This sudy made me speachless. I best show the abstract in its full and unadulterated beauty:
This study intended to assess the homoeopathic practice, prescription habits, experience, and perception of Indian Homeopathic Practitioners (HPs) in treating DM.
A web-based cross-sectional with a snowball sampling method was conducted between 30th July 2021 and 18th August 2021. A questionnaire to record clinical attributes of Indian HPs in the management of DM was formed after the consensus of the subject experts and pilot testing for feasibility.
Participants were 513 HPs with mean age [Standard Deviation (SD)] of 40.44 years (11.16) and a mean duration of the homoeopathic medical practice of 14.67 years [95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 13.71–15.63]. The majority of HPs made classical homoeopathic prescription (201, 39.2%) though the success in the management of DM was better among HPs who prescribed more than one potentized medicine [vs classical prescription, Odds Ratio (OR) = 2.34, p = 0.032]. As perceived by the HPs, homoeopathic treatment resulted in a major improvement in QOL of the diabetic patients (418, 81.5%) with very few adverse effect (100, 19.5%). The blood sugar level was controlled better when homoeopathy was given alongside conventional medicine (348, 67.8%).
The clinical experience of HPs in this study has shown that homoeopathic treatment can benefit DM patients in preventing complications and improving QOL. It further reported that homoeopathy can be an important adjuvant to conventional treatment in managing DM.
Let’s be clear: there is no reliable evidence that DM – a life-threatening disease – can be effectively treated with homeopathy. And let’s be blunt: HPs who claim otherwise are in my view criminal.
I should mention that some of the patients had type 1 diabetes. Many HPs felt that “there was a lack of awareness about the effectiveness of homoeopathy in DM among the general population”. The data show that in 7% the HPs discontinued conventional ant-diabetic drugs completely, and in 73% they reduced them.
It seems that the general population is well advised to ignore homeopathy and its alleged effectiveness for DM. I would even go one step further and postulate that:
if patients rely on homeopathy to treat their diabetes, they risk their lives!
The COVID-19 pandemic has been notable for the widespread dissemination of misinformation regarding the virus and appropriate treatment. The objective of this study was to quantify the prevalence of non–evidence-based treatment for COVID-19 in the US and the association between such treatment and endorsement of misinformation as well as lack of trust in physicians and scientists.
This single-wave, population-based, nonprobability internet survey study was conducted between December 22, 2022, and January 16, 2023, in US residents 18 years or older who reported prior COVID-19 infection.
Self-reported use of ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, endorsing false statements related to COVID-19 vaccination, self-reported trust in various institutions, conspiratorial thinking measured by the American Conspiracy Thinking Scale, and news sources.
A total of 13 438 individuals (mean [SD] age, 42.7 [16.1] years; 9150 [68.1%] female and 4288 [31.9%] male) who reported prior COVID-19 infection were included in this study. In this cohort, 799 (5.9%) reported prior use of hydroxychloroquine (527 [3.9%]) or ivermectin (440 [3.3%]). In regression models including sociodemographic features as well as political affiliation, those who endorsed at least 1 item of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation were more likely to receive non–evidence-based medication (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.86; 95% CI, 2.28-3.58). Those reporting trust in physicians and hospitals (adjusted OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.56-0.98) and in scientists (adjusted OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.51-0.79) were less likely to receive non–evidence-based medication. Respondents reporting trust in social media (adjusted OR, 2.39; 95% CI, 2.00-2.87) and in Donald Trump (adjusted OR, 2.97; 95% CI, 2.34-3.78) were more likely to have taken non–evidence-based medication. Individuals with greater scores on the American Conspiracy Thinking Scale were more likely to have received non–evidence-based medications (unadjusted OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.06-1.11; adjusted OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.07-1.13).
The authors concluded that, in this survey study of US adults, endorsement of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of trust in physicians or scientists, conspiracy-mindedness, and the nature of news sources were associated with receiving non–evidence-based treatment for COVID-19. These results suggest that the potential harms of misinformation may extend to the use of ineffective and potentially toxic treatments in addition to avoidance of health-promoting behaviors.
This study made me wonder to what extend a lack of trust in physicians or scientists, and conspiracy-mindedness are also linked to the use of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) for treatning COVID infections. As I have often discussed, such associations have been reported regularly, e.g.:
- Homeopathy as an Adjuvant to Standard Care in Moderate and Severe Cases of COVID-19
- Arrests in Germany of healthcare professionals who issued fake COVID certificates
- Classical homeopathy worsens the prognosis of patients infected with COVID-19.
