The NIH was going to invest $150 million into improving health communication to the public — a desperately needed investment after the communication failures of the pandemic. Now, likely due to political pressure, that funding has been cancelled.
Over the weekend, a vaccine brawl took place. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.—presidential candidate and longtime spreader of old, tired vaccine rumors— had a conversation with Joe Rogan on his podcast. The conversation bled onto social media in which Rogan ultimately challenged Dr. Peter Hotez—a Nobel Prize-nominated vaccine scientist—to debate RFK Jr. about vaccine rumors that have already been addressed dozens of times. Dr. Hotez declined. Here’s why that was the right call…
You may recall Florida’s vaccine analysis which claimed that mRNA vaccines are associated with increased risk of cardiac death in young men. This week, the Tampa Bay Times shared earlier, unpublished drafts of that analysis. Those earlier drafts tell a dramatically different story…
This week a shocking headline was published: ER misdiagnoses kill up to 250,000 per year!
Turns out this statistic is based on the death of just one man. In Canada. Over a decade ago…
Florida just announced the results of an analysis that they performed, claiming the results show “an increased risk of cardiac-related death among men 18-39” for the mRNA vaccines, and recommend this group not receive these vaccines.
Is this justified? Let’s look at the data…
Graphs are central to scientific communication, and when used appropriately are amazing tools that help people understand complex data. But with a few small changes, graphs can also be used to mislead and distort what’s going on. Recently I came across a graph (trying to minimize the effectiveness of COVID vaccines in kids) that was so bad it deserves its own entire post. Check out a break down of the chart crimes here.
Recently, BA.5 has been all over the news, raising alarming questions about immune evasion, reinfections, and the future of the pandemic. What makes BA.5 different from previous COVID viruses? In our latest post, we address what makes BA.5 special, along with what these differences mean for vaccine efficacy and the chances of reinfection.
COVID is not just a respiratory disease; it attacks multiple systems, including the brain. More and more COVID-induced strokes are being reported, as are cases of long COVID, which involve brain fog and other neurological symptoms that can persist for years after infection. So how can COVID affect the brain? This post explores the neurological symptoms of COVID and signs of brain damage after infection, as well as possible explanations for how COVID could cause these problems.
In November 2020, we got the news: the results from the first COVID vaccine phase 3 trial were released, and they were better than even the most optimistic expectations: 95% efficacy! This was far better than we had dared to dream. But, in the midst of all the celebrating and enthusiasm, groundwork was laid for a communication blunder that later left many feeling confused and betrayed. Check out part 2 of the series covering the story of the COVID vaccines (and the communication around them.)
Rumors about COVID vaccination and alleged impacts on fertility have been circulating since before the vaccines were even available. Because the initial vaccine trials did not study pregnant women specifically, when the vaccines were first authorized, we didn’t have a complete picture about the risks and benefits of COVID vaccination for pregnant women. Now over a year later, we do. In this post, Dr. Sana Zekri dives into the latest data on COVID vaccination during pregnancy.
How well do the COVID vaccines work? This question is not as simple to answer as it may seem. The communication during the pandemic has been in many ways very confusing, and vaccine efficacy is no exception. In this series of post, I’m going to tell you the story of the COVID vaccines and dissect where the communication broke down. And along the way, we’ll answer the question: just how well do the vaccines work?
Even before COVID vaccines became available to the public, rumors were circulating about hypothetical impacts on fertility. This is the first in a series of articles by my friend Dr. Sana Zekri, MD, a board-certified physician in Family Medicine with Obstetrics, tackling these rumors and discussing the risks and benefits of vaccination for those who are trying to become pregnant as well as those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
While COVID cases are thankfully falling in the US, omicron, despite being “milder,” continues to kill more people per day in the US than the worst day of the delta surge. This post explains why, and dives into the confusion over the word “mild.”
Arguments about vaccines are often rife with logical fallacies. Many logical fallacies, at their root, are oversimplifications. They are appealing because they make something complex, like vaccine safety or the efficacy of vaccines, into something very simplistic that is easy to understand. However, that oversimplification often leaves out important details, which can lead to inaccurate conclusions. Here are 10 logical fallacies commonly used in vaccine arguments, with explanations of why they don’t hold up.
One of the latest vaccine rumors centers around luciferase, a (perhaps) unfortunately named protein that is as harmless as a firefly. This post tackles where this rumor came from, tells how luciferase got its name, and explains how you can be sure that the vaccines aren’t using bioluminescence to track people.
