Case Update, September 23rd, 2021; Project Veritas Video on Vaccines

This is a case update. With some trepidation, I’ll also discuss the new video by Project Veritas concerning vaccines.

It appears that the US has reached the peak of the Delta Variant, with cases clearly starting to come down.  On the other hand, as numbers start to come down in the South, we may already be starting to see increasing cases in the North, as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa are experiencing increased cases right now.  If last year was any pattern, we may see large case numbers in the North as people start to spend more time indoors.

Graph is by me, from data collected from Johns Hopkins University COVID site. Graph is presented in a linear format.
Graph is by me, from data collected from Johns Hopkins University COVID site. Graph is presented in a linear format.
Endcoronavirus County Level Map, September 13th, 2021
Endcoronavirus State Level Map, September 23th, 2021
Endcoronavirus County Level Map, September 13th, 2021

California and San Diego County are continuing to improve. LA County has “achieved” something in the last week, improving enough to give up the spot as the county with the most cases since last Winter.  2 counties in Texas, Harris (Houston) and Tarrant (Fort Worth), have had more cases in the last 2 weeks than LA County.

Graph is by me, from data collected from Johns Hopkins University COVID site. Graph is presented in a logarithmic format to emphasize small numbers. Note that each number on the left is 10x higher than the one below it.
Graph is by me, from data collected from Johns Hopkins University COVID site. Graph is presented in a logarithmic format to emphasize small numbers. Note that each number on the left is 10x higher than the one below it.
Graph is by me, from data collected from San Diego County Public Health. See also regularly updated slides from SD County. Graph is presented in a logarithmic format to emphasize small numbers. Note that each number on the left is 10x higher than the one below it.
Graph is by me, from data collected from San Diego County Public Health. See also regularly updated slides from SD County. Graph is presented in a linear format.
Graph is by me, from data collected from Johns Hopkins University COVID site. Graph is presented in a linear format.

Project Veritas released a video of a taped conversation between medical workers at a medical center in Phoenix. In it, the workers use, shall we say, colorful and scientifically imprecise language to suggest that the COVID vaccines are not performing as expected. 

There is a lot to say about this! First, let me say that available data is still insufficient to say with any certainty how many adverse effects there are, and of what kind.  I will speculate here, so keep in mind that I am mostly guessing, since I don’t have sufficient information to know exactly what’s going on.

Anecdotal evidence is based on the experiences of a few people, often relayed as a story or rumor.  This kind of evidence is an important pointer that something may be going on, but very often, it is insufficient to understand the situation with any clarity or as a foundation for policy.  At best, anecdotal evidence gives researchers the motivation to conduct a careful study of a situation so there can be more understanding.  At worst, they can cause rumors to overwhelm careful thinking, and lead to wrong conclusions in the minds of many.  This kind of evidence must be taken with a grain of salt, with final judgement reserved until more information is available.

My own thinking on adverse events has evolved a lot since the vaccines came out.  All vaccines carry risks, with a few adverse events happening with even routine vaccines like the flu.  On balance, vaccines have been extremely beneficial to individuals and society as a whole, effectively ending diseases like smallpox and polio. So when rumors of adverse reactions to the COVID vaccines first started coming out, I initially dismissed them as the standard rare event.

But then came the suggestion that the Spike protein itself was responsible for the vaccine’s toxicity.  While still not proven, this idea makes sense to me because it could explain the wide variety of reported adverse events. Increased inflammation aggravates the part of your body that is already under stress.  The Spike protein causes inflammation, so it’s no wonder that the vaccine causes strange and varying symptoms in some individuals. As someone with an auto immune disease, inflammation is a big deal for me.

Unfortunately, the vaccines cannot work without producing the Spike protein, because the protein is needed to produce a working immune response. The Spike protein is an unavoidable risk.

The recent Project Veritas video is a remarkable piece of anecdotal evidence.  It does not provide scientific or statistical evidence, but it does demonstrate that more information on adverse events is desperately needed. 

The most disturbing part of the video to me is the claim that adverse events are not being reported to the CDC VAERS system simply because the forms take too much time to fill out!  If true, this is frankly typical of a program from the CDC.  Since long before the pandemic started, the CDC has sought to keep tight control of information and guidance regarding the spread of infectious disease and related matters.  Legitimately, they try very hard to be accurate.  During a pandemic, however, information changes too quickly for this approach to be effective.  They are so careful to publish only accurate information, that information is often hopelessly out of date.  Ironically, in an effort to always be right, the CDC has usually been wrong. Nothing illustrates this better than the mixed messaging on masks.  Now almost everyone is hopelessly confused on this issue.

When there is a large vacuum of information, people will attempt to fill it with speculation. People from the federal government often complain about misinformation, but the CDC has contributed to it by leaving a huge hole for people to fill with guesses.

A form that takes 30 minutes to fill out is useless if no-one has the time to fill it out.  In response to the video, the CDC should immediately re-make the form, making it take only 5 minutes or even 30 seconds to fill out. Yes, they will be missing some information from each patient, but they’re getting nothing on them right now, so it will still be an improvement. Instead of making the necessary changes, the CDC will probably just call the video misinformation, and try to send it behind the Digital Curtain.

A note on the VAERS system: the system is meant to capture all data that may point to a vaccine producing a pattern of adverse reactions.  Any negative medical event that happens within a few days after a vaccination is recorded.  This even includes events that are unlikely to be attached to the vaccination. The hope is that patterns may be recognized by immunologists that will point to a problem with a vaccine.  For example, if you notice that a lot of people report hitting their head after a vaccination, this may suggest dizziness or disorientation.

Because of this practice not all adverse reactions are vaccine related.  Careful study of cases by a scientist may be required to notice patterns.  The data is not presented in a user friendly fashion!

Of course, the usefulness of this system is limited if a systematic problem, like a long form, is preventing events from being reported!

Vaccine rumors:  I still get questions about vaccine rumors like the following:

The vaccines will re-write your DNA
The vaccines will keep women from getting pregnant.
The vaccines will make you shed Spike protein into the environment

When addressing questions like this, I always ask “What evidence do you have that this is happening.”  Almost always, it’s just something they heard.  I can’t disprove that any of these things are happening.  Trying would take an enormous amount of time.  I can say, however, that I haven’t seen any evidence that they are. This doesn’t mean they aren’t happening! But if there isn’t any evidence for them, we don’t have to spend time and emotional energy worrying about them.

If you have any evidence, aside from persistent rumors, that any of above things or things like them are happening, please let me know.  If you see an article or blog post that argues for any of the above, they should contain actual data that supports these ideas, not just speculation.

Don’t fear, but be smart,
Erik

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