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# No, the flu vaccine does not increase your chance of getting coronavirus by 36% due to viral interference

An antivaccine meme claiming that, because of viral interference, the flu vaccine increases the risk of coronavirus by 36%. It’s a lie based on a cherry-picked result of a negative study and confusing benign coronavirus with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

So I’m finally back, and in the 11 days that I’ve been gone the world has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by a virus dubbed SARS-CoV-2, has accelerated. Worse, it’s come to my neck of the woods, with the Detroit area currently being one of the COVID-19 hotspots in the US. It’s eerie at the hospital now. The outpatient clinics are slow because nonessential patient visits have been deferred. I’m not operating because elective surgeries have been canceled. We are even deferring some cancer operations in patients with low-risk cancers who can be given other treatments for several weeks until after the crisis passes. Meanwhile, hospitals are being inundated with COVID-19 patients. So I’ll start slow. There’s an antivaccine take on the COVID-19 pandemic going around, because, of course there is. What is that take? Well, take a look at this Tweet promoting an antivaccine lie about coronavirus and viral interference:

Matt Couch describes himself as a “Christian, Father of 2, Investigator, Founder The DC Patriot & America First Media Group, Razorback, Truth Slinger,” and has over 300K followers on Twitter. There are a lot of Tweets like this one:

And this one:

I touched on this claim abusing the concept of viral interference two months ago and so was way ahead of the curve, but, as is frequently the case, the antivaccine disinformation claiming that the flu vaccine increases your risk of coronavirus has mutated. Indeed, it’s become oddly specific, citing one study in particular and saying that the increased risk of coronavirus infection is 36%. So I think now is as good a time as any to discuss this issue.

It’s not clear what the original source of this particular meme implying that the flu vaccine increases the risk of COVID-19 through viral interference, but one prominent article shared on social media that came up again and again in my searches is an article posted to DisabledVeterans.org by someone named Benjamin Krause entitled Flu Vaccine Increases Coronavirus Risk 36% Says Military Study, which was published March 11:

A recent military study shows military personnel evaluated who received the flu vaccine were at 36 percent increased risk for coronavirus with varied benefit in preventing some strains of the flu.

“Examining noninfluenza viruses specifically, the odds of both coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher when compared to unvaccinated individuals (OR = 1.36 and 1.51, respectively) (Table 5).”

And more on this:

The column to focus on is “OR” in Table 5.

Coronavirus is 1.36 meaning 36% higher risk.

The influenza virus overall is 0.57 meaning the risk of contracting the flu was reduced overall. Three variants of flu did not receive a statistically significant reduction in risk.

Three of 8 evaluations noted a statistically insignificant benefit for the flu shot. Meanwhile, shot takers were at increased risk for coronavirus of 36%. I would bet \$1 that this year, many Americans would likely rethink taking the vaccine with that bit of information.

Of course, the first thing to note is that the coronavirus in this study of viral interference was obviously not SARS-CoV-2. This study was carried out years before the emergence of COVID-19. No, the coronavirus examined in this study were your run-of-the-mill wimpy coronaviruses that can cause the common cold and that many of us have detectable in our bodies just because these viruses are everywhere. True, Krause does at one point mention that this study is “pre-COVID-19,” but it would still be easy for the reader to believe that the study has implications for SARS-CoV-2.

Before I deconstruct why the claim made by Krause is unjustified and unmitigated nonsense, who is Benjamin Krause? I had never heard of him before in antivaccine circles, but he bills himself as “a lawyer, investigative reporter and award-winning veterans advocate. He is author of the guide Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans and chief editor of DisabledVeterans.org” and notes writing credits in “national publications as an authority on Department of Veterans Affairs policy such as Bloomberg News, Foreign Policy Magazine, Washington Times, Fox News, CBS, NBC, Star Tribune and more.” One thing I can say for sure about him, whatever expertise he might have in these areas, he’s clueless about science and medicine.

Another prominent quack parroting this claim is “functional medicine” doctor Dr. Serge Gregoire, who appears not to have an MD but only a PhD and bills himself as “the nutrition scientist.” Unsurprisingly, he is also antivaccine, as a quick perusal of his website makes abundantly clear. His article is the source of this particular meme:

The medical community strongly advises the population to get a flu shot to help combat the epidemic of this coronavirus.

Honestly, I never made any sense to me.

It is two different types of viruses.

So not now the flu shot works for all viruses?

Concerningly, the latest research shows that getting the flu vaccine increases the risk of getting the coronavirus by 36%!!!

Note that “Dr. Serge” doesn’t even make a passing mention that the coronavirus examined in the study in question was not SARS-CoV-2, but just run-of-the-mill coronavirus strains.

