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Fact Checking the Fact Checkers; Kids and COVID

The Anointed are at it Again

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Photo from Pixabay.


Remember a few years ago when standard nutrition advice was to eat a low-fat diet with plenty of heart healthy whole grains and avoid artery clogging saturated fat? This, despite human evolution pointing towards limited-carb diets for most of the past few million years, despite critics calling out the junk science, despite common experience of improved health on low-carb diets, and despite the fact that diabetes and overweight skyrocketed after low-fat diets became commonplace starting around 1980? The advice was everywhere and accepted as common sense and good science, despite all facts to the contrary. 

The same thing is happening with COVID vaccines. We're all being nudged (or worse) to get a dose or two of these safe vaccines despite warning signs, despite alternative treatment possibilities, and despite kids not needing them. Some states have lotteries for the newly jabbed to win a pile of money, employers are giving out cash, Purdue is giving away scholarships, and the Indiana Department of Transportation spread the word on its digital highway signs when the vaccines came out. But others are busy obscuring warning signs.

Fact Checkers or Fiction Writers?

Fact checkers at Reuters have put out "facts" that are flatly false. The did correct one of them--that the vaccines were FDA approved. They aren't: they're authorized for emergency use. But their "fact check" stating that the initial research trials are finished is false. From Moderna's site, 

A Phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled, observer-blind clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine in participants 18 years of age and older is ongoing in the United States (NCT04470427). 

Pfizer's site likewise refers to its "ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial" and adds, 

Data from this study, including longer term safety, comprehensive information on duration of protection, efficacy against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, and safety and immunogenicity in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age will be gathered in the months ahead. Additional studies are planned to evaluate BNT162b2 in pregnant women, children younger than 12 years, and those in special risk groups, such as the immunocompromised. 

Reuters is correct in saying manufacturers have "published results from Phase 3 trials," but the claim was that the trials weren't finished. That claim is correct. And by the way, Reuters' punctuation errors and wonky-looking site with spaces missing between words shows their level of quality control and credibility. 

Just a few years ago, the internet empowered people to share information and make better decisions. Now? Facebook removed a 200,000-member group for people injured by the vaccines. YouTube is removing videos about ivermectin, an alternative preventive and treatment with a good safety record over a period of decades. Some of those videos featured Dr. Pierre Kory, who developed current protocols for COVID patients. The CDC makes it hard to find data on adverse events following COVID shots and so-called fact checkers try to make it sound like the alarming number of deaths and permanent disabilities are just a coincidence. 

We used to have some nasty trolls who thought everyone should be vegan or eat a bunch of carbs (remember CarbSane?). At least they were usually honest about what they were up to. But here we have what looks for all the world like a paid shill for pharma. From Slate:

Help! My 15-year-old wants to go to camp this summer. It’s local, on a college campus, and she would be staying in a dorm. She keeps reminding me that “it’s only for two weeks,” and she’s been so bored, and the school year was so terrible—and it’s an arts camp, which is her thing. She desperately wants to go.

I know how disappointed she’ll be if I stick to my guns, but my every instinct is screaming at me that this is a bad idea. We live in an area where many people aren’t getting vaccinated—mostly by idiotic choice—and neither the camp nor the college is requiring proof of vaccination. Nor is there a mask mandate! My own kid is of course vaccinated (why would we not partake of this freaking medical miracle?) as is the rest of my family, but we are surrounded by people who aren’t. I have let her socialize with the few kids she knows whose parents have had them vaccinated, so I’m not keeping her locked up! It’s just that we are surrounded on all sides by anti-vax, science-denying conspiracy theorists. And while she would be much less at risk than the kids at camp who are not protected by the vaccine—she’s 95 percent protected, they are 0 percent protected—there is still a risk to her that doesn’t seem worth taking. 

By coincidence, the columnist this letter was addressed to runs a "sort-of summer camp" (which she canceled--never mind that nearly all schools where she lives were back in session) and agrees with the letter writer, citing such fair, balanced and scientific sources as the New York Times and Washington Post. She laments that only 40% of her fellow Ohioans are vaccinated. 

Not that the letter writer wanted any help. The writer has their mind made up that little Emily (if there is a little Emily) is only going to associate with the kids of the good people, not those idiot yokels one sneeze away from ending up on a ventilator. You, dear reader, don't want your kids to be shunned by the good people, do you? Run out and get them vaccinated--besides, they're zero percent protected! That itself is a lie, something observed by several people in the comments. How is it that random commenters are better fact checkers than paid fact checkers? (My take: they're activists paid to write technically correct but misleading information to give readers a certain impression.) Kids are, at this writing, all but totally immune to COVID. They need the shot like a husky needs a sweater. 

Like Life Insurance for Kids!

The CDC--despite urging parents to get their kids a COVID shot--estimates the infection fatality rate at 20 per million for those 0-17 years old. First, kids have to have a medical condition, then they have to get infected with COVID, then all attempts to heal them have to fail. In Indiana, a state of six and a half million people, about 13 kids have died of (or with) COVID. That's two per million in the course of more than a year--and our overall death rate is above the US average. The rate of myocarditis? Twenty-five per million over just the past few months. And the delta (Indian) variant doesn't seem to be putting kids at risk even in the UK, where that variant accounts for 90% of COVID cases: 

Steve Turner, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health registrar and consultant paediatrician at Royal Aberdeen Children’s hospital, said, “As it stands there are very few children in hospital in Scotland and across the whole of the UK due to covid. We’re not seeing any evidence of an increase in paediatric admissions with covid. A very small number of admissions who test positive for covid is what we’d expect.

“Our experience over the last 15 months is that many children who test positive have come into hospital for something else, like broken bones. At the moment the situation in the UK is stable. The number of children in hospital with covid remains very low.”6 

Tom Naughton's hot take was that kids are being vaccinated to protect adults. Twitter bounced him, even though his premises were correct. I disagree with his conclusion, though--if protecting adults was the goal, we'd probably be getting ivermectin. I think the campaign to vaccinate a group of very low-risk people is simply to sell vaccines--and medicate any problems down the road.

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