Sunday, October 17, 2021

COVIDiocy Mythbuster: Why Do Celebrities Believe Themselves Above Science and Reason?

There are plenty of celebrity goofs about COVID. We've seen Nicki Minaj's COVID debacle and the rise of "My cousin's friend" meme. Trinidad's health minister even spent a full day trying to track down the person... There was no such case

But when an NBA star publicly announce that he believes he has natural immunity and refused to get the vaccine, antivaxxers rallied behind him because "freedom!" when his team barred him from practice for refusing the shot. In fact, Kyrie Irving will lose about half of his salary, because Brooklyn Nets have to follow the city mandate of any pro athlete at a public venue needs to be vaccinated, and half of the games are "home" games played in New York. 

And guess what Kyrie said about his decision? 

"It's just about the freedom of what I want to do."

He said he wants to play, but he's not willing to get the shot in order to play. His "freedom" to NOT get the shot is more important to him than playing or helping the team. 

The fact that NBA has so far refused to issue a league-wide player vaccine mandate has left teams confused, as so far, only 3 cities (SF, LA, and NYC) have vaccine mandates that apply to their 5 NBA home teams. And some NBA players have voiced vocal opposition to getting vaxxed... a small minority. According to ESPN, only 10% of players are holding out, and all NBA officials and staff that work with players are required to be vaccinated. 

At least one NBA player in San Francisco has finally gotten vaxxed... because Andrew Wiggins wanted to play more than he wants to hold out over this issue. 

And even Lebron James has gotten the COVID vaccine, after initially refusing. 

NBA so far has only posted that the teams don't have to pay the players who hold out and thus ineligible for playtime, probably afraid of antagonizing the player's union, but that's beyond the scope of this blog post. 

Instead, I'd like to address a different topic...  Andrew Wiggins claimed he already had a bout of minor COVID earlier in the year, and his family is so healthy he doesn't even take OTC medication, which is why he's refusing COVID shots unless he's forced to. In fact, most of the vocal holdouts in NBA claim either they have natural immunity from prior COVID infections, or they question WHY get the vaccine if you can still be infected. 

Let's address both here. 

Is natural immunity a good substitute for vaccine immunity? 

First, let's be accurate. This is not natural immunity. This is disease-derived immunity or post-infection immunity. The person survived the COVID, a disease that kills 1 in 63 infected.So basically, if you chose not to vaccinate, you are risking 1/63 chance of dying outright. 

Second, you can still get COVID, albeit milder symptoms, due to delta and other variants, even after you get vaccinated. This is, in jargon terms, called "breakthrough infection". 

Three, there are three things you don't know about post-infection immunity:

a) more than 1/3rd of COVID cases resulted in NO protective antibodies created. In other words, surviving COVID may not give you ANY immunity at all. 

b) post-infection immunity fades quickly, esp. with mild COVID cases, when compared to vaccine-derived immunity. If it's been months since you last suffered COVID, you may have little to no protection against the delta or later COVID variants. 

c) reinfection rate is HALVED after vaccination for those who survived COVID. That's right, having the jab, even if you survived COVID, makes you HALF as likely of catching COVID again versus without the jab.  

Yet "natural immunity" has been an antivaxxer talking point for decades, as a natural extension of naturalistic fallacy, i.e. "natural is better" (never mind the science). In fact, some antivaxxers started referring themselves as #pureblood after a Tiktok meme gone viral. Never mind the Harry Potter and Nazi Germany references. 

Getting the COVID vaccine has multiple advantages, according to science:

* You don't have to suffer through the illness
* You won't face the 1/63 chance of death
* You get longer-lasting protection 

Yet there are antivaxxer COVIDiots who continue to hold out for no other reason than "freedom!" (from mandates) 

Don't be a COVIDiot who refuse to see reason. 

Also read: Science Based Medicine: Natural Immunity versus the vaccine for COVID-19

Saturday, October 16, 2021

COVIDiocy Mythbuster: Why do COVIDiots say things like "0.04% chance of you die from COVID"?

