Think before you share, before you speak - An Open Letter to Healthcare Professionals

August 16, 2021 by Personal   South Africa   Covid-19  

Firstly before I start admonishing everyone, I would like to thank all the healthcare professionals for all the hard work and sacrifices they made and are still making during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

None of this has been easy and we need to be vigilant, not only against the virus but also against misinformation that threatens to undermine all those sacrifices (sacrifices that more often than not cost the lives of healthcare workers).

In this post I am going to refer to three incidents in my home country where some doctors are contributing to anti-vaccination and vaccine hesitancy (hopefully inadvertently):

  1. Doctor sharing posts about deaths possibly caused by the vaccines.

    I recently read an article (among various others) shared by a doctor on Facebook about a 56-year-old Greek woman that died shortly after receiving her second Pfizer shot [6].

    And indeed:

    More than 351 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through August 9, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 6,631 reports of death (0.0019%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine [3].
    Correlation is not always causation though:

    A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines [3].
    It is possible that these vaccines could have contributed to blood clotting and other complications, nobody is denying that, but consider basic statistical data analysis, looking at the statistical anomalies (the outliers in our data) we have 6631 out of 351 000 000 vaccinated that we currently have no clear indication as to why those patients died.

    This means that if correlated we roughly have a safety percentage of around 99.99% - that is pretty damn good (odds of dying of Covid-19 is much higher than the inverse of that).

    Now being a doctor you have a greater responsibility, you are regarded as an authority (the things you share on social media will influence someone to avoid getting the vaccine without looking at the context of what you're sharing, others will abuse your authority to spread their anti-vaccination message), when you share information like this, you are elevating extremely small statistical anomalies, for which you have no clear evidence (you literally know nothing about these data points, their medical / family histories, nor their prior state of health).

    Let's refrain from adding further wood to the fire? Let's rather address those fears, e.g. after you receive the vaccine, let's take some precautions, we will monitor your condition just in case, look for blood clots, tell patients about the local inflammatory reaction [1] they can expect after receiving their jabs, etc...

  2. Doctor advising that a patient should not get the vaccine. 
    A very dear family friend, one that falls within the high-risk category was recently advised by her doctor that she should rather not get the vaccine.

    A doctor must give an EXTREMELY OBSCENELY EXCEPTIONALLY TREMENDOUSLY good reason [5] as to why the patient should abstain from getting the vaccine (in the UK they advise that if you've got a history of anaphylaxis reactions [4] you might want to skip the vaccine).

    If you, as a patient were caught up in all of this, rather get a second and third opinion from other doctors as well before you just completely abstain from using something that can possibly save your life (especially in the context of the mRNA vaccine, this is not a traditional vaccine where you're injected with a weakened strain of the virus) - alternatively if you have a real problem (and not an ignorant doctor) seek alternatives that would allow you to get the vaccine.

  3. Doctor Susan Vosloo incident

    Recently a prominent doctor (first female heart surgeon in South Africa) shared a number of erroneous views about the vaccines (and virus) in a public forum thereby undermining the vaccine rollout in my country.

    Unfortunately, authority bias is at play here (so the public and even other doctors, will tend to attribute greater credence to her opinion than what it actually deserve) - the fact that she refers to the mRNA vaccines as gene therapy clearly illustrates how little she actually knows about the subject[9].

    I am not going to go into too much more detail about her statements (might elaborate in a future post)
    you can read more about it over here [8].

Doctors, think before you share, before you speak, consider what the impact of what you share might be, this is not a game, leave your ego at the door, this is not about what you feel to be true, this is about what we can prove to be true. (if I feel I've got a billion dollars in my bank account, that doesn't automatically make me a billionaire - similarly, your feelings about the vaccines are irrelevant vs actual factual proof).


  1. Five things you need to know about: mRNA vaccine safety
  2. Allergic Reactions Including Anaphylaxis After Receipt of the First Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine - United States, December 14 - 23, 2020
  3. Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination
  4. UK issues anaphylaxis warning on Pfizer vaccine after adverse reactions
  5. Allergies and Anaphylaxis
  6. 56-Year-old Greek Woman Dies Minutes After Second Pfizer Vaccine
  7. Correlation is not causation
  8. Just the facts: Experts take on inaccurate claims in top doctor's Covid-19 vaccine video
  9. Covid-19 mRNA Vaccines Are Not Gene Therapy As Some Are Claiming

Leave a Comment