Half-Truths, Lies, Incompetence and Idiocy Continue to Prevent a True Debate on Vaccines
I’m so sick of the way the anti-vaxxers have hijacked most websites, social networks, forums, even some major news outlets, that I believe the world has irremediably gone beyond Idiocracy. No matter what happens next, we’ll never look like an advanced, civilized society. And this bothers me more than I’d like to admit.
Jab #Two, Risk #One
I’m still angry at the “medical authorities” for not explaining clear enough why the booster jab bears the risk of giving you more severe adverse reactions than the initial one. A booster dose is meant to reinforce “the memory” of B-cells and T-cells, and normally only an Arthus reaction (typically, an edema) should develop if the patient already had a high level of antibodies when receiving the booster. But the kind of reactions developed in some mRNA patients suggests something different. I am not a specialist, but as the fucking inept specialists didn’t bother to attempt to explain, here’s my hypothesis, as a rational engineer and software developer:
- The booster is given too soon. For Pfizer, it’s thought to be optimal after 3-4 weeks, but in Germany it’s administered after 3 weeks. For AstraZeneca, it’s recommended after 8-12 weeks (a document from the Robert Koch Institute referred to studies saying the effectiveness is optimal when administered after 12-13 weeks), but in Germany it’s given after 8 weeks. Why the rush? To obtain an “improved” protection faster, with the price of human suffering and possible deaths?
- The reaction to the second dose might suggest that, if instead of the second jab, a SARS-CoV-2 infection would have occurred, the patient would have had severe reactions, possibly more severe than to the booster jab, and potentially more severe than if he hadn’t been vaccinated at all! A severe reaction to the initial dose would have suggested that the immune system is responding vigorously, but this happening weeks later and after a second dose, the entire working mechanism of the vaccine should be questioned. This could also mean, of course, that the second jab has been given much too soon for the respective person.
If much better explanations exist, why haven’t I heard of any of them? I’d have loved to learn of something as reassuring as, say, “oh, if one reacted badly to the booster jab, that means they’d probably have died if infected with SARS-CoV-2 at that point in time, so they should be grateful that they chose to get both jabs.” The truth value of the previous phrase is anything between 0 and 1, because I just made it up, but that’s because anything and everything they say about how these vaccines work seems to be random and to prove that they themselves don’t understand shit!
Yes, I’ll be getting the jab soon, and I’m anxious about it.
Studies vs Studies
You see, not all studies are born equal. Most scientific studies in the fields of medicine (pharmacology, epidemiology) and social science fall under one of these mutually exclusive categories:
The first category can be subdivided in two other mutually exclusive categories:
- Double-blind studies, aka blinded experiments, meant to prevent unconscious bias due to the placebo or the nocebo effects.
- Open-label trials, in which information is not hidden from the participants.
When a new drug is trialed, the process involves interventional studies, i.e. randomized controlled trials of the double-blind type. However, in assessing the possible positive effect of e.g. hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, most studies conducted during this pandemic were retrospective cohort studies, i.e. post-factum observational cohort studies, i.e. the authors of the study had no other involvement than collecting clinical data from hospitals that used one treatment protocol or another, and analyze the results. It’s mostly Excel work. This doesn’t mean that interventional studies haven’t been conducted but, as summarized here,
For HCQ and chloroquine we found ample in vitro evidence of antiviral activity. Cohort studies that assessed the use of HCQ for COVID-19 reported conflicting results, but randomized controlled trials (RCTs) demonstrated no effect on mortality rates and no substantial clinical benefits of HCQ used either for prevention or treatment of COVID-19.
They still compared apples (in vitro: positive results) with oranges (in vivo observational studies: conflicting) and grapes (in vivo interventional studies: no effect, per their conclusion), but this only shows how little we can trust some studies. Or all of them altogether.
Studies: Relevance, Correlation, Causation
We all know that correlation is not causation, but too many COVID-19-related studies only show correlation, and don’t explain any causation mechanism.
Take this one:
So, simply put, COVID-19 might shrink your brain. Do we know why? Nope. No idea about the mechanism. It’s a study that compares brain scans pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19, therefore it’s an observational study, that kind of study prone to give contradictory results. After all, what it shows is purely correlation, like all observational studies!
