May 28th, 2024

Being able to reason takes effort


By Letter to the Editor on October 28, 2021.

Editor:
I heard of someone refusing to get vaccinated. Reportedly she said, “I refuse to have an experimental medicine jabbed into my body.” So she was not allowed to attend the class. “Experimental medicine?” How can any intelligent person believe in such bogus information! It’s hard to believe, but it is true that they believe the drug produced to get rid of parasites from horses is more effective to prevent COVID-19 than the WHO and the FDA approved vaccines. Why?
Humans are irrational by nature. From many mistakes humanity made in history, by now we must know that it is a big mistake to ignore the fact that people are more often than not moved by emotion not by reason. A few years ago during the Trump presidency, the Guardian Weekly ran an opinion piece titled, “Why facts don’t convince people.” I did not keep the clip, but I remember the main points.
It said that most of us form our opinions from what we hear from our acquaintances, friends, and people we hung around with. They are people we like and their views influence ours. It’s not easy to believe the words of a stranger or those who speak with an accent or who belong to another political party.
Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” It is why many Americans do not accept that they were not defeated in the Vietnam War. It was a cease-fire agreement.
Listening to emotion is easy, but to reason takes work.
Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui
Lethbridge

Share this story:

2
-1
31 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
James123

Ivermectin won a noble peace prize and is not just a horse dewormer. Why dont people wake up and actually do some research before spouting out this BS

grinandbearit
Last edited 2 years ago by grinandbearit
Andrew Blair

The study you cite is a review of 3 observational studies and 14 randomly controlled trials. In the report of AHS Covid-19 Scientific Advisory Group put out in February 2021 there was a list of 38 clinical trials ongoing at that time. See https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/ppih/if-ppih-covid-19-sag-ivermectin-in-treatment-and-prevention-rapid-review.pdf. So what did you mean by “a review of all studies”?

Are you aware of the recent study “Bayesian Meta Analysis of Ivermectin Effectiveness in Treating Covid-19 Disease”: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353195913_Bayesian_Meta_Analysis_of_Ivermectin_Effectiveness_in_Treating_Covid-19_Disease? They conclude that ivermectin is an effective treatment for Covid-19. Other than the fact that they disagree with you, do you have any reasons for thinking their analysis is faulty?

grinandbearit

I am aware of the study on Ivermectin and Covid using a Bayesian analysis. They found no effect of ivermectin on mortality, need for mechanical ventilation with intubation, or time in hospital. The small effect they report (not on the more important measures of outcome) was based on only 5 RCTs and only 186 patients. A less robust finding than the exhaustive review (including all peer reviewed studies and observational studies from 1 Jan 2020) of efficacy that I cited.
If you want to have no decreased chance of dying from covid, ending up in the hospital, needing intubation and ventilation, your choice is clear – Ivermectin – if you prefer living and breathing on your own outside a hospital ICU, choose one of the effective vaccines. It really is that simple.

Last edited 2 years ago by grinandbearit
Andrew Blair

The study I cited says that the probability of death for patients with severe Covid-19 who are treated with ivermectin is 11.7% while the probability of death for those not treated is 22.9%. That is not, as you say, “no effect of ivermectin on mortality”. The study I cited makes no mention of mechanical ventilation with intubation or time in hospital. Are you referring to a different Bayesian analysis, or maybe an updated version of the one I cited? Can you provide a link?

Andrew Blair

Thanks very much for the link. That link provides a Bayesian analysis for a much wider range of treatments than ivermectin and I think it important that we pay attention to all types of treatment that might be useful in combating Covid-19. However, as this thread started with a mention of ivermectin I will focus on that.

I’m sorry, but what you say about the study you cite is not accurate. There is a crucial difference between saying that a study “found no effect” and that it “failed to find (with high certainty) an effect”. In fact, the study you cite found an odds ratio that favours ivermectin with respect to all outcomes it looked at: mortality, mechanical ventilation, hospital discharge, and viral clearance. However, the 95% credible interval does not provide a high degree of certainty for the outcomes except in the case of viral clearance. For viral clearance there is a high degree of certainty that ivermectin is effective, which is why it was mentioned in the conclusion. I assume that the reason that ivermectin was not mentioned in connection with the other outcomes is because the results were not as certain.

If we focus just on the connection of ivermectin with mortality your study mentions a subgroup analysis for mild/moderate COVID-19 patients and says that for that subgroup “the use of ivermectin (OR 0.38, 95% CrI [0.18,0.76]) could significantly reduce all-cause mortality.” For readers unfamiliar with “OR”, it means “odds ratio”. An odds ratio of 1 would mean that ivermectin has no likely effect at all on whether you die from COVID-19. An odds ratio of 0.38 is very much better than no effect. With an upperbound of 0.76 for the Credibility interval this is a result with high degree of certainty.

