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It’s September. That must mean it’s time for fear mongering about the flu vaccine.

September is the time for antivaccine fear mongering about the flu vaccine, this time with a hint of COVID-19 pseudoscience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has now been going on for nine months, and it’s been six months since the first lockdowns were imposed in the US to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the pandemic, and the first post I ever wrote about the new coronavirus was on January 30. I bring this up because the other day I came across an article on the website of Dr. Joe Mercola, the über-quack who’s built an online empire that’s made him worth over $100 million, asking Might Flu Shots Increase COVID-19 Pandemic Risk? The short answer is almost certainly no. The long answer follows, beginning by my noting that this particular bit of antivaccine propaganda is very, very, very old. Indeed, the very first post I wrote about this claim that the flu vaccine makes you more susceptible to severe COVID-19 to my surprise turned out to be that very first post I ever wrote about the then brand new coronavirus (which back then hadn’t even received its permanent name yet, leading me to go back to change the article after the WHO finally dubbed the new disease COVID-19 and the virus that causes it SARS-CoV-2), Blaming the flu vaccine for the COVID-19 outbreak: The latest antivaccine misinformation. Back then, antivaxxers were blaming the flu vaccine for having sparked the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China that later spread to become a pandemic based on China’s having allegedly purchased more doses of flu vaccine than a usual year and a tenuous link to some science about viral interference that I’ll explain in a bit more depth in this post because Mercola references it again. The same claim later morphed into a very specific claim by antivaxxers, which is that having received the flu vaccine increases your risk of COVID-19 by 36%, also based on a twisted interpretation of science.

So the claim that the flu vaccine increases your risk of getting a life-threatening form of COVID-19, by 36% or by however much, is something I’ve written about twice already, once very, very early in the pandemic. So why revisit it? Simple. Flu season is fast approaching, which means that, pandemic or no pandemic, public health officials are rolling out the seasonal flu vaccine, as they do every year in August and September. I know that soon I’ll get the usual yearly email from my cancer center with a listing of times and dates when the flu vaccine will be administered and an admonition that to come and get it…and a reminder that it’s mandatory. Not that I mind. I get a flu vaccine every year and still remember the one time I didn’t twelve years ago and ended up knocked on my posterior for a week, sick as a dog with the flu. In any event, with the flu vaccine making its way to doctors’ offices, hospitals, and pharmacies near you, with public health messaging urging everyone to get vaccinated, it’s predictable that the antivaccine movement would do what the antivaccine movement always does at this time of year and try to convince people that the vaccine is dangerous. This year, more than even 2009-2010 (the year of the H1N1 influenza pandemic), this antivaccine pushback has the potential to be really dangerous. After all, with fall coming, there is a very real possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths at the very same time that influenza cases will be increasing in the same way they do every year. We don’t have a vaccine against COVID-19 yet, but we do have one against influenza.

That’s why I decided to call out Mercola’s disinformation, which begins:

Could a “perfect storm” be brewing, ready to be unleashed this fall? If the regular influenza season ends up converging with a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks, or even a new SARS-CoV-3, the results are anyone’s guess at this point. Confounding matters is the possibility that influenza vaccination may increase people’s risk of other viral infections.

Mercola quotes Michael Osterholm, virologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and Edward Belongia, director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Marshfield, who warned in an editorial in Science in June about the possibility of such a “perfect storm” of influenza and COVID-19 and urged an aggressive influenza vaccination campaign:

We do not yet have a COVID-19 vaccine, but safe and moderately effective influenza vaccines are available. Their widespread use is more important now than ever, and we encourage health care providers, employers, and community leaders to promote vaccination. Vaccine effectiveness varies by season and subtype, but vaccination offers similar protection against laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalization and outpatient illness. Widespread misinformation on social media includes the false claim that influenza vaccination increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Scientists, health care providers, and public health leaders must counter these claims with clear, evidence-based information on the importance of influenza vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s at this point that Mercola pulls a gambit that made me literally laugh out loud:

But this so-called “false claim” is not a rumor pulled out of thin air. As is so often the case, Osterholm and Belongia are actually insulting fellow virologists and researchers when slapping a hoax label on such claims, seeing how there is published research showing that, yes, influenza vaccination appears to worsen outcomes during viral pandemics.

