Spreading dangerous misinformation
It feels like the Twilight Zone — an alternative universe that I don’t recognise. Up until 2021 I’d always enjoyed listening to other people’s perspectives. Opinions are opinions. But this is different. The self-centred campaign against vaccinations is not only stupid, it’s an act of harm. If you’ve given medical misinformation to someone that you’re not qualified to give and they die, is that manslaughter?
The recent anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests in Australia showed a side of humanity I struggle to understand or relate to. I feel a mixture of anger, frustration and sadness. Thousands of people deny reality and get violent with police horses to protest imaginary things, while the rest of us do what we can to help.
We all want to get through the pandemic quickly and without loss of life. We do what it takes. And it’s not much to wear a mask or contact trace. It’s not much to get a little jab!
However, they are among us. The ironically-named “Voices for Freedom” anti-vaccination campaign is coming to Gisborne this Sunday.
Dr Peter Canaday is a retired radiologist with no training in epidemiology or virology (that I’m aware of) from America who appears to promote vaccine scepticism . . . if I’m being kind.
I urge people to reconsider giving these people a venue. Misinformation kills. I recently read an alarming article which suggests most Covid deaths in America were preventable. If you host this event, does it make you complicit?
We need a well-vaccinated population to avoid what we see in Fiji, India, Brazil, USA, UK, Australia, etc.
Dr Canaday clearly misrepresents the facts. Sometimes a lie can be nothing but missing context. Apparently his “likes” on social media lean to the right. Is there a link between the far right and antivaxxers? Yep.
I was lucky enough to get permission from Thomas Everth to share his writing and very good fact check on Dr Peter Canaday and his dodgy claims (Thomas is a high school teacher of maths, science, physics and earth and space science):
Dr Canaday makes the following false or at least very misleading points:
a) He claims the Pfizer vaccine has not completed clinical trials. That is blatantly false. The phase three trials were completed last year with excellent results.
b) He claims the vaccine is only approved for emergency use in the USA. Yes, that’s true. But we do have a worldwide health emergency that has killed 628,000 Americans so far. If that’s not a worthwhile emergency, what would be? The vaccine has been approved in 94 countries.
c) He cites a sudden rise of reports to the US adverse vaccine reporting database after the Covid vaccine was introduced. In the US alone, 335 million doses of the vaccine have been administered. Firstly to the most vulnerable to Covid, the elderly and those with underlying health issues. If you give 335 million people a glass of water to drink and wait to see what happens, you will sadly find that the normal rate of sudden deaths from cardiac events, strokes etc will not stop for you. Same with the vaccine. And of course, under the circumstances of people being cautious about the new vaccines, a high rate of reporting happens. Dr Canaday admits he has no evidence the reported deaths are caused by the vaccine, yet he induces the idea they could be into the gullible minds of his audience, most of whom have no clue about statistics.
d) He Gish gallops about the doctors in NZ that administer vaccinations not talking about possible side effects, yet admits freely that he hasn’t even looked at the material about the vaccine that doctors use to inform their patients because “he is not working in that field and is retired”. Yet he conjures up the idea that patients are not informed. What a hoot!
e) He claims the risk of getting Covid is low and that therefore the 95 percent-effective vaccine is making a small risk smaller and it’s therefore perhaps not necessary to take. Yet he later rambles on about the USA already nearing “natural” herd immunity because most people would have had it. So what is it then?
Fact: Especially with the highly-infectious Delta variant, the probability of getting Covid eventually is very high; and the risk of getting serious Covid is high for a very large number of people. We have to rely on the vaccine to get us the immunity we need to eventually reopen our borders.
f) He claims that “good” immunity, vitamins, hydroxychloroquine and so forth can help. Good immunity is certainly helpful, but the Sars-CoV-2 virus is a nasty beast and many healthy and young people have died from the disease or developed long-lasting disabilities. After studies with thousands of patients, it is clear that hydroxychloroquine is not helpful.
Vaccinating the vast majority of our population as soon as possible is the best way forward for our nation. Sadly this misinformation by Dr Canaday is likely to cause death among some of the vulnerable population whom he talks out of getting the shot, and those who they then also infect.
Dr Canaday will hopefully be held responsible for his actions. Even though this Dr is retired, he is still bound by the Hippocratic oath he once had to take and the fact he is medically trained should count as evidence against him, as he cannot claim ignorance.