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Some think I’ve lost my ability to see “what’s really going on.”

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Item:  A new study shows the highest rate of “long COVID” is found in West Virginia. Aside from being one of the poorest and least educated states, it is also home to some of the staunchest resistance to government-recommended vaccine and treatment approaches. 

Some longtime readers of mine have been writing to me over the past several years, questioning my take on vaccines, urging me to read various things they sent my way, and promoting alternative approaches to vaccines and to the treatments recommended by most medical experts. In particular, they share claims and reports they find persuasive that claim we’re being lied to about the safety and effectiveness of evolving immunization policy. 

Although some of these folks have known and trusted me, my work, and my judgment for a very long time, things have changed and they now insist that I’ve lost my ability to see “what is really going on.” 

With COVID-19 playing its long-running game, and with the latest incarnation again wreaking havoc — albeit in a much less scary manifestation — this seems a good time to address some of these lingering questions and claims. 

First, let me say what I so often have said: I am not a medical expert or a scientist, and I do not personally have the expertise to assess everything I am seeing. 

And yet, with many of the things I’ve seen or been sent about the COVID-19 issue, I have been able to apply logic, common sense, and traditional journalistic rigor. And so I could pretty quickly see what thin ice Bobby Kennedy Jr. and his anti-vax coterie were on. 

All one had to do was read some claim, and then seek to verify whether what they said was correct, substantiated, credible, to discover that it was not. 

Diabolical Deceptions

One reader asked about a report asserting that “thousands of young people” had died from the COVID vaccine. As far as I can tell, the primary “news source” on that was this story that went viral after appearing in The Exposé, a UK-based website: 

CDC quietly confirms at least 118K Children & Young Adults have ‘Died Suddenly’ in the USA since the roll-out of the COVID Vaccines.

Except that the CDC never “confirmed” the story — quietly or otherwise. Quite the opposite. 

In fact, its spokesperson claimed that confirmed reports of deaths caused by vaccination are extremely rare

The CDC also said: 

The excess deaths are largely explained by increases in COVID-19 mortality and other leading causes of death associated either directly or indirectly with the pandemic. Other leading causes of death for which we see excess deaths include influenza and pneumonia, circulatory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia and diabetes.

When I looked at The Exposé, which I had not heard of, I found global warming denialism, promotion of untested alternative medicine, Russian conspiracy propaganda — and, as noted above, anti-vaccine propaganda.

Here’s another whopper from The Exposé that went viral:

Shocking Report: U.S. Government Data Reveals a Staggering 143,233% Surge in Fatal Cancer Cases Linked to COVID Vaccinations

The “staggering” surge is based on a misinterpretation — or deceptive manipulation — of the government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). That organization makes its limitations clear:

When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.

In other words, it’s just an early warning system. Health care professionals are required to report certain events that seem related to the vaccine — but anyone at all, no matter how uncredentialed, can report any event following a vaccination. Later, these events are documented and their causes studied.

This means that, if your 90-year-old aunt dropped dead of a heart attack weeks after a COVID-19 shot, you could have her death added to VAERS.  

One person reported to VAERS that after getting his annual flu shot, “his muscles began to grow in size, his skin became green, and he turned into the Incredible Hulk.”

Many other false claims have circulated — of thousands of people suffering from bad side effects and even dying as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This story reveals the deep faith anti-vaccine promoters have in the public’s inability to verify much of anything.  

Related: How Musk Sold MAGA on HCQ — and Opened the COVID-19 Disinformation Floodgates

Pro-Ivermectin Propaganda

The same people who try to discredit vaccines also promote ineffectual alternative medicines such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine (because of space limitations, I’m focusing on ivermectin only).  

According to the vast majority of articles in peer-reviewed journals, ivermectin does not work. I put together just a few of the most recent articles below. They show that ivermectin neither prevents nor successfully treats COVID-19 — not even the milder cases. Not even with higher doses of it. 

If you read the details of these and other studies, you will see that the authors appear to have thoroughly examined every possible way for ivermectin to work, and their methods are completely transparent. 

This habit of open-minded and scientifically oriented people is almost completely absent from pro-ivermectin and anti-vax literature.

Ivermectin is not only ineffective: It can sometimes be toxic. But even when not toxic, its use against COVID-19 is far from benign and raises two other serious safety issues that can cause great harm, even fatalities: (1) By depending on ivermectin instead of vaccines, people are left vulnerable to COVID-19, and all the harm it brings (including potentially devastating “long COVID”); and (2) People who mistakenly believe they have COVID-19 may subject themselves to Ivermectin when what they really need, for example, is an antibiotic for a strep throat. 

