Trials, bleach, superspreaders, and more…

FSM News and Articles

Loretta Marron reviews “Don’t believe what you think” by Edzard Ernst: Edzard Ernst’s new book addresses commonly held beliefs about ‘so-called complementary medicines (SCAM)’, and can act as a useful guide to making better healthcare choices and improving your critical thinking skills.

Notice of filing and hearing: The TGA is seeking injunctions to prevent further advertising of Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS, aka bleach) after the church refused to comply with TGA directions, instead trying claim religious freedom. MMS Australia sells the bleach solution, and encourages people to take it to cure various conditions ranging from COVID-19 to sexual dis-function, but this product is not a registered therapeutic product. Rather than complying with previous TGA directions, MMS Australia simply added a login step that forces viewers to agree that they will not give complaint or notice to authorities. This is clearly an effort to sidestep the law, and this tactic was specifically addressed.


Coronavirus vaccine trials – updating current studies across the world: This a rather exhaustive article on the development of COVID-19 vaccines by companies and labs around the world. The level of detail of all of these trials might be daunting, but for those interested in vaccine development and trials this could prove of interest. Multiple approaches are being pursued for the development of a vaccine and the size, structure and timing of the trials gives an insight into the usefulness liekly to be derived from each approach. Long story short, don’t expect to see a vaccine fully tested for safety and effectiveness by year’s end. It simply takes longer than that.

Beijing is promoting traditional medicine as a ‘Chinese solution’ to coronavirus. Not everyone is on board: You must expect that people will proffer cures and preventatives when faced with a major health crisis. Naturally, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) will end up front and centre in the coronavirus pandemic. One, because the virus originated in China and two, because TCM has always been touted as good for what ails you.

Regardless of how you feel about TCM and so-called “Western medicine”, it would be nice to see some actual evidence of efficacy for a treatment and with TCM, that is terribly elusive. It would be better to await trial evidence for a coronavirus treatment than to put faith in a bag of herbs with unsupported claims of boosting immune function and detoxifying the body.

Donald Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off COVID-19. Is that wise? Although many clinical trials are under way, there is still not enough evidence chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will be useful against COVID-19. The few trials completed and published so far, despite claiming positive outcomes, have been either small and poorly controlled or lacking in detail. A recent hydroxychloroquine trial in China showed no significant benefits for COVID-19 patients’ recovery rate. A French hydroxychloroquine trial was similarly discouraging, with eight patients prematurely discontinuing the treatment after heart complications.

The fascination with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine has also adversely affected other drug trials. Clinical trials of other possible COVID-19 treatments, including HIV drugs and antidepressants, have seen reduced enrolments. Needless to say, in a pandemic we should not be putting all our eggs in one basket. Then there is the issue of chloroquine hoarding, which not only encourages dangerous self-medication, but also puts malaria patients at greater risk. With malaria transmission season looming in some countries, the anticipated shortage of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will severely impact current malaria control efforts.

‘Slap them down’ or hear them out – How to handle misinformation ‘superspreaders’:  “At a time when trust in science and gratitude for modern medicine should be high, it’s been terrifying to watch traction gained recently by vaccination conspiracy theorists, some with (opportunistic) Australian celebrity support”.

‘United we stand’ – Controversial celebrity chef Pete Evans backs ridiculous protest against vaccines and 5G towers as hundreds break lockdown laws by taking to the streets in Sydney and Melbourne: “Protesters claiming the COVID-19 pandemic was a ‘scam’ gathered at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday, and carried signs declaring they were against vaccines and 5G technology. Their placards stated ‘5G = communism’, ‘COVID 1984’ and ‘our ignorance is their strength’.”

Great Moments in Health and Science 

How the Jaws of Life work: For someone in a motor vehicle accident to be medically stabilised and brought to hospital first requires that they are able to be safely and efficiently removed from their vehicle.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Just Asking Questions (aka ‘JAQing off’) – The problem with “just asking questions”:  When science denialists want to denigrate conventional medicine or ideas, they will often start asking ‘tough’ questions point blank. You will often see this with anti-vaxxers, COVID-19 deniers, and conspiracy theorist in general. Often these questions will just be left hanging as an implied claim. If challenged, the denier will not defend their claims, but will say “I’m just asking questions!!” (or even “Do your own research!”). This is known as the “Just Asking Questions” fallacy and is a common manipulation technique. If one is dealing with opponents to Evidence Based Medicine, one should recognise JAQing off for what it is, a distraction technique. So rather than trying to answer unreasonable questions, you could point out what is wrong with the approach in general.