Plandemic? Nope.

Have you seen that video featuring Dr. Judy Mikovits, wherein she claims that the current COVID19 pandemic was manufactured? I want to take you through reasons to disbelieve this video and its claims.

The first part of the video is not at all interesting to me as it is Dr. Mikovits’ defense of her own checkered past and a promotion of a book she is promoting. Central to her defense is a claim that NIAID is paying off people who have conspired against her. And, in fact, many of her claims rely on the idea that people have been able to conspire in order to make the science be what they want it to be.

In reality, a conspiracy against Mikovits could never have remained a secret for so long. All those many people who would have been paid off could not have kept quiet for so long. After all, NSA surveillance was exposed within 6 years of its launch, and we know that the current White House does not keep secrets. In fact, mathematical models prove it is not possible to keep a real conspiracy under wraps.

Dr. Mikovits was never important enough to launch a large-scale conspiracy against. That’s no knock against her; it’s just that she’s not Martin Luther King, Jr. or Galileo. Before her research into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, she was never the primary researcher on a topic. When her CFS research, claiming that viruses caused the syndrome, was retracted, ten other studies had failed to replicate her findings and scientists came to the conclusion that she only found the viruses present because she (likely unintentionally) contaminated her own samples. Finally, her arrest was not part of the conspiracy against her, but was instead due to her stealing intellectual property from her former employer after she was fired.

Even though these claims cover half the video, they do not touch on public health claims. So let’s answer some of those concerns about COVID19 pandemic vs. PLANdemic.

Key questions the video poses:

Is Tony Fauci the “Bernie Madoff of science”?

While Larry Kramer did call Dr. Fauci a murderer, that isn’t the end of their story. In fact, they became great collaborators. As Kramer tells PBS:

I arranged a late-night meeting in my hotel room with Fauci and maybe a dozen of these treatment and data [experts and gay activists], who presented to him ideas of things that he should be doing and wasn’t.

He was just bowled over, and he was a great enough person to know that these kids were smart. And he opened the door; he let the activists inside. We were not allowed to participate in any of the NIH [National Institutes of Health] meetings even though by law you’re supposed to; we got thrown out of meetings if we showed up, literally. He said no, they are all welcome. He even put us on a few of the NIH committees.

That was the beginning of a major turning point. Dr. Fauci has become the only true and great hero in all of this, in the government, in the system.

Does that sound like a scientist with a preconceived notion who will not change his mind when presented with data? It doesn’t to me, either. I think, given this anecdote, we can assume that Dr. Fauci still operates in an evidence-based way, happy to be steered in whatever direction the science takes him.

Have vaccines killed millions?

Simple answer: no. We have pretty robust data that vaccines save millions of lives globally, in fact. That’s not to say vaccines are without risks, but almost always those risks are mild side effects. Globally, we have seen errors by clinics in adding diluents or administering vaccines that have caused deaths, but those cases are so rare that they make international news.

Is Mikovits anti-vaccine?

Yes. For the last few years, she has made a living by speaking on the anti-vaccine circuit. She’s not a big name, like Andy Wakefield or RFK Jr., but she makes a living.

Was the virus made in a laboratory in Ft. Detrick and Wuhan?

Scientifically, we know that the virus did evolve naturally in animals and then jumped to humans. While Mikovits has not had access to labs with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, others have, and their genetic research shows this evolution is the only possible explanation.

Can viruses jump directly from animals to humans?

Yes, and in fact, coronaviruses are known for jumping between species, and the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is being studied pretty thoroughly. Some of the research suggests that, unlike the claims made in the video, the virus has been waiting in some animal host for decades. We also know quite a bit about how viruses leap from animals to humans, as many of us may remember from the H1N1 pandemic, originally entitled Swine Flu after its origin in pigs.

Was Ebola created in laboratories in 1999?

Since the first known outbreaks of Ebola were in 1976, no. Aside from the timeline error, strong evidence leads us to believe that bats are the carriers of Ebola.

Are COVID19 death numbers being inflated?