A paper published in a legitimate scientific journal is making the rounds, claiming that there is no association between vaccination rates and increases in COVID cases. Is this true? This post tackles the claims made in the paper, digging into the data and providing a little analysis of my own.
The vaccine mandates have led some to question vaccine effectiveness. If the vaccines really work, they argue, then why do the vaccinated care if others choose not to get the vaccine? This post tackles what it means to say a vaccine “works,” and explains how my neighbor’s vaccination status impacts me.
Ivermectin has been promoted as a miracle cure for COVID-19. One of the main studies used to support this claim has signs suggestive of scientific fraud.
Delta is here and headlines are reporting the rise in new cases and hospitalizations, including some who have been fully vaccinated. What does this mean for vaccine efficacy? The answer is not as simple as it may seem: this post digs into the math and explains how to put breakthrough infections into context.
One of the reasons false information and pandemic rumors can be so confusing and exhausting is the high degree of self-contradiction. Here are a few examples of common pandemic rumors that oppugn themselves.
Are thousands of people dying from COVID vaccines? These rumors have been circulating for a while and are based on a misunderstanding of causation, correlation, and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Here’s a quick explanation of what VAERS is and isn’t, and why the rumors that the vaccines are killing thousands isn’t true.
A friend of mine recently asked me how I respond to people who have opposing views about scientific issues like vaccines when their sources are from credentialed (MD, PhD) people. This is a great question, and something I encounter all the time. Here are my thoughts.
Understatement of the year: the stress, conflict, and uncertainty of the last year has had a profound impact on mental health. In this post, I interview Dr. Eric Storch, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He talks about different ways the pandemic has influenced mental health, and he shares insight on how to deal with the stress and uncertainty of the past year. I found this conversation incredibly helpful; I hope you do too!
An article has been widely circulating entitled “How COVID-19 ‘Vaccines’ May Destroy the Lives of Millions,” claiming the COVID mRNA vaccines are experimental gene therapy that could cause major long-term health problems. None of this is true. This post explains why.
This post tackles the root of many conspiracy theories: the unfalsifiable hypothesis. Learn what unfalsifiable hypotheses are and how they can trap people into believing conspiracy theories.
There has been a letter circulating written by Dr. Frank Shallenberger emphasizing the uncertainty and alleged danger of the COVID vaccine. However, much of the information is either blatantly false or taken out of context. Dr. Sana Zekri, MD provides a point-by-point response to the claims in the letter.
What is mRNA? And why are we putting it in vaccines? And will it turn me into a GMO? This post tackles all these questions, and introduces the very first You Can Know Things video!
How do we know if a new vaccine is safe? This post tackles the question of vaccines safety: how do we monitor for side effects, and what happens if a new side effect is detected after a vaccine is already approved.
Thankfully COVID infections are generally mild in children, but for some kids, a weird, very severe disease develops AFTER the infection resolves. This post tackles the mystery of MIS-C, the elusive post-COVID inflammatory disease that has been impacting kids.
What exactly is an MD-PhD program, and why am I still a student? This post explains what MD-PhD training is, and how to know if it might be a good career path for you.
By Kristen Panthagani, PhD After writing about Dr. Stella Immanuel’s viral video, the most common request I got was to assess this Newsweek Opinion piece
By Kristen Panthagani, PhD This morning I got a request to address one of the latest viral videos going around from a doctor claiming that
By Kristen Panthagani Ooooooooook. Deep breaths. Let’s begin. I started this blog because I saw a lot of misinformation flying around, and well-meaning people are
By Kristen Panthagani Medical research is a loooooooooong process. Like, really long. There are many different steps along the way, and from the outside it
Kristen Panthagani I just finished a draft of my PhD thesis, and we are allowed to include a “Concluding Remarks” section, in which we offer
Kristen Panthagani There is a lot of confusion and division swirling around these days, and sometimes it feels like the world is spinning, and it’s
Guest post by Dr. Caitlin Miller, virologist and immunologist! This post is not intended to provide medical advice; if you have questions about health concerns
By Kristen Panthagani Note: This article was written in early 2020 and since then new data has become available on several of the topics discussed.
Kristen Panthagani, PhD There has been lots of excitement about hydroxychloroquine as a treatment option for COVID-19; early on, this excitement was based on a
By Kristen Panthagani Data, medicine, and research have all of a sudden become part of every day life, and I have noticed the world is