The same “correlation with no mechanism explained” kind of studies are all studies that “established” or “suggested” e.g. that:
- Astra-Zeneca’s jab can cause this and that (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis).
- Pfizer’s jab can cause this and that (myocarditis and pericarditis).
- Back from 2014: clarithromycin is linked with a 76 percent higher risk of heart deaths: “A Dutch study found that people taking clarithromycin were 76 percent more likely to die than those taking penicillin and the risk was greater in women who were more than twice as likely to die.” The funny thing is that recently, some featherbrained MDs claimed that clarithromycin could cure COVID-19,
Statistically speaking, there are two key values that determine the relevance or the statistical significance of a study:
- The p-value, which is often misunderstood by those who should understand it first, and thus it’s oftentimes misused; note that p>0.05 or the 0.05 significance level (alpha level) is merely a convention.
- The confidence interval, for which the 95% typical value is also a convention and nothing more.
People don’t understand statistics
The problem is that both these values are applicable to statistical hypothesis testing, which can also be misunderstood and the studies can be misconstrued. Read the examples given on Wikipedia to see how things need careful considering. How the null hypothesis is chosen is crucial too.
I know someone who took a 4-month Udemy Data Analyst Nano-Degree, and he was still mixing things up; we were talking of an opinion poll, which is a survey, not a study, yet it still requires a confidence interval. This guy also believed that an opinion poll requires a hypothesis and thus is a case of hypothesis testing, which it doesn’t and it isn’t!
It’s difficult to design a poll so that there’s no bias whatsoever, and no manipulation in the choice of questions themselves. But the real difficulty lies elsewhere.
It’s true that hypothesis (even more of them) are required in designing an opinion poll, but it’s not the way my acquaintance thought it was! As they didn’t teach him that at Udemy, our friend, a talented software developers, failed to grasp the basics simply because, as most software developers, he lacked common sense!
Say you want to know how many Germans would vote for CDU, CSU, SPD, Die Linke, Die Grünen, AfD, FDP, Die Partei, etc. for the Bundestag. Now, should you ask each and every of those ~62M people entitled to vote, the accuracy would be almost perfect, but this would equate to a real vote, and it would require unreasonable resources. Say you randomly choose one in ten, by taking every tenth Steuer-ID. This would probably give a pretty good approximation of the voting intentions, with errors lower than the subjective facts that not all people will eventually bother to vote, and that some will definitely change their minds meanwhile. But this isn’t feasible either!
So how do you choose, say, 40,000 people as a “representative sample” of the voting population? Would a sample of only 4,000 persons lead to statistically significant results, and how do we choose them?
I was never trained in such matters, so I don’t know the answer, but I dare say I’m smarter than our friend. In our case, he asserted that in order to have a confidence interval of 95% for a result that says e.g. “38% would vote for CDU/CSU,” we need to have a hypothesis such as “the percentage of the population who’d vote for CDU/CSU is somewhere between 36% and 40%.” Out of thin air, of course. Err… not quite so.
What is true is that “random as in 4M out of 62M” is not the same as “random as in 20k in 62M”; one might discover that the randomization method actually gives more and more biased results as the sampling size gets smaller! I don’t know any of the secrets of the polling institutes, but I can consider a few approaches.
One such possible poll design would be to use the results of the previous elections, combined with a set of sociological hypotheses as to how the more recent events might have changed the options of different age groups, of different occupational groups, of people in different areas of the country. Then, with a set of tentative hypotheses regarding the positioning of different parties, several micro-polls of e.g. 100-200 people each could be conducted across age groups, occupational groups, geographic regions. When such micro-polls challenge the confidence interval for any given hypothesis, that one needs to be adjusted, and a new micro-poll be made. In my opinion, this iterative and relatively cheap process might help establish both (1) the starting set of hypotheses used to validate the poll through a high confidence interval for the results, and (2) the randomization algorithm that should not decrease the confidence interval once the sample gets smaller (not too small though).
There must be a reason that so many polls are surprisingly accurate even when they only use samples of a few thousand respondents, while some other polls miss it completely (think Trump 2016). Some people understand what they’re doing, some others are merely living robots.
