Unhinged covid theories
May 15, 2024 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I'd appreciate being pointed to some non-crazy looks at some specific crazy covid theories, or just some basic facts that are fairly robust. Details inside!

Someone in my life believes some things that I think are extremely likely to be extremely wrong.

One of my big questions is, what equipment is needed to view spike proteins in a blood sample, and what is the process or turnaround time?

Looking at a few pictures of spike proteins and reading some news stories, it seems like these would be visible with an SEM or TEM (scanning or transmission electron microscope) that cost $70,000 on up for new (but much less used, based on the first google result for lab equipment).

Can you go straight from blood draw to viewing spike proteins on a TV screen in a naturepath's office in one visit?

Are there any debunkings of this health finding that include particular methods of the scam that could be utilized? e.g. are there common pictures or videos of spike-protein infested blood that could be reverse image searched to demonstrate what the patient was shown was not from their body?

Is there a cheaper way to view or ascertain the presence of spike proteins, like an indicator that would show up under an optical microscrope that isn't explicitly viewing spike proteins but something that reliably indicates their presence?

What health harms could there be (aside from the usual ivermectin side effects) for orally taking drops of a 1% ivermectin liquid preparation for farm animals that is intended to be injected? (Disregard how absolutely insane the thought of this is, which is very. I'm more interested in steering them to a different source if this source is actively harmful, as I doubt I can talk them into completely stopping taking ivermectin.)

Assuming spike proteins are actually being detected, how long would we expect them to continue to show up in a healthy human fighting off a sickness? Would it generally be the case that a month later, barring long covid or a new infection of something else that has a spike protein, most people would just.... no longer have spike proteins in their body, and no special action is indicated?

Is there any medical treatment that revolves around "spike proteins" that isn't clearly quack BS, but actually has some evidence behind it?

I've been quoted "over 500 million dead" from the Covid vaccine by this particular crazy person with their crazy beliefs. I'd love to see a deep dive about that particular claim, tracing it to any base source(s) and including some context as to its craziness. I assume it's close to just deliberately mis-assigning covid deaths to the vaccine, but I don't have enough context to quickly detangle the conspiracy history + consensus reality details.

Finally, if someone could share discussions of how absolutely crazy Ann Barnhardt is, particularly her medical advice, I would find it cathartic to read.
posted by Number Used Once to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: 61 million human beings died in 2023. The largest number of humans who have died in the same year (at least recently) is 69.25 million.

There are about 8 billion people in the world. If 500 million people died, that would be 6.25% of the entire global population. It would be many multiples of all other deaths for all reasons.

It would not be possible to hide 500 million deaths. It would be visible in the streets, in the economy, and in the news.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 9:16 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Mod note: Quick note, lease avoid using "crazy" colloquially, this is an ableist word as it stigmatizes and trivializes mental health conditions. Please go on.
posted by loup (staff) at 9:33 AM on May 15 [11 favorites]


Response by poster: I don't consider this person's mental health problems to be trivial in the slightest, but using the word "crazy" was insensitive. I would be happy to have the question edited by a mod to substitute a less stigmatizing adjective like "wild" or "absurd" or "unfounded" as appropriate.
posted by Number Used Once at 9:39 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I'm afraid if the person is already seeking advice from a naturopath, you probably won't be able to reason with them.

I have a naturopath in my extended family, and she makes the chiropractor on that side look like Marie Curie.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:49 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Best answer: 70.6% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. With about 8 billion people in the world, that works out to about 5.5 billion who have gotten the vaccine.

If it killed 500 million people, it would have a fatality rate of 9%.

Now lets turn to the US. (I'm guessing the op's friend is American. Apologies if not.) 270 million Americans have gotten the Covid vaccine, about 81% of the US population. If the vaccine is fatal 9% of the time, that means that about 24 million Americans would have died from it. That's about 7% of the US population.

The actual number of people who die in the US each year is about 3.3 million. That's from all causes. Cancer, heart attacks, car crashes, everything.

If the Covid vaccine deaths were spread out over 3 years, that would still be about 6 million people dying every year in the USA from getting vaccinated, twice as many as the number of people who have died from all other causes combined.

Think back on the last couple of years to people you've known, personally, who have died. What was the cause of death? Do schools have less kids in them? Are people still filling up stadiums for football games and Taylor Swift concerts? Has the economy collapsed? Are there any other signs of a catastrophic population drop?

I don't see how this works.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:01 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Science Based Medicine addresses a lot of this nonsense going around.
posted by kathrynm at 10:09 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Since my reply may not be a direct answer to the OP's suggested sub-questions, I am going to keep this SHORT. During the COVID WFH period I and many other programmers at my then employer worked on software deliverables with hard deliverable dates. Many different techs were involved and often only 2 or 3 techs were fully knowledgeable in certain key areas. Some, such as myself, were knowledgeable in multiple adjacent areas or skilled with certain debugging tools. I did receive every vaccine/booster that came along. More to the point, a death or sickness rate such as was estimated above would certainly have seriously impacted the company. However, the products were delivered and the deadline met thanks to WFH and the vaccines (in my opinion). FWIW.
posted by forthright at 11:29 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I have received harmful 'care' from a naturopath; but once a person signs on to certain beliefs, I don't think you can change their mind with specific facts. When they argue that their beliefs are correct, it only strengthens them. The protein spikes imaging is BS, Barnhardt recommends ivermectin to treat covid, sigh. Ivermectin is used to treat worms in lots of mammals, including humans, and I have not read of serious issues from low doses, though it's a terrible idea, in general.