So what is being claimed here? The study being misused and abused by antivaxxers is this one by Greg G. Wolfe at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch Air Force Satellite, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and entitled Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017–2018 influenza season. The idea of viral interference is described in the introduction:

While influenza vaccination offers protection against influenza, natural influenza infection may reduce the risk of non-influenza respiratory viruses by providing temporary, non-specific immunity against these viruses [7], [8]. On the other hand, recently published studies have described the phenomenon of vaccine-associated virus interference; that is, vaccinated individuals may be at increased risk for other respiratory viruses because they do not receive the non-specific immunity associated with natural infection [7], [8], [9], [10]. There has been limited evidence that the influenza vaccine may actually be associated with the virus interference process [8], [11]. Other studies have found no association between influenza vaccination and increased respiratory virus risk [10], [12].

The purpose of this study is to add to the general knowledge of influenza vaccine-related virus interference by comparing rates of non-influenza respiratory viruses to negative laboratory tests, and comparing vaccination status of influenza positive cases to controls among Department of Defense (DoD) personnel. The DoD provides a unique population for vaccination studies as mandatory vaccination against influenza is required by the DoD for all Active Duty and Reserve Component personnel [13]. This study aims to examine the relationship between specific respiratory viruses and influenza vaccination.

Wolfe took advantage of the Department of Defense Global Respiratory Pathogen Surveillance Program (DoDGRS), DoD-wide program established by the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (GEIS). It started as an influenza-only program but during the 2013-2014 flu season the program added respiratory Film Array for flu negative samples and began identifying other respiratory pathogen. During the 2017-2018 flu season the program added respiratory Film Array for flu negative samples and began identifying other respiratory pathogens. These specimens are now tested with a multiplex PCR panel for these pathogens: adenovirus, Chlmydia pneumoniae, coronavirus, human bocavirus, human metapnumovirus, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus/enterovirus, and co-infections.

All personnel submitting a respiratory specimen to DoDGRS for the 2017-2018 flu season, and those who tested positive for only Chlamydia pneumoniae and/or Mycoplasma pneumoniae were excluded because these illnesses are bacteriological in nature. People with influenza and non-influenza co-infections were excluded because they couldn’t be uniquely classified as influenza or non-influenza, as were people whose vaccination status couldn’t be confirmed. Finally, subjects who were ill before receiving vaccination were excluded as their vaccination status would be considered be unrelated to their illness.

Let’s go to the findings:

We compared vaccination status of 2880 people with non-influenza respiratory viruses to 3240 people with pan-negative results. Comparing accinated to non-vaccinated patients, the adjusted odds ratio for non-flu viruses was 0.97 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.86, 1.09; p = 0.60). Additionally, the vaccination status of 3349 cases of influenza were compared to three different control groups: all controls (N = 6120), non-influenza positive controls (N = 2880), and pan-negative controls (N = 3240). The adjusted ORs for the comparisons among the three control groups did not vary much (range: 0.46–0.51).

And:

Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population. Examining virus interference by specific respiratory viruses showed mixed results. Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; however, significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.

Let me repeat that: Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population. In other words, this is a negative study. The authors did not observe viral interference.

Then, in the conclusion:

The overall results of the study showed little to no evidence supporting the association of virus interference and influenza vaccination. Individual respiratory virus results were mixed, and some rebutted virus interference.

So how did antivaxxers come to the mistaken cherry picked conclusion that this study showed that, due to viral interference, the seasonal flu vaccine increases your risk of getting coronavirus by 36%, thus creating an antivax meme? It comes down to this table:

And this cherry-picked passage:

The odds of testing positive for individual respiratory viruses by vaccination status were also examined (Table 5). The influenza vaccine was sufficient at protecting all influenza virus results tested for at a significant level except two (Influenza B Victoria and Influenza coinfections) (Table 5). Both Influenza B Victoria and Influenza coinfections had reduced odds in the vaccinated cohort, but not at significant levels (Table 5). Examining non-influenza viruses specifically, the odds of both coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher when compared to unvaccinated individuals (OR = 1.36 and 1.51, respectively) (Table 5). Conversely, all other non-influenza respiratory viruses had decreased odds in the vaccinated population, including significantly decreased odds ratios in vaccinated people with parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections (Table 5). Additionally, the odds ratio in the no pathogen detected cohort was significantly higher in vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals (OR = 1.51) (Table 5).

To reiterate what I’ve said before about this study, this what we’re almost certainly seeing: Noise. With the odds ratio of influenza virus significantly decreased (the odds ratios range from 0.39 to 0.88, depending on the specific influenza strain), the rest of the various viruses detected fluctuated around an odds ratio of 1.0 (no difference). Indeed, most of the non-influenza viruses tested for (6/8) demonstrated odds ratios lower than 1.0 (range: 0.67-1.51). Only coronavirus and human metapneumovirus showed odds ratios of more than 1.0 (1.36 and 1.51, respectively), with the rest all lower than 1.0. Moreover, the odds ratio of having no pathogen detected in the group receiving the flu vaccine was 1.59 (95% CI 1.44-1.75), meaning that those who had the flu vaccine were 59% more likely not to have any respiratory virus detectable at all. This is highly suggestive of nothing more than statistical noise. Basically, antivaxxers are citing what is, in essence, a negative study.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also can’t help but be amused by the inconsistency of antivaxxers. The flu vaccine is one of our less effective vaccines, a vaccine whose efficacy varies widely from season to season because an educated guess has to be made several months in advance every year as to which influenza strains will be the most common that season. Antivaxxers love to claim that the flu vaccine doesn’t work, that it’s completely ineffective. But if the flu vaccine doesn’t work, there isn’t even a chance that it could cause interference with other viruses.

