Will the Pfizer Moderna AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines end the pandemic?

Pfizer Moderna AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

There has been a lot of excitement lately with the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines lately, but I wanted to temper your enthusiasm thinking the pandemic is going to be over in a few weeks, and we can all hit the pub, drinking with our friends, family, and neighbors. 

If anything, I would strongly recommend wearing a face mask across the world until a substantial number of people are vaccinated, and that may take a lot longer than you thought. By the way, more recent scientific evidence supports the FACT that when both individuals are masked, there is almost no transmission of viruses. 

So, let me explain why, despite the good news, we still need to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t be confused by the recent announcements by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna regarding their COVID-19 vaccines – there is still a lot of hard work to be done.

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FDA approved remdesivir for coronavirus – what this means for a vaccine

FDA approved remdesivir

On 22 October 2020, the FDA approved remdesivir from Gilead Sciences to treat COVID-19. Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral that has shown some effect in treating the novel coronavirus.

However, does this mean that the FDA approval of the drug is supported by good science? As I’ve written previously regarding rushed approvals of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, we should be concerned that the FDA has become politicized to approve COVID-19 drugs to make Donald Trump look good.

I think there’s evidence that the FDA-approved remdesivir was rushed and that the evidence supporting its use in COVID-19 treatment may be vastly overstated. Continue reading “FDA approved remdesivir for coronavirus – what this means for a vaccine”

Japan banned Gardasil? No, but the anti-vaccine crowd pushes the myth

Japan Banned Gardasil

One of the most popular zombie memes and tropes of the anti-vaccine movement is that Japan banned Gardasil, the HPV vaccine. And like most of those zombie memes and tropes, the facts are a lot different than the anti-vaccine claims. Per usual.

Although I don’t quite understand the reasoning, the anti-vaccine religion absolutely hates Gardasil, possibly more than any other vaccine. These zealots maintain that the HPV vaccines cause all kinds of harm to teens and young adults. Yet, there are literally mountains of data derived from numerous huge epidemiological studies that the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine is one of the safest vaccines on the market.

So if you really want to prevent cancer, one of the best ways available to you is getting the HPV vaccine. The idea is so simple, yet is clouded by the myths about HPV vaccines – one of the most popular, of course, is that Japan banned Gardasil. Let’s examine this fable with a critical and skeptical eye.

Spoiler alert – Japan did no such thing.

Continue reading “Japan banned Gardasil? No, but the anti-vaccine crowd pushes the myth”

Coronavirus facts – crackpot conspiracists claim it exists to push vaccines

Recently, the world press is breathlessly reporting an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”). It was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. 

Predictably, the second that the story about this coronavirus hit the clickbait headlines across the world, the anti-vaccine conspiracists started pushing all kinds of ignorant nonsense.

You know those conspiracies like the military (unknown which one) created the virus to kill people. Or China is trying to destroy ‘Murica. Or Bill Gates invented the virus (well, if he did, it’s because of Windows 7). Or Big Pharma created the virus because they have a secret vaccine that they can sell for billions of gold bars.

Of course, there isn’t a scintilla of evidence that any of those conspiracies are true. However, if the coronavirus does become a worldwide epidemic (and it hasn’t so far), then the CDC, WHO, and Big Pharma will work feverishly to find a vaccine to prevent it. 

This article isn’t going to spend time refuting such nonsense, but we will focus on the science and the facts since this is a serious concern to people. Continue reading “Coronavirus facts – crackpot conspiracists claim it exists to push vaccines”

Samoa measles epidemic – vaccine deniers causing harm to children

samoa measles epidemic

Recently, the Samoa measles epidemic has been in the news, with at least 60 individuals who have died as the result of the virus (as of 4 December 2019). The vast majority of these deaths could have been prevented with the extremely safe measles vaccine.

Of course, those of us on the science side are appalled what is going on there. Children (and some adults) have died from a disease that should have been exiled to history books as a result of vaccines. 

Once this Samoa measles epidemic hit the news, the vaccine deniers came out of their putrid swamps to use the epidemic as some sort of condemnation of vaccines. Their twisted logic would be the envy of pretzel manufacturers worldwide.

This article is going to review what’s going on in Samoa. And we are going to take a look at a couple of responses and lies from the usual anti-vaccine pseudoscience. Continue reading “Samoa measles epidemic – vaccine deniers causing harm to children”

WHO’s top 10 public health threats – vaccine deniers included in the list

public health threats

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published their top 10 world public health threats in 2019. It includes all of the public health threats that you can imagine, plus what they call “vaccine hesitancy,” or what I call the anti-vaccine religion’s ignorance, misinformation, and lies.

Yes, the anti-vaccine fiction and deception are one of the greatest dangers to the world’s public health. Their tropes, memes, and falsehoods are convincing enough people to delay or avoid vaccinating their children that diseases we thought weren’t a threat anymore are coming back. Europe and the USA are experiencing an unprecedented measles outbreak because of slightly lower measles immunization rates.

I want to review the WHO public health threats list because it’s interesting to those of us who fight the good fight for science. Of course, I’m going to focus on the vaccine deniers because that’s what we do here. Continue reading “WHO’s top 10 public health threats – vaccine deniers included in the list”

Updated – Japan and HPV vaccine – debunking myths

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2013. It has been revised and updated to include recent developments with the HPV cancer preventing vaccine and Japan’s Health Ministry.