Some antivaxxers and COVID-deniers claimed that death rate from COVID was 0.04%, though in 2021 it was revised to 0.4%. The original number was from a SINGLE study that was never peer-reviewed in the earliest days of COVID pandemic (March or April 2020). Reuters did a whole article on this showing the number is completely bogus. 

But what exactly *is* death rate? What is the denominator? The entire population of the US? Or those that had been infected with COVID? Or somewhere in between? 

Given that US has documented since the beginning of 2020 44.8M cases of COVID, with 723K deaths, the death rate among those infected was roughly 1.61% or about 1 in 62. Keep in mind that seasonal flu has a death rate of 0.1%. (Feel free to verify the numbers via Google search) Dr. Fauci was actually slightly understating the case when he said COVID is ten times more deadly than the seasonal flu. 

And that's for the ENTIRE US of A. In places where ICU was already full and hospitals are rationing care, death rate is expected to hit 2-3%, perhaps higher. Indeed, that's what happened to Wuhan, China before a total shutdown of the city got things under control. 

And just imagine the massive cost of transporting COVID patients hundreds of miles for an ICU bed. 

Or the collateral damage to patients who originally just need quick treatments, but instead, was forced to wait and their situation got worse... or died, because all local hospitals are full of COVID patients, who are unvaxxed. Remember, COVID vaccines reduce or even eliminate hospitalization, even if they failed to prevent infection. 

Actually, you don't need to imagine such. They have already happened in the areas with the highest antivax sentiments. You've already seen stories like "man turned down by 43 hospitals". 

Don't be a COVIDiot. Get vaxxed. It's your civic duty. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Crazy COVIDiocy: How Ivermectin Became Popular Among Qnuts

It was interesting that Qnuts, followers of Qanon, would rather take drugs that do NOT treat COVID for treating COVID, they would also build elaborate conspiracy theories to explain their anti-reality. So how did it all start? 

It all started in 2020, when the entire world is looking for SOMETHING to fight COVID. Then someone published a paper, claiming Ivermectin, an existing antiparasite drug, seems to affect RNA virus as well, and COVID virus is an RNA virus. And their study shows that it seems to work on COVID virus... in a petri dish

So, we should do animal testing, right? 

Wrong. The study was flawed. The concentration given was WAY TOO HIGH, far in excess of what's even achievable in a live human without it being toxic / overdose. 

Basically, the petri dishes used achieved a concentration of 2000 to 4000 ng/mL

Even at 10X the maximum dosage currently allowed, which comes out to be about 120 mg of Ivermectin for an adult human, the maximum blood concentration of that is only bout 250 ng/mL, 10% of the concentration as specified in the study. 

In other words, you have to give 100x the concentration of Ivermectin to get the same results in the petri-dish, and that's 10X too much. Ivermectin *is* deadly when overdosed. There was at least one death in New Mexico that is attributed to Ivermectin overdose

Here is a very relevant XKCD

XKCD: When you see a claim that a common drug or vitamin
"kills cancer cells in a petri dish," keep in mind: so does a handgun

Okay, what about such claims is 50+ studies "proving" that Ivermectin is effective? 

Still wrong. Twelve of them are not about ivermectin alone, but in combination with something else. Thus, they are NOT proof of ivermectin's effectiveness. 

Others are testing for different things, some about reducing symptoms, some are about reducing death rate, some about prevention. They are all separate data points, and some of them have outright faked data, where data are copied-and-pasted. Or sequence of numbers extremely unlikely to happen in nature... or someone who was already dead when the study allegedly took place. There's also one where there's heavy suspicion of uneven samples, where placebo group has a lot more sicker patients, while the healthier patients appeared in the ivermectin group. 

The Cochrane study, which does meta analysis of existing studies, but only of high quality studies, counted only 20 or so studies, and their conclusion was that there is no evidence to suggest that ivermectin is effective in treating COVID. 

