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.
I ran across Dr. Susan Oliver’s YouTube Channel, Back to the Science when someone posted one of her videos in a skepticism subreddit. One of the more disappointing parts of the pandemic has been that charlatans have proven that misinformation garners enormous audiences. At the same time, someone like Oliver barely gets two thousand subscribers for her level-headed presentation of facts.
Her explanation of the issues surrounding myocarditis as a vaccine side effect is illuminating, as she carefully explains the science and debunks a lot of misinformation that is out there.
This chart shows the effect of vaccination on per capita COVID-19 death rates by age group. According to the CDC, in August 2021, unvaccinated persons had an 11.3X greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals.
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.