My written debate with Jonathan Howard MD on COVID vaccines for kids
He will only debate things he's written articles about. OK, let's start with his article which makes the ridiculous claim that "The vaccine ...[is] far safer than the virus for children."
He wrote this:
Note that he just recently agreed to be challenged in writing, but ONLY on his blog posts! So I spent an hour looking at his articles and an hour writing my challenge on his child vaccination is safe article. So him characterizing the “2 hours” I spent to take him up on his challenge as “2 years” is very disingenuous of him. This is likely indicative of the scientific quality of the written debate to follow. We’ll see.
I attempted to get a written debate with Dr. Jonathan Howard in this article: My written debate with Jonathan Howard MD on whether vaccines cause autism. He declined to debate because he only allows written challenges on topics he writes about in his blog. Apparently, that’s how science works.
So this is attempt #2 to get a written debate with Jonathan Howard MD since I can only challenge him on material in his articles, not his tweets.
OK. Game on.
Article being challenged
Dr. Howard wrote this article: Three New Studies Show the COVID Vaccines Are Very Safe for Children.
His article says:
Overall, these three studies are entirely consistent with every study published thus far. The vaccine isn’t perfect, but it’s far safer than the virus for children.
I’m going to focus on those two sentences in challenging what he wrote.
The debate starts here
Every study? Seriously? The Thailand prospective study showed a 3.5% rate of myo/pericarditis in teens. So doesn’t the existence of that study, which is very inconsistent with the rates in the studies you cited, prove that your first sentence is false and misleading? And how can you be so certain your studies are better? The anecdotes I’m aware of are numerous and they all favor the Thailand study as the most accurate estimate of the rate of myocarditis post-vaccination.
You are basically recommending the vaccines for kids in this article. In order for you to do that responsibly, you must show three things:
Is it safe?
Is it effective?
Is it necessary?
Necessary: I have a friend John Beaudoin who has the ground truth data in Massachusetts since 2020. Fewer than 1 healthy kid per million died from COVID. If you have more credible record-level data than that with ICD-10 codes, we can use your data. So we’re looking at a tiny problem here. In fact, in 2020 and 2021, not a single healthy kid died from COVID in Massachusetts. There was supposed to be one death but I contacted the parents who told me the child had a congenital heart condition. So we’re looking at saving fewer than 1 life per million. There are about 1.5M kids under 19 in Massachusetts so to go for 2 years without a COVID death in healthy kids suggests a pretty small problem to me. So I really question whether a vaccine is necessary. What do you think the number of kids under 19 who were perfectly healthy in Massachusetts who died from COVID was? We don’t have to guess, we have the data. So if you think we are wrong, what data are you using and how do you know it is more reliable than the Massachusetts data? What is the COVID death rate among healthy kids in your more reliable data?
Safe: If we’re saving 1 life in 1M population (not all of whom will be infected), we’ll need a vaccine which should kill fewer than 1 child per 10M doses since the intervention needs to be far safer than the disease (and because multiple doses are required). Where is your study of 10M kids showing the vaccine kills fewer than 1 per 10M doses? I missed that in your article. In order to do such a study, you’d need the record level birth, death, vaccination data and then do a time-series cohort analysis on that data. VSD is not going to cut it. No state will provide that data and such a study has never been done in US history as far as I know. Am I wrong? Why, as a physician, aren’t you calling for data transparency of public health data like this so that we can do such studies? Don’t you think it’s a good idea for us to know exactly how safe or unsafe a vaccine is?
Effective: Finally, we have to show the vaccine is effective, that it really will save one COVID life per million kids per year. Fortunately, we have kids who aren’t vaccinated as a control, but to prove efficacy, you will need the record level data from multiple states to do the cohort time-series analysis comparing the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated groups. As I noted in the previous point, this has never been done in history for any state. To think it has been done for multiple states is delusional. Also, it is non trivial to even gather that data which I’m not sure you appreciate. The UK couldn’t even do it reliably for adults in the UK (see The ONS data on vaccine mortality is not fit for purpose). So if you have state data that is reliable, I’m seriously interested in seeing that (as will all my colleagues). The fact is that if you had it, my colleagues would be all over it. It simply does not exist. Also, your comparison group (the healthy unvaxxed kids) would have to have at least 4 deaths from COVID or you aren’t going to be able to show a statistically significant death benefit which is what is required here.
