Seeding Doubt: Why “Asking The Question” Can Mean So Much More

When someone starts off a statement with “I don’t mean to be racist, but…” you know they’re about to say something racist.

Same with “I don’t want to sound rude, but…” You know they’re almost certainly about to hurt your feelings.

When someone starts a COVID-related post or comment with “Just asking the question…” chances are they’re not asking questions, they’re trying either trying to plant seeds of doubt, or passing on seeds of doubt that someone else has planted in them.

Instead of making false claims outwardly, and the person immediately noticing it’s bogus, the hope is you will ponder, without any further info, and scroll past a little more fearful or perhaps angry than before, or go searching for answers and find yourself in a conspiracy web that they have likely fallen victim to themselves. It is an effort to sound rational and considered instead of loopy, and often, it works.

Instead of saying “The scientists, doctors and all the important health organisations of the world are all lying to us!”, they’ll say:
“Just asking the question… why are doctors and scientists who question the jab are being silenced?”

If your grandma had a dodgy looking sunspot on her cheek, would you want her listening to the doctor that told her to eat an apple while rubbing primrose oil on her face in a clockwise direction 17 times thrice daily, or the one who spoke with her about removing the cancerous sunspot before it spread elsewhere?

99.9% of scientists agree that Climate Change is real.
99.9% of historians agree the Holocaust happened.
99.9% of astronomers and physicists agree that humans did indeed go to the moon.
99.9% of doctors and scientists agree COVID-19 is real and vaccination is effective.

Giving the 0.1% who don’t a platform to suggest otherwise is hugely irresponsible, as well as jeopardising the health of their own patients and the community beyond that.

Instead of saying “Vaccines simply don’t work”, they’ll say:
“Just asking the question… if vaccines don’t stop you from getting COVID or passing it on, why do we need vaccine passports?”

Vaccination against COVID does reduce your risk of catching it by around 80% against Alpha strain (likely a little less against Delta), and you can’t pass on what you don’t have. It also reduces your risk of passing it on if you do get it.

People who are vaccinated are less likely to need to go to hospital, and have a lower risk of needing ICU care. The vaccination passport idea is to reduce the spread of the virus and lower exposure risks as much as possible to people who either can’t get vaccinated, or don’t want to, and protect the health system enough that everyone will be able to access hospital care if they need it.

In NSW, the roadmap indicates that as of 1st December there’ll be no differences in restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. In Denmark, they too have done away with vaccine passports once they reached a certain vaccination target. The vaccine passport strategy has been used previously for international travel as well – family members travelling in Europe in the 1969 have told me about having to show their smallpox vaccination scar to border patrol to be allowed in to different countries, and I’ve been required to carry proof of vaccination for Yellow Fever when traveling in Asia.

Instead of saying “I don’t believe COVID-19 vaccines are safe” or claiming “these vaccines change your DNA!”, they’ll say:
“Just asking the question… why did these drugs get pushed through so fast? How can we be sure they’re safe when they mess with your DNA, and so much is still unknown about them?”

The process of developing drugs and vaccines is generally a slow one, taking a decade or more. Research and development teams work on something in labs, then go about testing them on animal models, getting approvals to test them on humans, testing the drugs on the humans, reviewing the data, getting more approvals, making sure they get enough funding to keep going, slowly enrolling and testing more people, analyzing more data, waiting in queues for review and approval from regulation boards, etc.
What we’re seeing now is what can happen when money is thrown at a problem, when thousands of people volunteer to be test subjects on the spot, and their projects get fast-tracked to the top of any queues on review boards. The phases of normal clinical trials have not been skipped, 6.1 billion doses have been administered and real-world data is available on tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people across the world.

If you’re wondering about mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), the technology behind for these has been in the works since the 1990s, and parts of it have been used in clinical trials for other things like cancer treatments since the mid-2000s.

And no, they don’t alter your DNA, they deliver a recipe to a part of the cell (the part outside the nucleus, the nucleus being where the DNA is stored) to make a special protein, that your body then has an immune response to.

The fragment of recipe-giving mRNA is quickly destroyed, and within days your body will have made antibodies. The second dose consolidates the number and effectiveness of these antibodies to help you not pick up coronavirus in the first place, and fight it without your body having a cytokine storm freak-out if you do. No, the mRNA does not get into human milk, but the antibodies do so if you’re lactating it’s likely to protect your little one(s).

If you’re still not convinced about the new mRNA ones, AstraZeneca is an old-school vaccine that uses the same kind of technology as all the other shots you might’ve had in the past, where a modified/deactivated virus is injected and your body responds to it by making antibodies. AstraZeneca’s protection against severe disease is as not quite as strong initially, but it seems to maintain its effectiveness for longer than the Pfizer one does.

Instead of claiming “Vaccines harm unborn babies!”, they’ll say “Just asking the question… why weren’t pregnant people tested in trials? What could this be doing to our babies that they don’t want us to know?”

It is normal for pregnant and lactating people to be excluded from clinical trials. This is both sensible and frustrating. Unlike many other drugs, COVID-19 vaccines were given to pregnant people who volunteered to get them (mostly health care workers in high exposure areas) before animal studies on pregnancy and lactation were done.