Most people — including people I know — are utterly well meaning in buying into the nonsense. But what about those selling the con? Why do people who clearly should know better — and quite possibly do know better — continue to make false claims about ivermectin? 

It is a lucrative pursuit: Millions of dollars are being made from selling ivermectin (and hydroxychloroquine) — by the same people who accuse pro-vaccine doctors and pharmaceutical companies of being all about the money. And seemingly most of the doctors and media involved in its promotion hold right-wing political views. Reckless and polarizing figures like the radio host Alex “nobody died at Sandy Hook” Jones have long relied on ads with false and alarming “warnings” and “medical” products that do not work or may be harmful. 

Meanwhile, the handful of people with medical credentials of some sort who are making big names for themselves — and in many cases, big money — for their outsized role in peddling terrible advice, have not as yet faced serious professional repercussions. But at least 20 doctors who jeopardized the lives of their patients by following that terrible advice have been penalized, and some have lost their licenses.

“Why Should Others Care If I Am Not Vaccinated”

I have been asked whether anyone has a right to tell another person to get vaccinated — “if I choose to risk getting COVID-19, why is that anyone else’s business?” I’ve also been reminded that vaccinated people can still get COVID-19. And pass it on. (And some readers insist that vaccines are not at all safe. But a very recent worldwide study — involving 99 million people — concluded, ultimately, that, for most people, getting vaccinated is still safer than not getting it.) 

Here are a few more thoughts on those related issues: 

  • To be sure, vaccinated people can still get the virus and can still spread it — but most develop mild cases, and won’t usually need hospitalization. And if people who are vaccinated pass it on to other people who are also vaccinated, well, that’s a lot better than the alternative. 
  • It is essential not to forget that before the COVID-19 vaccine was released, COVID-19 cases were horrific. They filled up ICUs for long periods, huge numbers died, and our entire system and society seemed on the verge of collapse. There were so many bodies — hospital storage spaces were filled to capacity and funeral homes were backed up. Outside hospitals, workers in hazmat gear used forklifts to stack bodies in refrigerated trucks (FEMA sent 85 to New York City alone.)
  • Because hospitals were so full of COVID-19 patients, ambulances containing people with other life-threatening conditions — heart attacks, auto accidents, illnesses of any kind — had to be turned away. That spiked mortality rates, probably of both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Also those hospitalized with other conditions were sometimes then exposed to COVID-19. 
  • By keeping yourself safe from bad COVID-19, you help avoid overloading hospitals.
  • In areas where anti-vaccine hysteria is high, we’re seeing cases where unvaccinated children are passing measles and other diseases to their classmates.  

That’s just a random sampling of what are surely dozens and dozens of reasons that everyone should get vaccinated. Let’s stop believing charlatans and get healthy again. 

# #

For readers interested in more on Ivermectin, below are some studies on it. 

Sample of Studies

“Outpatient treatment of COVID-19 and incidence of post-COVID-19 condition over 10 months (COVID-OUT): a multicentre, randomized, quadruple-blind, parallel-group, phase 3 trial.” [ivermectin, fluvoxamine, metformin] Lancet Infect Dis. 2023 Oct; 23(10): 1119-1129)

There was no effect on cumulative incidence of long COVID with ivermectin … or fluvoxamine…  compared with placebo… metformin reduced long COVID incidence by about 41 percent… compared with placebo. Metformin has clinical benefits when used as outpatient treatment for COVID-19 and is globally available, low-cost, and safe.

“Ivermectin’s Role in the Prevention of COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”  J Clin Pharmacol 2023 Mar;63(3):288-297

In summary, prophylactic ivermectin did not prevent COVID-19 in the postexposure population. Although the protective effect of ivermectin was shown in the overall and preexposure populations, the results were unreliable owing to poor-quality evidence.

“Effect of Higher-Dose Ivermectin for 6 Days vs Placebo on Time to Sustained Recovery in Outpatients With COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA 2023 Mar 21;329(11):888-897):

Among outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19, treatment with ivermectin, with a maximum targeted dose of 600 μg/kg daily for 6 days, compared with placebo did not improve time to sustained recovery. These findings do not support the use of ivermectin in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.

“Effect of Early Treatment with Ivermectin Among Patients with Covid-19.”  N Engl J Med. 2022 May 5;386(18):1721-1731.

Treatment with ivermectin did not result in a lower incidence of medical admission to a hospital due to progression of Covid-19 or of prolonged emergency department observation among outpatients with an early diagnosis of Covid-19. 

“Effect of Ivermectin vs Placebo on Time to Sustained Recovery in Outpatients With Mild to Moderate COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial.”  JAMA. 2022 Oct 25;328(16):1595-1603.

These findings do not support the use of ivermectin in outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19.


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  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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