There is plenty of data that you are ignoring showing these vaccines are extremely dangerous. For example, how can you explain this (I have dozens of examples like this, I won’t dump them all here; see this presentation for many more examples):
It was recently demonstrated that COVID vaccines make you more likely to be infected. How did that not factor in your recommendation? Why would we give a child a “vaccine” which increases their likelihood of being infected? That’s pretty dumb, isn’t it?
It turns out that the Amish died from COVID at a rate that was 90X lower than the US as a whole. Their secret? They ignored all the CDC’s advice including to get vaccinated for COVID. How is that possible? Shouldn’t it be the reverse? I even went to Lancaster County, PA myself to verify the numbers. The Amish should be dying at a rate 10X higher from COVID, but instead they died at a rate close to 100X lower. That’s a shift of 3 orders of magnitude. How do you explain it?
In short, the burden is on you to show the vaccine is safe and effective and your large scale epidemiological studies are very inadequate to do that. You have to have state data to prove it (since only the states have the underlying data) and no state has ever produced the data needed for the analysis. The CDC doesn’t have it either (I’ve asked). You are irresponsibly risking the lives of our children by making a recommendation that is not backed by data and, in my opinion, you should have your license to practice medicine revoked for your actions.
Looking forward to your reply.
Dr. Howard’s response
He took all of 30 minutes to post two canned tweets to respond to everything I wrote.
My response to his response
I started this debate with a very detailed critique which requires him to address the points I raised. He didn’t take it seriously and simply cherry picked a few points and then walked away from everything else.
Specifically, he wrote back with two references that were off target and mischaracterized what I wrote.
He wrote “you think troponin = myocarditis.” This is preposterous. I never said that. Please watch this video of Dr. Peter McCullough discussing the Thailand study. Dr. Howard then references a debunk of the Thailand study written by someone who didn’t read the study (which clearly said baseline EKGs were taken), yet Howard’s expert wrote “In the absence of baseline EKGs,…” McCullough is the senior scientist here by a long shot and his video is crystal clear on this study: it’s a disaster. Howard is relying on an “expert” (with only 3,000 Twitter followers) who clearly didn’t even read the paper and who supports Howard’s point of view.
Howard didn’t even acknowledge that the Thailand paper proved his first sentence (at the start of the article) was wrong.
Next, Howard claims COVID is killing more than 1 in a million kids and cites his own article which cites numbers with no proof whatsoever that these were healthy kids who died FROM COVID. I said I had the Massachusetts record level data which is better than anything he has because it has the ICD10 codes so we know their comorbidities and cause of death. He basically ignored my data entirely. He’s not serious about this. He should have said what his data source was and why his data source is superior to the full death records that we have.
He didn’t respond to any of my issues about having enough statistical power to make a recommendation on either safety or efficacy.
June 24: Howard posted this to Twitter
He didn’t have the courtesy to DM me to notify me of this so I found out about it from one of my followers who alerted me to this tweet:
June 25: My response to his tweet and blog
He wanted a scientific challenge on what he wrote, so I provided that (above).
What you see in his tweet are ad hominem attacks rather than responding to the substance of what I wrote. You can tell this right from the title and subtitle of his post. He called what I wrote “bullshit.” This is insulting on its face.
Everything I wrote is based on science. What specifically is “bullshit”?
If we ignore the insulting ad hominem attacks, what Howard did in his response is cherry pick his response to focus solely on myocarditis:
He claims I “refused” to share information with my readers. Really? Where is the evidence he asked me to do this and then said I read his request but refused to share it? Making deliberate lies like this in his response is simply unacceptable and unprofessional.
He writes, “One study found elevated troponin in 7% of children who presented to the ER with COVID, double the rate found in the Thailand study.” To think that those things are comparable is ridiculous; it is known as the base-rate fallacy. Kids who present to the ER with COVID are in very serious trouble. The rate of myocarditis at that point should be in no way comparable to the selection criteria in the Thailand study which is healthy kids with normal EKGs.
Why studies such as the Thailand study cannot be done in the US is a huge mystery that both Vinay Prasad and Peter McCullough have commented about. It should be something that Howard should be loudly complaining about as well. Such a study is very easy to do technically in the US, but no one will do it presumably because they would never get any more research grants.
