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Debunking A Misinformed Video About Covid-19

Editor’s Note: Critica advisor Carrie Corboy recently came across a four-minute video in which an OB/GYN physician named Christiane Northrup promulgates some misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccinations. What follows below is Carrie’s wrestling with these false statements and setting the record straight on a number of important scientific points. It is a great exercise in confronting scientific misinformation. Note that we chose not to link to the actual video here because we are loath to be the ones to spread these kinds of inaccuracies and conspiracy theories. We think you will get the gist of what Northrup says from Carrie’s rebuttal. In the interests of transparency, we note that Carrie is a registered pharmacist and senior director at the Janssen division of Johnson and Johnson, a pharmaceutical company that is working to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market. We do not detect in what follows, however, any trace of bias, just the facts.

Well, I finally worked up the nerve to watch the Northrup video on COVID-19 vaccines and boy it’s a humdinger. I’ve spent about 4 hours on this, because I wanted to look up everything that is said in the video (and she packs an awful lot into 4 minutes!!)—all such pieces string together bits of truth mixed with opinion or worse. It’s a lot of work and why we won’t see direct responses to much of this on the internet.

Ultimately, what matters is what you and others think about this and — more importantly — how it affects your decision making.

My goal is for you to take away some things that you can apply going forward because there is a lot out there and it’s up to each of us to decide what we’ll do with the information/who we will listen to. This is true across all subjects.

Credibility Issues

This woman is an OB/GYN. Not an infectious disease expert, not a virologist, not an epidemiologist. She’s not a student or expert in nanotechnology or nano robots. She doesn’t present any reason that would suggest she has any expertise in 5G. She nevertheless rehearses the completely false notion that the vaccines have antennae in them that transmit via 5G into the cloud and will be used by Bill Gates and others to mount surveillance of the American public. She doesn’t have the credentials to back up her “expert" opinions. This happens a lot in medicine. Physicians are given complete credibility across the entire spectrum of science and medicine. And, unfortunately, some physicians are happy to cash in on that. When I have a medical issue, I go to a specialist in the area of my issue. I don’t even ask an opinion of a non-specialist (other than “do you know an excellent XXX that you would go to for this condition?”). Even when I did have a specific question for my OB/GYN about a GYN concern, she checked with her surgeon colleagues for their experiences and used that to guide me. Good health care professionals, good anything, know they don’t know everything. This woman is claiming to know about an awful lot, none of which lines up with her expertise.

It’s clear this woman makes her money on books, TV, and the like. These things suggest to me this woman is trying to personally capitalize on sensationalism at the expense of the public.

Lack of Details/Specifics

Which vaccine is she referring to? There are two now with Emergency Use approvals (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) and others in late stage development (Astra Zeneca, Janssen). There are over 50 other vaccines in earlier stages of R&D. This woman makes no claim to a specific vaccine (because then she could be pursued for her lies about a specific product). So she’s spreading this fear about all COVID vaccines in general. This is something often seen in unfounded claims.

The truth about the patent (which I find interesting she calls out the 060606 portion of the full patent number—trying to conjure a subconscious connection to Satan?). It’s an outright lie that the patent refers to anything injectable/internal to the body. Furthermore, the vaccines are not the product of some secret form of nanotechnology. People are understandably confused about what the “nano” means when it is used in reference to some of the vaccines. In fact, genetic material in some of the vaccines is surrounded by lipid (i.e. fat) nanoparticles. That means that the lipid particles are nanometer in size (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter). No nanotechnology and no antennae.

Toxic metals in vaccines? Why do I have to go digging to try and figure out what she’s talking about? I’m *assuming* she’s referring to aluminum that can be used as an adjuvant (something in a vaccine in addition to the protein we need the immune system to identify, that increases the immune response) By the way, this reduces the number of vaccines needed (e.g., one shot or multiple shots) and ensures longer immunity. How would she know if (any of) these vaccines (and again, which is she talking about??) include aluminum (this is not public information yet)? She’s happy to state this as if it’s fact.

Also, aluminum is pervasive in our environment, foods and medicines.

She’d have some credibility if she compared the amount of aluminum in vaccines to something we are already exposed to (like infant formula or breast milk or antacids)…but this would not serve the message she’s delivering because we’d quickly see that if aluminum is a problem, avoiding vaccines is not going to fix that problem at all.

Luciferase does not work by shining a light on it…outright lie . But boy is it powerful to say another word that conjures the devil or Satan.

Non-human DNA…what is this referring to? Again, how does she know/have access to such proprietary information? And which vaccine is she talking about? She doesn’t even know which non-human DNA might be in the vaccine - she just names different animals. Which animal is it, if it’s true? Again, by not naming a vaccine, she can’t be countered. In fact, the two currently available vaccines have mRNA from the virus and not DNA. We are unaware of any non-human DNA being a part of any vaccines for COVID-19. It would be a longer story to explain that, even if there were, it wouldn’t make vaccines unsafe and that DNA from another species does not alter the genetics of humans.