Those animal studies have been done now - the results are all clear, and formal human pregnancy trials are underway.

So far, population data studies tell us there is no increased risk for miscarriage or infant loss if a mother is vaccinated between 6-weeks pre-conception and delivery. We also know there is no increased risk of congenital conditions for those vaccinated in the second and third trimester. We are awaiting more data on outcomes for babies of women and birth parents vaccinated pre-conception and in their first trimester, because human babies take time to bake and birth.

We also know that infection with COVID-19 in the late second and third trimester can be very dangerous and is linked to significantly higher likelihood of a stay in ICU and pre-term birth. All this data is discussed in my research review videos on my page if you would like to know where that is up to.

Instead of saying “Don’t get vaccinated, use ‘natural health’ methods”, they’ll say “Just asking the question… why aren’t we being told about other ways to keep ourselves healthy?”

Yes, the usual things we can do to stay healthy apply here too, but they can only go so far. The difficulty with coronavirus is that serious disease comes from two different 
The first we would be familiar with is someone with a poor immune system and low reserve capacities being overwhelmed with a virus. This explains deaths in some groups like the elderly or chronically ill or immune-compromised people.

The second way COVID-19 makes people some people severely ill is that their immune systems actually mount a response to fighting this new virus that is too good. This is the pathway that is more likely to explain why some healthy adults get really sick and die, but babies with an immature immune system don’t seem to get sick much.

After the person is infected with the coronavirus, their body launches an aggressive inflammatory response and releases a large amount of a pro-inflammatory cytokines. This reaction has been termed a “cytokine storm” and is associated with organ failure and high death rates.

This is what happened to my otherwise healthy yogi, breathworker, reiki-master friend in his 30s who got COVID-19 before vaccination was available. He was in ICU and it was touch and go for a bit, and has had months of slow and painful recovery with long COVID (the post-viral syndrome associated with coronavirus).

By all means keep yourself as healthy as possible and take whatever vitamins your health team recommend are useful in your situation, but keep in mind that all the mail order, online and homemade remedies in the world are not going to help in the situation of a cytokine storm response.

Instead of saying “Don’t trust the media, they’re all funded by pharma!”, they’ll say “Just asking the question… it was a largely peaceful protest. Why are independent journalists showing us such different footage to the mainstream media?”

When I see the sport news, I expect to see the parts of the soccer where they’re kicking goals, not the bits where nothing is happening. It’s standard reporting practice to show the highlights or dramatic parts of anything.

Saying it was “largely peaceful” belies the fact that some of it wasn’t. It’s like saying “he’s such a gentle guy 98% of the time, that he bashes his girlfriend the other 2% isn’t a big deal”.

If you feel as though “mainstream media” are only toeing a line their funders want them to, it’s good practice to ask who those ‘independent journos’ are, and do some digging into their funding and motives too.

One of the two main “independent journalists” in Melbourne getting hundreds of thousands of views on his videos is backed by a Canadian-owned company. Their website claims they rely on the “generosity” of donors, and their reporters include people who are known anti-Muslim campaigners, and as per the example above, people who are convicted of assault against a partner.

A quick look at the merchandise section of the parent-company website sees a variety of t-shirts with nationalist and individualist slogans, anti-Biden artwork and photo-shopped images of Dr. Fauci made to look like Pinocchio. What kind of beliefs might a Pro-Trump organization be trying to instill in Australian audiences while posing as “independent”? What benefit could they see in curating their own versions of news and labeling the “mainstream” as evil sell-outs?

My belief is that they are not concerned about “human rights” at all, but collecting an audience of disgruntled and angry people, who they hope will stick with them, their Trumpist ideas and the Australian politicians they support when the vaccination debate is over.

[For context, Dr. Fauci is the Chief Medical Advisor to the U.S. President. Trump has called Fauci a “radical anti-masker” and stated in a recent interview that he did “pretty much the opposite” of what Fauci advised in his handling of the pandemic while President. So far over 43 million Americans have been infected, and 691 000 have died from COVID-19.]

Instead of claiming “Vaccines are killing hundreds of people!”, they’ll say: “Just asking the question… if over 500 deaths have been reported after the jab, why are we not talking about vaccine side effects? What else are they hiding from us?”

Every week the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) releases a “COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report” about reported side effects. The report from 23/9/21 tells us that 24.8 million vaccine doses have been administered in Australia. It notes that 556 deaths that happened in the weeks after people were vaccinated have been received and reviewed, and on medical experts reviewing the reported cases, 9 of these deaths have been caused by COVID-19 vaccination.

It’s kind of like 24.8 million doses of bananas are eaten, waiting a few weeks, then saying “over 500 deaths from bananas!” Yes, some people are going to die soon after eating bananas, but only a tiny, tiny fraction are going to be as a direct result of a bad reaction to the bananas.

By contrast, there’s been 101k cases of coronavirus in Australia, and 1 256 people have died with COVID-19.

As for not hiding adverse reactions or hiding things, our local news was all over it when a woman died of a vaccine reaction a few months ago. The ABC are literally running articles titled “Early detection, treatment behind lower rate of mortality from rare AstraZeneca-related clots.” The full TGA reports are freely available online.

