Having a limited following has some big advantages. I came to appreciate that reading about the online shellacking recently meted out to Jonathan Neman, CEO and founder of an overpriced and overrated salad chain called Sweetgreen. Noting that a majority of Covid hospitalizations and deaths involved people who were obese or overweight, Neman opined in a LinkedIn post that the pandemic could be brought under control if people ate healthier foods — you know, like the salads his restaurant chain serves.
Neman was clearly ignorant of the rules of the cancel culture jungle where anything that remotely smacks of “fat shaming” gets the PC-correct mob clacking. Vice was the first to pounce, and soon Neman was attacked and maligned on social media with such a vengeance that he took down his post. The furor sparked more than a dozen media stories, including “Don’t Believe the Salad Millionaire” in The Atlantic.
I confess, I, too, leaped to Neman’s conclusion that curbing obesity would also diminish Covid deaths and previously advocated that eliminating Coke’s sugary soft drinks would possibly save more lives than vaccines. I’ve seen others on LinkedIn promote similar ideas. Fortunately, none of us are millionaire restaurant salad purveyors, so we escaped notice and cancel culture justice.
Although Neman’s social media attackers were spewing their kneejerk reactions that any hint of fat shaming – unlike vaccine shaming – is inherently bad, they were on to something. I asked Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a Canadian-based obesity expert whose father is a longtime family friend, about whether reducing obesity would curb Covid deaths, and he sent me an article on a talk he gave at the 2021 Canadian Obesity Summit explaining why the assumption is possibly flawed.
As deftly explained by Diana Duong in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, people with higher body mass index (BMI) statistically suffer worse outcomes from Covid, leading researchers to conclude the increased risk was due to various physiological factors – from weakened immune responses due to chronic inflammation, to breathing problems and other conditions that often accompany obesity, such as type 2 diabetes.
But Freedhoff says it’s also known that people with obesity are “systematically managed differently during a pandemic,” which he said might be responsible for their poorer outcomes. He said that during the AIDS pandemic people with obesity appeared to have a much higher risk of severe or fatal complications from infection, but it turned out they were less likely to be given antiviral treatment. Once researchers controlled for the disparity, Freedhoff said the complications disparity “disappeared.”
Freedhoff said systemic healthcare bias and discrimination against obese people might be responsible for their poorer outcomes. “I would love to see this more formally investigated because there is plausibility and precedent to suggest the possibility of bias,” Freedhoff told Duong. “Did they receive steroids later? Were they proned less frequently? Were they admitted to (hospital or intensive care) in later stages of the disease?”
Examples of flawed assumptions or a misreading of statistics abound on social media. An Australian we shall call “Hound” this weekend channeled his inner Dr. Fauci and proudly posted this comment on his LinkedIn page.
The post-it caught the attention of Dr. Katrin Kuhn, who holds a PhD in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the West Point for infectious disease experts. I’ve previously featured Dr. Kuhn and how she was censored on LinkedIn.
Here’s Kuhn’s reply:
Percentages are NOT statistics! To make proper statistics, you need crude numbers (how big is your background population), stratification by age, gender, comorbidity status and other prognostic factors. The percentages you list are only there for one reason: to induce panic. They do not tell a story or represent science in any way.
As of this writing, Hound’s posting hasn’t yet been censored by LinkedIn, despite a qualified expert essentially declaring it “misinformation.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has a resident Dr. Fauci named Allysia Finley. A year ago, Finley recommended zinc to the publication’s readers based on a study in Spain. Here’s what Finley wrote:
Patients who died in hospitals in March and April on average had zinc blood levels of 43 micrograms per deciliter; survivors had 63. A level of 70 is considered normal. After adjusting for age, sex, illness severity and treatments, every unit increase of zinc in the blood was associated with a 7% lower likelihood of dying. That’s huge.
I know better than to entrust my medical care to a newspaper editorial writer, so I reached out to an endocrinologist who consults with Big Pharma and asked if he’d recommend zinc to avoid getting Covid.
Here’s his response:
Low zinc levels are often seen in people with diabetes, alcoholism, colitis, liver disease, HIV, ageing etc. The low zinc in the patients with poor covid outcomes most likely reflects their comorbidities rather than anything therapeutic about zinc. I hope the (WSJ) article doesn’t prompt a spate of zinc toxicities.
The danger of people fashioning themselves as a Dr. Fauci is that among those in the know he’s also not well qualified to analyze vaccine and other pandemic data. In addition to being the White House advisor, Fauci heads the allergies and infectious disease division of the National Institutes of Health.
“It’s no secret that the NIH doesn’t have the experts in analyzing industry data,” Diana Zuckerman, a former senior advisor to Hillary Clinton and president of the nonprofit National Center for Health Research in Washington, D.C., told Kaiser Health News.
That would explain why an advisory FDA panel comprised of leading vaccine experts overwhelmingly rejected Fauci’s plan to widely require Americans to get vaccine boosters. Fauci, in partnership with Biden Covid czar Jeffrey Zients, is still getting his way to a limited degree.
A leaked CDC memo obtained by ABC News in August revealed that more than one million Americans had already obtained booster shots, even though they hadn’t been authorized. Even more alarming is this MedPage Today report report revealing that pharmacies are doling out Moderna “booster” vaccines, even though they’ve only been authorized for the immunocompromised. While the Biden Administration advocates “vaccine passports” for entry to public places, it’s fine with pharmacies giving jabs based on people simply claiming to be immunocompromised.
It’s been reported that Moderna advocates a 50 percent lower dose for its boosters, but the FDA and CDC have taken on such diminished importance in the public’s mind that their expertise and judgments are no longer required.
“We both have two Moderna shots and a Moderna booster, figuring that even if the booster isn’t approved yet, it can’t hurt,” a source told MedPage who is over 65 but not immunocompromised, speaking of himself and his wife. “Our family doc told us to get one ASAP.”
Therein is the state of medicine in America today. Doctors who recommend or advocate a certain FDA approved anti parasite drug risk losing their licenses, but doctors can recommend unauthorized vaccines without consequence.
So much for “following the science.”