Yet you have someone whose specialty is NOT in epidemiology or drug testing (in fact, her degree is in reproductive science) claiming that NOTHING will convince her that ivermectin does not work. It should not surprise you that Dr. Theresa "Tess" Lawrie is well known in UK for antivax nonsense and misinformation. 

Don't be a COVIDiot and believe random doctors tell you. Not all doctors believe the same thing. Some are kook-ier than others. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

COVIDiocy Consequences: UCLA Doctor Escorted Off Work Premises After Speaking at Anti-vax Rally

Unvaccinated UCLA anesthesiologist Dr. Christopher Rake spoke at an anti-vax rally, wearing his white doctor's coat, back in September: "So they're telling me, 'take the jab or we take your job'. And I am here to say no!"  Then as a plane passed overhead, Rake held his hand and shouts, "Wave for freedom! FREEDOM!"

This is despite the August 5th California executive order that all health care workers MUST be vaccinated against COVID by September 30th. 

On October 4th, Rake showed up for work at the UCLA Medical Center and was promptly escorted out of the building by security, exactly as he wished. 

Of course, he's declaring martyrdom, i.e. they (UCLA) can't tolerate freedom, and he deserves to work even though he won't get vaccinated. 

The fact that an accredited doctor is willing to attend an anti-vax event while wearing his white coat, thus using his credentials and his employment to spread disinformation, is frankly, troublesome. 

As Lee Iacocca said, "Lead, follow, or get the **** out of the way." 

To not only be an obstructionist (attend anti-vax rally) but basically displaying your place of employment and your credentials, shows a serious lack of judgment. 

Do you really want a doctor who prioritizes his "freedom" over that of public health, i.e. YOUR health? 

If vaccine mandate will push the vaccination rate to the point that COVID becomes a non-issue, then do it. Pandemic times require extraordinary measures. 

The unvaccinated is willing to DIE for their "freedom". But you can't have freedom if you're dead. 705K people are already dead. COVID is the most important issue, and vaccine is the simplest way to end COVID. The more diddling we do is more time we give it to mutate, and kill more people, mainly the unvaccinated. 

In a way, it's the unvaccinated cutting off their own noses to spite their faces. They are basically KILLING THEMSELVES for their irrational beliefs. 

There's nothing wrong with believing in freedom, but there's a right time and a wrong time for that. 

And let's not forget that George Washington HIMSELF ordered the entire Continental Army and new recruits to be inoculated for smallpox. The disease is killing more of his men than the British. 

There is nothing unAmerican about a vaccine mandate. 

Don't be a COVIDiot like Rake. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Sad COVIDiocy: Grieving Mom Implores Antivaxxers to Get Vaccinated After Losing Her 10-Year Old Daughter to COVID

A 10-year old girl in Virginia, US has died of COVID. Her mother implored all who can receive to a vaccine to do so. In the US, the vaccine is only approved for 12 year-olds or older. 

The ten-year old felt a headache on September 22nd. By 26th, she was coughing so hard she was throwing up. Her mom was on the phone with 911 when she stopped breathing. She survived upon resuscitation, but her condition did not improve. The hospital lost her in the ICU a day later when she stopped breathing again and was unable to resuscitate her. 

The mother went to a school board meeting where COVID deniers continue to claim things like "[COVID] doesn't affect healthy people." 

The grieving mom is calling out the antivaxxers / COVID deniers. COVID comes for EVERYONE, and not all will survive it. If everyone get vaccinated, they can protect those who can't receive the vaccine yet. It's not about the freedom, but the social responsibility

Read the full story here:

Don't be a COVIDiot. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Classic COVIDiocy: Antivaxxers Refused To Believe Nurse is NOT Dead After Fainting on TV Receiving First COVID Vax

 If you have kept up with COVID news since 2020, you may remember this episode... 

Tiffany Dover is one of the first nurses in the nation to receive the COVID vaccine back in December 2020. She fainted a few minutes after the injection, just as she stood up, to answer reporters' questions, all on TV. 