So, the next time you see these memes, remember: This is a cherry picked number out of a negative study that didn’t show any good evidence for viral interference, and the study has no relevance to COVID-19 because it was performed more than two years before SARS-CoV-2 even appeared and looked only at run-of-the-mill coronavirus, the kind that doesn’t cause severe disease. Basically, it’s a lie.

## By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

## 71 replies on “No, the flu vaccine does not increase your chance of getting coronavirus by 36% due to viral interference”

Tim Richtersays:

You might also review these studies:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404712/ (small n, but afaik one of the first studies to report this).
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X18303153?via=ihub (increased risk to obtain other ILI only in children)
https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/216/4/415/3958807 (“Vaccination reduces the number of influenza virus infections but not the overall number of ILI episodes: other pathogens fill the gap.” for elder patients)
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0163508 (mixed results in different nations and different age groups)

All these studies have their flaws and merits, and there are possibly a lot of confounders, but there MIGHT be a small signal in the data that might be worth further research.

See:

https://respectfulinsolence.com/2020/01/30/coronavirus-flu-vaccine/

This post is a more focused discussion of the latest antivax take on the issue and, in fact, includes snippets of text from the previous post. I did it because I thought an update was indicated, given how specific the claim has become and it was a good way to get me back in the swing of blogging. The above post is more comprehensive.

Vincent Iannelli has also looked at the studies and concluded that there is not good evidence that viral interference due to the flu vaccine is a significant phenomenon:

https://vaxopedia.org/2020/01/29/does-a-flu-shot-increase-your-risk-of-getting-other-respiratory-viruses/

Links, friend. Click on the links. That’s why they’re there, so that I don’t have to rehash things any more than absolutely necessary. Again, I did this update because my last post was two months old, and I saw this particular version of this antivaccine lie rising rapidly on social media over the weekend.

Terriesays:

My understanding is that coronaviruses are a major cause of chest colds, so what this study tells us is… If you’ve been vaccinated for the flu, and you have a respiratory illness, you probably have a chest cold, and it’s probably caused by one of the most common causes.

Chris Prestonsays:

Exactly. The only participants in the study were those submitting a respiratory specimen for testing. People who did not contribute a specimen were not included. The majority of participants would have submitted a specimen because they had some sort of respiratory infection. If it wasn’t flu, then it was more likely something else causing it. As the flu vaccine reduced the odds for having influenza among the participants by a considerable margin, it should come as no surprise that vaccinated individuals with a non-influenza respiratory infection more likely had something else.

robert waltonsays:

i see front line drs have revered too the old protocol of steam inhaling with active ingredients camphor menthol head over the boiled basin& towel over the head ?? any comment ..cheers ..happy bob from oz….8

robert waltonsays:

yes i missed one eucalyptus oil add to my previous post.sorry …seniors moment …cheers…8

Daniel Pyronsays:

Good to get a dose of Insolence. And shared

This is something I deal with in trials all the time. A bunch of exploratory endpoints that all fluctuate around ‘no signal.’ Looking at the trend of all of them in aggregate isn’t as satisfying as cherry-picking the one that you want to be true, though.

I had the influenza vaccine in September, by the way, and have not contracted COVID-19, even though it’s making its way through the Bay Area. Since anti-vaxxers think that correlation is causation…

“elective surgeries have been canceled”

They were canceled in San Francisco earlier in the month. I had originally been scheduled for top surgery on May 5, but I got a cancellation spot on March 9 – right before everything got intense. My surgeon told me at follow-up that I was the last one she did before the shut-down. I’m incredibly lucky.

Chrissays:

You are truly lucky. Hope you heal quickly.

Thanks! Compared to the other surgeries I’ve had (mostly broken bone repair, although I had ACL repair in November that I’m still recovering from), this is by far the easiest and fastest recovery I’ve had (with the exception of my first ever bout of vasovagal syncope when she pulled the drains). It feels just great, emotionally and physically.

Man, I can’t even get an echocardiogram around here — the outpatient clinic is practically shut down.

I’m glad you got it done and recovery was easy.

christine kincaidsays:

Yeah you are totally lucky. Your September flu shot has waned.

Oh, look what’s crawled out of the woodwork. I didn’t get my flu shot until November and have yet to fall ill; has it too waned? Perhaps you could just cut to the fucking chase.

Denice Waltersays:

Merci beaucoup, Orac, for the new insolence.
I like your “new look”: functional plague fashion. Personally, I just don’t comb my hair. My SO noticed that television news women haven’t the services of hair and makeup artists and must do their own.