If Osterholm and Belongia wanted to be factual and clear, they should dissect the actual studies using scientific methods and reasoning, and not just dismiss them as made-up internet hoaxes.

The fact that peer-reviewed studies have come to the conclusion that previous flu vaccination seems to increase patients’ risk of contracting more severe pandemic illness at least worthy of consideration and review.

You got that? By strongly refuting the unproven claim that influenza vaccination can increase the risk of COVID-19 and subsequent severe illness and death and characterizing it as “false,” Osterholm is insulting his fellow virologists and not listening to the science! Indeed, Mercola, amusingly, takes it one step further:

I’m not surprised though, seeing how Osterholm appears to routinely ignore the reality of published science. In a March 10, 2020, interview with Joe Rogan,2 in which the question of SARS-CoV-2’s origin came up, Osterholm stated that “we could not have crafted a virus like this to do what it’s doing; I mean we don’t have the creative imagination or the skill set.”

This simply does not line up with reality. Again, published research shows we clearly have the technology, know-how and “creative imagination” to create SARS-CoV-2.

Actually, Osterholm is correct. Although we have considerable expertise in genetic engineering and splicing genes in and out of viruses, but it takes a lot more than that. In order to engineer something like SARS-CoV-2, you have to know enough about how coronaviruses cause disease and how they are transmitted and then about what structural features are required in the virus’ proteins to achieve the desired virulence and contagiousness, and we just don’t. Moroever, as I’ve pointed out many times before, once the complete nucleotide sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was elucidated, it became very clear that the virus was of natural origin. It had no tell-tale signs of having been engineered, as documented in a study in Nature in March. There’s just a lot of evidence that the virus was not engineered, but that doesn’t stop this conspiracy theory from popping up again and again, such as in Plandemic.

Mercola bases his claim that the flu vaccine increases your risk of COVID-19 on five pieces of information. The last I’ll deal with first because it’s easy. I’ve already dealt with it before. Contrary to what Mercola claims, a 2020 study did not find that people were 36% more likely to get some form of coronavirus infection if they had been vaccinated against influenza. That claim is based on a gross misinterpretation of the study in question, plus a bit of misdirection. the study examined Department of Defense personnell from 2017-2018, long before SARS-CoV-2 emerged to cause the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that the coronaviruses that the influenza virus allegedly interfered with in a phenomenon known as “viral interference,” the “interference” blocked by vaccination against the flu, were not SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, as I pointed out at the time, the study used to justify the “36%” claim was actually a negative study, with the coronavirus number cherry picked from a single table.

The rest of the studies that Mercola cites are, unsurprisingly, cherry picked and shoehorned into his narrative. First, there’s this:

So, what is the basis for these claims? Research raising serious questions about flu vaccinations and their impact on pandemic viral illnesses include a 2010 review3,4 in PLOS Medicine, led by Dr. Danuta Skowronski, a Canadian influenza expert with the Centre for Disease Control in British Columbia, which found the seasonal flu vaccine increased people’s risk of getting sick with pandemic H1N1 swine flu and resulted in more serious bouts of illness.

People who received the trivalent influenza vaccine during the 2008-2009 flu season were between 1.4 and 2.5 times more likely to get infected with pandemic H1N1 in the spring and summer of 2009 than those who did not get the seasonal flu vaccine.