She was up a few minutes later, explaining that she had an overactive vagus response, i.e. she's prone to fainting spells if overly excited or stimulated. It affects 20% of all people. That part was on TV. 

Fainting spells are a thing. Some people faint at the sight of blood, or even seeing one's toenail pulled under an anesthetic. (There's a video on The Toe Bro's Youtube channel about a mother who fainted when someone else was in the chair getting a nail pulled) 

That's all antivaxxers need to construct a giant conspiracy... That she died. This was bolstered by antivax videos editing out the part with her a few minutes later, very much alive. 

The antivaxxers then started to flood the hospital's phone lines and social media seeking "verification" that Tiffany is alive. Antivaxxers also reached out to anyone linked to Tiffany on social media asking for "proof" that she's alive. An announcement by the hospital is not enough for them. 

It got bad enough after six weeks that the hospital asked her to pose with staff and a signboard with a date and a hashtag as "proof of life". But this is where the conspiracy gone off the rails and claimed an actress was brought in to pose as her and/or wanted ADDITIONAL proof of life. Some trolls even suggested scour the city and stalk her family members. 

When family members posted a rebuttal, they got comments like "why don't you admit she's dead?" "how much did they pay you?" and "Why don't you let her speak for herself?" and so on. 

And this is when claims of a "body double" started. 

The conspirators, usually with a distrust of the medical establishment, need to validate their self-worth by harassing others. And they keep moving the goalpost. 

The hospital learned its lesson and started ignoring such demands. It is a hospital, not a PR agency to satisfy antivaxxer bull****. 

You can read the entire saga here:

Don't be a COVIDiot antivaxxer who can't handle the truth. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Crazy COVIDiocy: Antivaxxers Lie About Death to Discredit Vaccine, Enraging Surviving Family

 A 17-year old beautician died in her sleep due to unknown causes on September 14th, in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. The grieving family is horrified that many antivaxxers, desperate to discredit the vaccine any way they can, started to claim that the death was due to the COVID vaccine. 

Maddy Campbel is a beautician with a promising future, but her life was cut short, and a postmortem was unable to establish a definite cause of death. Yet after the limited release of news on Instagram, antivaxxer trolls started to inundate the announcement and the inbox with claims that "COVID vaccine killed her", probably accompanied by "it's a government cover-up". 

What the trolls don't know is that Maddy had NOT received any COVID vaccine. Not even a single dose. So her death has NOTHING to do with the COVID vaccine. 

Her father called out the antivaxxer trolls, "Anybody spreading such rumours should hang their heads in shame." 

Her place of employment also issued a statement: "We are horrified to hear that people are trying to sue Maddy's death as an 'anti vaccine' news story. Maddy would not wish to have her name used to dissuade people against having the vaccine. I would like to confirm that Maddy had neither doses of the COVID vaccine, her unexpected death was in no way linked."


Unfortunately, this sort of vaccine-blaming happens QUITE OFTEN online. Any time there's a death, antivaxxers assess the death, and see if it can be blamed on vaccines somehow. Baby deaths are most often blamed, because a lot of children receive vaccines when they are young. Some grieving families are harassed into quitting social media, then the antivaxxers claim "cover-up". 

For example, Ashley Spivey, one-time contestant on The Bachelor back in about 2010 or so, suffered a stillbirth, at 30 weeks. It appears that the cord has twisted around the fetus's neck. Such things happen. What Ashley did NOT expect, however, are the antivaxxers who insisted that the flu shot she got a week earlier was what killed her fetus. And given that Ashley had announced that she's getting her flu shot to protect the herself and the baby, the antivaxxers claimed they "tried to warn you [Ashley]". 

It's a bit perverse when a mom's story about the death of a child/fetus, or even the struggles of her child with a medical condition was targeted by the antivaxxers for harassment. And Ashley is hardly alone in that. 

Don't be a COVIDiot or antivaxxers. Don't join a group so eager to prove a falsehood they are willing to harass grieving mothers and families.