- “No jabby-jabby for me! Praise GOD!” But now this antivaxer has died of COVID-related pneumonia
- Homeopathy for COVID: opinions expressed on Twitter
- Efficacy of Persian barley water on clinical outcomes of hospitalized moderate-severity COVID-19 patients
- Effectiveness of Homeopathic Arsenicum album 30C in the Prevention of COVID-19
- Homoeopathy in the Prophylaxis and Symptomatic Management of COVID-19
- Is aromatherapy the answer to long-COVID? I fear not!
- Anthroposophical hospital defies COVID-19 regulations
- An Ayurvedic medication is effective for patients suffering from mild to moderate COVID-19 – true or false?
- Homeopathy for COVID-19: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial shows that it does not work
- Micronutrient supplements for patients with COVID-19 infection
- A new trial of homeopathy for preventing COVID-19 infections
- Homeopathy and other SCAMs for long-COVID: WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?
- Upper Bavaria is struggling with COVID-19, not least due to so-called alternative medicine
- And again: is vitamin C the solution for COVID-19 infections?
- Parents’ Willingness to Vaccinate with a COVID-19 Vaccine: strongly influenced by homeopathy
- A new study of homeopathy for the prevention of COVID-19 infections
- Homeopathic Treatment for COVID-19: a case of scientific misconduct and/or irresponsible behavior?
- The ‘AYUSH COVID-19 Helpline’: have they gone bonkers?
- Adjunctive homeopathic treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. A case study of homeopathic delusion
- US Chiropractor in court for making false claims related to COVID-19
- Chinese Herbal Medicine for COVID-19? The evidence remains unconvincing
- Vitamin C and/or zinc for managing COVID patients?
- An RCT on the efficacy of ayurvedic treatment on asymptomatic COVID-19 patients
- Herbal solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The authors point out that the endorsement of misinformation related to COVID-19 has been shown to decrease the intention to vaccinate against COVID-19, to decrease the belief that it is required for herd immunity, and to correlate with forgoing various COVID-19 prevention behaviors. Such false information is largely spread online and often originates as disinformation intentionally spread by political actors and media sources, as well as illicit actors who profit from touting supposed cures for COVID-19. A substantial minority of the public endorses false information related to COVID-19, although certain subgroups are more likely to do so, including those who are more religious, who distrust scientists, and who hold stronger political affiliations. Cultivating and maintaining trust is a crucial factor in encouraging the public to engage in prosocial health behaviors. The extent to which addressing conspiratorial thinking could represent a strategy to address obstacles to public health merits further investigation.
The Skeptic reported that a cardiologist and one of the UK’s most influential critics of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Aseem Malhotra, has been named the 2023 recipient of the “Rusty Razor” award, the prize given by The Skeptic to the year’s worst promoters of pseudoscience.
Dr Malhotra has made a name for himself over the last decade as a cardiologist who advocates strongly against the broad use of statins. He has described the drugs as a multi-billion dollar “con” by the pharmaceutical industry, saying that his critics have “received millions in research funding from the pharmaceutical industry”. He has described the link between heart disease and saturated fat as a “myth”, drawing criticism from the British Heart Foundation.
In 2017, his book The Pioppi Diet put forward a diet that he claimed could prevent 20 million deaths per year from cardiovascular disease. The book was named by the British Dietetic Association as one of the celebrity diets to most avoid – with the BDA highlighting his apparently Mediterranean diet excluded pasta and bread, but included coconuts.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Malhotra has been a prolific and powerful voice spreading narratives that run contrary to the best available evidence. In 2021, his book The 21-Day Immunity Plan included a diet claimed to improve the immune system and help fight off infections – claims that drew criticism from medical professionals.
In 2022, Dr Malhotra released a paper claiming that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines posed a serious risk to cardiovascular health and that the vaccines were “at best a reckless gamble”. The paper was published in the Journal of Insulin Resistance – where Dr Malhotra sits on the editorial board.
Dr Malhotra and his campaign against the COVID-19 vaccine was subsequently praised in Parliament by Andrew Bridgen MP as part of the reasoning behind his ongoing anti-vaccine crusade. In January of this year, Dr Malhotra used a BBC interview about statins to claim that deaths from coronary artery disease were actually complications from the vaccine, prompting a slew of complaints, and an apology from the broadcaster.