The figures I quoted in the Bayesian study I cited were for patients with severe, as opposed to mild/moderate, COVID-19: 11.7% probability of death if treated with ivermectin as opposed to 22.9% if not treated. This is not far at all from the all-group result found in the study you cited. In figure 2 (pertaining to death) of your study you will find an odds ratio of .61 favouring ivermectin, with a 95% credibility interval from .37 to 1.00. Had this interval not touched 1 it should have been mentioned.

If you find some error in my interpretation of these studies please let me know. In light of decades of data showing that ivermectin is safe I believe that the upside potential of ivermectin far outweighs any downside. Some weeks ago I wrote the AHS Covid-19 Scientific Advisory Group urging them not to prohibit ivermectin. I got a reply, but not one which addressed my point. This discussion of the likely benefits of ivermectin makes me think I should write again. Any reasonable critique of my perspective on this will be much appreciated.

Elohssa Gib

Speaking of doing one’s research, Ivermectin did not win a Nobel Prize for peace (or “noble” as you write), but the two scientists who developed Ivermectin did win the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. And it was shared that year with a Chinese scientist who developed a treatment for Malaria.

You are correct that Ivermectin is not just a horse dewormer. It’s also used in cattle, swine, cats and dogs. And Ivermectin is approved for use in humans for conditions caused by parasitic worms.

DanJohnson

It’s amazing that they continue to argue, likely because the only study they have ready is the cherry-picked sliver of a result that is often quoted.

Last edited 2 years ago by DanJohnson
old school

A vaccine that has not gone through the regular long term rigouris testing procedure is still in the experimental stage.

DanJohnson

And therefore the current vaccines are not in the experimental stage. Thanks for clearing that up.

Citi Zen

If this were a polio or Ebola pandemic, you can be assured that these people would be first in line for a shot. And we didn’t know what was in them, either….

JonathanVS

Perhaps. But’s it’s not polio or Ebola. Young, healthy individuals have little to fear from COVID and no need to get a shot.

biff

maybe, but they would be exercising a free choice to do so, or not. the issue is not at all about how effective are vaxes, or ivermectin. the issue is entirely about basic tenets of freedom, the most significant and inalienable being the right to be sole arbiter of one’s body. thus, take or do not take what you choose, and leave others to their choices. that is freedom, that is the issue here, and that is what needs to be supported.

Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

It is well understood that if you present facts to a person that are contrary to their deeply-held beliefs, those beliefs tend to be reinforced and people hold onto them even more strongly. There are several reasons for this, including the degree to which one’s identity is bound to their beliefs. A challenge to one’s beliefs is a challenge to their sense of who they are. Other things that come into play are what psychologists call Conditioned Thinking and Motivated Thinking.

grinandbearit

Actually the “backfire effect” that you refer to is relatively rare. https://www.pnas.org/content/118/15/e1912440117
The situation with vaccine skepticism, embracing bogus treatments tends to be connected to living in a misinformation echo chamber, science denial, celebrity endorsements, and conspiracy thinking. Providing valid information is unlikely to have any effect on James 123’s beliefs but there are others who read this section who are not so lost.

Last edited 2 years ago by grinandbearit
Andrew Blair

I’ve read many of your comments in the past, Tad, and appreciated them, but in this case I think that you have been misled by mainstream misinformation. You say “they [the vaccine hesitant] believe the drug produced to get rid of parasites from horses is more effective to prevent COVID-19 than the WHO and the FDA approved vaccines.” You are talking of ivermectin, which I have done a fair amount of looking into. I have never come across anyone who makes that claim. Here is a study that claims that ivermectin is effective, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353195913_Bayesian_Meta_Analysis_of_Ivermectin_Effectiveness_in_Treating_Covid-19_Disease, but they do not try to compare it with the vaccines. Perhaps you do indeed know someone who believes ivermectin to be more effective than the vaccines, but it sounds to me like a misrepresentation of an entirely different claim, which is that ivermectin is safer than the mRNA vaccines.