The word is chimera (not “chimer” as she says) and chimera exist naturally and not infrequently—further details here (rather interesting). At first I thought this was an illustration of her lack of expertise in this area, but when I read the reference I had an even more critical impression: she knows what a chimera is and that it occurs frequently in nature, because she’s an OB/GYN and this can often occur during pregnancy and persist in the mother long after she has given birth. When people talk blindly on topics they are not expert in, that’s one thing (because we can quickly assess expertise). When someone uses information they are familiar with to mislead, on the other hand, that can cause great harm and to millions of people.

mRNA in the vaccine (and not all candidates are mRNA vaccines) are from the virus (not from another animal) and only a small snippet that creates the protein that we all see as a ’spike’ on the corona-virus pictures/emojis. This ’spike’ is what the immune system responds to. So the mRNA makes the spike (and only the spike, none of the material that allows replication of the mRNA is included) and the body develops an immune response without having to get an infection.

The 99.9% recovery claim. What/who is the source for this recovery rate from COVID-19? What does ‘recovery’ mean? I have to assume by “recovery” she means “didn’t die from the acute COVID infection.” She doesn’t define it, so here again, I have to draw assumptions. Let’s say my assumption is correct. It’s interesting that she posits a ‘recovery rate’ and not a ‘death rate.’ 99.9% sounds so good, so harmless. Due to the long period of contagiousness before feeling any illness (and those that never feel ill enough to stay home) spreading is fast and extensive. If you will allow me the assumption that no one (without having been vaccinated, or without permanent social distancing and masking) will avoid COVID-19, then consider that 0.1% of 330 million people (US population) is 330,000 people. Is it okay with her that 330,000 people in the US (and 7 million worldwide) die that did not need to? And it’s not going to go away, so that 0.1% deaths will continue forever without a vaccine. She purposefully spins what is a grim number to sound like no big deal.

Let me also point out something you well know--a significant factor in ‘recovery’ (again, here I am using the "not dying from acute COVID-19” definition) is access to enough high-quality health care. So, imagine the scenario where you do not vaccinate because you decide the risk for you dying from COVID-19 is low, yet you travel and in another part of the US, or world, you become ill. What you may have recovered from here at home, you may not in another location due to different health care capabilities or resources. In this country, we see that the vast healthcare disparities have made Black, Latinx, and Native American people more vulnerable to acquiring the virus and developing severe illness from it than white people. Then there’s the ethical issue of what you bring with you to other areas that are less equipped to handle the disease. Again, you may be fine, but quite literally kill others. That’s a very personal assessment.

Finally, if you want to look around at data, try this site (which has been online and public since the start of the pandemic). If you go to the tab at the bottom of the map called ‘case-fatality ratio’ (note: it is not called a “death" or a "recovery rate") and click on any of the dots in the screen you can see the case-fatality specifics for that area. Clearly, if we just look at positive tests and deaths due to COVID, plenty of areas see differences. You can quickly compare by the size of the dots the differences among countries and states. For example, in Florida, the case-fatality ratio is 1.83%—quite a bit more than the 0.1% the doctor in this piece is trying to comfort us with.

Biostatistics take effort to learn—people earn bachelors, masters, and PhDs in it--and it’s not possible for people like you and me to be experts. It is reasonable for anyone using such numbers to explain what is assumed/what is meant by them. This woman does none of that. She leaves us to our own interpretations. What people should minimally do is select scientific sources of information (or several) that are trustworthy due to the expertise. Here is a source to explain the recovery rates.

I will leave you with another bit of information that this doctor did not mention: just because people do not die after COVID-19 infection does not mean they have resumed pre-COVID-19 life or health. This is where the importance of defining ‘recovery’ becomes clear. Cancer patients are told that life will be a new normal. As a cancer survivor, I will tell you it is drastically different, and nothing about it is normal. And I’m fortunate with not a lot of limitations. I don’t have a rate for this “no longer infected but still suffering” group of people but if I could protect anyone from this ’new normal life’ with little to no risk to myself, then I’m going to do it. This article is coverage of an NIH meeting on this topic. The CDC also has an informative page on long term effects of COVID-19.

And if the ethical, moral angle on this doesn’t resonate, maybe the economics does. The people most at risk are the ones we depend on the most in this world, the people with minimum wage jobs or contractors in the gig economy that run the operations as well as the professionals and laborers that staff our hospitals. You may express concern about locking things down and the economic consequences, and I agree they are real and devastating. I am convinced, however, that staying open and letting everyone get sick (and die, or not quite recover) is going to be just as devastating to the economy. There are certainly small countries that have tried this model and they are not faring well economically, either.

In 4 minutes this person spouts a bunch of conflated bits of information, infers that she is qualified to speak of this. It takes someone a lot of time to unwind, verify and correct what has been said. No one makes money doing this, so these dangerous bits float about our environment, unchecked.

At the end of the day, vaccination will be a choice. The non-vaccinated may have consequences to their choices, the most drastic of which is dying from COVID-19 themselves or infecting a loved one who then dies or who is permanently affected and they must care for.

This woman is putting her own fame and financial gain ahead of the health of anyone within earshot.

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