The second study cited by Mercola is a study in ferrets that was presented at the 2012 Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. All Mercola could provide was a reference to a MedPage Today article. I wonder why, given that the actual study is easily locatable on PubMed, and I did locate it, where the authors conclude:

Although ferrets are considered the ideal animal model for human influenza infection, there are anticipated differences in immunologic and clinical aspects of immunization, infection and illness responses (timing, dosing and intensity) across species. Overall patterns may be compared but ferret studies do not support precise quantification of actual risk in humans. The greater likelihood of more severe disease based on several clinical indicators (weight loss, lung virus titers) among vaccinated compared to unvaccinated ferrets may not replicate the greater likelihood of medically-attended A(H1N1)pdm09 illness we previously reported in vaccinated humans.

Unsurprisingly, Mercola neglects to provide the appropriate level of uncertainty about this review article, as mentioned in this commentary by Marry McKenna:

But the authors warn that, since all four studies were observational, even careful design cannot rule out the possibility that some undetected methodologic bias affected the results. That caution is echoed in a companion editorial, written by US researchers unconnected to the Canadian study, who cite the contradictory results of six other studies conducted in Mexico, Australia, and the United States at the same time as the Canadian ones. Four of those studies found no association between seasonal flu vaccination and pandemic flu illness, while the two done in Mexico paradoxically found that seasonal flu shots may have had a protective effect.

And:

“We have looked at our data at the CDC nationally,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said on Sept. 25, 2009. “I have looked carefully at the data from New York City where we had a very large outbreak and lots of information about what vaccine was received. The Australians have looked at it and published their information. And in none of those data is there any suggestion that the seasonal flu vaccine has any impact on your likelihood of getting H1N1. If data is published in the scientific literature, by all means, we would love to see it. If there’s preliminary data, we would love to see it. But nothing that we’ve seen suggests that that is likely to be a problem.”

Funny how Mercola neglected to mention this. What I was seeing at this point after the H1N1 pandemic was consistent with statistical noise. I was also amused to note that Danuta Skowronski also recently published a paper that found no increased risk of coronavirus or other non-influenza respiratory infection attributable to the influenza vaccine, thus refuting the “36%” claim he parrots later in the article. (I also can’t resist mentioning this article that makes the case that selection bias is the reason for the apparent relationship between coronavirus diagnosis and the odds of prior influenza vaccination.)

Next up, Mercola picks more cherries:

Another study,7 published in the Journal of Virology in 2011, found the seasonal flu vaccine weakens children’s immune systems and increases their chances of getting sick from influenza viruses not included in the vaccine.

Further, when blood samples from 27 healthy, unvaccinated children and 14 children who had received an annual flu shot were compared, the former unvaccinated group was found to have naturally built up more antibodies across a wider variety of influenza strains compared to the latter vaccinated group, which is the type of situation Collignon referred to in the quote above.

Then there’s a 2012 study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, which found that children receiving inactivated influenza vaccines had a 4.4 times higher relative risk of contracting noninfluenza respiratory virus infections in the nine months following their inoculation.

The authors proposed the theory that “Being protected against influenza, trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine recipients may lack temporary nonspecific immunity that protected against other respiratory viruses.”

First off, the first study did not find that the seasonal flu vaccine “weakens the immune system.” Immunologists don’t use terminology like “weaken” or “strengthen” the immune system. Second, this is a small study. Third, the study compared T-cell responses of normal children unvaccinated against the flu with children with cystic fibrosis who underwent yearly vaccination. That’s different from the way Mercola described it. It’s not clear if CF affected the results. The authors tried to argue that it did not, and maybe it didn’t, but we don’t know for sure because there was not the ideal control group, as the authors themselves acknowledged. Moroever, the finding reported is much more subtle than Mercola portrayed it. Basically, the finding was that a certain subset of T-cell response was less in the children vaccinated every year, but the authors noted that a live virus vaccine didn’t have that problem.

As for the second study cited, that’s a cherry picked study. As the CDC notes:

After that study was published, many experts looked into this issue further and conducted additional studies to see if the findings could be replicated. No other studies have found this effect. It’s not clear why this finding was detected in the one study, but the majority of evidence suggests that this is not a common or regular occurrence and that flu vaccination does not, in fact, make people more susceptible to other respiratory infections.