Unfortunately, woo-meisters and anti-vaxxers have been providing misinformation about COVID-19 such as how to enhance your immune system, how to de-contaminate surfaces, what supplements or foods will make you less vulnerable and how the virus is part of an international plot to sell vaccines. The usual suspects broadcast bad science and product lines designed to insure safety or cures as they malign Dr Fauci, Mr Gates and other experts. It would be interesting to see who turns a profit because of fear of the illness. I believe that his pseudoscientific advice/ rants have got Null thrown off of Facebook ( he is currently doing a de-aging retreat for seniors at his Texas estate- I guess group gatherings are not banned there). I can only hope that others will be similarly identified by social media.

Denice – as a Bay Area resident, did you see the interview Steph Curry did with Dr Fauci online? I thought it was a pretty solid lay interview, and a way to reach the young people who have been not-social-distancing to a distressing degree lately.

Denice Waltersays:

I unfortunately I didn’t watch it but I’ll try to find it again

I found an interesting graph about the virus:
— one place tested only subjects with symptoms and got an increasing curve based on age ( older worse)
— another area tested ALL subjects and got a curve that decreased with age ( younger worse)
— both transposed revealed that all ages were infected but the older were more likely to be symptomatic.
I can’t remember what the locales were ( two countries IIRC) but it will turn up somewhere

re SF/ Bay Area:
I hope that it is open when my reservations come due.

Around here, I had to make a great effort to find restaurants that will offer take out/ delivery for a planned event this week. The county’s website shows a collection of dining options llsted by town/ city. .

@Denice – it’s the first thing that comes up on YouTube when I search Steph Curry.

A big complicating factor right now is that testing is limiting, particularly in the US. The more testing becomes available, I think the higher the incidence and lower the mortality will be. And the frequency of asymptomatic carriers is a huge question mark right now. So, I’m just Social Distancing.

The data is all necessarily preliminary, and the picture is going to refine more and more as we get more. It’ll take years, though, IMO…

Timsays:

DW, It looks as though Iceland may be the quintessential data set for future study and reference.

They have a population of about 364,000 and have not done any isolation. What they did do is random sample testing, serology (to see who has seroconverted), and genetics on all tests.

It appears that, at least within that particular demographic of finely-sculpted Gaelic, Nordic, and Inuit, <%2 percent of poles and others, that %50 of carriers are asymptomatic**.

** thus, cheeto in chief — capitan bone spurs — leader of the ‘free’ world must recommend everyone wear at least a hanky so I may at least wear one without arousing the local populace to “Whatsa matter, mask boy? Don’t ya trust in Trump’s plan?”

Denice Waltersays:

@ Tim:

I found another graph ( NewsHub, 31 March, 2020) of Andreas Backhaus’ comparison of testing in South Korea vs Italy: the former tests all, the latter only the symptomatic illustrating what I discussed although I saw a different image of their figures.

(off topic) Roadsterguy, congratulations on the surgery. Glad it went well. Waving from San Mateo County. Social distancing is doing pretty well down here in the burbs.

brainmatterzsays:

“…news women haven’t the services of hair and makeup artists and must do their own.”

OMG! I’m going to find clips (don’t have TV-30 years and counting…) to see this. The glimpses I get of TV here and there always shock me with the plastic Barbie faces that pass as actual women.

Denice Waltersays:

re COVID hair:

Check out Nicolle Wallace: images of this past week vs older ones/ publicity photos.
Also Janine Pirro. Also Trumpite Conway
.
A few look not bad at all: Maddow or various blondes with easier maintenance. Black women do better I think.

Personally, if I want to impress, it’s a hard decision whether to straighten or curl- I’m in-between,

Also, men in need of barbers, that’s coming..

JustaTechsays:

DW: “men in need of barbers, that’s coming..”
My husband said something about how he’s going to need me to cut his hair and I said absolutely not. The one very specific piece of marriage advice my mother gave me was “never cut your husband’s hair”. You will mess up, because you’re not a barber, and he’ll be mad.
So my husband got himself a set of clippers. Maybe, maybe I’ll help with that.

Me, I’ve got long hair and I just got a cut and color before the stay-home order came down, so I’m good for at least 6 months, probably a year.

Terriesays:

“Black women do better I think.” From what I’ve heard from people in the TV business, most hair and makeup people are so clueless on what to do with a black women’s hair and skin that they often have to do their own anyway, so not shocking.

Chrissays:

It is bad enough what they do to wavy/curly hair of some of us light skinned folk. I have had terrible haircuts. I can’t imagine what some folk have to go through with uber kinky curl (which I sometimes envied the Afro of a high school friend would get at a barber over 40 years ago, I actually tried to fluff up my hair to that, but to no avail). Fortunately I was only told to straighten my hair in the 1960s (the salon dude expected a 12 year wrap her hair around an empty frozen orange juice can every night). Apparently in those days ironing ones blond/red/brown curls was a thing.

I got revenge in the 1970s when those that mocked my curly hair got perms. I actually asked one of them if they had put their finger in an electrical socket (something I was asked a few years before in real life). Then later I got questions about if I permed my hair, including from my husband’s Dutch grandmother. Aargh!

