November 17, 2021

'You can't unring a bell': How some people are trying to undo their Covid-19 vaccine

Daily Briefing

    As Covid-19 vaccine mandates push more holdouts to get their shots, several anti-vaccine groups are sharing ways to "undo" the vaccine, Ben Collins writes for NBC News. Experts say this is "just not physically possible."

    Radio Advisory: Aaron Carroll on how clinicians can combat medical misinformation

    Some people are trying to 'undo' Covid-19 vaccines

    Many people who have been reluctant to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are now "caving" to workplace mandates to receive their shots, Collins writes. This is leading several anti-vaccine advocates to promote ways to "undo" or "detox" from the vaccines.

    For example, Carrie Madej, an osteopathic internal medicine doctor who has frequently promoted misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines, shared the ingredients for a bath that she claimed would "detox the vaxx" in a TikTok video. The video has been viewed and reshared hundreds of thousands of times.

    According to Madej, baking soda and Epsom salt will help remove radiation that is supposedly activated by the vaccine, while bentonite clay will add a "major pull of poison." She also recommends adding a cup of borax, a cleaning agent that may irritate the skin and eyes, to "take nanotechnologies out of you."

    Anti-vaccine groups have shared several other potentially dangerous methods for people to get the vaccine out of their bodies, Collins writes. These methods include "un-inject[ing]" shots using syringes and using cupping therapy to suction out the vaccine from small cuts at the injection site.

    "This illustrates how these anti-vaccine communities are shifting and pushing these claims toward vaccinated people," said Ciaran O'Connor, a disinformation researcher for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

    'You can't unring a bell'

    However, according to Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan, there isn't a way to remove a vaccine after it has been administered.

    "Once you're injected, the lifesaving vaccination process has already begun," Rasmussen said. "You can't unring a bell. It's just not physically possible.'

    She added, "The transaction process for the mRNA vaccine is fairly quick. Basically, by the time you get out to your car, sorry, the magic has already started."

    Although Rasmussen said she was concerned about people experimenting with potentially dangerous "detox" remedies, she believes vaccine removal videos are a sign that vaccine mandates have been effective.

    "I think it is actually a good sign that these 'how to undo your vaccine' videos are taking off," she said. "It suggests that a lot of those people who previously were saying 'vaccines are terrible and I will never do it' are, actually, doing it."

    Rasmussen said taking Madej's recommended bath—without the borax—after being vaccinated isn't necessarily a harmful idea, although it won't affect nonexistent "radiation" or "nanotechnologies."

    "Take the bath and kick back and relax with a glass of wine, knowing that [you're] safe from a potentially lethal viral infection," she said. (Collins, NBC News, 11/12)

    Aaron Carroll on how clinicians can combat medical misinformation

    Listen to the Radio Advisory episode

    Radio Advisory, a podcast for busy health care leaders.

    Medical misinformation has been a significant problem for a long time, but amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the problem has become even more widespread. In this episode, host Rachel Woods sits down with Dr. Aaron Carroll, author, professor, and Indiana University chief health officer—to discuss what all clinicians should do to combat medical misinformation.

    Plus, Advisory Board experts Solomon Banjo and Pam Divack offer their take on clinician’s role in online spaces (with patients and with each other) and translate those same principles for the rest of the industry.

    Listen now

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