Doing your own ‘research’

By November 24, 2021Science, Society

When you are a scientist, you know what doing your own research means. However, relatively few people are scientists, and among those who aren’t, many have not even the most basic understanding of what research is.

A few days ago, on Twitter, Someone was commiserating with Victorians for having 19 dead: 

“Nineteen Covid dead in Victoria yesterday…..”

Then someone asked “How many of those had been inoculated with the Covid Vaccine?

I replied “Hardly any, apparently”

Someone, clearly an antivaxxer, replied “I recon [sic] all died from vax”

I replied to this drivel with “You are wrong. Very few have died from the vaccination. What you reckon doesn’t matter. Do you reckon the earth is flat too?”

Other people also jumped in and one stated that of the 19 dead, 17 had not been vaccinated1.

Then someone sent a meme to me, that they had found somewhere, and they accompanied it with the words ”this seems official…”

It was supposedly from the European Medicines Agency via their EudraVigilance system. Furthermore, the meme said:

“Covid-19 Vaccine Adverse Drug Reactions

26,041 DEAD

2,448,362 Injuries Through Sep 25, 2021

COVID-19 MRNA VACCINE MODERNA (CX-024414)

COVID-19 MRNA VACCINE PFIZER-BIONTECH

COVID-19 VACCINE ASTRAZENECA (CHADOX1 NCOV-19)

COVID-19 VACCINE JANSSEN (AD26.COV2.S)”1

EudraVigilance is the system for managing and analysing information on suspected adverse reactions to medicines which have been authorised or are being studied in clinical trials in the European Economic Area (EEA). The European Medicines Agency (EMA) operates the system on behalf of the European Union (EU) medicines regulatory network2.

Memes claiming that vaccines are harmful have been around for a while. However, the use of EudraVigilance is more recent. One meme, posted to Facebook on October 27, claims EudraVigilance shows Covid-19 vaccines caused 2.5 million “injuries”, more than 27,000 of which were fatal. Another from November 1 claimed Covid-19 vaccine injuries had risen to 2.6 million, while deaths climbed above 28,000. A third from November 11 said injuries rose another 100,000, while deaths topped 29,000. Many of these are from Health Impact News, a website that describes itself as publishing stories “the mainstream media seldom covers”. It regularly posts stories criticising Covid-19 vaccines, along with claims that the EudraVigilance database has confirmed these adverse reactions to them3.

The problem with these memes is that they are not true. The EMA itself has said that these memes are incorrect. Medicines regulatory authorities and pharmaceutical companies from across the EEA are required to submit reports of all suspected adverse reactions to EudraVigilance from their respective member states. The database emphasises that each report describes an effect that happened either “following administration of, or treatment with, a medicine”. This is not confirmation of a causal link between the two3.

To put it more simply so that some of these gullible people can understand, it means that just because someone became ill or died after receiving a vaccination does not mean the vaccination caused it.

For instance, the EMA assessment on the safety of the Pfizer vaccine reports that 428 million dosses had been administered in Europe between December 21, 2020 until October 29, 2021. There have been 412,571 reported cases of suspected side effects, and 5,520 were fatal4.

This does not mean all these were caused by the vaccine, just that is possible they were. For instance, if an elderly relative with a failing heart was vaccinated and died of cardiac arrest in their sleep some days later, this would be reported to EudraVigilance as a suspected adverse reaction to the vaccine, even though there may be no direct connection to the vaccine.

In Australia, since the beginning of the vaccine rollout to 7 November 2021, about 36.8 million doses of the various COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has found that of the 656 reports of deaths subsequent to vaccination, only 9 deaths were linked to the vaccines. The overwhelming majority of deaths reported occurred in people aged 65 years and older. The 9 vaccine-attributed deaths were all linked to the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine – 8 were Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) cases and one was a case of Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP). This is from about 13.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine5, of which I have had two.

If the same ratio of reported deaths to those attributed to vaccines applies in Europe, to those reported to EudraVigilance, then of those 5,520 reported deaths, it is likely that only 75 could be attributed to the vaccine.

We live in an age of instant access to a fairly significant proportion of human knowledge, but unfortunately, due to the efforts of so many venal bastards trying to sell snake oil, and others incapable of determining what is likely bullshit and what is not, and on which the venal bastards prey, we are stuck in a world with gullible people believing that Covid-19 vaccines kill many thousands or that Covid-19 does not exist, despite it having killed more than 5,188,000 people around the world at the time of writing6.

When I received this stuff from these gullible people, I looked it up on the web, and it only took a few minutes to debunk this antivaxxer drivel, and another couple of hours to find more detailed data and to write this article. Why are antivaxxers so gullible? Do they just believe any old rubbish just because someone sends it to them and it “looks official”? Do they actually know how to do a search of the web? If they do read anything more than memes, do they actually comprehend it? Are they just passive receptacles for bullshit? You have to wonder.

