When To Stop Hoping For a COVID-19 Miracle Cure
This is why it’s not surprising to scientists to find drugs like metformin, ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, or fluoximine that are worth testing out … and why it’s not surprising that there’s no consistent, compelling evidence that they actually work. It’s also why scientists are uncomfortable getting very excited about the results of any single study, let alone a smaller one, with no randomization or placebo. They know the odds and they’ve been burned too many times by false hope.
But what has been surprising to the researchers I spoke to is the extent to which these drugs — and the hope people have put in them — have been politicized. Ivermectin, in particular, has become a bit of a populist, anti-establishment cause celebre. It first started getting attention as a COVID-19 drug in April 2020, after the publication of a study where it seemed to slow the growth of SARS-COV-2 in a test tube. From those humble beginnings, it has been championed by Tucker Carlson, promoted in invited testimony to Congress, and embraced by the governments of Brazil and India. The journalist Matt Taibbi wrote an article promoting the baseless conspiracy theory that ivermectin works but news of it is being censored, because Big Pharma and/or the government doesn’t want you to know about a cheap cure for COVID-19. Some of these boosters have ulterior motives for wanting to believe in the hope of ivermectin. As a guest on Carlson’s show told the audience, if ivermectin cures COVID-19, then nobody would need vaccines.
Yes, Delta Is Serious Business — But The Media Need To Cover It With Context And Nuance
In addition, there’s the resentment we can’t help but feel toward those who resisted masking and are now resisting vaccines. Josh Marshall, writing at Talking Points Memo, put it this way: “Masking is coming back largely because of the actions of the unvaccinated and also largely for the benefit of the unvaccinated [Marshall’s emphasis]. The burden of non-vaccination is being placed on those who are vaccinated. That basic disconnect is our problem.
“That disconnect places no effective pressure on the voluntarily unvaccinated while sowing demoralization and frustration and contempt with public authorities among those who’ve gotten the vaccine,” he continued. “No good comes of that combination.”
So where does that leave us? More than anything, I think the media need to do a better job of communicating risk. Even with Delta, which is far more contagious than the original iteration of COVID-19, the vaccines are highly effective. No one died in the now-infamous Provincetown outbreak, and life there is already returning to normal. As President Joe Biden said recently, what we’re dealing with now is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
There are all kinds of data that show Delta isn’t a problem for people who are vaccinated. For instance, Zeynep Tufekci of the University of North Carolina tweeted on Sunday that just 6,587 have been hospitalized among the 163 million people who’ve been vaccinated. That’s an almost unmeasurable 0.004%.
Young, gifted and seeking mental wellness
Most women, regardless of race, can relate to this experience, because for so many of us, it is the price paid for daring to put ourselves ahead of anyone or anything else. That Biles — one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time — could not escape critics who labeled her anti-American, weak or worse for choosing herself over an institution that has already demonstrated its lack of humanity and grudging respect for her talent, is a signal that it is time for a cultural change.
Biles isn’t the only athlete to have a struggle to find mental wellness breathlessly documented in the media. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who spiraled after a second DUI arrest; Mardy Fish, whose anxiety attacks on the tennis court sidelined his career; and Jerry West, an NBA player who suffered lifelong depression, have all become advocates of mental health by taking charge of their own narratives.
Richard L. Hasen/Slate:
Trump Is Planning a Much More Respectable Coup Next Time
The crude and failed nature of Donald Trump’s attempt to destroy the 2020 election has made it easy to dismiss as overblown concerns about the integrity of the 2024 election too. After all, court after court rejected attempts by Trump and his allies in the aftermath of the November 2020 count to prove that fraud affected the election results. Despite Trump’s attempts to pressure state election officials, governors, state legislators, and officials at the U.S. Department of Justice like Clark to get state legislatures to meet and declare new electoral college votes for him after the presidential vote was certified for Biden in each challenged state, the system (barely) held, and Trump was removed from office on January 20, 2021.
But there has been a subtle shift in how Trump and his allies have talked about the supposed “rigging” of the 2020 election in a way that will make such claims more appealing to the conservative judges and politicians that held the line last time around. Come 2024, crass and boorish unsubstantiated claims of stealing are likely to give way to arcane legal arguments about the awesome power of state legislatures to run elections as they see fit. Forget bonkers accusations about Italy using lasers to manipulate American vote totals and expect white-shoe lawyers with Federalist Society bona fides to argue next time about application of the “independent state legislature” doctrine in an attempt to turn any Republican presidential defeat into victory.
Trump Is Wrong About Congress and His Tax Returns
His presidency is proof that the legislative branch should be a strong check on the White House and that new ethics and disclosure rules are needed.
It may take months for legal filings to wind their way through the court system and for District Court Judge Trevor McFadden to put an end to the legal jousting. But if McFadden’s understanding of this standoff corresponds with the Justice Department’s, it will be a victory for good government. It would also help fortify a push for tighter ethics rules and enhanced disclosure requirements for all presidents.
U.S. conservatives yearn for Orban’s Hungary
Carlson, as my colleague Michael Kranish charted in a probing profile last month, has become the “voice of White grievance” in the United States, the most well-known proponent of a brand of far-right, nativist politics popularized by former president Donald Trump and now pushed further by a coterie of pundits and politicians who are steadily taking hold of the Republican Party. In a departure from the Reaganism of the past, they are virulently anti-immigrant and skeptical of free trade and corporate power (except, of course, when it suits their political interests). They embrace an often religious and implicitly racist brand of nationalism, while waging a relentless culture war against the perceived threats of multiculturalism, feminism, LGBT rights and liberalism writ large.
In Orban, Carlson and his ilk have in recent years found both a kindred spirit and a pioneering champion. The illiberal Hungarian prime minister’s dominance at home — his current spell in office could extend to the better part of two decades if his ruling Fidesz party wins elections next year — is matched by his capacity to antagonize liberals abroad, especially the political elites at the helm of the European Union. Former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon once hailed Orban as “Trump before Trump,” a nod to the Hungarian leader’s ultranationalist bona fides.
People want control over their health care. Vaccine mandates disempower them.
It’s the same reason some gravitate toward ‘natural’ medicine
Disempowerment — and how to deal with it — has been a central theme in my research on people who reject mainstream medicine, including vaccines, and turn instead to “natural” remedies such as vitamin pills and specially prepared homeopathic dilutions. What people are really after with their desire for natural medicine is a way to regain control of their health by empowering themselves, instead of physicians, to protect it.