Are These Really Antivax Lies?

Just prior to Christmas, I stumbled across this list from Gizmodo titled “Antivax Lies to Watch Out for This Holiday.” Truth be told, a friend shared it to their Facebook profile, and I know better than to try and share any feedback there. It’s the sad state of things that the article notes “there may be little sense in trying to change anyone’s mind,” but I thought that one way to push back on that ideological entrenchment of our society is to actually talk about the points the article makes.

I started this blog because I believe in our freedom to make healthier choices for ourselves. And I know that choice ultimately has to come from us. When someone else tells us what to do or how to think, sure, we may accept it for a while, but there’s a resentment and a learned helplessness that breeds there. We become dependent on external authority for all direction, doubtful of ourselves, and then sometimes even misplace our anger elsewhere, like on people who choose to think and act for themselves.

I believe in personal responsibility, in our agency, and in different answers for different people. When we label people with genuine concerns about health and their bodily autonomy “antivax,” we shut down conversation. There’s no understanding, there’s the impasse of the label.

We don’t have to live like that. A functional society probably can’t. And so in that spirit of encouraging actual dialogue around a disputed issue, I decided to respond to each one of the article’s “antivax lies.”

First up…

“The Vaccines Are Based on Untested, Dangerous Technology.”

As the article tells us, even though mRNA vaccine research has been going on for decades, the COVID vaccines are the first mRNA vaccines approved for use in humans, and that approval process required significantly less time than any other vaccine on the market.

Because of the cut corners in testing, we don’t know how effective the vaccine is. That’s how we’ve gone from needing 1-2 shots to needing at least one booster shot, although at this point, the third shot is no longer considered the final booster either. Based on the last year, it seems like we’re finding out in real time how long the shot is good for, rather than taking a product thoroughly tested whose efficiency and longevity are well established.

As for whether the vaccines are “dangerous,” because of the cut corners in testing, everyday people who trusted in the public health agencies tasked with approving these products were exposed to injuries and side effects they did not know to expect. I experienced temporary paralysis of my lower body–the extent of what I was warned about was that I might experience “cold-like symptoms.” My grandmother developed a blood clot in her brain and died. I have heard of women experiencing stillbirths and irregular menstrual bleeding after vaccination. Other women, including safety study participants, report developing neurological disorders, which the FDA knew about as early as February of 2021.

It took months after the vaccine was being administered to the public for public health agencies to issue clear warnings about blood clots and cardiovascular problems, although the details around these effects are still unclear. What is the timetable for their resolution? For the resolution of the neurological disorders?  We don’t know because there are no long-term studies for vaccinated cohorts aside from simply watching how the people who took them earlier this year end up doing over time.

If death, mysterious neurological disorders, and heart problems aren’t “dangerous,” what is?

“mRNA Vaccines Change Your DNA.”

Here’s how Steven Salzberg explains it for his Forbes  article, which went viral for a curious editorial change after publication:

“[D]oes the Covid-19 vaccine change your DNA? Not directly, no. But yes, thanks to your own immune system, the overall mixture of DNA in your body is a tiny  bit altered after you get any vaccine. Your DNA is also changed every time you recover from an infection, including the common cold. But the only  change is in the DNA of a tiny number of immune cells, which hang around as guardians against future infections. And that’s a good thing.”

Antivax lie? Or Science™ ? It kind of feels like this one is either a lie or truth depending on whether you use it to argue for or against taking the vaccination. Or, as Salzberg admits: “Even when [anti-vaxxers] are right about something, it’s for the wrong reasons.”

“Vaccinated People Are Shedding Onto Others.”

As the article notes, this “antivax lie” is actually “a well-known risk” of other vaccines.

Even if “shedding” is disputed regarding the COVID vaccines, what both sides can hopefully agree on is that vaccinated people are still sharing the virus with each other and with unvaccinated people. The vaccines do not offer protection from infection, transmission, or even hospitalization. So whether it’s “shedding,” as has been seen in other vaccines or just the fact that the vaccines don’t offer protection that lives up to their popular hype, the end result is the same: people are becoming infected from vaccinated individuals.

The CDC spells this out clearly:

  • “A vaccine breakthrough infection happens when a fully vaccinated person gets infected with COVID-19. People with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread COVID-19 to others.”
  • “People who get vaccine breakthrough infections can be contagious.”
  • “Because vaccines are not 100% effective, as the number of people who are fully vaccinated goes up, the number of vaccine breakthrough infections will also increase.”

While it’s fair to dispute “shedding” as the mechanics of this process, it’s understandable that people would describe the literal occurrence of breakthrough cases and infections using terminology applied to other instances of vaccination causing the same result.

“The Shots Contain Scary and/or Satanic Ingredients.”

