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week of August 4, 2022

Sudden deaths

The claim:

This guy on Twitter claims that the number of sudden deaths increased in 2021 because of COVID vaccination.

He's not alone. This claim is increasingly common.

The facts:

There are many problems with this person's claims about increased sudden deaths for all age groups, caused by vaccination.
  1. In 2021, children under 5 were not even eligible for the vaccine. Children under 12 weren't eligible until November. 
  2. He calls out deaths "even a year later" from the vaccines. We know that side effects from vaccines happen much sooner than this, with some of the most severe side effects (allergic reactions) happening almost immediately. 
  3. Over 30 million cases of COVID were reported in the US in 2021. And the CDC estimates that only about 1 in 4 covid cases were reported We know COVID can cause long-term damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs, leading to an 80% higher chance of death for 12 months after recovery.

COVID infections are much more likely cause of these sudden deaths, as the facts and some proper deductive reasoning show.

Polio is not actually fine

The claim:

An anti-vaccine nurse made a video claiming that since most people who get polio are fine, having a lot of people get polio is fine. And no one needs vaccines.

The facts:

Before the polio vaccine was available, many thousands of cases of polio happened each year in the U.S., with hundreds and even thousands of deaths each year. In 1952 alone, more than 21,000 people suffered paralysis due to polio.

After the first polio vaccine in 1955, cases rapidly declined. By 1965, there were fewer than 100 total cases per year, with no more than 2 dozen deaths annually, dropping further to only fewer than 10 in the 1970s.

Do we having data showing that without polio vaccines we would have widespread paralysis? According to the WHO, 1 in 200 cases results in irreversible paralysis, with 5-10% of those cases resulting in death. So, if "everybody" in the US got polio (the nurse's claim), over 1.6 million people would have permanent paralysis, with up to 160,000 deaths. 

Technically, most people will be fine if they get polio, aside from being sick during the duration of the initial infection, but even more people will be fine if everyone is vaccinated.

Duration of infectiousness

The claim:

A tweet claims that a study shows that COVID positive people who are vaccinated are contagious for longer than those who are unvaccinated.

The facts:

This is a case of "that study doesn't say what they say it says."

In a follow-up correspondence to a preprint, the authors clearly conclude, "We did not find large differences in the median duration of viral shedding among participants who were unvaccinated, those who were vaccinated but not boosted, and those who were vaccinated and boosted."

The authors follow up with, "Although culture positivity has been proposed as a possible proxy for infectiousness, additional studies are needed to correlate viral-culture positivity with confirmed transmission in order to inform isolation periods." In English, this means that a positive culture doesn't necessarily indicate contagiousness.

We know that to transmit the virus, you have to have the virus, but just because you have a positive culture doesn't necessarily mean that you have the active virus in your system, or enough of a viral load to transmit the virus.

Additionally, the authors bring up a potential limitation of sample size. A study almost 3 times as large found that vaccination status did influence the length of time it took to clear an infection, stating, "The shorter clearance time led to a shorter overall duration of infection among vaccine recipients."


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