All this side story, just to reinforce the idea that not all the studies should be trusted, for not all those having a diploma are true specialists. Think of the so many physicians who contradicted each other, or they contradicted themselves during this pandemic, and many of them have also insulted the intelligence of most of those who still had some.
Snake Oil Doctors Everywhere
Not a new thing in this pandemic. Recently, I mentioned (here, towards the end) the theory of the toxicity of the spike protein in the mRNA vaccines. The spike protein is cytotoxic, but that doesn’t make the vaccine toxic!
The video that made waves is this one:
In a follow-up video, they even link “the coagulation problem” (which is specific to non-mRNA vaccines!) to the cytotoxicity of the spike protein!
Who made those people so irresponsible?! Dr. Robert W. Malone isn’t a complete idiot. He brags a lot on his website, but he was indeed one of the pioneers in the field of mRNA in the late 1980s (despite the current Pfizer jab being based on the research of Katalin Karikó). Sample titles from the distant past:
- Cationic liposome-mediated RNA transfection. Malone RW, Felgner PL, Verma IM. Proc Natl Acad Sci US A. 1989;86(16):6077-81.
- mRNA Transfection of cultured eukaryotic cells and embryos using cationic liposomes. Malone RW. Focus. 1989;11:61-8
- High levels of messenger RNA expression following cationic liposome-mediated transfection tissue culture cells. Malone R, Kumar R, Felgner P. in NIH Conference: “Self-Cleaving RNA as an Anti-HIV Agent” (Abstract). Washington, DC June 1989.
- A novel approach to study packaging of retroviral RNA by RNA transfection (Abstract). RW Malone, P. Felgner, I. Verma. RNA Tumor Viruses, May 17-18, 1988. Cold Spring Harbor
Patents probably started with Induction of a protective immune response in a mammal by injecting a DNA sequence, having a complex history of being based on, or continuing patent applications from 1989-1990. This guy is not a quack.
But he acts like one. This is about potential dangers, not proven dangers, yet the troika in the video acts as if Pfizer’s jab is a known means of exterminating intelligent life on Earth! In the first video, at 10:12, Steve Kirsch (which is not an MD but a serial entrepreneur with zero qualifications in the medical field!) even says, “we have no problems at all with mRNA vaccines, it’s just this particular vaccine, because of the spike protein and because it breaks, it cleaves up the cell, it goes throughout the body, your brain, your heart.”
There should be severe prison penalties for people who talk without knowing what they’re talking about. At no time in history before COVID-19 was the disinformation propaganda so reckless as it is today. (I know, social networks didn’t exist back then, and YouTube is now a social network.) Now, to add a bit of mumbo-jumbo from Reddit:
No one was suggesting that the spike protein is dangerous because it stimulates the production of cytotoxic T cells. That is desired and they are our best long-term viral defense. The question of the spike protein purportedly being cytotoxic is separate from the adaptive cellular response and probably has to do with its ability to stimulate the innate immune system. As a counter, they say rightly that the vaccine spike protein has been engineered so that it cannot bind to ACE2 (although this too needs more data to confirm) because it cannot change from a pre-fusion to a post-fusion state after the S1 is cleaved off – and that is true (amazing engineering), but it doesn’t rule out detection via extra-ACE2 mechanisms such as TLR4 recognition, which has been shown to happen (at least in vitro) with only the S1 protein. TLR4 activation stimulates a pseudo-LPS immune response leading to platelet activation and cytokine production via NF-kB/NLRP3. It’s partly the reason we later develop the cellular and humoral responses and it’s necessary – but if exaggerated may cause serious problems, as it does with natural infection. In the literature, TLR4 is associated with myocarditis among others. It’ll be interesting to see if these responses hold water.
That’s much more to the point than the panic-inducing messages in those videos!