Like “dangerous” in the first claim, both “scary” and “Satanic” are subjective, and depending on one’s perspective, ingredients or technology derived from fetal cells may count. If we dig beneath the claim though, rather than simply mock the most extreme expression of it, what we can hear is that people do not trust health agencies or their government to either tell them the truth about ingredients or to not be part of some nefarious plot.

In essence, public trust is broken. And why shouldn’t it be when public officials have gone back and forth on masking (or redefine the rules for themselves, e.g. 2, 3, 4, 5), when side effects (noted above) are still not widely understood or acknowledged, when vaccine passes were hounded as a conspiracy that are now a part of life around the world, and when the second-in-command of this country expressed her own mistrust of the vaccine just weeks before being appointed to office?

Some people are always going to believe absurd things. The greater issue is that a larger number of people can be swayed to believe absurd things because the institutional reality of this society is built on a very transparent propaganda campaign, and people don’t want to be lied to. They’d rather believe someone who genuinely believes something absurd than to be told they must act in belief of a lie the person telling them to believe it doesn’t even believe in.

“You Can Detox the Vaccines Away.”

It’s interesting that this claim is singled out because waning efficiency is something we’re supposed to accept as part of the vaccination cycle now, right? The article even says that “the vaccines do not contain any substances that permanently linger in the body.”

So how do you prove that something cannot speed that process up? By what process do the substances in the vaccine disappear from the body over time?  Considering that we don’t even have a public timetable for how long the vaccine is effective (or a coherent idea of what “effective” means), it seems impossible to me that we could rule out the possibility of detoxing the vaccine out of the body.

Considering too that the basis of this question is likely at least in part rooted in attempts to recover from unanticipated vaccine injuries, isn’t it rather cruel to call this an “antivax lie” rather than a chilling indictment on the quality of healthcare people expect after being mandated into a medical treatment?

That’s the choice this society has to make though. Do we look at each other as buffoons–where “antivaxxers” are all moronic Bible-thumpers bathing in Borax–or do we try and understand how something so serious it could potentially end your life if you take it (or your career if you don’t) is a complex issue for people?

“The Vaccines Are Killing More People Than the Virus.”

This one is very compelling because its truth or falseness is precipitated on two conditions. First, we have to have accurate data on how many people are dying from the virus. Second, we have to have accurate data on how many people are dying from the vaccines.

As the article states: “For example, a person may have a heart attack the same week they start a new medication; it doesn’t necessarily mean the drug caused the heart attack.”

Except, where the article takes this to mean that the VAERS data is unreliable, it ignores that the same could be said for our data on who is dying from the virus. Rephrased another way, a person could die from a heart attack the very same day they contract COVID; it doesn’t necessary mean that COVID caused their death. Our present system of accounting for COVID deaths does not always take that analysis into consideration.

What we have is a count of who died with  COVID. Just as there’s no identifying label left inside the body clearly stating that someone died from  the vaccine, the same is true for dying from  COVID. We have best guesses based on observation and analysis.

At the time of writing this article, the CDC reports that 790 American children have died with COVID since January 2020. This number includes “presumed” cases of COVID. VAERS records 3,010 stillbirths after COVID vaccination and at least 35 deaths of children following vaccination.

At what point do we agree that too many people are dying from vaccination for the campaign to be continued? Back in 1976, the U.S. halted its swine flu vaccination campaign following 25-32 deaths.

“Vaccines Don’t Reduce Transmission.”

“Antivax lies” from Johns Hopkins in August 2021:

“New data was released by the CDC showing that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant can carry detectable viral loads similar to those of people who are unvaccinated though in the vaccinated, these levels rapidly diminish.”

Apparently “antivax” University of California, Davis in October 2021:

“A new study from the University of California, Davis, Genome Center, UC San Francisco and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub shows no significant difference in viral load between vaccinated and unvaccinated people who tested positive for the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. It also found no significant difference between infected people with or without symptoms.” (source)

“Antivax” analysis of testing results in Israel from the Social Science Research Network:

“[…] compared to the Unvaccinated group, the Vaccinated group has a significantly higher positivity rate during the month of August, then in September it shows a 3.45-fold smaller positivity rate (71% relative protection), and this protection decreases to 2.66-fold (62% protection) during October. The analysis suggests that the relative protection of the booster shot against infection is likely to be significantly smaller than the initial estimates of 10-11-fold (over 90%) reported by the MOH, probably around 60% at best. This also implies that the absolute number of infected individuals in the Vaccinated group is likely to be at least as high as in the Unvaccinated, raising serious concerns that the new Green Pass is inefficient in preventing infection spread, and could expose high risk individuals to risk.”

So, if the statement “vaccines don’t reduce transmission” is a lie, then that means the vaccines do reduce transmission. If that were the case, then why would vaccinated people still “carry detectable viral loads similar to those of people who are unvaccinated” per Johns Hopkins, summarizing the CDC’s data?