Maria Sundaram et al. (2013). Influenza Vaccination Is Not Associated With Detection of Noninfluenza Respiratory Viruses in Seasonal Studies of Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness.

Then Mercola throws a red herring in there to distract:

So, on the one hand, studies have shown that when you get the flu vaccine, you may become more prone to flu caused by influenza viruses that are not contained in the vaccine, or other noninfluenza viral respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus infections (more on that below).

Conversely, researchers recently found that common colds caused by the betacoronaviruses OC43 and HKU1 might actually make you more resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that the resulting immunity might last as long as 17 years.

The authors suggest that if you’ve beat a common cold caused by a OC43 or HKU1 betacoronavirus in the past, you may have a 50/50 chance of having defensive T-cells that can recognize and help defend against SARS-CoV-2.

This is, of course, good news if it’s true. If the finding is replicated, it would imply that many of us who get the common cold could also as a result have some immunity to COVID-19 without ever having had it. Of course, what Mercola is up to here is not reassurance. He’s using this example to suggest plausibility of his previous Gish galloping with cherry picked studies claiming that the flu vaccine increases your susceptibility to COVID-19, even though coronaviruses are very different from influenza viruses, meaning that having cross immunity between two coronaviruses does not necessarily imply the same relationship between flu viruses and coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2.

Finally, Mercola pulls out a claim by someone named Dr. Michael Murry on Facebook dated March 30 that the flu vaccine resulted in a higher mortality among the elderly who contracted COVID-19:

Naturally, there is no scientific evidence presented to support this wils speculation. In addition, Dr. Vasquez runs a website called Inflammation Mastery and is, in addition to being a DO, a chiropractor and a naturopath. His website screams, “Quack!” It touts something called the “Functional Inflammation Protocol,” brain inflammation as a cause of pain and fibromyalgia, and a book blaming autism on the “gut-brain axis.”

In the end, what we have here from “Dr.” Mercola is nothing more than a Gish gallop of cherry picked studies and observations without context designed to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the flu vaccine. He concludes with a warning about fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccines, which is a concern many of us on the provaccine side have brought up ourselves, thus providing the one bit of semi-reasonable concern sprinkled into the fear mongering, in order to provide a touch of plausibility. Also, there’s the grift. There’s always the grift, complete with a plug for an antivaccine conference in October by the National Vaccine Information Center, Barbara Loe Fisher’s antivaccine organization that Mercola has been generously supporting for several years.

Because of course there is.

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.

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27 replies on “It’s September. That must mean it’s time for fear mongering about the flu vaccine.”

The best part is, even if Mercola’s “hypothesis” turns out to be true (I know, vanishingly unlikely), that’s still an argument for vaccination. The stress caused to the immune system by a full blown bout of influenza is multiple times that of a vaccine.

Dr. Michael Murray is a naturopath who is identified online as the Chief Science Officer (pause for laughter) for a company named Enzymedica which sells pricey digestive supplements (my favorite is called AquaBiome Phytocannabinoids and Omega-3).

From a bio on a chiropractic website: “For the past thirty-five years, Dr. Murray has been compiling a massive database of original scientific studies from the medical literature. He has personally collected over 65,000 articles from the scientific literature, which provide strong evidence on the effectiveness of diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural measures in the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease.”

Now that’s some impressive cherry-picking.

Dr. Murray is dedicated to educating physicians and the public about the wonders of natural medicine and treatments, which he says have the scientific backing that mainstream care does not.

Re influenza: one would suspect that any deficiency in getting people immunized against flu due to reluctance to visit doctor’s offices and other places administering the shot, might be more than counterbalanced by significantly lowered infection risk due to social isolation and mask-wearing.

If having a previous, mild coronavirus infection was protective against COVID-19, wouldn’t the finding in the first study, of it wasn’t more than statistical noise – the 36% increase – go the other way? I.e., if getting a mild coronavirus was protective, and getting an influenza vaccine increases your chances of getting it (which, as you point out, that study doesn’t show), wouldn’t getting an influenza vaccine be protective against severe covid-19 (undermining his own scare efforts)?