Howard’s expert didn’t read the paper as all the kids had baseline EKGs and his expert claimed they didn’t.
Dr. Peter McCullough is the expert here in cardiology, far more senior to Howard’s expert. Yet Howard doesn’t reference the McCullough video (above) at all which clearly shows that Howard’s expert is wrong. You don’t even have to go past the headline: “ALARMINGLY HIGH Rates Of Teen Myocarditis Found In Thailand Preprint 1 in 43 | Dr. Peter McCullough” What about “ALARMINGLY” does Dr. Howard not understand from one of the top cardiologists in the world?
Going through Howard’s references isn’t productive because the point of my article was to prove that Howard’s statement about all the evidence supporting safety was false, which it was. The fact he refuses to acknowledge his mistake this is very troubling. I provided a clear counter-example to his statement, I even included a video where you can hear DIRECTLY from one of the world’s top cardiologists about the study, and Howard will not acknowledge his mistake. That is intellectually dishonest.
Howard writes, “I could (and might) go through the rest of Mr. Kirsch’s article, exposing its fake statistics, specious comparisons, and strategic omissions.” What do you mean “could”? You challenged me to challenge you and now you say you “might” go through my arguments?? You have no choice. We had an agreement. This is a written debate and you are not allowed to cherry pick your responses. That’s the whole point of a written debate. Every point must be addressed in writing. As for my “fake statistics” what “fake statistics” are being referenced here?
Howard completely misses the main point of my argument which is the lack of data showing safety and efficacy at 10M child scale. I find it disingenuous that Dr. Howard is unwilling to confront the Massachusetts data I offered. I said if he has BETTER data, we can use his. Where is the data needed Dr. Howard? I’ll tell you where it is …. it is hidden away by the states where nobody can see it. If that isn’t true, then publish all the record-level data for all to see like I did with a subset of the Medicare data which showed the vaccines a huge disaster. I want to see the birth records, death records, vax records at a minimum. Then we can see how all of them did over time.
Dr. Howard should show us his analysis of the Medicare data I posted (which can be downloaded in the article) showing the vaccine is safe. I spent over 10 hours analyzing that data and there is no way you can spin it to show the vaccines are safe. That’s why nobody has been able to do that since I posted the data 4 months ago. And that’s also why the CDC isn’t releasing the Medicare or Medicaid data publicly: because they don’t want anyone to know the truth.
Why isn’t Dr. Howard calling for this key public healthy data to be made public? Why isn’t Dr. Howard calling for the state record level public health data to be made public as I have done? Do we really get better health outcomes by keeping the data private? What is the evidence of that? Those are some of the big issues Dr. Howard needs to address.
Dr. Howard needs to respond to all my questions in my original post and above before we can proceed. Let’s have some ANSWERS to these questions so we can move on with the next set of questions.
Dr. Howard needs to clearly state where he will be responding to my questions. Will he do a separate blog post for each question? Put everything in one blog post? Have a mix of Twitter posts? I need to know where to look since you aren’t DM’ing me on Twitter to inform me. As for me, I’m going to have everything in this one document where everyone can follow it.
Finally, I asked Dr. Howard for the name of one child in Massachusetts who died from COVID. He posted this image mocking “why that state?” This is proof he doesn’t even read what I wrote. It is covered in the text above; it’s because I have all the death records there. How can you have a written debate when the other side ignores what you write?
So now he claims Cassidy Baracka was a healthy child in Massachusetts who died from COVID:
I put out a $1M wager against anyone who wants to bet with Dr. Howard. I claim Cassidy Baracka was not a healthy child in Massachusetts who died from COVID. We’ll see if anyone will bet against me and agree with Dr. Howard. The money is just to prove people are serious in their belief.
This is a perfect example of why written debates are inferior to oral debates: the other side can cite poor quality experts, avoid answering issues, mischaracterize what I wrote, claim I said things I didn’t say, spend pages and pages citing references I neve requested that do not invalidate anything I wrote, and make misleading arguments without being challenged. I then have to write pages and pages of text responding, which leads to even more pages in response. The end result grows exponentially.
But since a lot of people love wading through all of this, I’m happy to do it.
It’s sad that Dr. Howard isn’t taking this seriously and is focused more on personal attacks rather than addressing the key issues which I keep outlining for him and he keeps avoiding.