Because of record-keeping and research, we know about how many people will die at any given time during the year. Right now, we are seeing about 40,000 more people dying than we would expect, and not all of those excess death are attributed to COVID19. Logically, we could say that people are likely dying from COVID19 (or maybe for reasons related to it?) whose causes of death are not being reported as COVID19. I think, given the data, we would have a hard time saying that we have an excess of COVID19 deaths being reported vs. actually occurring right now.

Are people being controlled by fear of the pandemic?

It’s possible that people are very afraid of COVID19 and that they are limiting themselves based on that fear, but it’s not what you think. Let’s compare the United States to Vietnam. Both the USA and Vietnam saw their first reported cases of COVID19 on the same day–yet Vietnam is reporting zero deaths from the disease (which–okay, take with a grain of salt) and fewer than 300 cases while the USA has reported about 70,000 deaths and over a million cases.

Vietnam, and authoritarian country, is limiting what people can do through actual fear tactics like this catchy song and through steep fines. However, an ethos of limiting self-interests in favor of a collaborative good permeates Vietnam, as is shown by their long-standing habit of wearing face masks in public.

The United States, by contrast, has a harder time balancing personal liberties and public good. And so we are seeing robust debate on this topic (and maybe you are part of the debate on your social media) and no effort by the government to stop the debate. It is hard to argue that people are being controlled by fear of the pandemic in the United States when we have evidence of what authoritarian countries are actually doing.

Did a new flu vaccine grown in a dog cell line make the pandemic worse in Italy?

The United States has been hit as hard or harder by COVID19 even though our influenza vaccines are not grown in dog cell lines. Additionally, as I pointed out above, we know the genetic makeup of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and it points to a bat as the host and not dogs. If dog cell lines in the flu vaccine were the culprit, we would certainly see a different genetic code.

The flu vaccine also does not make you more susceptible to COVID19. Independent fact-checkers have pointed out that large-scale, long-term studies do not reach this conclusion.

One recent study that they cite at the end goes to great lengths to point out that they do not assume any causal relationship between non-influenza respiratory infection and vaccination. The study concludes with:

Additionally those receiving the influenza vaccine were more likely to have no pathogen detected and reduced risk of influenza when compared to unvaccinated individuals.

There is some evidence that being sick with the flu interferes with other infections sickening you. So preventing the flu? Means you don’t have flu around to interfere.

Are there no double-blind controlled studies of vaccines?

Vaccines have been studied against placebos. Just wanted to get that one out there.

Is Hydroxichloroquine being downplayed even though it’s effective?

No. The question on hydroxichloroquine has been studied, and it is not effective. Additionally, because of heart-related complications, the FDA advises against giving it to COVID19 patients.

Does sheltering in place drop your immune system?

I promise you that your immune system is continuing to be challenged, even if you are sheltering in place. Pollen, dust, bugs, bacteria, animal dander, your family, all these factors keep your immune system fighting. You don’t have to be exposed to a pandemic novel virus to keep your immune system active, and you don’t have to get other infectious diseases, either. But if you are worried, you could always give your immune system some practice by getting vaccinated.

Am I part of the conspiracy? Am I being paid to write this post?

I am not part of a conspiracy. In fact, no one has yet been able to tell me what I can or cannot say. Seriously–ask some people. Also, this is my personal blog. I am doing this on my time off. I know that’s sad. It’s okay. I’m going to go back to rewatching 30 Rock now.


Engaging on Social Media about HPV

Managing several social media accounts for Voices for Vaccines, I am well aware that when we post something about HPV vaccines, I’d better have my Girl Scout cookies ready for some lengthy moderating of our accounts. HPV vaccine posts on social media get a lot of attention, especially the “I vaccinate but not with this one” type of comments.

Hesitancy specific to HPV vaccines has many causes, but one of the primary causes is that anti-vaxxers are especially adept at using social media to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about HPV vaccines in particular. A photo of a beautiful (usually white) girl and a title such as “The Decision We Will Always Regret,” and you’ve got hosts of parents asking their doctors to hold off on just this one vaccine–as well as doctors fearing the conversations about it.