I really liked the Blackish take on hair. I also disliked when people touched my hair or asked if it was real, but nothing like those experience by black women: https://www.tvguide.com/news/guest-column-courtney-lilly-black-ish-hair-day-episode/

I am also very glad I got a haircut just before the shutdown. By a non-white person who knows curls and listened. I fear he is now back in California (he has family here, but gets more business there). Also that place is closed. I think I shall ask youngest who actually cuts their straight hair with clippers on advice of which one to purchase and what setting to use.

Also, men in need of barbers, that’s coming..

I cut my own hair, thankyouverymuch.

Denice Waltersays:

Never cut a partner’s hair.**

I fortunately learned how to cut certain types of hair from my friend, Emily, who was a stylist turned professional artist. She saved me lots of money over the years. I have messy waves and wimpy curls so it is easier to cut than very straight or very curly hair ( texture also hides errors) I was able to cut my father’s hair when he was very aged and didn’t want to go to a barber.
The secret is parting, then pulling wet hair straight and trimming ends carefully and systematically. It’s all geometry I sometimes use clips or elastics to hold it in place. Also, I can’t do any elaborate layering or short hair. I dye it too.

@ Chris:

I hear that your area is doing better with the virus because of mitigation. I think that we have a while yet here.

** my SO wants me to do his with a clipper but no way! EVER!

.

The secret is parting, then pulling wet hair straight and trimming ends carefully and systematically.

Yah, that was my approach decades ago when a young Persian lady invided me to cut her hair (which greatly aggravated a friend who was also sweet on her — neither of us ultimately succeeded in pitching woo, but I think I was closer). I bought special scissors and tried to work very carefully, but she eventually got fed up and finished the job herself in the bathroom.

Good times. I’ve actually been having dreams lately about my time at the Press (and having to remind myself that no, I don’t have a deadline today), and she’s appeared in various oddball supporting roles.

NumberWangsays:

Beard trimmer. Set short. Haircut sorted.

Denice Waltersays:

I also could do the other trick where you pull all of the hair straight up, fasten with a clip and cut straight across for infinite layers. Some French dude used to suspend clients in a chair so that their hair hung straight down which was illustrated in fashion magazines. I never went that far.

JPsays:

Although I’ve had a bit longer hair here and there, from about 17 onwards I mainly “cut” my own hair, which means I had a pair of clippers (they stopped working at some point) and I would shave my head. For some reason I don’t feel like a full shave is maybe a good idea at this point, unless I were to actually be walking around in Buddhist robes all the time or something (I shaved my head for convenience, not religious reasons, also I have the right shape of head for it), so my most recent haircut (my sister-in-law obliged) was a short buzzcut but not all the way to the skin.

I mean, obviously it isn’t going to work for everybody, but folks who keep their hair short anyway might think about it. You can actually get a pair of clippers pretty cheap.

JPsays:

Funny story: I first shaved my head when I was about 15 (may have turned 16) when my mom was gone for a weekend (she was not happy.) My friends Miles and Dean, as it turned out, had also shaved their heads, and we had not consulted about it. (Dean also shaved his eyebrows off, though. Because Dean, I guess.)

Smut Clydesays:

Beard trimmer. Set short. Haircut sorted.

I shaved my scalp once but the effect was excessively Prussian, and hateful friends kept calling me “General Guderian”, so I let the hair grow back

“international plot to sell vaccines”

That’s working about as well as the international plot to set petroleum prices. Apparently the vaccine industrial complex is run by amateurs.

Smut Clydesays:

he is currently doing a de-aging retreat for seniors at his Texas estate

There is a reasonable chance that it will arrest aging for some of them anyway.

MarkNsays:

These people just piss me off; burning stupid.
If anything, not getting Influenza immunization sets you up for a worsened prognosis for those areas of co-infection Influenza & COVID.
I’ve been pressing to get my panel current for those that were on the fence, to get the annual flu and recheck any criteria for pneumococcal immunizations, and get that also before the virus hit. Although bacterial complication does not seem to be a sequelae in most cases I’m reading about. The cardiac side with a later myocarditis is really disheartening though.

Anyway, anti-vaxxers, GTFO. you are not helping a real crisis here.

Your rudeness and the venom you spout is what drives them away. When somebody has a question you don’t call them stupid and just start ranting. Show some more compassion and patience to people less intelligent than you and they may be willing to listen and learn a little more. I think that’s part of the problem, whenever somebody on the internet makes an untrue claim they get shit on by everyone to the point their feelings are so hurt that they just choose to deny their validity so they don’t fucking kill themselves.

It’s so easy to pigeonhole somebody by reading a single paragraph, for example I perceive you to be a very angry, unhappy person based off of your post. Do I think that’s true? Probably not but many would jump to that conclusion.

