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On speculation, conspiracy theories, and the damage they do to those of us writing seriously about the mRNA jabs
Covid vaccine skeptics can be their own worst enemies
As you have probably heard by now, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has come awake. (He asked who had won the Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game in which he was injured. His physicians gave him the best possible answer: that he had won the game of life.)
It goes without saying that this news is fantastic.
But it proves - yet again - the danger that vaccine skeptics run when they make rash public statements and overreach.
Two days ago, Steve Kirsch wrote on his widely read Substack page that Hamlin was probably “brain dead.”
Kirsch funded research into early Covid treatments and has become a leading vaccine Covid skeptic. I appeared on his podcast few months ago. Near the end, he brought on Dr. Pierre Kory to tell me the virtues of ivermectin. I mostly just nodded and listened. When Dr. Kory or anyone else offers a good prospective randomized controlled trial proving ivermectin works, I’ll be happy to look at it. (I know many of you disagree. So be it. We don’t have to agree on everything.)
In any case, here’s how Kirsch ended his Jan. 3 piece:
We need to prepare for the very likely possibility that Damar Hamlin is brain dead…
If Damar Hamlin is dead, I hope that there will be transparency and a full autopsy to discover whether the COVID vaccine was responsible for his death.
If we do not consider the possibility that the COVID vaccine killed Damar Hamlin, we will have let a killer roam free to kill again. And again. And again.
I understand the fury in Kirsch’s words. I understand the frustration that anyone investigating the safety and efficacy mRNA jabs feels at this point.
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All-cause deaths remain well above normal in many mRNA countries - my hope a few weeks ago that they were returning to baseline has not been borne out. Covid infections and deaths remain stubbornly high too. And major new studies - two in just the last two weeks - raise new reasons about the shots.
Yet governments and the media simply ignore these issues, not just week after week but month after month. They shout “conspiracy theorist” and “anti-vaxxer” at anyone who raises questions. Under the circumstances, skeptics can feel justified raising any possible risk, no matter how unlikely, to grab the world’s attention.
But overreaching frequently backfires.
Take the response to the paper showing that mRNA-vaccinated people have markedly higher levels of IgG4 anti-spike protein antibodies after a third shot. The finding raises serious questions about the long-term changes in the immune system that the jabs may produce. At the least, they should spur follow-up investigations of the potential impact of these less potent antibodies.
But trying to connect them to an increased risk of cancer - as another prominent vaccine skeptic, has done - is a huge stretch. And doing so gives ammunition to people who want to dismiss the paper’s findings entirely.
The misreading of Pfizer’s clinical trial results that led Naomi Wolf to incorrectly report a massively increased risk of post-jab miscarriage is another huge stretch - and, again, obscures the real issue, a small but notable drop in live births in 2022 in many mRNA-vaccine countries.
The temptation to highlight high-profile individual cases - especially healthy people who have suffered cardiac injuries - is also powerful. I have done so too. I wrote about Grant Wahl’s untimely death in Qatar last month knowing the media would attack me, because scientific evidence and case reports connect mRNA shots to giant cell arteritis and even aneurysms. I tried to be careful not to overstate the evidence and to respect his family’s grief. (Even so, some people I know and respect criticized me for discussing Wahl’s death.)
Damar Hamlin’s collapse is even higher profile, even more worthy of scrutiny.
We now know the Covid mRNA jabs can cause myocarditis - heart inflammation - in young people, especially young men. We know heart inflammation raises the risk of many cardiac complications. We know such collapses of healthy young men have been extraordinarily rare, especially in professional athletics, where players are closely monitored. We know Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest.
But we don’t know much more (though we now have the great news that he has begun to recover).
So I objected BOTH to the people who immediately blamed Hamlin’s collapse on the mRNA shots and the vaccine advocates who ruled them out as a potential underlying cause and instead insisted he must have suffered commotio cordis, a heart rhythm disorder that occurs after impacts to the chest. (They have talked less about commotio cordis since Dr. Mariell Jessup, the chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, called it “very unusual” in an interview Tuesday.)
Thus for Kirsch to proclaim that it would “very rare” for Damar Hamlin not to be “brain dead” without a clue was the worst, most dangerous kind of speculation. Now it has blown up.
I know the rules are not fair.
I’ll take my record on Covid and the vaccines over the last three years against almost anyone’s. But I’ve made mistakes, and vaccine advocates trot them out to attack my credibility at any opportunity. Meanwhile, the media goes out of its way to excuse errors from public health experts (who, to take just one example, throughout 2021 repeatedly and wrongly predicted that the mRNA shots would essentially end Covid).
That double standard is not a reason to be paralyzed or afraid to write the truth, no matter how bad it might be, if it has a reasonable scientific basis. In August, I discussed a case report of a woman who died from a brain wasting disease three months after receiving her second mRNA shot. Few topics are more controversial or frightening, but the case report came from a physician and had appeared on a hospital company’s research Website.
But it is a reason NOT to speculate baselessly - and to know that doing so only plays into the hands of those people who want to smear all of us as “anti-vax” crazies.
I suspect some of you won’t like this post, that you will think I am undercutting people who are just trying to raise crucial questions about the mRNAs.
But it is because those questions are so crucial that vaccine skeptics must be cautious - that we cannot afford to make these mistakes.
I give you my word I will do everything I can to resist the temptation to push past what we know, or to be clear why I’m speculating if I do. As for Steve Kirsch, I hope he does more than just update his post, as he has. I hope he apologizes - and is more careful in the future.