Cut chef, debunked myth, misplaced fear, and more…


Pete Evans: why did it take so long for companies to cut ties with the celebrity chef? “Companies have severed ties with Evans after he posted a neo-Nazi symbol, but sharing health misinformation can cause real damage too. It should not require a final act of something deeply offensive for publishers, broadcasters, retailers even us as consumers to cut ties with people who may endanger their followers.”

Australian coronavirus expert debunks biggest COVID-19 vaccination myth: It’s one of the biggest arguments against the pending coronavirus vaccine – but an Aussie medical expert has just torn it to shreds. Why I am not concerned about SARS-CoV-2 vaccines being ‘rushed’. They are still subject to the same evidence-based safety standards as any vaccine would through clinical trials with the same endpoints, but enormous investment means production is being scaled up before trials are completed, and increased regulatory power means this evidence will be reviewed as a priority to approve these candidates quickly.

“Vaccines “normally take 10 years”?  From Mark R Toshner, a clinical trials doctor: “This is being used as a reason to be fearful (ie rushed job). I can tell you most of that time is spent doing…. nothing. It’s spent submitting funding requests, then resubmitting them, then waiting, then submitting them somewhere else, then getting the money but the company changes its mind or focus, then renegotiating then submitting ethics, then waiting for regulators… then having problems with recruitment and having to open other sites, then dealing with more regulatory issues, then finally when you eventually get to the end of all of this you might have a therapy… or not. At this point it may not be deemed profitable or any number of other obstacles. However we have collectively now shown that with money no object, some clever and highly motivated people, an unlimited pool of altruistic volunteers and sensible regulators, that we can do amazing things (necessity being the mother etc). 

These trials have been nothing short of miraculous, revolutionary but in the context perhaps it is not surprising given our ability to innovate when we REALLY need to…and we really needed to. Safety hasn’t been compromised. 100s of thousands of great people volunteered for experimental vaccines. The world watched closely. The press reported every serious adverse event. There have so far been a handful. A triumph of good people/good process. I am confident that when regulators and scientists pour over the safety data (and we will because we are a bit that way inclined) that vaccines will only be used if we are confident that the risk is definitively outweighed by benefit. This should give you confidence too.”

“95% effective” COVID-19 vaccines – let’s be cautious and first see the full data: Only full transparency and rigorous scrutiny of the data will allow for informed decision making, argues Peter Doshi, associate editor, British Medical Journal. “There may be much more complexity to the “95% effective” announcement than meets the eye—or perhaps not. Only full transparency and rigorous scrutiny of the data will allow for informed decision making. The data must be made public.”

Great Moments in Health and Science 

Who invented the syringe needle? Safer, cleaner and more effective than alternatives like sharpened goose quills, modern needles and syringes are used to save lives from insulin-injections for diabetics, through to cannulation in the emergency department and operating theatre.