I came to this website to learn about this study and have it explained to me better. To a layman (me) that doesn’t know much about statistics the research does seem to indicate that there’s a 36% increase. Now I feel like your calling me “burning stupid” for even thinking that may be the case. And now I kinda understand why so many people are antivax, every time I they bring up something they are ridiculed and laughed at like they are soooooo stupid for even bringing it up. I’d bet they have knowledge that you don’t, and are probably not as stupid as you think.

Sorry for the rant but what irritates me more than stupidity is rudeness and lack of perspective

Realitysays:

I must be having a Halfheimer’s moment. (That’s as opposed to an Alzheimer’s moment where I am completely lost.)
Can someone help me understand this?
From the Wolff paper:
“While influenza vaccination offers protection against influenza, natural influenza infection may reduce the risk of non-influenza respiratory viruses by providing temporary, non-specific immunity against these viruses [7], [8]. On the other hand, recently published studies have described the phenomenon of vaccine-associated virus interference; that is, vaccinated individuals may be at increased risk for other respiratory viruses because they do not receive the non-specific immunity associated with natural infection [7], [8], [9], [10].”
Note the definition of “vaccine interference”:
– The natural flu infection may provide non-specific immunity against other respiratory viruses.
– Since the vaccine stops natural flu infection the non-specific immunity may also be stopped. This loss of “non-specific immunity” is termed “vaccine interference”.
.
I do not see a comparison between those who were unvaccinated and contracted flu (giving the non-specific immunity) and those who were vaccinated and did not contract the flu (no non-specific immunity).
Wouldn’t that be the comparison needed to investigate vaccine interference by influenza vaccine since interference, by definition, is the elimination of some sort of protection for non-influenza resp. viruses from the effects of a natural flu infection?
.
Am I missing something?

NumberWangsays:

I thought the same. It sounds like getting the flu improves your immunity to other respiratory illness but not getting the flu doesn’t. The only way to say that the flu vaccine increases the risk from Covid is to normalize getting flu….

I think….

Dangerous Baconsays:
David Fostersays:

I completely agree that some of those folks concerned about vaccine safety have misrepresented this research, especially the Dept of Defense study, and that is a shame. Every headline and every story about this research needs to make it very clear that when they are discussing this virus interference, which makes individuals vaccinated against influenza more susceptible to other upper respiratory infections, including Coronavirus, this association has NOT been shown for the current Coronavirus which causes COVID-19 disease.

That said, it is definitely relevant that this association was found for an earlier Coronavirus, and the finding was quite significant. You can try to use all of the mental jujitsu you like, but this is an important finding. At this point we do not know whether virus interference will occur with this new Coronavirus, but if it does then of course this will need to be taken into account when making recommendations for influenza vaccination next year when this virus is likely to re-emerge after hopefully quieting down over the summer.

But what I find inexcusable is the complete lack of respect for scientific rigor in your analysis. Seriously, I’m not sure how you reached your conclusions given that the counterargument is staring you right in the face. From the DoD study findings (as quoted in this very blog):

“Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population. Examining virus interference by specific respiratory viruses showed mixed results. Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; […]”.

You then conclude:

“Let me repeat that: Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population. In other words, this is a negative study. The authors did not observe viral interference.”

Um, yes they did. The only truth uttered by you is that yes, overall when looking at ALL upper respiratory infections “receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference”. But then the scientists in this study did what good scientists do, they looked deeper for possible associations with individual virus types:

“Examining virus interference by specific respiratory viruses showed mixed results. Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; however, significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.”

Let me repeat that.

“Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus […]”.

What part of that sentence do you find confusing?

This isn’t the only research on this…

Increased Risk of Noninfluenza Respiratory Virus Infections Associated With Receipt of Inactivated Influenza Vaccine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404712/

“TIV recipients had an increased risk of virologically-confirmed non-influenza infections (relative risk: 4.40; 95% confidence interval: 1.31-14.8). Being protected against influenza, TIV recipients may lack temporary non-specific immunity that protected against other respiratory viruses.”

Increased risk of pandemic A/H1N1 associated with receipt of the 2008-9 seasonal influenza vaccine

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X11015891

And this study is particularly worrisome given that this current Coronavirus is also novel and we could see the same pattern found here:

Annual vaccination against influenza virus hampers development of virus-specific CD8? T cell immunity in children.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21880755

“However, long-term annual vaccination using inactivated vaccines may hamper the induction of cross-reactive CD8+ T cell responses by natural infections and thus may affect the induction of heterosubtypic immunity. This may render young children who have not previously been infected with an influenza virus more susceptible to infection with a pandemic influenza virus of a novel subtype.”

If you read the post, it explains why these more specific findings are statistical noise, and not actually with the significance you want to attach to it.

And as Orac pointed out, in the previous post on this issue he addressed the other studies you are trying to use to make this unfounded claim.

Also, SARS-CoV-2 has significant differences from run-of-the-mill coronaviruses that can cause the common cold. The Department of Defense study is not generalizable to SARS-type coronaviruses.