Correct, Dorit, but too logical.
The logical path Dorit is following:
1 – 2010-2019 everybody gets the flu shot. There is then a 36% increase in coronavirus caused colds in the population according to Merde-ola’s “interpretation” of the cherry picked study.
2 – 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Since, according to Merde-ola’s ignorant and demented interpretation of his cherry picked studies those who earlier beat colds due to coronavirus OC43 & HKU1 may be protected from SARS-CoV-2 for up to 17 years (his “red herring” as Orac puts it).
3 – Therefore, getting the flu shot causes increased incidence of coronavirus caused colds which leave the person protected from SARS-CoV-2 infection for “as long as 17 years” according to Merde-ola’s incomprehensible thought process.
So everyone who doesn’t want to catch SARS-CoV-2 COVID should heed Merde-ola and get the flu vaccine to increase their likelihood of being protected because they caught a coronavirus cold the year before…
Talk about Joe Merde-ola throwing everything he could think of to promote FUD about the flu vaccine no matter how stupid or self-contradictory…
.
More evidence that Merde-ola ranks in the top tier of dangerous anti-science, anti-vaccine grifters for good reason. He doesn’t care if you die as long as you follow him and the other death cult leaders.
.
Nice catch, Dorit.

Well, sadly, this baloney is already making its way into the wild. Our clinic just got this year’s vaccine in and I’ve already had to do much more heavy lifting than last year to get people to take it. Hard to quantify, but it’s there. The vast majority cite some nebulous “concern” based on “something they heard/read.” With one lady who just kept going on and on about stuff on Facebook, I finally broke down and asked her: “How do you know you’re not falling for Russian propaganda?”

A couple others of note:

“How can flu spread when everyone is locked down?”

“Can it give me COVID? What if the people making it have COVID?”

And…my personal favorite…

“I heard the vaccine has a microchip in it”

Yes, these are actual quotes from this week alone.

@ MedicalYeti:

I wonder how much is accepted purely because of their political leanings? So many of the people I survey have shifted to the right / libertarianism.

Recent revelations concerning Trump’s knowledge about the virus early on ( via Mr Woodward) might enlighten a few frightened older people that polls show have already shifted away a little from him.
But the amount of mis-information I encounter daily is astonishing. You have to deal with it in person!.
.

Cult members rarely escape; Those that do get done in by the feds.

This is why the president of the United States can lie — without consequence — to Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and Geraldo Rivera, even about a virus that could kill their viewers. Trump didn’t lead a movement in 2016. He merely inherited an audience that had been vaccinated against unwelcome truths years ago.

https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/09/09/woodward-book-play-it-down-coronavirus-steve-almond

That party is long gone. Today the Republicans are the party of “American carnage” and Russian collusion, of scams, plots, and weapons-grade contempt for the rule of law. The only decent, sensible, and conservative position is to vote against this Republican Party at every level, and bring the sad final days of a once-great political institution to an end.
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I’m not advocating for voting against the GOP merely to punish Republicans for Trump’s existence in their party. Rather, conservatives must finally accept that at this point Trump and the Republican Party are indistinguishable. Trump and his circle have gutted the old GOP and stuffed its empty husk with the Trump family’s paranoia and corruption.

Indeed, the transformation of the GOP into a cult of personality is so complete that the Republicans didn’t even bother presenting a platform at their own convention. Like a group of ciphers at a meeting of SPECTRE, they nodded at whatever Number One told them to do, each of them fearing an extended pinkie finger pressing the button that would electrocute them into political oblivion.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/i-used-think-gop-should-be-saved/616189/

The authors suggest that if you’ve beat a common cold caused by a OC43 or HKU1 betacoronavirus in the past, you may have a 50/50 chance of having defensive T-cells that can recognize and help defend against SARS-CoV-2.

