John Ioannidis is one of the most published and influential scientists in the world, someone whose skewering of bad medical research we at SBM have frequently lauded over the years. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since then, Prof. Ioannidis has been publishing dubious studies that minimize the dangers of the coronavirus, shown up in the media to decry “lockdowns,” and, most recently, “punched down”, attacking a graduate student for having criticized him. What happened? Did Prof. Ioannidis change, or was he always like this and I just didn’t see it? Either way, he’s a cautionary tale of how even science watchdogs can fall prey to hubris.
Dr. David Brownstein is a “holistic” physician who practices in Orac’s neck of the woods. Unfortunately, he just wrote a book promoting an unproven protocol involving vitamins, nebulized hydrogen peroxide and iodine, and intravenous ozone to treat COVID-19. There is no evidence that his protocol works, other than a very poor quality case series.
Regular readers of this blog know that many forms of quackery and science denial have conspiracy theories associated with them, but a further examination suggests that all science denial a form of conspiracy theory. In the middle of a deadly pandemic, it is a form of conspiracy theory with potentially deadly consequences.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate has published a report showing antivaxxers have been coordinating their COVID-19 messages. None of the messages being spread about COVID-19 vaccines are a surprise to anyone who’s been following the antivaccine movement.
Recently, a post by Heidi Neckelmann, the wife of Miami obstetrician Dr. Gregory Michael describing his death from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) 16 days after being vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine went viral. Unsurprisingly, in her grief she blamed the vaccine for her husband’s death from a rare autoimmune condition that destroys platelets and causes bleeding. Unfortunately, Dr. Michael’s tragic death underlines the difficulty distinguishing coincidence from causation when evaluating adverse events after vaccination.