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.
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.
I attended a large part of the February 2020 ACIP meeting (Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices) in Atlanta, GA. I had planned to stay throughout, but my airline changed my return flight and I had to leave before the end on the second day. I did, however, watch the first day and the first two parts of the second.
The coronavirus crisis changed some things. For example, there were multiple international groups visiting the CDC (there was also at least one group that was there for other reasons and sat on part of the meeting). And we had a presentation on the topic from Dr. Nancy Messonnier.
Over the past couple of the months, this website has published three tragic vaccine stories – each involved the death of a child whose life was taken too early. Each of these grabbed everyone’s heart and made all of us empathetic to the pain of the parents. However, these stories were much more nuanced and complicated than what has been presented in some parts of the internet. And they put some of us in the crosshairs of the anti-vaccine world.
Whenever our side (you know, the pro-science, pro-vaccine side) writes about these stories, people invent strawmen claiming that we are not empathetic or sympathetic to the families whose child had died. Of course, every one of us who writes about these stories is incredibly affected by them. They make us cry. They make us hug our children.
Nevertheless, we still feel compelled to sort fact from fiction. We look at these stories with skeptical eyes, not because we want to attack the parents of these children. Instead, we want to make sure that the scientific facts are not ignored, which could lead to a false narrative about vaccines.
Of course, many of us wish we didn’t have to write these stories. I personally try to ignore them, because the stories are so incredibly complex, and I feel so incredibly sympathetic towards the parents, even if they are pushing an unfortunate narrative about vaccines. Eventually, these vaccine stories become tropes on social media, and, at some point, I feel like an analytical approach to the story is necessary. Which leads to this article – I want to make make it clear what I feel and how I react to these vaccine stories. Continue reading “Tragic vaccine stories – being empathetic while reporting the facts”
As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time reviewing stories about vaccines, I read way too many tragic ones about children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases. But a recent story, about a six-year-old boy named Ryker Roque who died from a rabies infection, was particularly sad and devastating. He could have avoided rabies, and its horrific consequences, with just a couple of better choices from his parents. If only they had used the rabies vaccine immediately, this would not be a story.
Let’s be clear – I don’t know if the parents of Ryker are anti-vaccine or not, but they made a choice about the rabies vaccine that led to their son’s death. That makes the story tragic and sad. I know his parents are incredibly distraught, and probably wish they had made better choices – but maybe their story will prevent future tragedies. I hope. Continue reading “Rabies vaccine could have saved Ryker Roque – he dies needlessly”
We vaccinate dogs to protect them from some serious diseases that could harm our precious pooches. Rabies. Distemper. Parvovirus. Bordetella. Hepatitis. Lyme disease. Vaccine preventable diseases can devastate our canine friends, and there isn’t one good reason to keep them from the best medicine we can offer.
Not only are these diseases dangerous to our pets, but some of these diseases can be passed to us. Rabies is a horrible disease, and if a dog contracts it, they may have to be euthanized. And if that rabid dog bites a child, they have to endure a very painful series of vaccines.
Lest we forget, vaccines are one of the greatest medical inventions of all time. Without them, we would see cemeteries filled with children who would have died before they were even five years old. In fact, the best evidence we have tells us that vaccines prevented 200 million cases of diseases in the USA alone in the five decades since 1963.
Dr. Hayflick discovered the human cell strain, WI-38, in 1962 which was critical to the safe manufacturing of vaccines, which became widespread in 1963. According to the article, the vaccines produced from the WI-38 cell line prevented almost 4.5 billion occurrences of the diseases, and stopped them from returning to infect us. Dr. Hayflick developed the foundation that allowed the world to have relative safe and very effective tools to prevent infectious diseases.
Prior to the development of WI-38, anti-virus vaccines were grown in monkey cells, which had some issues that made many question their safety, although most of the concern appeared to be overblown. However, once the WI-38 was available, it became easier to develop and produce vaccines for many viruses.
I do try to ignore him, like I ignore that Australian expatriate, Ken Ham, who is wasting American taxpayer money to build a temple to that biblical myth that has all of the scientific basis of, well Wakefield’s claims. But sometimes Wakefield just keeps coming, without muzzling his mouth.
The latest is the photo below that’s hitting the interwebs. The picture includes a sad looking dog, possibly a German Shepherd (but I am not a dog expert – I’m a cat person), sitting next to Mr. Wakefield.
Wakefield is holding a couple of hand written signs that say, ” My name is Tex. I was injured by vaccines.”
Now he’s trying to do the same for our pets? Dogs are protected from some serious diseases because of vaccines and other preventative medicines. Rabies. Distemper. Parvovirus. Bordetella. Hepatitis. Lyme disease. And many more.
Not only are these diseases dangerous to our dogs, they can be passed to us. Rabies is a horrible disease, and if a dog contracts it, they may have to be euthanized. And if that rabid dog bites a child, they have to endure a very painful series of vaccines.
No, rabies cannot be prevented by a gluten free, organic diet for your dog. They are bitten by some rabid animal because, well, dogs are curious, and can be bitten by a bat, raccoon, wild cat, and who knows what else – and once bitten, the disease transfers to them.
And, we can only conclude that Wakefield also fails on the “how he treats dogs” category.
If dogs could talk, I wonder what the dog comments on Andrew Wakefield would be. Here’s a poll of what I believe the dog thinks about Andrew Wakefield. Choose your favorite. Or reply in the comments with a better one. I love that!