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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

2020 ElectionCOVID-19FeaturesHealthNews and informationThe Economy

This Week in Corona Scams: QAnon-sense and Garblety-Goop

This Week in Corona Scams, we (once again) take on all the questions and all the rumors surrounding all the hype on “herd immunity”. We’re also taking on QAnon, the anti-vaccine movement, and their latest outrageous claims about Osama bin Laden and transhumanism. 

Oh, and we’re serving some more food for thought for anyone who’s still shopping for “natural immunity”.

“We have to caution that people who had COVID-19 should continue to adhere to social distancing and other precautions. There is no invulnerability ticket that comes with this.” 
– Dr. Mark Pandori, Nevada State Public Health Laboratory
COVID-19, Steve Sisolak
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

Typically on Wednesdays, the Nevada Health Response team bring Dr. Mark Pandori, Director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, onto their press call. Yesterday, Pandori wasted no time in addressing the developing story of the Washoe County individual who was reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 and contracted COVID-19 again in June following his first infection in April. And yes, as Pandori confirmed, “From what we’ve seen with our reinfection case in Nevada, the second round had stronger symptoms.” In fact, he needed hospitalization and oxygen support following his second infection.

Pandori then warned that since we’ve already seen at least one COVID-19 reinfection here in Nevada, “We have to caution that people who had COVID-19 should continue to adhere to social distancing and other precautions. There is no invulnerability ticket that comes with this.”

This Nevada reinfection is featured in a new article in The Lancet, and this comes on the heels of a COVID-19 death in the Netherlands of a reinfected patient there. Though we haven’t seen many more confirmed reinfections, this gradually growing list of patients who’ve been reinfected casts serious doubt on prior assumptions that surviving one bout of COVID-19 would be enough for someone to develop “natural immunity” to guard someone against this disease going forward.

“The only safe way to bring about herd immunity is through vaccination.”
– Dr. Mark Pandori, Nevada State Public Health Laboratory

For the last seven months, we’ve heard a whole lot of hype on the concept of “herd immunity”, or a group of people surviving the first round of infections and developing sufficient natural resistance to a virus to prevent another wave of infections. And yes, following his own contracting of COVID-19 last month, President Donald Trump now wants to experiment with Americans in the (alleged) hopes of developing “herd immunity”.

Returning closer to home, Dr. Pandori cited the Reno reinfection as he noted, “This is telling us that a person can be reinfected with SARS-CoV-2, as we’ve seen with other coronaviruses. Immunity did not last as long.” And even when we put aside the matter of reinfection, there are reasons why the United Kingdom and Sweden abandoned their respective “herd immunity” strategies this past spring.

By pursuing “herd immunity” with the actual virus instead of a safe and effective vaccine, we’d essentially gamble with Americans’ lives and subject thousands more people to severe illness and death just to see if there’s any merit to this fringe theory that the vast majority of medical professionals have soundly rejected. First and foremost, it’s an absolute violation of (what has traditionally been considered part of) the Hippocratic Oath to tell thousands of people to accept their death sentence or possible lifelong organ damage, just because a few rich jerks don’t want the government to spend money to protect public health the effective, ethical, and responsible way.

Dr. Pandori is one of those many medical professionals. During yesterday’s press call, he stated, “Vaccines can elicit a higher level of immunity of our natural ones. Vaccines are designed to elicit a stronger response to viruses. […] The only safe way to bring about herd immunity is through vaccination.”

What, you really thought we wouldn’t address QAnon’s latest whopper today?

As I sought to explain yesterday, there are reasons why Trump’s lies and other “Corona Scams” are so dangerous. According to a new Morning Consult poll, 24% of American adults and 25% of social media users believe QAnon’s wildly absurd conspiracy theories are at least fairly accurate. Never mind that QAnon nearly always gets the facts wrong, including on its latest accusation regarding the 2011 execution of Osama bin Laden and the 2012 Benghazi tragedy that is so outlandishly false that Robert O’Neill, one of the six Navy SEALs who conducted the 2011 bin Laden raid, publicly reprimanded Trump (who retweeted that garbage earlier this week) and QAnon on Twitter. (And in case you’re wondering, a quick check on O’Neill’s Twitter account suggests he’s anything but a “resistance liberal”.)

It’s hard to keep track of all QAnon’s bizarre yet easily debunkable accusations, and it’s getting harder to avoid QAnon’s outrageous claims about COVID-19. It’s also getting harder to separate QAnon from the anti-vaccine movement and other formerly fringe anti-science/pro-“quackademia” actors, as they’re all spreading the same disinformation and promoting the same “Corona Scams”.

Before we return to the lookout for the next round of wacky QAnon accusations, let’s get some things out of the way. First, while scientists continue to research monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment, neither Eli Lilly’s nor Regeneron’s respective drugs (that are currently in the trial phase) are anywhere close to ready for general use, let alone any kind of proven-to-be-effective “cure” that Trump claims they are. Second, there is no such thing as the yet-to-be-proven COVID-19 vaccine causing transhumanism! Seriously, we’re far better off relying on proven medical science than chasing after whatever the hell Elon Musk and Peter Thiel are offering.

No, “ozone therapy” is not a “magical cure”!

Also, before Donald Trump, the QAnon crowd, and/or anyone else starts promoting this nonsense, let’s make clear: “Ozone therapy” is not a proven “cure”! Keep in mind that just last year, the FDA issued a warning that ozone (a colorless gas composed of three oxygen atoms) is toxic and has no proven medical benefit.

Before anyone starts saying the FDA only did that because “Big Pharma”, remember that ozone is the primary ingredient in a little something we call smog. Ozone has an important purpose in trapping ultraviolet radiation higher in the atmosphere. It doesn’t really belong down here in the troposphere, and it certainly doesn’t belong inside your rectum.

Though there has been a tiny bit of research on “ozone therapy” to treat COVID-19, the U.S. Justice Department sued in April to stop a Texas company from marketing its “ozone therapy” as an effective COVID-19 treatment because there’s still nowhere near enough evidence to prove that it actually works. Rather, we have ample evidence showing that when used outside a very narrow list of purposes (mainly, sterilization of water and equipment), ozone can be incredibly harmful and even lethal. Please don’t try shoving any up your butt.

Before we go, here’s one more reminder to think before buying into the “natural immunity” that Gwyneth Paltrow and Alex Jones are selling us.

As I’ve been saying all along, pseudoscience and disinformation are not exclusive to any one party or political movement. For all their seemingly reasonable talk about COVID-19, we shouldn’t forget all of Goop’s shilling for all kinds of “immunity boosting” products sold at the Goop store.

Before you rush to the Goop store to pay lordy-knows-how-much for their “immunity boosting” products, remember that they’re probably very similar to the “immunity boosting” products that Alex Jones sells at his InfoWars store. And as we’ve pointed out before, there is zero evidence showing that these and other overpriced vitamins have any effect in boosting any kind of “natural immunity” to COVID-19 and other diseases. 

There really are no “magic bullets” or “game changing” cures, but there are some simple things we can do to take better care of ourselves: Better diets, proper exercise, washing our hands, practicing social distancing, and covering our faces. I know none of these are as sexy as “natural immunity”, “herd immunity”, and more exotic “cutting edge medicine” that hasn’t actually been proven to treat or cure COVID-19. But by sticking with proven science, we can boost our own immunity to “Corona Scams”.

If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health DistrictWashoe County Health DistrictCarson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square.

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