Pandemics, vaccines, pseudoscience and more…

FSM News and Articles

Aussie doctor pushes for free flu vaccine:  “UNSW immunologist [and FSM Co-founder] Professor John Dwyer tells Ben Fordham we will need to take strict measures when it comes to public transport and that the flu vaccine should be made free this year.” While everyone is focused on the immediate threat of coronavirus, it is also important to limit the effect of OTHER threats that could help to overwhelm the healthcare system. Free flu vaccines could help reduce the season demand for hospital beds, and leave more space for covid patients.

FSM Friend’s News and Articles

COVID-19 update – What you need to know now that it’s officially a pandemic: On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 to be a pandemic. The causative virus, SARS-CoV-2 is spreading through the population. What can be done? Social distancing is the only hope of slowing down spread of the disease.

Lori Matheson refuses vaccines for child – Michigan Supreme Court disagrees: This article is rather long-winded and includes some serious legalese but it can be summarised as follows. From a legal standpoint, it was in the child’s best interest for her to be immunised. No credible evidence had been presented to show vaccines cause injury and the expert witness was found to lack expertise in the field of studying vaccine injury. Lori lost the court case, appealed and lost then sent it on to the Michigan Supreme Court, who refused to hear the case. The four year old little girl has commenced immunisation for preventable diseases.


Coronavirus is stressful. Here are some ways to cope with the anxiety: It is normal to be stressed or anxious in such an uncertain time – and many people will have to take active measures to reduce their stress. It’s important to talk about these feelings with friends and family, and reassure children, who may not have effective coping mechanisms. You can also manage stress by taking time to do things you enjoy (even while isolated), and trying to keep normal routines. Try to avoid reading fear mongering articles (this might mean avoiding Facebook!) Try to limit your exposure to coronavirus talk to a few trusted news sources (the ABC Coronacast is a quick daily update that you can listen to for free – and avoid getting lost in the dreaded Facebook comments section).

Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak: This is such an intense time and even many healthcare workers are feeling it. It’s getting to me. I wonder who else it’s getting to. I’ve been trying to maintain exercise during this time, even with home weights, while I’ve been distancing myself from others socially. I’ve been thinking of having virtual dinners with people – i.e. make dinner and enjoy it over Skype with those I can’t currently contact due to their vulnerabilities. Beyond Blue has some good advice on maintaining good mental health during this weird period. In a nutshell:
• Try to maintain perspective: there are thousands of experts working on this. Scientists, epidemiologists and healthcare workers in the community and hospital.
• Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage – maybe consider your social media usage? Is it affecting your mental health?
• Access good quality information: WHO,, CDC.
• Try not to make assumptions – COVID-19 does not discriminate based on nationality or ethnicity; you shouldn’t either.
• Seek support – the Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.

Two emergency room doctors are in critical condition with coronavirus:  Many thanks to all who are working hard to contain this. General practitioners, emergency staff, public health staff, epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, research scientists, community nursing, infectious disease staff, intensivists, anaesthetists, respiratory physicians and more.

China coronavirus expert removed for rejecting Chinese herbal therapy: “Soon after the SARS hero’s outspoken remarks against Chinese herbal therapy, the NHFPC immediately dismissed him as the team leader.”

Should I test my gut microbes to improve my health? Scientists are still scratching the surface of what constitutes a healthy gut microbiome – don’t expect companies screening your microbiome to be able to tell you anything useful about your health.

Great Moments in Health and Science 

The development of the cervical collar – What is a cervical collar used for and are there side effects Although used in many circumstances, the cervical collar is particularly important in trauma, such as car accidents, where patients need to be moved but could risk exacerbating spinal damage if their neck movement is not stabilised. A cervical collar, also known as a C-collar, neck brace, or neck support collar, is used to support and protect your neck. It may be used for neck pain, injuries, fractures, or surgery. Learn about the side effects and how to wear a cervical collar.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Alternative medical information: “Nothing highlights the absurdity and potential harm of alternative medicine like a global public health crisis.” There has been an incredible amount of misinformation about the coronavirus, and much of this flows from the alternative medicine community who uses the fear to sell more product. Naturopaths recommend supplements to prevent, Homeopaths claim to have cures; aromatherapists push “antiviral essential oils”; chiropractors claim to “boost immune function 200%” (what does that even mean?). The misleading advice and health rumours have directly killed people, and will indirectly kill many more. Thankfully governments are cracking down during the pandemic.

But, unfortunately, this is exactly what the tolerance of pseudoscience produces. When we enable alternative practitioners by “integrating” them into our publicly funded medical schools, universities and healthcare systems, we send the message to the public that their practices are legitimate. Why are “false and misleading statements” – the language used by CAND – problematic in the context of coronavirus but okay for many of the other treatments marketed, often for serious health conditions, by naturopaths? Let’s be honest: false, misleading and unscientific is the norm for much of the rhetoric surrounding alternative practices. If we are stopping it in the context of coronavirus, why not stop it all?