Instead of saying “Health professionals are being gagged!”, they’ll say “Just asking the question… why can’t doctors make reports about side effects? Why are our health professionals being gagged?”

The real question here is, can doctors report about side effects? This answer, from the TGA website: “Consumers can report adverse events [to the vaccine] to their health professional and ask them to report on their behalf”.

Some health professionals or hospitals may not want (or have the time) to do this, or it may not be in line with their hospital or health service policy. Consumers (that is, people who suspect a vaccine-related side effect or their carers) also have the option to report to their state or territory health departments, to the NPS MedicineWise Adverse Medicine Events line, or report to the TGA directly though, so no cases of side effects are prevented from being lodged.

Instead of claiming “Lockdown is literally killing our kids!”, they’ll say “Just asking the question… with lockdowns continuing, why are we ignoring the statistics on suicide and mental health? We must open up to save our young people’s lives.”

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System tells us more people are accessing crisis lines and mental health services since the pandemic began, and ambulance and emergency department attendances for suicidal thoughts and self-harm are both up in NSW and Victoria.
Despite this, suicide rates have not increased in Australia’s eastern states (with great thanks to the crisis and mental health services above).

In some journalistic sleuthing, Clementine Ford noted the spokesperson for the “Shadow Pandemic Victoria” group, supposedly aiming to highlight poor mental health in children, is head of the Liberal Party’s branch in Higgins (an affluent part of Melbourne). Her husband is chair of a fundraising arm for the Liberal Party. The State Liberal Party is pretty keen to take advantage of Dan Andrews’ and Labors’ low popularity come next election. They conveniently get great airtime on Sky News and other Liberal-friendly platforms. Unsurprisingly, they say lockdowns must end.

Lockdown is hard, and much harder for some than others. The financial struggle and economic vulnerability that goes with lockdown is a reflection on the classist policies of the Federal Government (the branch of government in charge of taxing the rich which they don’t do, and giving to the needy, which they also don’t do), not on lockdown itself.

My guess is that opening up before vaccination targets are reached, having hospital systems unable to cope with an influx of patients and watching their family members die unnecessarily would also be pretty rubbish for young people’s mental health.

I argue that financial compassion from the Federal government and emotional support from the state governments (rather than separating mothers from babies in Melbourne towers, or deploying army helicopters on Western Sydney while Bondi parties) while giving the majority of the population time to get fully vaccinated would be a much sounder strategy for mental health support than opening up prematurely.

Instead of saying “disabled or people with medical conditions dying doesn’t really bother me”, they’ll say “Just asking the question… what percentage of these deaths are from healthy people? Can we truly make the best decisions for ourselves without data on age and underlying health conditions being freely available?”

Despite what we have been led to believe in our culture that praises individual achievements and tells us we are unique and beautiful flowers, we are not better than anyone else, regardless of what health conditions they do or don’t have. We have a responsibility to protect those who are vulnerable, and the way we do that is conveniently by doing the things that keep us most safe too – washing hands, physical distancing, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated if possible.

I’m a mum. I don’t need data on someone else’s age or health status to know that person listed as “woman in her 40s” is not a statistic but someone’s child, and maybe someone’s mother too. The “man in his 60s” may be someone’s grandpa, uncle or brother, and I don’t want to be the one to pass it onto them.

If you’re really curious though, a nurse from Royal Melbourne Hospital ICU, has been sharing their stats (with permission) on her insta @mariamaboueid_

As of the 28th Sept, there were over 6600 COVID cases active in Victoria. 47% were fully vaccinated, 30% had had one dose, and 23% were unvaccinated.

At Royal Melbourne Hospital that same day, 16 of 20 beds in the COVID section of their ICU were being used. Patients were aged 32-70. Of the 16 patients in ICU, 13 were unvaccinated, three had had one dose. 14 required intubation (i.e. ventilated through a tube) and life support. One was 31 weeks pregnant, health condition data for the remaining 15 patients isn’t available.

Let me break that down differently:
Fully vaccinated people (47% of the population) contributed 0 of 16 ICU cases.
Partially vaccinated (30% of people) contributed 3 of 16 ICU cases.
Unvaccinated people (23% of the population) contributed 13 of 16 ICU cases.

Please, please, please, don’t let their “just asking the question” get to you.

It’s been a big couple of years but I truly believe we are on the way out of this mess.
Let’s get there together, with actual conversations, actual information, and real support to make as many people as possible feel safe and make safe choices.

You can do this by sharing this post, and asking (non-conspiracy oriented) questions below!

I’d love to know - what else do you want to ask or understand better to feel informed?

I’ll be interviewing Dr. Mikayla Couch (a medical doctor who works in women’s health, pregnancy and birth) and Mariam (the ICU nurse from Royal Melbourne) for the “Motherhood Made Magic” podcast and this page in the next couple of weeks.

Please comment your questions (on the original post on my page) and I’ll ask them the ones I can’t answer myself ☺
Stay safe everyone x
[ID: Anna, a white woman with blonde hair, looks at the camera with her hand against her chin. She wears a blue floral dress].


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