Alrighty, then. Where can I obtain pharmaceutical-grade OC43/HKU1 snuff??

I wonder if, for the people concerned about a microchip, you could borrow a dummy one from a vet to show them how there is no way that it could fit in an itty-bitty vaccine needle?

Or would have just upset people more?

Nanochips though; autonamous yet inter-cooperative, group self-assimilating, molecule-harvesting, self-replicating, self-evolving, goal-oriented nanochips. Cool beans. 🤨

Must be those new self assembling nanochips. Inject them whilst broken down into invisible sections. Two weeks later, its the size of a brick. What you have to do is go into a blacked out room and look in a mirror. If there’s a red glow from your eyes then it’s too late. You’ve already lost control.

@NumberWang

Why not? How small could microelectromechanical systems (lab on a chip) get? I think that one day some of our cells will be replaceable with groups of these for, say, kidneys, liver (sounds hard), adrenal (only spits out a few hormones based on inputs ..easy??), olfactory,…, maybe artificial microbiome could be made to produce certain ‘essential nutrients’ that we don’t naturally have the pathways to do.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lab-on-a-chip#History

I wouldn’t expect to run into a whole artificial human Star Trek Picard style until CBS All Access’ copywright runs out, though.

https://youtu.be/6oDGWQ1yL8s?t=35

checks eyes that’s probably just acetaldehyde and late screen time. Probably.

@ Tim

One current limit for nanochips, as I understood it, is heat dumping.
Any mechanical or electronic artefact is generating excess heat, which should be evacuated somehow, lest you cook said artefact. Or its host..
And the tinier they are, the less surface you have to radiate that heat. Or to stick a radiator on it.

Well, all living beings generate heat as a by-product of their metabolic process, but generally they already have ways to get rid of it. A computer chip doesn’t come naturally with sweat glands.

If there is an engineer in the room, they may tell you more about it.

Given the size of microchips vs the size of injection needles, I have come to the conclusion that they must be homeopathic microchips.

I am drafting up a super-scientific paper investigating the rising price of cherries. They appear on the grocery shelves at the start of flu season. Surreptitious cherry picking by those in the woosphere is creating a scarcity that drives up prices. It must be more than simple correlation since we are witnessing the cherry picking in broad daylight.

Conversely, researchers recently found that common colds caused by the betacoronaviruses OC43 and HKU1 might actually make you more resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that the resulting immunity might last as long as 17 years.

I can’t figure out which source this is supposed to be from. The “17 year” bit strikes me as awfully specific and strange in relation to coronaviruses that cause colds. Those viruses didn’t just pop into existence 17 years ago and it would be exceedingly difficult to find specimens from people who had corona colds 17 years ago but not since. Where I have seen that number crop up is in recent work (I don’t recall where) regarding T-cell persistence in people who had SARS 17 years ago.

Orac has reviewed the coalescence of conspiracy mongering involving vaccines and Covid so in surveying my usual haunts I wasn’t at all surprised to find that two prominent anti-vax/ woo
clearinghouses are openly courting Q Anon believers:
— Stop Mandatory Vaccination Facebook’s guru includes a 2 hr video which has a title including Q
— Natural News’ Mike Adams, in an effort to circumvent being excluded from social media, has inaugurated a Twitter alternative, Brighteon.social **
his logo makes use of a star inside the “O” in social, which also has a tail – the letter O has no tail but the letter Q does! I swear, it’s true!

In addition, some good news:
PRN, whilst less obviously Q but often RT and CT bound, is soon to become the ONLY outlet for chief woo-meister, Gary Null: he is leaving terrestrial station , WBAI, which he claims is entirely voluntary to allow young people to broadcast their own shows. Only a week left. Some sort of “gag order” is involved so he can’t discuss much.. He also announced that he was exiting his health food store two weeks ago because of “landlords’ greed” : the store will continue with new management .according to a local website, Westside Rag
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While I believe virtually nothing that he says, the anger and hatred he expresses in his rants are enough to tell me that not all is well in Woo-ville..Plus, he posts multiple videos to display his “great accomplishments” in diverse fields and many, many letters to and exposes of Wikipedia As well as describing the horror that is NYC and the nightmare of politics. “Everyone is leaving”. “People should move to the countryside because cities are dying!” NY, NJ and CA are sinkholes of depravity and Global Warming.

