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week of August 11, 2022

Flying monkeys

The claim:

You have been wondering, and the answers have been conflicting. Let's find out. Is monkeypox airborne?

The facts:

 According to the CDC, monkeypox is spread via close personal contact. Such contact can be direct via monkeypox lesions or body fluids from someone with smallpox, via contact with objects or fabrics used by someone with monkeypox, or via respiratory droplets.

While the WHO said that monkeypox could possibly be spread via short range aerosols, we have no indication that occurs. Monkeypox has been been studied for decades after it was discovered in 1958, and airborne transmission has never been noted.

RDUSes? I don't think they exist

The claim:

This YouTube expert thinks respiratory diseases do not exist.

The facts:

Mike Yeadon, an ex-Pfizer employee with previous anti-vaccine claims. In this round, he acknowledges that people get sick and that something causes it, but denies the idea that it could be a respiratory virus. To support his main claim that respiratory viruses do not exist he offers no proof of their nonexistence, but to be fair, you can't prove non-existence.

But we CAN prove existence.
  • Viruses were discovered in 1892 when a pathogen smaller than a bacterium was passed through a filter with pores small enough to contain bacteria.
  • In 1926, viruses were identified as obligate parasites, meaning they need to infect a host cell in order to replicate.
  • In 1931, with the invention of the electron microscope, scientists were able to visualize viruses.

We know that viruses contain unique genetic sequences, so they can be identified. We know that various viruses have different transmission mechanisms. Some viruses can be found in secretions, respiratory droplets, and aerosolized from the lungs. and we further can identify how and which cells they enter.

So if we know if certain viruses can be found in respiratory droplets or aerosols, and we know that many of these same viruses can be inhaled by others and that these viruses can enter the cells encountered in the lungs, there is very little reason not to conclude that these are indeed respiratory viruses.

This claim is a charming reminder that outliers are most often just wrong--especially in the field of vaccinology.

Monkeypox myocarditis

The claim:

Multiple Twitter people are concerned that monkeypox vaccination causes myocarditis. They are citing this claim as a reason not to get a monkeypox vaccine.

The facts:

The vaccine for smallpox, ACAM2000, while not routinely given to the general population, is still in use by the military. Records show that in the over 500,000 doses given between Dec 2002 and Oct 2003, 58 cases of myocarditis were detected. There were no deaths among this group. Around the same time, CDC researchers reported 21 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis out of 36,217 doses in the civilian smallpox vaccination program. No deaths were reported from either program.

With the growing pandemic of monkeypox, some are now concerned about the rates of myocarditis from the ACAM2000 vaccine, which although developed for smallpox, is crossreactive for monkeypox and is about 85% protective against monkeypox disease. 

So, here's why we vaccinate for monkeypox. Monkeypox is a disease that can last 2-4 week. You can develop extremely painful blisters all over your body, including your genital region, palms of your hands and feet, and your face. Historically, up to 6% of people who develop monkeypox will die.

As with anything, vaccination is a risk/benefit analysis. And the rare chance of myocarditis that seems to be self-limiting and quickly resolving seems to be a much lower risk than monkeypox itself.


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