The Skeptic Editor Michael Marshall said: “In our opinion, Dr Malhotra has been an incredibly prolific promoter of pseudoscience throughout the pandemic, including spreading the false notion that vaccines are responsible for thousands of excess deaths.
“Dr Malhotra’s media career has given him a very large platform, from which he spreads misinformation that undermines confidence in a health intervention that has saved the lives of countless people across the world. In doing so, he stokes the flames of conspiracy, paranoia and mistrust of medical consensus.
“For anyone with so large a platform to do this would be concerning enough, but Dr Malhotra shares these pseudoscientific messages as a registered medical professional whose opinions have influenced at least one current member of parliament.
“All of this, we feel, makes Dr Aseem Malhotra a highly deserving winner of the 2023 Rusty Razor award”
The ‘Rusty Razor’ award was announced as part of The Skeptic’s annual Ockham Awards at a ceremony that took place during Saturday’s QED conference on science and skepticism, in Manchester. Also recognised during the event was the Knowledge Fight podcast, who won the 2023 award for Skeptical Activism.
I agree, Malhortra is a deserverd winner. The prize raises, in my view, an important question:
WHAT ON EARTH IS THE GENERAL MEDICIN COUNCIL (GMC) DOING ABOUT THIS GUY?
Malhotra’s activities have been compared to the case of Andrew Wakefield who falsely claimed that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism. While Wakefield was ultimately struck off by the GMC in 2010, the regulator has so far rebuffed repeated pleas to investigate Dr Malhotra.
The BMJ recently reported that Dr. Matt Kneale, who had previously complained to the GMC about the conduct of Aseem Malhotra, was told that the GMC would not be investigating Malhotra because his statements were not sufficiently “egregious” to merit action and he had a right to “freedom of speech.” Kneale’s appeal against this decision in 2023 was also turned down.
Kneale has now filed a claim with the High Court, arguing that the GMC should consider not only whether a doctor’s behaviour could harm individual patients but also whether their actions undermined public trust in medicine. He said that this was particularly important when examining statements relating to vaccines, where doctors with a high profile on social media could potentially cause great harm.
The US ‘Public Citizen‘ is an American non-profit, progressive consumer rights advocacy group, and think tank based in Washington, D.C. They recently published an article entitled “FDA Guidance on Homeopathic Drugs: An Ongoing Public Health Failure“. Here are a few excerpts:
In December 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance on homeopathic drug products. The guidance states that the agency now “intends to apply a risk-based enforcement approach to the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of homeopathic drug products.”
Under this new risk-based approach, the agency plans to target its enforcement actions against homeopathic drug products marketed without FDA approval that fall within the following limited categories:
- products with reports of injury that, after evaluation, raise potential safety concerns
- products containing or purportedly containing ingredients associated with potentially significant safety concerns (for example, infectious agents or controlled substances)
- products that are not administered orally or topically (for example, injectable drug products and ophthalmic drug products)
- products intended to be used to prevent or treat serious or life-threatening diseases
- products for vulnerable populations, such as immunocompromised individuals, infants and the elderly
- products with significant quality issues (for example, products that are contaminated with foreign materials or objectionable microorganisms)
But this new FDA guidance fails to adequately address the public health threat posed by the agency’s decades-long permissive approach to these illegal drug products.
Under FDA regulations, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic products are considered drugs and are supposed to be subject to the same review and approval requirements as all other prescription and OTC medications. However, under a flawed enforcement policy issued in 1988, the FDA has allowed these drug products to be marketed in the U.S. without agency review or approval. Thus, all products labeled as homeopathic are being marketed without the FDA having evaluated their safety, effectiveness or quality…
… there is no plausible physiologic or medical basis to support the theory underlying homeopathy, nor is there evidence from well-designed, rigorous clinical trials showing that homeopathic drugs are safe and effective.
The FDA should declare unequivocally that all unapproved homeopathic drug products are illegal and direct all manufacturers to immediately remove such products from the market. In the meantime, as we have recommended for many years, consumers should not use homeopathic products. At best, the products are a waste of money, given the lack of any evidence that they are effective. At worst, they could cause serious harm because of the lack of FDA oversight to ensure safety.
I fully agree with these sentiments. The harm caused by homeopathy is considerable and multi-facetted. Many previous posts have discudded these problems, e.g.:
- Nine cases of severe homeopathy-induced liver injuries
- Another death by homeopathy
- HOMEOPATHY – “It is not just irresponsible, it’s downright dangerous.”
