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AS I SEE IT COLUMN: Anti-vaxxers shamelessly use NFL accident to promote COVID lies

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It never ceases to amaze how some conservatives will use any event, no matter how low they have to go nor what bottom of the barrel they have to scrape, to spread lies and unfounded conspiracies about COVID.

So it really came as no surprise when anti-vaxxers sprung into action a couple of weeks ago after a player in the NFL – Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills – was administered CPR on the field. Hamlin was taken off the field in an ambulance and the NFL cancelled the game.

In a matter of minutes, conservative anti-vax snake oil salesmen were spreading unfounded lies that Hamlin’s on-field heart attack happened as result of Hamlin reacting to a COVID vaccine, instead of the most-likely real cause which was commotio cordis, a cardiac condition brought about by blunt impact to the chest area directly over the heart that causes it to stop beating.

There is so much that is wrong and evil and despicable when lies are used to spread propaganda that it’s hard to know where to begin with the conservative campaign of lies after Hamlin’s horrific collision.

First, none of the snake oil salesmen even knew if Hamlin had ever received a COVID vaccine. You can’t say the heart attack happened because of a reaction to a vaccine if you don’t even know if the athlete ever got the vaccine. They had zero evidence – none – but that didn’t stop them from promoting their lies in their desperate and misguided efforts to question the efficacy of the COVID vaccine.

Second, if Hamlin did get the vaccine, none of the snake oil salesmen knew when he got the vaccine. According to medical experts, in the extremely rare occurrence of a bad reaction to the COVID vaccine, it typically happens within seven days of the getting the shot. Those fools had no idea if he got the shot or when he got the shot.

Their diagnosis was based on nothing but conspiracies, lies and propaganda.

I realize that things like evidence, reality, truth and medical facts don’t mean anything to right-wingers bent on spreading COVID lies, but in the real world, facts matter.

There have been over 13 billion COVID vaccine shots administered around the world. If the anti-vaccine fools were correct in their (utterly false and misleading) assertion that the COVID vaccine is killing a lot of people, there would literally be millions of people across the globe that would have died. That hasn’t happened because the vaccine is safe and reliable.

Here’s the thing about snake oil salesmen. In the olden days they had to travel from town to town, spreading their lies to a small group of gullible idiots before travelling to the next town’s gullible idiots.

Nowadays, thanks the internet, snake oil salesmen wearing pyjamas and living in their parent’s basement can instantly reach millions of other gullible idiots with the single click of the ‘send’ button. That’s beyond dangerous.

The other big difference between snake oil salesmen then and now — back then they were selling useless medicine but it didn’t cause any real harm.

Today’s snake oil salesmen, on the other hand, are causing much harm in the real world. By convincing others – through the shameless promotion of lies and misinformation – to avoid getting vaccinated, the result of this toxic dismissal of reality is a very real public health threat that poses dangers not just to themselves, but to all of us.

It is a plain and simple and provable fact that the COVID vaccine saves lives and reduces the severity of illness if you do get COVID. This fact has been demonstrated literally billions of times around the world.

The great news is that this story, as of this writing, has a happy ending. Damar Hamlin is out of the hospital, talking to his family, friends and Buffalo Bills teammates, and seems to be on the road to a healthy recovery (although it remains to be seen if he will ever play professional football again).

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