I like Your Local Epidemiologist and recommend forwarding interesting posts. You may be able to send reliable information to this person to dilute some of the BS.

You may have areas of agreement - Western medicine relying too heavily on profitable meds and not enough on holistic care. Too much profit motivation. Pharmaceutical companies being more profit-driven than solution-driven. I have those concerns, but it's clear to me that Western medicine adopts what works from traditional and alternative knowledge. For-profit health care has a lot of problems. But actual scientific method is far more effective than anything else I've experienced. Promote accurate information, documentation, taht doesn't obviously contradict their beliefs. Try to connect to real fears, they have some common sense in them, but add a dose of common sense where you can.
posted by theora55 at 12:14 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Structural and functional properties of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein: potential antivirus drug development for COVID-19 | The Spike of SARS-CoV-2: Uniqueness and Applications | COVID-19 diagnosis by SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein detection in saliva using an ultrasensitive magneto-assay based on disposable electrochemical sensor

The above links are peer-reviewed research articles published in the leading scientific journals. However, there is no point arguing with this person. There is nothing that will convince their info is wrong. (And quacks reinforcing their beliefs are working against you.) These beliefs are the hallmarks of a cult. It takes a lot more than a few Nature articles to deprogram a cult member.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:14 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]




Has the economy collapsed? Are there any other signs of a catastrophic population drop?

Somewhat yes, exacerbated by Biden's continuation of Trump's draconian immigration policy, but not due to vaccine deaths (that would be silly) but rather due to actual COVID deaths. It's been suggested (not sure if it's been fully studied) that all the rise in union activity is due to the outsized number of lower income younger people who died from COVID giving the remaining ones more bargaining power, and that the majority of the inflation and consumer product delays due to COVID deaths worldwide among factory and farm workers.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:49 PM on May 15


Can you go straight from blood draw to viewing spike proteins on a TV screen in a naturepath's office in one visit?


No.
posted by Dashy at 5:23 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


UCSF press release: "Using an ultra-sensitive test for the COVID “spike” protein, which helps the virus break into human cells, the scientists found the virus was still present up to 14 months later in some people."

The letter it links to clarifies that most samples were collected prior to vaccinations being available, suggesting that viral persistence is a more likely explanation for the ongoing presence of any "spike" protein. Some folks with long covid report being helped by antivirals.
posted by slidell at 7:11 PM on May 15


you are not so smart

- deep canvassing, 80
- backfire effect, 93-95
- tribal psychology, 122
- vaccine hesitancy, 213
- do your own research, 267
posted by j_curiouser at 7:43 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Is there any medical treatment that revolves around "spike proteins" that isn't clearly quack BS, but actually has some evidence behind it?

Most (all?) vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus function by triggering an immune response to the spike protein. The vaccines that are most common in the US, including the lipid nanoparticle-based mRNA vaccines and the adenovirus-based DNA vaccine, actually contain the genetic code for the spike protein, and they function by inducing the patient's cells to express this protein and display it on their surfaces.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:13 PM on May 15


One of my big questions is, what equipment is needed to view spike proteins in a blood sample, and what is the process or turnaround time?

Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (CryoTEM). A modern instrument costs at least a million dollars, plus the ancillary equipment needed to prepare the sample, which is a nontrivial process. Easier to visualize the protein on the virus particle via CryoTEM; less sample prep needed. The distinctive "corona" around the virus particle can be visualized using much more basic equipment, but that's really not the same as visualizing a discreet protein molecules.

Are there any debunkings of this health finding that include particular methods of the scam that could be utilized? e.g. are there common pictures or videos of spike-protein infested blood that could be reverse image searched to demonstrate what the patient was shown was not from their body?

It's not possible to image a protein molecule in a sample of whole blood. Electron microscopy of protein molecules involves isolating them, concentrating them, and going through a series of steps to prepare them for microscopy. Blood is full of stuff; you can't make out anything at the scale of a protein in it.

Is there a cheaper way to view or ascertain the presence of spike proteins, like an indicator that would show up under an optical microscrope that isn't explicitly viewing spike proteins but something that reliably indicates their presence?

Nothing with microscopy, no. There are, however, immunoassays for the protein that can be performed in a simple lab. You can basically detect the binding of antibodies to the spike protein. I haven't performed this assay myself, but I think it would take a couple of hours.

Assuming spike proteins are actually being detected, how long would we expect them to continue to show up in a healthy human fighting off a sickness? Would it generally be the case that a month later, barring long covid or a new infection of something else that has a spike protein, most people would just.... no longer have spike proteins in their body, and no special action is indicated?

This is an open question, particularly in the context of long Covid.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:26 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Maintenance Phase did a great episode about covid conspiracies.

Also potentially relevant: RFK and the rise of the anti-vx movement and RFK and the mainstreaming of the anti-vx movement.
posted by Suedeltica at 2:38 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


(By the way, everyone in my family is fully vaccinated and up to date on boosters.) Here's a not-yet-peer reviewed pre-print examining a small sample of supposedly novid folks who exhibited post-vaccination long covid-type symptoms, finding them to have spike peptide sequences up to 240+ days after vaccination: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2024.03.24.24304286v1
posted by slidell at 6:26 PM on May 18


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