And this study is particularly worrisome given that this current Coronavirus is also novel and we could see the same pattern found here

What part of “influenza virus-specific CD8+ T cells” do you not understand? “Heterosubtypic immunity”? This is apropos of absolutely fucking nothing.

Denice Waltersays:

In other COVID-19 news…

NY’s governor has announced the closing of NYC playgrounds because people weren’t maintaining physical distancing and continued playing basketball or other games. No ball in NYC? Maybe this will make residents know it’s serious.

David Psays:

Wolfe’s table 5 seems to be full of errors if my understanding of odds ratio is correct.
E.g. Influenza 31.3% vs 44.4% is OR 0.70 not 0.57
Non influenza virus 31.3% vs 27.3% is OR 1.11 not 1.15
The numbers and percentages for these two vaccinated groups are identical and don’t match the totals they should be totals of or the OR’s making me suspect a spreadsheet error.
No pathogen detected 37.3% vs 27.3% is OR 1.37 not 1.59

With such errors, why trust the other data in the table?

Wolfe’s table 5 seems to be full of errors if my understanding of odds ratio is correct.

Your understanding is not correct. First, you need the “cases vs. all controls” numbers in Table 4. Then $\textnormal{OR} = D_{E}H_{N}/D_{N}H_{E}$, or
(2050 × 1629)/(1299 × 4491) = 0.57.

David Psays:

Thanks Narad.on my phone I hadn’t gone to the full paper. My understanding was correct but the percentages in table 5 are wrong, which shows it is rubbish.

No, you simply don’t understand it.

Dangerous Baconsays:

Before going too nuts over viral interference in relation to influenza vaccination, one should also consider evidence that, at least in the short term, such vaccination could significantly boost immunity to prevent infection by unrelated viruses.

I ran across a recent Korean study showing that (in mice) influenza vaccination provided benefit in preventing respiratory syncytial virus infection.

“It would be interesting to determine whether the observed non-specific protection could be further extended to a repertoire of respiratory viruses including MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which recently posed a global public threat (Breban et al., 2013; Choi, 2015).”

http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5797773/

Anitra Wendensays:

I saw that 36% claim being circulated by one of my Facebook friends three weeks ago and so I read the DoD paper before responding to her post. From memory the finding was that 7.8% of the ‘immunised’ group tested positive for a coronavirus and 5.8% of the ‘non-immunised’ group. My take on that was that (aside from this having nothing to do with the pathogen responsible for Covid-19), because flu vaccination is mandatory for deployed employees of DoD but not non-deployed, at most it could be speculated that you are slightly more likely to catch a cold if you are sent OS. Well who doesn’t know that from any time they’ve travelled? Even the authors of this paper are not making strong declarations about their findings as they reference one of the only comparative published studies and note that this study found that there was no increase in coronavirus associated with influenza vaccination.

[…] No, the flu vaccine does not increase your chance of getting coronavirus by 36% due to viral interfe… March 31, 2020 […]

[…] No, the flu vaccine does not increase your chance of getting coronavirus by 36% due to viral interfe… March 31, 2020 […]

christine kincaidsays:

Instead of picking apart the study & twisting it out of context to desperately fit your narrative; have you considered sending Greg G. Wolfe at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch Air Force Satellite, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio an email, to ask for clarification?

Or has that bridge been burnt by now? I sure wouldn’t blame him. Clearly, recipients of the flu vaccine were more susceptible to Coronavirus & unfortunately; COVID IS a Coronavirus.

Have you even looked at what is happening in the EU countries with a reported high flu vaccine uptake? They are literally being slaughtered right now, especially those with an uptake of over 40%.

Meanwhile, countries who have tested a higher % of citizens than the US has, with very low vaccine uptake rates (Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Luxembourg, etc); are doing quite well. It has been weeks since this study was first disparaged here but the follow up post does not contain supporting evidence from country rates? I already know why. There is none. Except for maybe Malta; a Mediterranean island country with a small population, high vaccine uptake, yet low COVID rates but also uniquely able to contain transmission compared to continental countries.

This could be the hill you chose to die on. I have never seen such a outpouring of ACTUAL skepticism of the pro-vaccine agenda from both provaxers & on the fencers on social media as I have now. Provaxxers stating they will refuse the “not properly vetted” (lol as if they ever are) COVID vax & on the fencers wondering who, exactly; elected Bill Gates & why, exactly; did the WHO not have their backs. It is spectacular, actually.

Speaking of the EU; where are your regulars from that region? I’ve only read the comments on your last 3 posts but maybe I need to go back further?

Have you even looked at what is happening in the EU countries with a reported high flu vaccine uptake? They are literally being slaughtered right now, especially those with an uptake of over 40%.

That’s a novel definition of “high,” Bitsy. Good luck with Scotland.

I recommend reading the article and learning.

The reason most of us support vaccines is exactly because they’re thoroughly tested. Of course reasonable people have concerns about rushing a COVID-19 vaccine to market, and of course any serious vaccine scientist wants it thoroughly tested. That’s not a change from their views, that’s a continuation.