The mess, of course, is bigger than that, but the social media aspect of it, now that’s something we can do something about. I believe so strongly that pro-vaccine advocates can reclaim the social media HPV vaccine story that I wrote about it in the recent Academic Pediatrics supplement in my article, “Social Media in the Exam Room: Stories of Human Papillomavirus Disease and Prevention

In this article, (and quoting myself is admittedly awkward) I argue:

Although it might seem time-consuming to engage in these kinds of discussions on social media, sharing content about HPV cancer stories primes the exam room discussion about HPV vaccines in a positive manner. The exam room needs doctors, nurses, patients, and parents to create online content about their experiences with HPV cancer and the need for protection from HPV vaccines. In addition, social media is begging for more scientifically savvy users to start discussions about these stories by sharing them and wading into existing conversations.

Here’s a little call-to-action: Find some great HPV cancer content and share it in your personal and professional (where appropriate) social media spaces. Just place it there, and then get some Girl Scout cookies and engage whoever appears.

Here’s a brief list of some great HPV cancer content:

Yes, You Should Get Your Child the HPV Vaccine

The following is a Facebook response I crafted to a woman who was opposed to the HPV vaccine because she felt that the risks of the vaccine did not outweigh the benefit. Since it was lengthy, I share it on my own profile, and my friends asked that I make it public. Subsequently, I was asked to make it into a blog post. So here we are.

I find this argument interesting, but I wonder how much of it comes from a sense of complacency. It seems a little bit like a skewed risk assessment more than anything, borne out of complacency.

This isn’t an insult. Let me explain. If I don’t vaccinate my child against measles, that child could be exposed to measles tomorrow (hypothetically) and contract measles. The consequences of not vaccinating my child could be immediate, and I would have no control.

If I don’t vaccinate my child against HPV, he’s not coming down with cancer tomorrow. However, it is possible that through his own sexual activity (though not necessarily consensual and not necessarily intercourse), he could be exposed to HPV in the next few years and then, in 20 or so years, the HPV infection could lead to cancer.

So the risk of HPV-caused cancer seem distant, and there are plenty of rumors about the HPV vaccine (which, by the way, are false).

If I don’t vaccinate my child against measles, he could be one of the 60-600 people infected in the U.S. this year. (My own state saw 79 cases this spring/summer–so the threat was real.)

If I don’t vaccinate my child against HPV, he could be one of the 16,500 men (and 39,800 people) who gets cancer in the United States. There is no Pap smear-like test for oropharyngeal cancer, penile cancer, or anal cancer currently, so we wouldn’t know he had cancer until he became symptomatic.

But even with Pap smears, 4,000 women die in the United States right now from cervical cancer alone–almost all of which is caused by HPV. Before the vaccine, 450 children died every year from measles. So in reality, a girl is 10 times more likely to die from HPV-related cervical cancer than her grandparents were from measles. That alone seems to make it worth preventing, and doesn’t mention the damage done to a woman’s body if her cancer is caught early or in the pre-cancerous stage. The risks go beyond death into infertility, pain, suffering, etc.

The data we have, now, is that HPV infections have been reduced by 90% in places like Australia and they are way down, despite our low uptake rate with the HPV vaccine, in the United States. One study of more than a million girls in Scandinavia showed absolutely no serious side effects from this vaccine.

The other issue is how diseases are contracted. Tetanus is also a behavioral illness. Just don’t get a dirty puncture wound, and you will be fine, right? It isn’t infectious–yet every state requires this vaccine for school entry.

Of course we require this vaccine. You can’t really avoid tetanus by just being careful.

And you can’t really avoid HPV by being careful or abstinent before marriage. Unlike HIV, HPV is not passed along via secretions. It lives on the skin. If someone wears a condom, he can still pass on HPV. Deep kissing can pass on HPV. Non-consensual sexual contact can pass on HPV. A virgin can get HPV on her wedding night from a spouse who caught it before marriage. It is much more like contracting tetanus than we think, and for many people, they have absolutely no control over whether or not they contract it.

So I wonder–does it still seem worth the risk to pass on this vaccine?

