Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Skeptical Professor Exonerated After Being Accused of 'Unethical Practices' in Famous COVID Vaccine Study

The vaccine establishment applied irrelevant standards to his work in their zeal to discredit it

A professor from the Michigan State University (MSU) has been exonerated from charges of “unethical practices” related to a study claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines may have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States.

In January, Dr. Mark Skidmore, a professor at the MSU’s Department of Economics with over 90 published papers, published a study in the BMC Infectious Disease, which suggested that the total number of COVID-19 vaccine fatalities in the United States could be “as high as 278,000.”

It soon came under criticism and Dr. Skidmore was accused of using “unethical practices” in the study. Subsequently, the journal retracted the research.

Following a seven-month ethics investigation by the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), Dr. Skidmore has now been cleared of any wrongdoing. The board stated that they did not find any “noncompliance” to their protocols by the study, according to an Oct. 17 press release by the Christian ministry Liberty Counsel.

The complaints against Dr. Skidmore alleged he did not follow rigorous oversight procedures that are mandated for clinical studies. If the university were to find him “guilty,” it would have had serious consequences for Dr. Skidmore’s credibility and career.

This is because clinical studies involving human subjects have strict protocols to ensure that no harm comes to the participants. As such, any fault in this regard would be a significant blemish on the reputation of the researchers.

The university’s IRB found that Dr. Skidmore’s study did not involve any clinical work. Instead, it relied only on an online survey, which posed no risk to human participants. The IRB therefore deemed the study to be “exempt” from the protocols of clinical study and cleared it to proceed.

“The allegations against Dr. Mark Skidmore were baseless,” Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said. “Researchers with integrity like Dr. Skidmore are using rigorous scientific protocols to validate the dangers of the COVID-19 shots.”

“Censoring scientific debate is reprehensible and our researchers need to be free to conduct proper science without fear of later being the subject of an ethics investigation because their findings contradict a certain narrative.”

Top Research Paper

While Dr. Skidmore’s study at the BMC Infectious Disease journal remains retracted, an updated version was recently published in the Science, Public Health Policy & the Law journal.

The study involved an online survey completed by 2,840 participants between Dec. 18 and Dec. 23, 2021, which collected data on COVID-19 health experiences. “The primary aim of this work is to identify factors associated by American citizens with the decision to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” it read.

The survey collected information on why respondents chose to take COVID-19 vaccinations or refused to do so. It also collected details on respondents’ experiences with COVID-19 illnesses and inoculations. With regard to COVID-19 vaccines, the survey found that:

Respondents that knew someone who had experienced a health problem following vaccination were less likely to be vaccinated.

Out of the 2,840 participants, 612 (22 percent) said they knew at least one individual who experienced a health problem after taking a COVID-19 shot.

Dr. Skidmore extrapolated the numbers from the survey to the national level to estimate that COVID-19 vaccine fatalities in America could be as around 289,789. The COVID-19 vaccine fatality number in the revised study published in the Science, Public Health Policy & the Law journal is higher than the original study by 11,789 deaths.

According to the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, Dr. Skidmore’s original study was retracted after “concerns were raised regarding the validity of the conclusions drawn after publication.”

A peer review of the study conducted after publication found that “the methodology was inappropriate as it does not prove causal inference of mortality, and limitations of the study were not adequately described.”

Despite being retracted, the study remains in the top 1 percent of shared research worldwide, according to data science firm Altmetric. The study is ranked number one among all outputs from BMC Infectious Diseases tracked by Altmetric.

In April, Dr. Skidmore claimed that the study at BMC Infectious Diseases journal went viral on social media and reached up to 17 million Twitter users prior to being retracted.

He attributed the vast exposure of the study to two factors. “First, the finding resonated with many who have loved ones who they believe experienced harm from the COVID-19 vaccine. Second, for a variety of reasons, many were angered by the study,” he said.

Other studies have also found links between COVID-19 vaccines and excess deaths. A March report from global macro-investment firm Phinance Technologies calculated that COVID-19 vaccines resulted in around 310,000 excess deaths in the United States.

Some studies have reported otherwise. A study from The Commonwealth Fund estimated that 2 million deaths were prevented in the United States through March 2022 due to COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Another serious concern regarding the vaccine is the persistence of spike proteins for a prolonged period of time after the vaccination.

Even though the CDC claims that mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines is “broken down within a few days after vaccination and doesn’t last long in the body,” recent research reveals that spike proteins are retained in the biological fluids of people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine six months after vaccination.


More Research Refutes Efficacy of Masks Against COVID-19

As flu—and coronavirus—season approaches, Dr. Anthony Fauci is again saying that wearing face masks protects individuals from spreading the coronavirus.

Some colleges and hospitals are reinstating mask mandates.