- Adverse effects of homeopathy and aggravations at NAFKAM
- Homeopathy: it’s time to stop the double standards
- Homeopathy can cause serious harm – and finally, the NHS England has realised it
- Vidatox, homeopathy’s answer to cancer or outright fraud?
- Another child has died because of homeopathy
- Doctor homeopaths violate fundamental rules of ethics when practising homeopathy
- ‘Best homeopathy doctor in Delhi’ offers treatment for HIV/AIDS
- DIY-Homeopathy: how to kill your entire family
- The risks of homeopathy?
- The FDA has warned 4 manufacturers of unapproved injectable homeopathic drugs
- Is this the crown of the Corona-idiocy? Nosodes In Prevention And Management Of COVID -19
- The FDA has sent more warning letters to homeopathic manufacturers
- Walmart is being sued for selling homeopathic products
- Homoeopathic remedies may be safe, but do all homeopaths merit this attribute?
- Recommending homeoprophylaxis is unethical, irresponsible and possibly even criminal
- FDA: homeopathic teething remedies were toxic
- “Homeoprophylaxis, the homeopathic vaccine alternative, prevents disease through nosodes.”
- A truly dangerous homeopath
- The scandalous attitude of some homeopaths and their supporters towards immunisations
- Oh yes, let’s have homeopaths as primary care practitioners! But only in a parallel universe,please.
Having warned about the dangers of homeopathy for decades, I feel it is high time for regulators across the world to take appropriate action.
It has been reported that two London councils have written to parents to warn that children who are not vaccinated against measles may need to self-isolate for 21 days if a classmate is infected with the disease. It comes after modelling by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned that up to 160,000 cases could occur in the capital alone as a result of low vaccination rates. Just three-quarters of London children have received the two required doses of the MMR jab, which protects against measles. This is 10 per cent lower than the national average.
Barnet Council wrote to parents on July 20 warning that any unvaccinated child identified as a close contact of a measles case could be asked to self-isolate for up to 21 days. “Measles is of serious concern in London due to low childhood vaccination rates. Currently we are seeing an increase in measles cases circulating in neighbouring London boroughs, so now is a good time to check that your child’s MMR vaccination – which not only protects your child against measles but also mumps and rubella – is up to date,” the letter reads. “Children who are vaccinated do not need to be excluded from school or childcare,” the letter added.
Neighbouring Haringey Council also warned that children without both MMR doses may be asked to quarantine for 21 days. Just over two-thirds (67.9 per cent) of children in the area had received both doses by the age of five. The councils stated that they had sent the letters based on guidance by the UKHSA, but the agency said that headteachers should consider “excluding” unvaccinated pupils who become infected with measles rather than instructing them to self-isolate.
Data published by the UKHSA showed that 128 cases of measles were recorded between January 1 and June 30 this year, compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022. Two-thirds of the cases were detected in London. The agency have said that there is a high risk of cases linked to overseas travel leading to outbreaks in specific population groups such as young people and under-vaccinated communities.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “When there are measles cases or outbreaks in nurseries or schools, the UKHSA health protection team will assess the situation, together with the school and other local partners, and provide advice for staff and pupils. “Those who are not up to date with their MMR vaccinations will be asked to catch up urgently to help stop the outbreak and minimise disruption in schools.”
Measles is a significant concern with approximately 10 million people infected annually causing over 100,000 deaths worldwide. In the US before use of the measles vaccine, there were estimated to be 3 to 4 million people infected with measles annually, causing 400 to 500 deaths. Complications of measles include otitis media, diarrhea, pneumonia, and acute encephalitis. Measles is a leading cause of blindness in the developing world, especially in those who are vitamin A deficient. Malnourished children with measles are also at higher risk of developing noma (or cancrum oris), a rapidly progressive gangrenous infection of the mouth and face. Most deaths due to measles are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, or neurological complications in young children, severely malnourished or immunocompromised individuals, and pregnant women. A rare sequela of measles is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
Back in 2003, we investigated what advice UK homeopaths, chiropractors and general practitioners give on measles, mumps and rubella vaccination programme (MMR) vaccination via the Internet. Online referral directories listing e-mail addresses of UK homeopaths, chiropractors and general practitioners and private websites were visited. All addresses thus located received a letter of a (fictitious) patient asking for advice about the MMR vaccination. After sending a follow-up letter explaining the nature and aim of this project and offering the option of withdrawal, 26% of all respondents withdrew their answers. Homeopaths yielded a final response rate (53%, n = 77) compared to chiropractors (32%, n = 16). GPs unanimously refused to give advice over the Internet. No homeopath and only one chiropractor advised in favour of the MMR vaccination. Two homeopaths and three chiropractors indirectly advised in favour of MMR. More chiropractors than homeopaths displayed a positive attitude towards the MMR vaccination. We concluded that some complementary and alternative medicine providers have a negative attitude towards immunisation and means of changing this should be considered.
