothersome not because he is a noteworthy scientist or physician, he’s not, it’s because he somehow scored a position as an editor at the respected medical journal, BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal).

BMJ is not a hotbed of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, except for the presence of Peter Doshi. For example, they published a series of articles, written by Brian Deer, about Andrew Wakefield’s despicable deceit, you can read about it herehere, and here. Deer has also written a powerful book about Wakefield’s fraud. I wonder what Mr. Deer thinks of Peter Doshi as an editor at the acclaimed medical journal.

Doshi occasionally uses BMJ as his personal bully pulpit to push anti-vaccine rhetoric that can lead the casual observer to think that he is some respected authority figure with vaccines. He isn’t.

Peter Doshi has just posted an anti-vaccine blog post on BMJ attacking the clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.  His opinion piece needs to be critiqued because his attacks can add to the vast number of anti-COVID-19 vaccine myths that are being spread across the internet. 

Continue reading “Peter Doshi discusses COVID vaccine clinical trials – once again, he’s wrong”

Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine – FDA approves emergency use authorization

pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine

On 10 December 2020, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was reviewed by the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) in advance of an emergency use authorization (EUA). Unless you were avoiding the internet (and hence, you wouldn’t be reading this), you would know that the review went well, and VRBPAC “approved” the vaccine. On the evening of 11 December, the FDA gave approval for the EUA, the first COVID-19 vaccine available in the USA.

This article will quickly review the major points about the VRBPAC discussion, a review of some of the data, and finally a summary of what we know and don’t know about the Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. 

Continue reading “Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine – FDA approves emergency use authorization”

Dr. Jim Meehan is another anti-vaccine physician who lacks credibility

Dr. Jim Meehan

This article about Dr. Jim Meehan 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.

An anti-vaccine doctor from Oklahoma, Dr. Jim Meehan, wrote an online post about why he would no longer vaccinate his children. It’s pretty clear that his post is not so much a discussion of his own children (most of whom are adults) as an attempt to deter other parents from protecting their children from preventable diseases. His post is basically a set of claims trying to convince parents that vaccinating is very dangerous.

His claims are nothing new – they are strictly out of the anti-vaccine playbook. But the post has received some attention in the anti-vaccine world and was shared several thousand times, likely because many people treat an MD as an authority on the subject. So I decided to take a few minutes to explain why his claims are not good reasons to reject expert opinion and not protect children from disease.

Since then, Dr. Jim Meehan has become one of the go-to anti-vaccine doctors who is trotted out to dismiss the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Furthermore, he has become a COVID-19 denier, testifying against the use of face masks and claiming that the disease isn’t dangerous. Furthermore, Meehan was forced to settle a libel suit filed by Dr. Eve Switzer.

Dr. Meehan’s claims fall into several categories (which will be discussed individually below):

  1. The diseases we vaccinate against are not dangerous, and it’s okay, even good, to encounter them naturally.
  2. Vaccines have toxic ingredients.
  3. Vaccines are dangerous to children.
  4. The science behind vaccines is corrupt because the pharmaceutical industry controls it and then corrupts it.
  5. We should listen to him because he is a doctor and knows what he is talking about.

Note: Dr. Jim Meehan’s post doesn’t present these claims in that order. I have changed the order because I want to address the claims in a logical order, that is, first his claims about vaccine safety, then the conspiracy theory that underlies them, and finally, his appeal to authorityContinue reading “Dr. Jim Meehan is another anti-vaccine physician who lacks credibility”

Coronavirus vaccine warp speed – Scotty screaming at Captain Bonespurs

coronavirus vaccine warp speed

The coronavirus vaccine warp speed project from old Bonespurs, aka President Trump, is causing Scotty to yell, “Aye, the haggis is in the fire now for sure.” Operation Warp Speed is moving ahead at full power with not a single Starfleet Officer of note on board.

Not on board with the Star Trek metaphors?

Well, the coronavirus vaccine warp speed operation is President Bonespurs’, I mean Trump’s, new task force that will bring us a new vaccine in a matter of months. That’s not going to happen in any case, especially when the President Bonespurs, OK, Trump, didn’t add any of the country’s top vaccine researchers to the task force. 

Instead, he opted for industry hacks who have made some curious choices on the top vaccine candidates to support. Let’s take a look at the coronavirus vaccine warp speed directive. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine warp speed – Scotty screaming at Captain Bonespurs”

Coronavirus vaccines – massive list of vaccine candidates for COVID-19

coronavirus vaccines

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the interest in coronavirus vaccines has been quite high (to say the least). I have been keeping an updated list of vaccine candidates in another article, but it was becoming so cumbersome to update, and I wanted to make information clearer to read, I decided to completely rewrite it.

This article about coronavirus vaccines will also be regularly updated, so stay tuned. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccines – massive list of vaccine candidates for COVID-19”