Politics and the fear of coronavirus may have held sway the past few years, but common sense and rational science need to prevail now. Masks are ineffective, and mask mandates are unnecessary.

We offer several explanations from our National Association of Scholars report and peer-reviewed study to refute doomsayers’ warnings about the effectiveness of wearing masks.

Viruses Go Around, Through Masks

Coronaviruses are very small, with a size range of 0.06 to 0.16 micron. For perspective, 1,000 microns equals 1 millimeter. Respiratory viruses like the coronavirus are transmitted through secretion fluids during breathing in the form of small aerosols (less than 5 microns in size) or larger droplets (greater than 5 microns in size), rather than isolated viruses.

When viral-infected humans breathe, talk, eat, cough or sneeze, they emit aerosols and droplets containing viruses.

Aerosols emitted from simple breathing are small (size range 0.2 to 0.6 micron), and once emitted can be present in an enclosed setting for several hours. A person showing no symptoms of viral infection does not cough and sneeze, and therefore they do not emit large droplets.

Aerosols less than 0.5 micron are not easily filtered out of air by any physical mechanism. The openings in medical masks range from 0.3 to 10 microns in size. The latter dimension is much larger than small aerosols emitted from an infected person.

Now, there are a couple of ways in which virus-laden aerosols can infect a person wearing a mask when the aerosols are present in their breathing zone. One way is aerosol penetration through the mask during breathing because mask openings are too large.

A second way is breathing air containing aerosols from the side of a mask due to incorrect wear, increased mask resistance, or poor string tension. A mask wearer breathes out moist air, which increases mask resistance by plugging up the openings. Simple breathing has been shown to emit up to 7,200 aerosols per liter of exhaled air. While this can reduce aerosol penetration through a mask, it worsens the problem of inhaling virus-laden aerosols from the side of the mask.

Controlled Trials Show Masks Not Effective

The leading Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews published a review in 2020 and a reanalysis in 2023 of human controlled trials using masks to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.

Both of these studies concluded that it is uncertain whether wearing masks help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses. Outside of the Cochrane organization’s influence, one of the senior authors of both studies (Jefferson) was more to the point: “There is just no evidence that [masks] make any difference. Full stop.”

Jefferson’s findings are consistent with viral transmission basics. Is he right? To answer this, we independently evaluated his data used in the 2020 review using a novel statistical p-value plot.

A p-value plot is used to visually inspect characteristics of a set of test statistics addressing the same research claim; for example, do masks make any difference? The plot is well-respected, being cited more than 500 times in the literature. The plot examined whether p-values support no association (randomness) or a real association between community mask use and viral infections.

Jefferson’s 2020 review looked at 15 separate community (that is, non-health care worker) controlled trials comparing medical masks to no masks. We took the results from these 15 trials—risk ratios and confidence intervals—and converted them to p-values.

If p-values approximately follow a line with a flat/shallow slope, where most of the p-values are small (less than 0.05), then the set of p-values provides evidence for a real association; that is, masks work.

The p-value plot of the 15 controlled trials clearly shows p-values aligned approximately 45 degrees, indicating randomness. This is consistent with what Jefferson found: Masks don’t work.

A Natural Experiment Shows Ineffectiveness

A final explanation is a natural experiment of World Health Organization-reported daily new COVID-19 deaths in Germany and Sweden during the second wave (October 2020 through July 2021). At the time, Germany had a mask mandate, whereas Sweden did not, as they followed a strategy to let herd immunity develop naturally.

Many factors contribute to mortality risk. Numerous influences may be at play in the airborne respiratory virus-mortality chain across populations; for example, access to health care, health status, lifestyle, standard of living, etc., which complicates efforts to draw conclusions from observational data.

However, Germany and Sweden are members of the European Union with similar national health policies. Both should have had similar capacities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, in 2020, Germany and Sweden ranked closely in the top 10 countries of the world with the United Nations Human Development Index: Germany sixth and Sweden seventh. So, comparing the two should control for many factors affecting mortality.

Moreover, mask wearing was very dissimilar in the two countries. Survey data on mask compliance during the pandemic was captured in many countries by the University of Maryland Social Data Science Center and Facebook. Using these data, we observed that monthly average mask compliance in Germany was never less than 80%, whereas in Sweden it was never more than 21%, during the second wave.

Those figures shows that mask use had little or no benefit in preventing COVID-19 deaths in Germany and Sweden during the second wave. Despite similar health care capacities, similar Human Development Index measures, and obvious differences in mask compliance for the two countries, daily COVID-19 deaths per million population were not much different.

Policymakers Should Learn From Experience

It is the obligation of those espousing a theory to provide solid supporting evidence. Undoubtedly, more studies on the medical maskrespiratory virus infection research question, including COVID-19, will be presented in literature in the coming years as those in favor of mask mandates look for empirical support.

However, the evidence to date offers no support for mask mandates.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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