There have only been a few months of testing of the vaccines, but decades of testing ivermectin in humans. (It is not just a horse dewormer.) The evidence indicates that ivermectin is far safer than the vaccines. The Lethbridge Herald will not let me post the link to this evidence, but you can find it at the vaersanalysis website if you search for “Are there alternatives to the COVID-19 Vaccines for the treatment/prevention of SARS-CoV2?” The data shown there is the average number of deaths per year associated with the introduction of a medication or other therapeutic. It does not prove that the medication caused the adverse event, but it does point to the possibility of a causal connection that should be further investigated. Since 1991, the average number of deaths per year associated with ivermectin is 12.1 Since the onset of the Covid-19 vaccination program the average number of deaths (adjusted for the fact that the vaccines have not been around yet for a year) associated with the vaccines is 17,107. That is the claim that you should be addressing.

You are right that we often form our opinions from what we hear from our acquaintances. But in my experience most of what I hear is just a repeat of what people have heard in the mainstream media. I have to struggle against what my acquaintances think in order to form an opinion based on evidence.

h2ofield

The special snowflakes are out in force again..sigh.
The mainstream media makes me struggle to form an opinion…PFFFFT!
Go away, losers!
Here’s a fact …the vaccine is one of the best tools to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.

Last edited 2 years ago by h2ofield
Andrew Blair

Your calling me a snowflake and a loser makes me laugh, but never mind about me. You owe Herald readers a better argument than ‘PFFFFT!’ Why don’t you actually grapple with the arguments and the evidence?

Herd mentality does not always get it right.

SophieR

Equivalating scientific consensus with herd mentality (and implying an exclusive, and therefore valorous, access to The Truth) is a fundamental problem today, as h2ofield expressed.

Andrew Blair

Consensus which is achieved through social pressure and dismissal of arguments without understanding them is not scientific consensus, it is herd mentality.

biff

scientific consensus cannot override the right of a person to have the final say with regard to their body. moreover, so-called scientific consensus is not always the correct consensus. however, that is not the issue: the issue is infringing upon the right of each to their body.

biff

indeed, history is rife with herd mentality having gotten it entirely wrong.

biff

that may well be – have at ‘er. but that does not override the right of each to determine what they ingest or not.

h2ofield

We get it ..you’re special…yay you.

Andrew Blair

Who is this “We” that get it?

Get what? Why do you interpret what biff says as self-centred, when he is defending your right too?

biff

no means no – can you not get that?
i would like to imagine you in a cell, with the ironically nicknamed tiny for a cellmate. he wants to inject you with a little something…well, actually a big something, but you say no…only he does not care that it is your body, he is going to inject you anyway because he just believes and only cares that doing so is good for him.

Last edited 2 years ago by biff
Andrew Blair

I would be interested in your view on this study put out by Harvard University: Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8481107/#CR4).
The study’s findings are these:

At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days (Fig. 1). In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days. The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.”

What do you make of that?

grinandbearit

Interesting observations in this paper. I agree with the interpretation provided by the authors. It is clear that the vaccines reduce serious illness and hospitalizations, even though infection rate is going up in people who are fully vaccinated. They point out the declining efficacy of all vaccines, clearly 6 months or more after fully vaccinated. Locations differ in when vaccinations took place and in which variants have been circulating widely. The authors also strongly advocate for masking, distancing, and general hygienic measures. These dimension vary across countries and USA counties.
Number of cases of infection is not as good as knowing severe illness and hospitalization rates. Due to high rates of vaccine avoidance, lack of masking, distancing, etc, it is beginning to converge on a situation where COVID-19 will continue to create epidemics forever.

Seth Anthony

G&B said, “Number of cases of infection is not as good as knowing severe illness and hospitalization rates”.

Very true in regard to case rate. In regard to the latter, the study notes:

“Even though vaccinations offers protection to individuals against severe hospitalization and death, the CDC reported an increase from 0.01 to 9% and 0 to 15.1% (between January to May 2021) in the rates of hospitalizations and deaths, respectively, amongst the fully vaccinated”.

Other noteworthy findings:

“For instance, in a report released from the Ministry of Health in Israel, the effectiveness of 2 doses of the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine against preventing COVID-19 infection was reported to be 39% [6], substantially lower than the trial efficacy of 96% [7]. It is also emerging that immunity derived from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may not be as strong as immunity acquired through recovery from the COVID-19 virus [8]”.

“Of the top 5 counties that have the highest percentage of population fully vaccinated (99.9–84.3%), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies 4 of them as “High” Transmission counties. Chattahoochee (Georgia), McKinley (New Mexico), and Arecibo (Puerto Rico) counties have above 90% of their population fully vaccinated with all three being classified as “High” transmission. Conversely, of the 57 counties that have been classified as “low” transmission counties by the CDC, 26.3% (15) have percentage of population fully vaccinated below 20%”.