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Debunked theory that COVID vaccine harms MDs persists

On the third Sunday in July, a Toronto ear specialist and devoted father of three died after a “ridiculously unfair” bout of lung cancer, according to his obituary.

The next day, a longtime neurologist who loved literature, classical music, and the outdoors also died of cancer. His third doctor, who died that week, reportedly had a passion for pain medication and had just welcomed a son when he died of advanced stomach cancer.

All three worked for Trillium Health Partners, a hospital system in Mississauga and Etobicoke. The company issued a statement online in “deep grief” mourning three colleagues at the same time. But, in an unusual move, the statement went a step further, stating that “the rumors circulating on social media are completely untrue.”

“Their deaths were not related to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Summer’s string of deaths helped ignite what is now on fire, with a conspiracy theory selling online lists of dozens of doctors, including three who died in July.105 A doctor who drowned while cycling for a kilometer and died while descending K2, a mountain more dangerous than Everest.

Liszt infuriated many of his surviving family members and colleagues. It also shows how difficult it is to quell misinformation in the pockets of the Internet, which is thinly regulated and rife with bad actors.

“It’s in my social media feeds almost every day, if not every day. Harassing mailers are emailing me,” said the Canadian research chair for health, law and policy at the University of Alberta, who was accused of misinformation. says Tim Caulfield, who is working on it.

“One of the fascinating things is, ‘No, this is wrong. this It’s actually how these individuals died. But that didn’t kill the story.

“It’s amazing that it hasn’t died, and it’s amazing that it continues to have an impact.”

Days after the three died, a widely shared Facebook post featured a photo of the doctor begging people to help spread the message of warning. Staff” is written.

“How many more “coincidences” will people accept? These shots must be pulled. ”

Versions of that same message — some identical, others worded differently, but reflecting conspiracy theories that death was more than just a coincidence — flooded social media.

To clarify, experts are united in the fact that this is a conspiracy theory. Causes of death were well documented by family members in news stories and obituaries. does not match what we know about vaccine side effects.

Millions of COVID vaccines have been administered in Canada and billions worldwide. Studies have shown that the shots are overwhelmingly safe and effective, and that serious side effects are very rare. 50 post-vaccination deaths are under investigation at the federal level.

Yet, in late July and early August, conspiracy theories became so prevalent that media organizations stepped in to debunk them by pointing out the real reason these doctors died. This includes American outlets such as USA Today and international telecommunications service Reuters.

Providing reliable information to counter conspiracy theories is still important to genuine information seekers, says Corfield, even if they don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories.

But debunking doesn’t necessarily upset people who are already on misinformation, he points out.

Conspiracy theories are becoming more and more self-sealing, he says. Attempts to correct them only strengthen them for the core believer. It’s just more proof that it’s corrupt, he says.

Dr. Michelle Cohen, a family physician in Brighton, Ontario, said the fact that the doctor’s death meshed so well with other myths about the health care system makes this a particularly powerful misinformation.

If you already believe doctors are lying about the safety of vaccines, she claims there is a “dark delight” in the idea that the same health care providers are being harmed.

“Also, when we see doctors as victims of our own arrogance, or victims of the system (people wonder), how can the rest of us meet the challenges of these dark globalist forces? or,” she adds.

The fact that major digital companies are getting serious about quashing disinformation has changed things when it comes to conspiracy theories. , which presents a menu of fact-checking stories for the virus theory, has inspired some of these ideas to lesser-known corners of the internet and the creation of new disguises.

Anti-vaccine messages can be more easily found on new platforms such as Telegram, TikTok and Gettr.

Some users also remain on Facebook struggling to evade efforts to eradicate misinformation. The doctor’s death, for example, piggybacks on existing conspiracy theories that anyone who died suddenly could have been a victim of vaccines, Cohen says.

There are Facebook groups devoted to this idea, many of which have been created or expanded in recent months, but they use coded language to disguise their intentions and use vaccine euphemisms such as cupcakes and juice. using.

One such closed group, Did Sudden Worldwide, was created at the end of August and now has over 20,000 members discussing why people in the know think they’ve been harmed by the vaccine. The rules even include that members must use different code words. (At least he seems confused by one member, wondering in a recent post why everyone can’t pick one term for her and stick to it.

However, the idea that the doctor is dead is also backed by prominent figures, including some outside the country.

In August, the American tech billionaire turned anti-vaccine advocate wrote about “14 young Canadian doctors” who died after being vaccinated. increase.)

A few weeks later, a video by American radio personality Stew Peters claimed that “hundreds” of Canadian doctors had died. Read viewed posts.

Peters has a movie out later this month that claims to investigate all people who have died after being vaccinated. It includes clips of pop artist Justin Bieber, who recently suffered from facial paralysis, and Katy Perry, who recently described her on-stage spasms. as her “broken doll eye party trick”.

This fall, William Makis, a doctor in Alberta who no longer practices, held the torch once again. He claimed he used obituaries to determine that more doctors were dying from the COVID vaccine, and asked the Canadian Medical Association to investigate.

“There is no evidence to confirm or support the various theories that have been circulated,” the CMA said in an email.

The organization is “concerned by the misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating online about the recent death of a doctor across the country.

Yet anti-vaccine publications such as The Epoch Times, Bright Light News, and Western Standard pick up the story.

According to a recent Epoch Times article (an anti-Chinese publication related to Falun Gong), Maquis refused to provide the full database, but based on notes on deaths on websites of medical associations, including the Canadian Medical Association, I did the math.

After spending more than two years fighting the pandemic, Cohen said it was hard to see his colleagues being used to discredit a life-saving medical intervention. As misinformation about COVID continues to circulate, it’s especially hard for doctors to see what they’ve targeted themselves.

“Do you mean taking pictures and words about someone’s life that the bereaved family submits to an obituary service to remember the deceased? And then spits it all over all these disinformation networks?

“I absolutely hate it.”

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Debunked theory that COVID vaccine harms MDs persists

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