Snake Oil Doctors, Take #2
Dr. Peter McCullough is a cardiologist from Dallas, Texas, and his involvement in COVID-19 included a claim that natural immunity acquired through infection and healing is a better and safer alternative than vaccination. Lately, he produced this shit (source; full video):
Basically, he’s basing his FUD on the Internet, which is “full of these cases: blood clots, strokes, immediate death!” Then: “There are over 4,000 dead Americans, there’s over 10,000 dead people in Europe that died on Days 1, 2, 3 of the vaccine.” For once, he’s not making up everything: the National Vaccine Information Center currently lists almost 6,000 deaths (out of 150M fully vaccinated). That’s 0.004%, but reading details about some cases proved disturbing; here’s a random case.
Fortunately (as per his sayings) he didn’t lose any patient to the vaccine, but if in December-January-February, when most of his patients have been vaccinated, nothing bad happened, “based on the data safety now, I can no longer recommend it. … It’s not a safe product! None of them are.” Still, 70% of his patients are vaccinated, and generally, he’s pro-vaccines.
One of this idiot’s pet peeves is that “now they have you in a database.” Typical American negative IQ. Also, typical American narcissism: he knows everything; he decrypted the Big Scheme of things; he’s trying to save the world! But there’s worse: “we knew from the published data that the attack rates in the placebo and the vaccine are less than 1%, so we knew that the vaccine can have a less than 1% effect in the population. Why would it be any different in the clinical trials? … COVID-19 is actually about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus!“ (This guy must be sick.)
I left for the end his theory from around the 3rd minute:
There are prominent virologists, many of them, including Nobel prize winners, who have said: listen, if we vaccinate people and if we create a very narrow, incomplete library of immunity–which is what the vaccine is; the vaccines are all targeted to the original Wuhan spike protein, which is long gone, that’s extinct!; patients are getting vaccinated for something that doesn’t even exist anymore; the Wuhan spike protein is gone–we hope the immunity covers the other variants, but that narrow immunity is a set-up, it’s just like giving everybody a narrow-spectrum antibiotic! If you did that, what would happen? We grow up super-bugs! There are warnings out there saying: don’t do this! Don’t vaccinate the entire world! All we’re gonna do is set ourselves up for a super-bug that’s gonna really wipe out populations!
Now again, is this retard a Medical Doctor, or a plumber? How can he compare the immune response of a body, being it limited and narrowly targeted, to the mechanism of developing resistance in bacteria? I’ve previously seen this kind of incompetence in Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche, discussed in a previous post of mine, in section THIRTY!
During the pandemic, I’ve read news and opinions from various sources. From Germany, France, Italy, the UK, the US, and Romania. Strangely enough, I discovered soon enough that almost no Romanian source could be trusted anymore, as if that country were having the highest concentration of idiots per square kilometer, or maybe per million of inhabitants.
Umberto Eco once said:
Social media gives the right to speak to legions of idiots who used to speak only at the bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. Then they were quickly silenced, while now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots.
(I social media danno diritto di parola a legioni di imbecilli che prima parlavano solo al bar dopo un bicchiere di vino, senza danneggiare la collettività. Venivano subito messi a tacere, mentre ora hanno lo stesso diritto di parola di un Premio Nobel. È l’invasione degli imbecilli.)
Now it’s even worse: it’s not only in the social media, it’s everywhere, including most news outlets. And even the Nobel laureates can prove idiots (think of Luc Montagnier, discussed here in chapter 13).
After a pause, I revisited a number of Romanian sites, and I was shocked by what I’ve read. Everywhere, anti-vaxxers galore. Everywhere, conspiracy theories. “They want to vaccinate us to kill us.” “They’re killing us in the hospitals anyway.” “There are more deaths from vaccines than deaths from the coronavirus!” This is the IQ of most people nowadays.
But let’s take an example. Similar to a list of vaccine ingredients that circulated in April 2020 and which was debunked by Reuters, someone compiled (and translated in Romanian) a list of vaccine excipients from all the existing vaccines, to which they added the mRNA, only to claim that the Pfizer vaccine contained all those excipients, and that almost every single of them was harmful, toxic, poisonous, or disgusting. They added some more conspiracist padding, and they posted “an open letter” on a so-called news site, in fact a COVIDIOTIC site.
This is not what’s shocking about it; the real problem is what happened in the comments!
- When someone asked in the comments “but where did you find the list, please give me a link”, initially someone posted links to everything else but the Pfizer leaflet.