The comments have been closed for this article. Please comment at the revised article.

I enjoy refuting myths about cancer prevention and cures, for only one reason–because there are real cancer cures and preventions that people overlook. Frankly speaking, there really is only a handful of ways to prevent cancer backed by real scientific evidence–and one of the most important ones is receiving the HPV vaccine.

Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the USA. There are more than 40 HPV sub-types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. Additionally, some HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. HPV is generally transmitted from personal contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

HPV is linked to cancers in men and women, and because there are so many subtypes, research has established which HPV types are related to which cancers. Because HPV is sexually transmitted, most of the infections occur near the mouth, throat, anus and genital areas–and most HPV related cancers begin there.

HPV is believed to cause nearly 5% of all new cancers across the world, making it almost as dangerous with regards to cancer as tobacco. According to the CDC, roughly 79 million Americans are infected with HPV–approximately 14 million Americans contract HPV every year. Most individuals don’t even know they have the infection until the onset of cancer. About 27,000 HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the USA every year.

Continue reading “Updated – Japan and HPV vaccine – debunking myths”

World War Z is not going to be popular with the vaccine deniers

cdc-zombieI am a huge fan of the zombie horror movies, ever since being dragged to see George A Romero’s original and iconic Night of the Living Dead black and white movie while in graduate school. The worst part of my experience of that movie is that my apartment backed up to the largest and oldest cemetery in the city (containing a history of the city going back to the early 1800’s). I believe I’ve seen literally hundreds of zombie movies since then, watching some awfully lousy junk along with some interesting takes on the zombie genre. 

There are lots of reasons why I enjoy the zombie movies. The dystopian, post-apocalyptic futures are interesting to comprehend. The director’s viewpoints on how humanity reacts in response to the zombie infested world is also great. And there’s always humor in watching characters do things that we all know will get them killed because, irony of ironies, they don’t appear to have watched zombie movies to avoid dumb situations. Like riding on your horse down the middle of the street in one of the largest cities in the country soon after the outbreak. Seriously? Continue reading “World War Z is not going to be popular with the vaccine deniers”

Japan Health Ministry pulls recommendation for HPV vaccination

The comments have been closed for this article. Please comment at the revised article.

I was going to put some snarky comment in the title like, “but wait, what about the statistics.” Because we know that this isn’t a good decision, and that the vaccine deniers will be all over it like MrAndy Wakefield’s fraudulent and retracted study claiming that vaccines cause autism. But let’s move on to what happened.

According to a English newspaper in Japan,

The health ministry decided June 14 to withdraw its recommendation for a vaccination to protect girls against cervical cancer after hundreds complained about possible side effects, including long-term pain and numbness.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is not suspending the use of the vaccination, but it has instructed local governments not to promote the use of the medicine while studies are conducted on the matter.

So far, an estimated 3.28 million people have received the vaccination. However, 1,968 cases of possible side effects, including body pain, have been reported.

The ministry’s task force discussed 43 of those cases. However, a cause-and-effect relationship between the vaccination and the pain and numbness could not be established, so the task force members called for further studies by the ministry.

The ministry’s investigation is expected to take several months. It will then decide whether to reinstate or continue to withhold its recommendation for the vaccination.

So, the health ministry is going to withhold recommendation of the HPV vaccination because they notice 43 cases for which they couldn’t establish a causal relationship to the vaccine. In other words, 0.0013% of cases, a number so small that it’s pretty close to impossible to affix any statistical significance to it. In fact, random background “noise” (that is that some whole body pain could be expected in any random sampling of vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals) of this type of observation is as plausible as correlation (let alone causation) to the vaccine. In fact, the Health Ministry failed to provide us with data concerning the level of these side effects in the general population. Nor how soon after vaccination. Nor anything potentially useful in a scientific analysis.

What’s worse is that, according to the same article, about 2700 women in Japan die every year from HPV related cancers. So, because of complaints from the antivaccination lunatics in Japan (didn’t know they had any, but I shouldn’t be surprised), and bad statistics (43 potential cases of “body pain” out of 3,280,000 vaccinations), the Health Ministry stops recommending the vaccine. Exactly what were these people thinking?

Finally, let’s be clear here. The vaccine hasn’t been pulled from the market nor has it been outlawed; teenagers can still get the vaccine. And this was a very unusual move, since only 3 years ago, Japan’s parliament added the HPV vaccine to the mandatory schedule. Hopefully, this committee will look at the numbers from a statistical and scientific point of view and fix this stupidity.

By the way, the World Health Organization still recommends the HPV vaccine.  Because the HPV vaccine saves lives by preventing future cervical cancers.

 

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Vaccination myths and facts from the World Health Organization

© Copyright World Health Organization (WHO), 2013. All Rights Reserved.
© Copyright World Health Organization (WHO), 2013. All Rights Reserved.

For those of you who track these things, this past week is World Immunization Week, an annual awareness campaign for immunizations worldwide sponsored by the World Health Organization. As part of of their efforts to increase awareness of the need to vaccinate worldwide, they put together an online question and answer session last week in an attempt to debunk some of the myths surrounding vaccinations. In other words, some of the greatest minds in worldwide healthcare issues, including infectious diseases and vaccinations, answered and debunked some of the craziest myths about vaccines across the world.

 

 

Continue reading “Vaccination myths and facts from the World Health Organization”