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Senators Lying to You

Getting vaccinated is important. It protects you and the people around you.

It’s not just a personal choice. We all have a responsibility to care for the most vulnerable in our communities.

I replied a few days ago to a post on Facebook which claimed vaccines didn’t work, and are unnecessary because there are good, cheap medications which prevent COVID-19 or reduce its severity. It was talking about Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, of course. I posted a link to studies showing there is no evidence of any positive effect for Hydroxychloroquine, and very limited evidence for any value in Ivermectin.

Someone responded that this was wrong because the whole world had seen the huge benefits of Ivermectin treatment in India. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. What happened was that the usual anti-vax quacks misunderstood the data, and came up with impressive looking misleading graphics (one of the few things they do well), and circulated these amongst the usual people on Facebook and Twitter who could be guaranteed to look no further and ask no questions, but would simply pass them on because they agree with the positions they have already adopted.

Bad enough that ordinary people do this. I can understand questions, but reposting misleading and dangerous graphics and misinformation costs lives. If you have questions, go to genuine medical and science sources, or ask your GP.

It is even worse when politicians and public figures, who should be held to higher standards, repeat the same dangerous propaganda.

This morning I noticed a post from Senator Gerard Rennick, which makes the claim that Australia’s COVID19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has found that Ivermectin reduces deaths from 53 to 22 per 1,000 cases, ICU admissions from 115 to 61 per 1,000 cases, and increases viral clearance within 7-10 days from 539 to 701 per 1,000 cases. Impressive figures. Except that a few minutes of checking reveals that this is not what the COVID19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has found at all.

Even good sources can be misread, and misrepresented. In this case, given that the Senator and the Senator’s staff can be assumed to be reasonably intelligent, and to have reasonable comprehension skills, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion this post and accompanying graphic are not deliberately misleading. That is, the Senator is lying to you. If a person or organisation needs to lie to make a point, then they almost certainly have no point to make. Lying about vitally important medical information and treatment is especially morally despicable.

What does the Taskforce say? It has reviewed hundreds of papers on dozens of different subjects relating to COVID19 spread, prevention and treatment. On Ivermectin, they summarise the results of relevant papers. That is what the figures above are – summaries of a few of many papers reviewed. NOT. I repeat, NOT, the view of most papers, or of the Taskforce itself. The taskforce specifically says about each of the papers quoted, that they have low confidence, because in each case the reliability of those studies is undermined by bias (in other words, the writers found what they wanted to find) and poor study design. The Taskforce, after reviewing all the papers available, and considering the dozens of ongoing studies into possible anti-viral effects of Ivermectin, find there is no evidence to support its use outside of well-designed clinical trials.

The real findings? “In comparison to SOC or placebo, IVM did not reduce all-cause mortality, length of stay or viral clearance in RCTs in COVID-19 patients with mostly mild disease. IVM did not have an effect on AEs or severe AEs. IVM is not a viable option to treat COVID-19 patients.”

What is particularly disappointing about this is that Gerard Rennick, Malcom Roberts, and George Christiansen, who have a lot to offer, are undermining their credibility in matters on which they are knowledgeable and in which they have made genuine contributions, by repeatedly posting what amounts to anti-vax silliness.

Ditto for some other sources such as Catallaxy Files, one of Australia’s best websites for discussion of economic issues, which has posted such nonsense as the claim that the COVID19 virus and variants have never been isolated. This would come as news to the dozens of teams around the world who have done just that, and on the result of whose work the vaccines were designed. Or that Ivermectin research is being quashed. Again, news to the dozens of teams of researchers around the world who are pursuing possible anti-viral effects, even though there is currently no evidence of such effects at non-lethal doses, and it is difficult from a pharmacokinetic point of view to see how there could be useful anti-viral effects in vivo.

The tidal wave of dangerous nonsense continues. Don’t accept it. Check with real sources, or ask your GP.