Smells Like Desperation

Anti-vaxxers have shown, time and again, that they have little in their reserves except mean-spirited attacks against children, doxing, and otherwise moving to silence the voices of pro-vaccine advocates. That’s why “Levi Quackenboss” has written a fifth post tearing down 12-year-old Marco Arturo and his satirical video debunking the vaccine-autism myth. (Yep, five posts attacking a child. Who does that?)

While the unremitting anti-vaccine attack of a child shocked me, almost nothing that anti-vaxxers do to attack adults surprises me. I’ve had friends whose tires have been slashed, who have had threatening voice mails left with their spouses, who have had their jobs put in jeopardy by petitions to get them fired (for activities not related to their employment).

And then last week, some of my friends began disappearing from Facebook. I texted and emailed them. One friend told me that she made this post over a year ago, describing the harassment of our friend Allison Hagood. This post was just recently reported–sending her to Facebook jail for a week.

A few years ago when I first had the idea of writing a book on vaccines to share all I had learned about the subject I thought I would tackle the project myself. I thought I could handle it. I hadn’t written a book before but I’m a reasonably good writer and heaven knows I’ve bought and read enough books to open up my own public library at least twice over.

Then I remembered something.

I remembered that many people who are opposed to vaccines aren’t particularly nice. I remembered that these are the people who call the HPV vaccine, a vaccine that can literally prevent cancer, (YES CANCER!) a vaccine that is given to ten year olds “the slut shot.” They harass Dr. Offit, (a personal hero of mine) the inventor of a vaccine that has literally helped save thousands of lives, so much that he doesn’t dare do a book tour.


Before the book, I’d been writing and commenting on this subject for over a decade. During that time I’d been called all kinds of names. To my shock (because who the heck thinks saving kids from polio and pertussis is controversial?) I was called the kind of names that make you look at someone like they eat kittens for breakfast.

So I found a co-author. A brave, fierce, amazing, wonderfully intelligent co-author. I found someone passionate and devoted who I knew would be able to able to stand up in public with me.

And here we are a few years later in a place I never quite expected to be. As we start to work on a second book, I am sadly forced to write about my dismay and horror at the hours of hell that Allison has endured at the hands of those who refuse to remember history or let science be at our side.

In her own words:

“Since co-authoring a book for parents on vaccines (“Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives”), I have been cyberstalked, cyberharassed, doxed, and threatened by anti-vaccine advocates. My personal home address was published on social media. My employer has been contacted numerous times by anti-vaccine advocates demanding that I be disciplined, fired, or silenced from engaging in vaccine advocacy. Death and rape threats have been posted against me. I am under almost constant harassment by anti-vaccine advocates fraudulently reporting posts and photos on my social media pages.”

This is the world we live in: a world in which a vaccine advocate — a person who believes that children deserve to be protected against horrible preventable diseases, diseases that maim, deafen and literally kill — that person is allowed by our society to be harassed at work at every turn.

I can only stand back and offer my support to someone who does not deserve to be treated this way. Please join me in standing for Allison Hagood as she stands up to those who shun science and threaten us all.

Another friend was sent to Facebook jail for a post where he used his own name.

How is this happening? How are they gaming the system? It turns out the anti-vaxxers are creating many accounts and sitting on them, sometimes for over a year. They are naming these accounts after actual people–friends of the people they want to attack. Sometimes they use the names of the people they are attacking themselves. And then, using those phony accounts, they report any post using that name.  I imagine they have to report quite a few and get their friends, also, to report, until the report sticks.

The abuse of Facebook’s algorithm is well-documented. It’s important to note that it’s not that Facebook doesn’t care about abuse. It’s that the users are the commodity, not the clients. So our dissatisfaction is not their top priority, and their is no recourse for someone who is being harassed by another who is abusing Facebook’s algorithms.

And that’s one reason the anti-vaxxers resort to this abuse and harassment.

The other reason is that they have nothing else. They have no science backing them. The doctors backing them are frauds like Andrew Wakefield or grifters like Mercola, Tenpenny, and Bark. No goverment agencies back them. In other words, no agency or person who actually is responsible for children should they become ill with a vaccine-preventable disease supports the anti-vaccine position.

Every time they report someone, they reveal just how desperate they are to shut down the advocacy of pro-vaxxers. The only thing we can do is to carry on.