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Anti-vaxxers. Consistently Wrong

I am going to give up trying to counter anti-vax fantasies on social media.

While I remain alarmed by the volume of misinformation, and the harm this has the potential to do, it has become clear that anti-vaxxers are either invincibly stupid, or simply don’t care about the harm they do. Nothing dents their obscene and dangerous enthusiasm to post vicious misinformation.

A person I follow on twitter messaged me yesterday to say that the outbreak at the Baulkham Hills Summitcare home in Sydney proved that vaccines did not work. Simply and obviously, that is not the case at all. If anything it is strong evidence of exactly the opposite. There are 139 residents, 133 of whom are fully vaccinated. Two thirds of staff are not.

As an aside, that is shocking. Shocking that staff care so little for the residents they are supposed to be caring for that they felt entitled to be typhoid marys. Your imagined rights to work wherever you like do not extend to endangering the lives of people around you.

The virus was introduced to the centre by an unvaccinated staff member. So far six staff and four residents have COVID19. In an enclosed, close environment, particularly with people in poor physical condition, who are obese, or who have impaired immune systems, the virus spreads quickly. On average nearly 100 out of a population of 139 would contract the disease, and four of those would die. Instead, 4 out of 139 have contracted the disease, and none of those are in serious condition.

Then there are those who keep claiming, on the basis of no evidence whatever, that the vaccines are experimental. This is one of those claims that keeps going around, which has been disproven so often that it makes it clear anti-vaxxers just do not care about the truth.

Each of the new vaccines has been extensively tested. The Moderna vaccine was created in February last year, before the first death from COVID19 in the USA. The rest of last year was spent safety testing, including tens of thousands of volunteers, and produced no, that is zero, adverse effects. That is not to say none were reported. But more were reported by people who had the placebo than by people who had the vaccine. The same is true of the other vaccines. Each was tested over many months, with tens of thousands of volunteers. Then safety data was reviewed by health departments around the world, and other health organisations, before being approved for use. The fact that there is ongoing monitoring does not mean they are experimental. There is ongoing monitoring with every genuine medical treatment or intervention.

So far over 3 billion doses have been administered, with over 1 billion people now fully vaccinated. This is about as far from experimental as it is possible to get.

Instead, many anti-vaxxers insist that the government should be providing hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. But despite some early promise, there is no evidence hydroxychloroquine is effective at all. Ivermectin remains of interest, and further research continues. But at the moment, the evidence is that the dosage required to produce a therapeutic effect in the body would be so toxic it would kill the patient before having any effect on the virus.

Both of these treatments really are experimental, with limited or no evidence of any benefit. But don’t expect consistency from anti-vaxxers.

Talking about a lack of consistency, some have posted a video including commentary from the “inventor of mRNA vaccines” actually a secondary author on a couple of minor papers in the eighties, saying the spike protein in the vaccine is cytotoxic, and this is what is causing lots of deaths, making the vaccine worse than the disease. Except the vaccine doesn’t contain the spike protein, it encourages your body to produce them, it isn’t toxic, and the vaccines are saving thousands of lives. Apart from that, all easily checked, all good.

But then the same people who are posting that piece of standard anti-vax nutjobbery post excited links about Novavax, saying this is a vaccine they would be happy with. But unlike any other COVID19 vaccine, Novavax works by injecting the spike protein directly into your body. Yep, the same spike protein that two posts ago they were claiming the inventor of mRNA vaccines had proven was deadly. Not to mention Novavax really is experimental.  But don’t expect consistency from anti-vaxxers.

Still talking about a lack of consistency, you may have seen a video or other post claiming that never in the history of biology has a more virulent or dangerous developed or evolved from previous forms.

Just stop and think about this for a second. Is this claim remotely feasible? Where do new, deadly viruses come from then? The only other option I can think of is that they are dropped down the chimney by the plague fairy. Or maybe Santa sheds them during his annual flyover.

Then a day or so later the same people post a video by a vet touted by antivaxxers as a leading virology expert (of course) claiming that vaccines only kill off the weaker viruses, and that because of this, vaccines enable new, more deadly variants to develop. But wait a minute, yesterday you were claiming science had proven new, more deadly variants couldn’t develop. Had never developed. Never in the history of biology. It’s all about keeping people scared so we can be controlled!

Just stop and think about this latest claim for a second. Has this development of raging new deadly variants ever happened before, with any vaccine? Ever? Are we now swamped by new and more deadly versions of Smallpox? No, thanks to vaccines, Smallpox has been eliminated. Are hospitals over-run with new deadly forms of Chicken Pox? No, Chicken Pox has largely been eliminated, and with it the scourge  of Shingles as people get older. Rubella? There’s lots more Rubella, right, and lots more birth defects. No. Thanks to vaccines, Rubella has gone from most developed countries, and with it, the birth defects it caused.

Of course you really can’t believe that new, deadlier viruses never develop, and at the same time that vaccines inevitably cause new, deadlier viruses. Both of these things are simply false. But don’t expect consistency from anti-vaxxers.

Then, over the last few days, the usual suspects have been asking how we managed to go straight from the Delta variant to the Lambda variant. What happened to all the letters in between? More proof they’re just trying to scare us.

But look. News flash. Just because you haven’t heard of something does not mean it doesn’t exist. If these people were following genuine science and medical sources, and not just the loony tunes channel on Facebook, they would know there are variants named after all the Greek letters up to Lambda. Lambda is in the news because it is the latest variant of concern. Some variants are less infectious, some more. Some are more treatment resistant, some less. The ones that are of more concern, like Delta and Lambda, are either more infectious, or less susceptible to vaccines or treatment, or both.

But don’t expect consistency from anti-vaxxers. Or responsibility or truthfulness. They just don’t care.