The problem is by no means confined to the UK. German researchers, for instance, showed that belief in homeopathy and other parental attitudes indicating lack of knowledge about the importance of vaccinations significantly influenced an early immunisation. Moreover, being a German homeopath has been independently associated with lower own vaccination behavior. Data from France paint a similar picture.
Some homeopaths, of course, claim that ‘homeopathic vaccinations’ are effective and preferable. My advice is: DON’T BELIEVE THESE CHARLATANS! A recent study demonstrated that homeopathic vaccines do not evoke antibody responses and produce a response that is similar to placebo. In contrast, conventional vaccines provide a robust antibody response in the majority of those vaccinated.
Vaccine hesitancy has become a threat to public health, especially as it is a phenomenon that has also been observed among healthcare professionals. In this study, an international team of researchers analyzed the relationship between endorsement of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and vaccination attitudes and behaviors among healthcare professionals, using a cross-sectional sample of physicians with vaccination responsibilities from four European countries: Germany, Finland, Portugal, and France (total N = 2,787).
The results suggest that, in all the participating countries, SCAM endorsement is associated with lower frequency of vaccine recommendation, lower self-vaccination rates, and being more open to patients delaying vaccination, with these relationships being mediated by distrust in vaccines. A latent profile analysis revealed that a profile characterized by higher-than-average SCAM endorsement and lower-than-average confidence and recommendation of vaccines occurs, to some degree, among 19% of the total sample, although these percentages varied from one country to another: 23.72% in Germany, 17.83% in France, 9.77% in Finland, and 5.86% in Portugal.
The authors concluded that these results constitute a call to consider health care professionals’ attitudes toward SCAM as a factor that could hinder the implementation of immunization campaigns.
In my view, this is a very important paper. It shows what we on this blog have discussed often before: there is an association between SCAM and vaccination hesitancy. The big question is: what is the nature of this association. There are several possibilities:
- It could be coincidental. I think this is most unlikely; too many entirely different investigations have shown a link.
- It could mean that people start endorsing SCAM because they are critical about vaccination.
- It could be that people are critical about vaccination because they are proponents of SCAM.
- Finally, it could be that some people have a mind-set that renders them simultaneously hesitant about vaccination and fans of SCAM.
This study, like most of the other investigationson this subject, was not desighned to find out which possibility is most likely. I suspect that the latter two explanations apply both to some extend. The authors of this study argue that that, “from a theoretical point of view, this situation may be explicable by reasons that are both implicit (i.e., CAM would fit better with certain worldviews and ideological standpoints that conflict with the epistemology and values that underlies scientific knowledge) and explicit (i.e., some CAM techniques are doctrinally opposed to the use of vaccines). Although we have outlined these potential explanations for the observed relationships, more research is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms”.
This systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) estimated the benefits and harms of cervical spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) for treating neck pain. The authors searched the MEDLINE, Cochrane CENTRAL, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro, Chiropractic Literature Index bibliographic databases, and grey literature sources, up to June 6, 2022.
RCTs evaluating SMT compared to guideline-recommended and non-recommended interventions, sham SMT, and no intervention for adults with neck pain were eligible. Pre-specified outcomes included pain, range of motion, disability, health-related quality of life.
A total of 28 RCTs could be included. There was very low to low certainty evidence that SMT was more effective than recommended interventions for improving pain at short-term (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.66; confidence interval [CI] 0.35 to 0.97) and long-term (SMD 0.73; CI 0.31 to 1.16), and for reducing disability at short-term (SMD 0.95; CI 0.48 to 1.42) and long-term (SMD 0.65; CI 0.23 to 1.06). Only transient side effects were found (e.g., muscle soreness).
