There is a nonsensical claim from anti-vaxxers that the COVID-19 vaccines are causing a massive increase in young athletes suddenly dropping dead from cardiac arrest.
Dr. Susan Oliver’s video debunking these claims is notable for what an excellent job it does debunking one of the primary sources for these claims (spoiler alert: most of the young athletes listed as dying from cardiac arrest were neither young nor died from cardiac arrest).
It is also notable for another odd reason–earlier this week, YouTube removed the video for spreading misinformation and gave Dr. Oliver’s account a community guideline strike.
The video was restored a couple of days later (presumably, the community guideline strike was removed), but this happens way too much on YouTube. Content spreading anti-vaccine misinformation remains widely available, while those debunking this nonsense are penalized by the company’s algorithm and brigading from bad-faith actors.
SorryAntiVaxer.com is a site that tracks stories of anti-vaxxers and anti-vax adjacent individuals who subsequently died from COVID-19. After pursuing the area over a few weeks, I have mixed feelings about it.
On the one hand, the site highlights the deaths of infamous right-wing nutcases who have done significant damage with their anti-vaccination stances.
Bob Enyart, for example, was a far-right radio host personality who used to regularly read obituaries of AIDS victims while playing Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” in the background. Enyart was a vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccination and mask mandates.
For every Bob Enyart, though, there seem to be several cases like that of Melissa Hedge. Hedge was only 30 when she died on Sept. 7, 2021, after being hospitalized with COVID-19 complications.
Hedge had posted on her Facebook account looking for advice on whether or not she should get vaccinated based on her history of “major asthma and breathing issues.”
Unfortunately, the people who responded to her inquiry included people who told her it would be better for her to contract COVID-19 rather than get a vaccine based on a ridiculous misunderstanding of how COVID-19 attacks the immune system.
Reading through the numerous summaries of these deaths offers a fascinating insight into the contours of the anti-vax and vaccine-hesitant movement. It is also sad to contemplate all of these completely unnecessary individual tragedies.
NEW YORK, 1 March 2019 — UNICEF warned today that global cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels, led by ten countries accounting for more than 74 per cent of the total increase, and several others that had previously been declared measles free.
Globally, 98 countries reported more cases of measles in 2018 compared to 2017, eroding progress against this highly preventable, but potentially deadly disease.
Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil saw the largest increases in measles cases from 2017 to 2018. In Ukraine alone, there were 35,120 cases of measles in 2018. According to the government, another 24,042 people were infected just in the first two months of 2019. In the Philippines so far this year, there have been 12,736 measles cases and 203 deaths, compared to 15,599 cases in the whole of 2018.
. . .
Poor health infrastructure, civil strife, low community awareness, complacency and vaccine hesitancy in some cases have led to these outbreaks in both developed and developing countries. For example, in the United States, the number of measles cases increased six-fold between 2017 and 2018, reaching 791 cases. More recently, the U.S. has seen outbreaks in New York and Washington state.
“Almost all of these cases are preventable, and yet children are getting infected even in places where there is simply no excuse,” said Fore. “Measles may be the disease, but, all too often, the real infection is misinformation, mistrust and complacency. We must do more to accurately inform every parent, to help us safely vaccinate every child.”