What does it mean that UC Davis couldn’t find a “significant difference in viral load between vaccinated and unvaccinated people”?

And if vaccination reduces transmission then why are the absolute numbers of infected individuals in the vaccinated group “likely to be at least as high as in the unvaccinated” per the Israeli airport study?

If vaccines reduce transmission, why should vaccinated people wear masks? Why do we need to worry about exposing high risk individuals to the virus (as the Israeli airport study concludes)?

I think part of our problem here is that socially some people want to divide our society into two categories: “vaccinated” or “unvaccinated.” But the vaccines wane in efficiency, natural immunity may even provide better protection, and taken together, these two facts complicate an easy division and risk assessment between the two groups.

“The Need for Boosters Proves the Vaccines Are Useless.”

“Useless” makes this a challenging claim to prove or debunk, because there’s no static goal post for how we define the vaccines’ usefulness. A year ago, the popular expectation was that there would be one shot and then everything could go back to normal. That quickly became two shots, and now it’s three or four.

We can point to any data we’d like to show that the vaccines do something–and we can say that makes them “useful,”–but that doesn’t address the spirit of the “antivax lie” here. What the need for boosters and the public’s belief in this “lie” demonstrate is that the vaccines have failed to live up to public expectation.

People are still dying. Vaccinated people. People are still being hospitalized. Vaccinated people. People are still transmitting COVID. Vaccinated people are doing that. That’s the meme, isn’t it? If you still die from COVID, how did the vaccine improve your outcome?

How do we define “usefulness” if we can’t say the vaccine eliminates death, hospitalization, or transmission? If we just say it lessens those things, then can’t we compare it to other health boosting strategies like eating healthier, losing weight, better managing stress and chronic illness, or exercising more? Why have we narrowed in on mandating one set of strategies (but not others) that we cannot critique or evaluate without being marginalized as “antivax”?

“Outbreaks in Highly Vaccinated Countries Show Vaccines Don’t Work.”

This “lie” is odd because the article doesn’t really seem to counter it. Instead it points to vaccination resulting in infected individuals being less likely to get seriously sick or die (while still contracting, spreading, and even dying from the virus), and reminds us that no vaccine is 100% effective.

It’s a similar claim to the previous one. How do we judge whether or not a vaccine “works”?

We can’t. Just like we can’t define “useful-” or “useless-ness.” All of the measures we might use to assess those things–protection from infection, protection from symptomatic infection, protection from transmission, viral load, hospitalization, and death–are off-limits.

If we have to accept that lessening any of those measures = “work” or “usefulness,” then why can’t we discuss alternative strategies to achieve the same effect? The “antivax lie” here is just another reflection of the popular opinion that when we were told these things would work, the implicit messaging was that we weren’t going to “lessen” these measures, we were going to completely zero them out.

“Kids Don’t Need the Vaccine.”

The article states: “Children are far less likely to get seriously sick and die from covid-19 than other age groups. But that low risk doesn’t mean no risk at all.”

But if we go back an “antivax lie” to where the article’s author reminds us that no vaccine is 100% effective, isn’t that essentially the same word game being played here? “Low risk” of infection in children is apparently insufficient. The article’s author implies we need to get to “no risk at all” instead.

But the vaccine doesn’t do that. And expecting it to–defining “usefulness” and “work” around the outcome of “no risk at all”–is literally being framed as an “antivax lie” when other people get tired of pretending like an inefficient injection every few months is what we all wanted and knew we were getting into months ago.

I suspect that means that the article’s author (and likely many readers) share more in common with those being labeled “antivax” than they’d expect. We’ve all been sold on a product which didn’t live up to expectations (and which frankly exceeds them when it comes to side effects). The campaigns to push the boosters and vaccinating children show we’re still being sold on these same expectations.

But we won’t achieve “no risk at all.” Ever. Not for us. Not for the kids. Not even if every living creature on the planet receives a new vaccination every week until the end of time.

That’s because the goal post is fundamentally impossible to square with the reality of risk on planet Earth. And that’s because health is more than a matter of consuming a product, taking a therapeutic treatment, or forcing everyone else around us to do those things.

My hypothesis is that even the most virulent anti-antivaxxer knows this on some level. Their anger isn’t really about antivax lies. It’s about the compounding lies we’ve been sold by public health officials and pharmaceutical companies over the last two years–lies that have wrecked our economy, our sanity, and our daily lives. Lies that we can reasonably anticipate continuing to re-shape our world for the perceivable future.

These people hate “antivax lies” because they remind them of that uncomfortable truth, and further of their own cowardice to stand up for what they are really seeing, really experiencing, and really feeling rather than toeing the party line in hopes that it’s just two more weeks boosters to flatten the curve.

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