The fact that you – repeating what your leaders told you – see it as something unusual speaks to your lack of understanding, not to anything new, Vaccines should be well tested and carefully monitored. They are.

[…] COVID-19 pandemic has been a golden opportunity for quackery and conspiracy theories, such as the willful misinterpretation of a study in order to claim that the influenza vaccine makes people more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus […]

[…] for such a disease the quacks run wild. That’s why we have antivaxxers claiming that the influenza vaccine increases the risk of contracting COVID-19 (a conspiracy theory that appeared very early in the pandemic, as did the false claim that […]

Maggiesays:

Orac, your argument is severely flawed – one virus is not equivalent with another, and there’s little sense in your approach of lumping all of them together and say the flu shot DOES NOT increase overall susceptibility to viral infection.

Clearly, many studies (including this one by the Pentagon) have proven a statistically significant increase in SOME viral infections due to the flu vaccine, including coronavirus infections, so IT IS relevant when considering COVID-19 risks, even though no up-to-date study of such enhanced infection by vaccination has been done.

The following study, in fact, found in a smaller sample of children, that the flu shot increase non-influenza infections by 4.4! Why didn’t you address that? It’s in one of the tweets you so condescendingly dismissed.

Being protected against influenza, TIV recipients may lack temporary non-specific immunity that protected against other respiratory viruses.

“May”.

[…] Indeed, the amount of nonsense, misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy mongering in Mikovits’ response to questions is truly epic. She likens COVID-19 infection to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is even more nonsensical. She agrees with the conspiracy theory that doctors are being pushed to misclassify deaths due to other causes as due to COVID-19. Willis even included a clip of Dr. Dan Erickson making that claim. You might recall that he and Dr. Artin Massihi made a misinformation-laden video claiming that COVID-19 prevalence was so much higher than estimated and using that estimate to claim that COVID-19 is actually five times less lethal than seasonal flu. I emphasize that, in reality, the case and death count from COVID-19 is grossly underestimated. Why the pressure? Because government reimbursement is higher for a diagnosis of COVID-19, apparently. Basically, all the common conspiracy theories about COVID-19 make an appearance, including the claim that it was the flu vaccine that got it started, but with a spin. Mikovits claims that Italy was hit so hard because the virus for the flu vaccine it used was grown in dog cells and dog cells have a lot of coronavirus. She also cites the bogus claim that the flu vaccine increases your chance of getting COVID-19 by 36%. It doesn’t. […]

[…] Indeed, the amount of nonsense, misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy mongering in Mikovits’ response to questions is truly epic. She likens COVID-19 infection to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is even more nonsensical. She agrees with the conspiracy theory that doctors are being pushed to misclassify deaths due to other causes as due to COVID-19. Willis even included a clip of Dr. Dan Erickson making that claim. You might recall that he and Dr. Artin Massihi made a misinformation-laden video claiming that COVID-19 prevalence was so much higher than estimated and using that estimate to claim that COVID-19 is actually five times less lethal than seasonal flu. I emphasize that, in reality, the case and death count from COVID-19 is grossly underestimated. Why the pressure? Because government reimbursement is higher for a diagnosis of COVID-19, apparently. Basically, all the common conspiracy theories about COVID-19 make an appearance, including the claim that it was the flu vaccine that got it started, but with a spin. Mikovits claims that Italy was hit so hard because the virus for the flu vaccine it used was grown in dog cells and dog cells have a lot of coronavirus. She also cites the bogus claim that the flu vaccine increases your chance of getting COVID-19 by 36%. It doesn’t. […]

[…] Indeed, the amount of nonsense, misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy mongering in Mikovits’ response to questions is truly epic. She likens COVID-19 infection to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is even more nonsensical. She agrees with the conspiracy theory that doctors are being pushed to misclassify deaths due to other causes as due to COVID-19. Willis even included a clip of Dr. Dan Erickson making that claim. You might recall that he and Dr. Artin Massihi made a misinformation-laden video claiming that COVID-19 prevalence was so much higher than estimated and using that estimate to claim that COVID-19 is actually five times less lethal than seasonal flu. I emphasize that, in reality, the case and death count from COVID-19 is grossly underestimated. Why the pressure? Because government reimbursement is higher for a diagnosis of COVID-19, apparently. Basically, all the common conspiracy theories about COVID-19 make an appearance, including the claim that it was the flu vaccine that got it started, but with a spin. Mikovits claims that Italy was hit so hard because the virus for the flu vaccine it used was grown in dog cells and dog cells have a lot of coronavirus. She also cites the bogus claim that the flu vaccine increases your chance of getting COVID-19 by 36%. It doesn’t. […]

[…] about Bill Gates, 5G, and the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, or the flu vaccine as a predisposing factor for the disease. Then I saw a project at The Atlantic that is almost enough for me to consider […]

[…] that 5G made people susceptible to the virus, that those who get the flu vaccine are more likely to become seriously ill from coronavirus, or even that glyphosate and e-cigs are to blame for COVID-19. This should come as […]

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