- Should one have searched for the Pfizer leaflet, they would have found that Cominarty does not contain those ingredients, but these ones: 6.1 List of excipients ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate) (ALC-0315) 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159) 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC) Cholesterol Potassium chloride Potassium dihydrogen phosphate Sodium chloride Disodium phosphate dihydrate Sucrose Water for injections
- Should someone have looked up the source of this list of ingredients, they would probably have found only conspiracy sites with absolutely no sources that are even remotely reliable.
- When the person who first expressed doubts came back with a comment that in the given links there was no such list of ingredients, he was aggressively replied to like “you stupid motherfucker, if you don’t believe what it says here you go look it up, why should we make sure we don’t eat shit, you eat shit for asking questions”!
Basically, the mindset is this one:
- Someone is making up a conspiracy theory or some fake news, for reasons I cannot explain, nor figure out (no, it’s not Putin trying to destabilize the West).
- Some other stupid, retarded individual (here, a Romanian) takes the disinformation, translates it if needed, and spreads it even further. Nobody ever has a doubt, no one has any trace of critical judgment, they just take whatever sounds consistent with the idea that “they are lying to us, they want to control us, and they’re killing us,” and pass it over!
- Should anyone try to raise questions, to ask where does all this comes from, to require references, they’re insulted as if asking for proofs of reliability would be idiotic, not the lack of any doubt whatsoever!
We’re not dead–yet
Apparently, a single shot of Pfizer is only 33% effective against the Indian “delta” variant (as per doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.22.21257658). But after the booster, the efficacy is 95%. I must be dreaming.
Israel urges everyone over the age of 12 to get vaccinated. I know what some “eminent specialists” would say: it’s a mass suicide!
I feel like I won’t ever be able anymore to write one single line about COVID-19. I’m so sick of all this shit.
Well, let’s hope I’ll survive. There’s now even a Delta Plus (AY.1) variant!
LATE EDIT: Are they joking me?
Is this a new freedom, or someone at the Wall Street Journal is trying to create a mass anxiety hysteria? Title: Are Covid Vaccines Riskier Than Advertised? Subtitle: “There are concerning trends on blood clots and low platelets, not that the authorities will tell you.“
One remarkable aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic has been how often unpopular scientific ideas, from the lab-leak theory to the efficacy of masks, were initially dismissed, even ridiculed, only to resurface later in mainstream thinking. …
Another reversal in thinking may be imminent. Some scientists have raised concerns that the safety risks of Covid-19 vaccines have been underestimated. …
The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or Vaers, which is administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, is a database that allows Americans to document adverse events that happen after receiving a vaccine. The FDA and CDC state that the database isn’t designed to determine whether the events were caused by a vaccine. This is true. But the data can nonetheless be evaluated, accounting for its strengths and weaknesses, and that is what the CDC and FDA say they do.
The Vaers data for Covid-19 vaccines show an interesting pattern. Among the 310 million Covid-19 vaccines given, several adverse events are reported at high rates in the days immediately after vaccination, and then fall precipitously afterward. Some of these adverse events might have occurred anyway. The pattern may be partly attributable to the tendency to report more events that happen soon after vaccination.
The database can’t say what would have happened in the absence of vaccination. Nonetheless, the large clustering of certain adverse events immediately after vaccination is concerning, and the silence around these potential signals of harm reflects the politics surrounding Covid-19 vaccines. Stigmatizing such concerns is bad for scientific integrity and could harm patients.
Four serious adverse events follow this arc, according to data taken directly from Vaers: low platelets (thrombocytopenia); noninfectious myocarditis, or heart inflammation, especially for those under 30; deep-vein thrombosis; and death. Vaers records 321 cases of myocarditis within five days of receiving a vaccination, falling to almost zero by 10 days. Prior research has shown that only a fraction of adverse events are reported, so the true number of cases is almost certainly higher. This tendency of underreporting is consistent with our clinical experience.
Public-health authorities are making a mistake and risking the public’s trust by not being forthcoming about the possibility of harm from certain vaccine side effects. There will be lasting consequences from mingling political partisanship and science during the management of a public-health crisis.
I cannot unsee this.