Sources

  1. https://twitter.com/43a6f0ce5dac4ea/status/1463105557330497541
  2. https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/human-regulatory/research-development/pharmacovigilance/eudravigilance
  3. https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-coronavirus-eu-idUSL1N2S924P
  4. https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/covid-19-vaccine-safety-update/covid-19-vaccine-safety-update-comirnaty-11-november-2021_en.pdf
  5. https://www.tga.gov.au/periodic/covid-19-vaccine-weekly-safety-report-11-11-2021
  6. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

12 Comments

  • James Faulkner says:

    It’s actually quite simple. Antivaccers, like all conspiracy theory types, and the religious, have a need to feel special. Feeling like they have exclusive information that grants them a moral high ground, regardless of fact or evidence or repercussion. I’ve known these types for all my life. These are the types who trust crystal healing and homeopathy, insisting western science is inherently flawed, the types who said the children born in 2000 were special crystal souls and would save us, the types who said Betelgeuse would supernova in 2012 dousing us all with dangerous cosmic radiation and bring about a psychic new age, the types who already believed there was a world government based drive to restrict freedom and kill off the kine, the Illuminati types. Not all share their delusions similarly,, but none were reasonable before covid.
    I ask why it was so easy to fool so many, now and before covid, and time and time again, the answer seems to revolve around two major factors, at least for me. Firstly, a lack of education in the areas of critical thinking and reasoning from early school ages, and secondly, the Australian cultural habit of anti intellectualism, which makes the already stacked natural distribution of stupid people swing even more towards the stupid. Maybe I’m a bit harsh, but I find that a culture whose major imperatives are real estate and sport is bound to be both ethically and intellectually retarded.

    James.

    • admin says:

      James,
      Spot on. I had an online discussion with a cru=ystal nutter at an organisation I used to work for, and I couldn’t help but take the piss out of him. If I had another life, I think I’d become a psychologist and study these nutters.

  • Arthur Baker says:

    “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”. Paul Simon, “The Boxer”, 1968.

    • Jon says:

      When all boiled down it’s that simple Arthur. We’re all guilty, some FAR more than others and far more than should be tolerated. Case in point- 40% of people in a recent poll thought Morrison was doing a very good or good job. Fws abound unfortunately.

      Bloke posted some nonsense about the “useless” covid vaccines on an outdoors website I subscribe to recently. I pointed out that the vaccines he derided had saved hundreds of thousands of lives and gave him a link to a recent story in the SMH from an Australian hospital’s covid intensive care unit (think I also linked that previously on Blot) where the only patient doing well was an elderly lady with significant medical problems. She’d been vaccinated, unlike the rest. He thanked me and gave me a link to a pseudo science website he actually believed reported the truth. It has a very convincing title – Principia Scientific International. It even posts papers on researchgate.net, which itself appears to have no proper rules and imposes no reviews on its content posters, and in doing so adds significantly to the problem of fake research and science. The lines are so blurred by these pseudo science websites and their published “research” that naive, unfamiliar and inexperienced people are easily taken in.

    • admin says:

      Arthur,
      It is something I have thought about often, if not deeply. I suspect I am not like that because I have been inculcated with the ethos and methods of science for all my adult life and more. When I read a scientific paper, I try to dissect it to see if their conclusions are justified given the evidence they present. That is clearly missing from the person who is an antivaxxer.

  • clive pegler says:

    On the subject of flat Earth matey …. You do realise that 70% of the planet is covered by water. Right? And that water is non carbonated, right? So, technically the Earth is FLAT! 😀

    • clive pegler says:

      I’ll find my own way out. 🙂

      • Jon says:

        The lighthearted logic is impeccable Clive, but the premise is unfortunately only half right. Oceans are highly carbonated.

        On the topic of gullibility, Malcolm Knox has done what the combined resources and lazy and timid intellect of the ALP appears incapable of doing and disassembled Morrison’s wank address on the Religious Discrimination Bill. Conservatives (and religious fanatics) have a particularly perverted view of world and Australian history – Tudge being a recent example of the latter, as discussed on Blot previously – and Morrison added to the growing pile of conservative pseudohistory with yet more smug ignorance.

        As Knox says: “It was also difficult, listening, to strike a balance between the hypocrisy and the rank ignorance. This was an aptly self-contradictory and glib history lesson to go with a self-contradictory and glib legislative idea.”

        https://www.smh.com.au/national/morrison-takes-a-selective-view-of-history-to-sell-a-bill-australia-does-not-need-20211125-p59c5s.html

    • admin says:

      Clive,
      Chortle! When I started reading that, I momentarily thought ‘oh, shit…..’

    • Helene Walkowsky says:

      Wonderfully funny! We really are in need of some lightheartedness in all this serious Covid business. Thank you!

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