The authors concluded that there was very low certainty evidence supporting cervical SMT as an intervention to reduce pain and improve disability in people with neck pain.
Harms cannot be adequately investigated on the basis of RCT data. Firstly, because much larger sample sizes would be required for this purpose. Secondly, RCTs of spinal manipulation very often omit reporting adverse effects (as discussed repeatedly on this bolg). If we extend our searches beyond RCTs, we find many cases of serious harm caused by neck manipulations (also as discussed repeatedly on this bolg). Therefore, the conclusion of this review should be corrected:
Low certainty evidence exists supporting cervical SMT as an intervention to reduce pain and improve disability in people with neck pain. The evidence of harm is, however, substantial. It follows that the risk/benefit ratio is not positive. Cervical SMT should therefore be discouraged.
In an aging society, it is crucial to understand why some people live long and others do not. There has been a proliferation of studies in recent years that highlight the importance of psycho-behavioral factors in the ways of aging, one of those psychological components is intelligence. In this meta-analysis, the association between intelligence and life expectancy in late adulthood is analysed through the Hazard Ratio (HR). The objectives are:
- (i) to update a previous meta-analysis, especially the estimate of the association between survival and intelligence;
- (ii) to evaluate the role of some moderators, especially the age of the participants, to explore intelligence–mortality throughout adulthood and old age.
The results show a positive relationship between intelligence and survival (HR•: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.81–0.76). This association is significantly moderated by the years of follow-up, the effect size being smaller the more years elapse between the intelligence assessment and the recording of the outcome.
The authors concluded that intelligence is a protective factor to reach middle-high age, but from then on survival depends less and less on intelligence and more on other factors.
The consistency of the primary studies is remarkable. This suggests that the association is real. Yet, the question remains: what causes the relationship between intelligence and longevity? Factors such as childhood environment, family income, schooling, and healthy/unhealthy lifestyle habits (diet, exercise, tobacco use, alcohol, illnesses), have been studied. There seems to be a reciprocal dynamic association between intelligence and health throughout life, and although there are several constructs associated with health/ illness and death (e.g., parental social class, intelligence in youth, more education, higher health literacy, healthy behaviors, and more affluent social class) shared genetic differences are likely to account for only a small proportion of these associations.
Arden and colleagues analyzed three twin studies (from the U.S., Denmark, and Sweden) and found a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan, furthermore, in the combined sample, the genetic contribution to covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%. These authors pointed out that any genetic factors contributing to intelligence and mortality may operate indirectly via good health choices.
Following this line of argument, I might (with my tongue placed firmly in my cheek) postulate that intelligence leads people to opt for medical treatments that are effective and thus prolong life, while avoiding so-called alternative medicines (SCAMs).
There is evidence that, in the US, Republican-leaning counties have had higher COVID-19 death rates than Democratic-leaning counties and similar evidence of an association between political party affiliation and attitudes regarding COVID-19 vaccination. This investigation assessed political party affiliation and mortality rates for individuals during the initial 22 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A cross-sectional comparison of excess mortality between registered Republican and Democratic voters between March 2020 and December 2021 adjusted for age and state of voter registration was conducted. Voter and mortality data from Florida and Ohio in 2017 linked to mortality records for January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2021, were used in data analysis. The main outcome measure was the excess weekly death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic adjusted for age, county, party affiliation, and seasonality.
Between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2021, there were 538 159 individuals in Ohio and Florida who died at the age of 25 years or older in the study sample. The median age at death was 78 years (IQR, 71-89 years). Overall, the excess death rate for Republican voters was 2.8 percentage points, or 15%, higher than the excess death rate for Democratic voters (95% prediction interval [PI], 1.6-3.7 percentage points). After May 1, 2021, when vaccines were available to all adults, the excess death rate gap between Republican and Democratic voters widened from −0.9 percentage points (95% PI, −2.5 to 0.3 percentage points) to 7.7 percentage points (95% PI, 6.0-9.3 percentage points) in the adjusted analysis; the excess death rate among Republican voters was 43% higher than the excess death rate among Democratic voters. The gap in excess death rates between Republican and Democratic voters was larger in counties with lower vaccination rates and was primarily noted in voters residing in Ohio.
The authors concluded that, in this cross-sectional study, an association was observed between political party affiliation and excess deaths in Ohio and Florida after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults. These findings suggest that differences in vaccination attitudes and reported uptake between Republican and Democratic voters may have been factors in the severity and trajectory of the pandemic in the US.