** Brighteon is his YouTube alternative created after he was banned

Here’s a no-win situation: The American College of Emergency Situation Physicians (whatever the hell that is) has decided to uninvite Deepak Chopra as keynote speaker for an upcoming meeting. Apparently the membership revolted at the idea of having His Quackiness deliver the keynote address.

To make matters worse, ACEP announced it’s taking this step not because it made an embarrassing mistake, but to promote “unity”. Now Chopra gets to yell about censorship.

What a bunch of maroons.

https://enewsplanet.com/acep-withdraws-keynote-invite-to-deepak-chopra/

If this hypothesis is borne out, universal masking could become a form of “variolation” that would generate immunity and thereby slow the spread of the virus in the United States and elsewhere, as we await a vaccine.

The typical rate of asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2 was estimated to be 40% by the CDC in mid-July, but asymptomatic infection rates are reported to be higher than 80% in settings with universal facial masking, which provides observational evidence for this hypothesis.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2026913

p.s. There is some terrific (horrific) sat images of smoke in the atmospheric flow across the country and pulled into a low at sea at this site {looping is problematic for me; sometimes it works and sometimes not so much. The site is in ‘beta’ or something.

https://rammb-slider.cira.colostate.edu/?sat=goes-17&z=1&im=12&ts=1&st=0&et=0&speed=130&motion=loop&map=1&lat=0&opacity%5B0%5D=1&hidden%5B0%5D=0&pause=20200623192022&slider=-1&hide_controls=0&mouse_draw=1&follow_feature=0&follow_hide=0&s=rammb-slider&sec=full_disk&p%5B0%5D=geocolor&x=11408&y=5392

Yeah, the smoke is awful. On Saturday it was well-nigh apocalyptic here, and really got into a lot of folks’ heads (ie, had a profound impact on their state of mind). It’s hard to act like the world is OK-ish when the sky is yellow and dim all day long. At least it’s less yellow now and you can tell yourself that it’s just overcast.

It was supposed to start clearing out today, but now I’ve heard the forecast’d storms aren’t coming and we’ll have air we oughtn’t breathe for a full week.

Kevin Drum forwards a report that first appeared in The Economist, saying that the Southern Hemisphere flu season (now coming to a close) was way down this year, presumably due to masking and social distancing:

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2020/09/flu-season-disappeared-in-the-southern-hemisphere-this-year/

If these data are correct, it is a not unreasonable inference that what reduces the spread of influenza is also reducing the spread of Covid-19. It’s not exactly a deep inference, considering all the data we have on Covid-19 cases and deaths, but it is an interesting correlation. Masking and social distancing seems to be reducing an influenza in a way that is comparable with a large number of previous flu seasons, suggesting that the masking and distancing may be reducing a virus that isn’t all that different in size.

When I talked to my doctor’s staff a few weeks ago, they didn’t have the flu vaccine, but when I went to the pharmacy at the local supermarket, they had signs all over the parking lot and the inside of the store advertising the vaccine for free. Ten minutes later I had the needle in my arm and a fancy certificate. Curiously, I had a vaccine reaction, including a mildly sore arm for half an hour or so and then, the next day, some mildly flu-like symptoms and a half-degree temperature rise for a couple or three hours. Tylenol made it go away. I’m looking forward to having a safe, effective Covid-19 vaccine. That will be a real relief. I do believe, however, that there should be some system for allowing those of us who get the Covid vaccine to provide evidence that we are inoculated — maybe a sticker on our driver licenses or a photo ID card that will be required for international travel. Remember when there were vaccination certificates for international travel? Something like that.

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