Writer Alex Berenson recently tweeted out the following about Covid-19 vaccines: “don’t think of it as a vaccine.”
OK, so how should one think about the Covid-19 vaccine then? As a turnip? As a cat wearing a bandana? Well, Berenson continued with, “Think of it as best-as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS,” as you can see in following screen capture from @justin_hart:
The screen capture also shows that Twitter flagged Berenson’s tweet as misleading. But that’s not all. If you are looking for Berenson’s original tweet so that you can reply with “I am thinking about the vaccine as an armchair,” or something like that, you won’t be able to do so. That’s because Berenson’s account has apparently been suspended:
Looks like Berenson’s “don’t think of it as a vaccine” tweet wasn’t Berenson’s first violation of Twitter rules as Ben Collins, Senior reporter for NBC News, tweeted:
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There’s one itty bitty problem with thinking of the vaccine as a therapeutic. It really isn’t a therapeutic. Typically, you’ll get a therapeutic after you already have a disease or disorder. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a therapeutic as “of or relating to the treatment of disease or disorders by remedial agents or methods.”
No real medical expert has been telling people to wait until they have Covid-19 before they get the Covid-19 vaccine. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website says, “people with Covid-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated.”
Rather than therapeutics, the Covid-19 vaccines are more like, let’s see, what word would describe something that stimulates your immune system so that it generates a response against the Covid-19 coronavirus? Hmmm, how about, let’s go out on a limb here, maybe, a vaccine?
The CDC defines a vaccine as, “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease.” The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a vaccine as “a preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body’s immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease.” This is basically what the currently available Covid-19 vaccines are designed to do: stimulate your immune system so that it is ready to respond to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in order to prevent Covid-19. The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COvid-19 vaccines get your cells to produce some of the spike proteins that stud the surface of the SARS-CoV-2. These spike proteins in turn trigger your immune system to say, “hey, you don’t belong here. Let’s set up defenses in case something that looks like you comes around.”
Berenson hasn’t been the only one to claim that the Covid-19 vaccine is not a vaccine. Other social media accounts, many of which are anonymous, have been spouting things like:
How can experts “all agree” when there are experts all over the place calling the Covid-19 vaccine a vaccine? Isn’t that like saying, “experts agree that thing with toes is not a foot?”
Telling people that the vaccines are something that they are not would be misinformation. So might be saying that the Covid-19 vaccines have a “terrible side effect” profile, without really defining what is meant by “terrible” when the CDC has said that the “vaccines are safe and effective.” Misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines isn’t the same as misinformation about your pants, unless it’s something like “your pants do not have a live wolverine in them” when they do. Vaccine misinformation is potentially dangerous because it can adversely affect people’s health. Imagine someone being mistakenly convinced that the vaccine is a therapeutic and then choosing not to get vaccinated as a result. What if that person then ends up catching the Covid-19 coronavirus and dying because he or she did not have the protection against Covid-19 that the vaccine could have offered?
Back to Berenson for a moment. Some have claimed that Twitter’s suspension of Berenson is censorship. For example, back on August 2, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) tweeted this about an earlier suspension:
Keep in mind, though, that there is a big difference between censoring opinions and finding ways to safeguard the public from misinformation being spread that may end up hurting people. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to say whatever the heck you want to say. If you really believe that’s the case, see what happens when you start telling everyone, including your boss, what you really think about their looks. Better yet see what happens when people do that to you. People don’t seem to mind things being said until they themselves are affected by it.
By the way, in April, Derek Thompson penned (or rather keyboarded and moused) a piece for The Atlantic about Berenson entitled, “The Pandemic’s Wrongest Man” with the subhead “in a crowded field of wrongness, one person stands out: Alex Berenson.” That’s not an easy title to earn given the amount of misinformation and disinformation that has flown like a stream of diarrhea during the pandemic.
Regardless, you may not see exchanges such as following any time soon:
That’s because Berenson’s account seems to be gone from the Twitter platform, at least for now. In other words, don’t think of it as an active account.