In light of what has been discussed repeatedly, these findings are in my view most impressive and seem to speak for themselves. The authors are nevertheless prudent and stress that their study has several limitations which mean that we ought to interpret their results with caution.
- First, there are plausible alternative explanations for the difference in excess death rates by political party affiliation beyond the explanatory role of vaccines discussed herein.
- Second, the mortality data, although detailed and recent, only included approximately 83.5% of deaths in the US and did not include the cause of death. Although overall excess death patterns in our data are similar to those in other reliable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics data, it is possible that the deaths that our study data did not include may disproportionately occur among individuals registered with a particular political party, potentially biasing our results. In addition, the completeness of the mortality data may vary across states or time, potentially biasing our estimates of excess death rates.
- Third, all excess death models rely on fundamentally untestable assumptions to construct the baseline number of deaths one would expect in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Fourth, because no information on individual vaccination status was available, analyses of the association between vaccination rates and excess deaths relied on county-level vaccination rates.
- Fifth, the study was based on data from 2 states with readily obtainable historical voter registration information (Florida and Ohio); hence, the results may not generalize to other states.
We have discussed the Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) before. Now it has been making headlines again. It has been reported that a Miami federal jury convicted a father and his three sons of selling a toxic bleach solution as a “miracle” medical cure out of a fake Florida church’s website to thousands of consumers across the US. Mark Grenon, 65, and sons Jonathan, 37, Joseph, 35, and Jordan, 29, chose to represent themselves in their two-day trial in Miami federal court. But they said nothing during the trial as if they were silently protesting the proceeding. Only after the 12-person jury hit them with a quick verdict did one of the Grenons speak up. “We will be appealing,” Joseph Grenon said.
During the trial and closing arguments, prosecutors portrayed the four defendants as con men who used a phony religious front on a website, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, to sell $1 million worth of their “Miracle Mineral Solution” a cure for 95% of the world’s known diseases, from AIDS to the coronavirus. “This whole Miracle Mineral Solution scheme was built on deception and dishonesty,” the prosecutor said during his closing argument, telling jurors that the Grenons “created a fake church to make it harder for the Food and Drug Administration and government to stop them from selling snake oil.” But, “this was no church,” he argued. “This was a scam for money — an old-fashioned scam.” The jury found the four defendants — all wearing beige inmate uniforms, ponytails, and flowing beards — guilty of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and FDA, which regulates the food and drug industry, by distributing an unapproved and misbranded drug, Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). That conviction carries up to five years in prison.
During the trial, the prosecutor said the Grenons called themselves “bishops” and peddled MMS as “sacraments” to consumers in South Florida and other parts of the US in exchange for a “donation” to the Genesis church, before the FDA cracked down on the family in 2020.
The Grenons were charged that April with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic when they defied FDA and court orders to stop distributing the toxic MMS substance. Their criminal case was the first pandemic-related enforcement action in Florida. In public warnings, FDA said it received several reports of hospitalizations and life-threatening conditions as people drank the dangerous substance.
MMS is a chemical solution containing sodium chlorite that, when mixed with water and a citric acid “activator,” turns into chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp, and paper. During the trial, a FDA agent testified about three Grenon-produced videos that pitched the solution as a cure for cancer, lung cancer, and COVID-19, among other deadly diseases. “We are trying to create a world without disease,” Mark Grenon said in one video, pitching the MMS substance. “It’s been proven to be tremendously effective in curing cancer.” Another video, dated March 8, 2020, was titled: “The coronavirus is curable. Do you believe it? You better!”
Prosecutors said the Grenon family’s religious front, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, sold tens of thousands of MMS orders in violation of federal law since 2010. It was in that year that Mark Grenon claims to have founded the organization with a man named Jim Humble in a plan to avoid governmental regulation and arrest as they promoted MMS as a miracle cure. Humble, a man who has dabbled in Scientology and professed to be a billion-year-old god, began promoting the substance as early as 2006 in self-published works after he claimed to have discovered its medical properties while on a gold-mining expedition in South America. After Humble supposedly stepped away from the organization in 2017, Grenon continued to manufacture, promote and sell MMS with his three sons.
The Grenons’ open defiance of a court order ultimately led to criminal charges and a federal raid on the family’s Bradenton home, where federal investigators say they found loaded guns, nearly 10,000 pounds of sodium chlorite powder, and thousands of bottles of MMS.