Doctors have spoken out against a new hoax “cure” circulating on social media that suggests bathing in pesticide after receiving a Covid shot.
Anti-vaccine believers have begun advocating borax, a cleaning agent used in detergents, enamel glazes, insecticides and mould treatments, as a way to “detox” from the Covid-19 vaccine, among other methods.
But Uché Blackstock, a medical doctor and former professor who now runs the campaign group Advancing Health Equity, said that “detoxing” a vaccine was completely impossible and that some techniques being circulated were “very dangerous”.
Dr Blackstock told MSNBC: “The danger in people who say that they’re physicians putting this misinformation out there is people are actually going to believe it. But people should understand that there is no way that you could actually detox yourself from a vaccine.
“When someone is vaccinated, the immune response automatically begins; your immune system starts generating antibodies to that vaccine. So these detoxes really do not work at all, and I’m concerned that people are going to use some of these actually very dangerous methods and actually harm themselves by doing so.”
Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection control at the University of Kansas Health System, said that borax is “a potentially caustic and harmful substance,” and that using it to remove vaccines is “is nothing that is supported by science or data”.
University of Saskatchewan virologist Angela Rasmussen told NBC, which first reported on the use of borax by anti-vaxxers, that the bath method was unlikely to be harmful but would not do anything about vaccines.
“Once you’re injected, the lifesaving vaccination process has already begun. You can’t unring a bell. It’s just not physically possible,” she said. “Basically, by the time you get out to your car [after vaccination], sorry, the magic has already started.”
Vaccine detoxes have been a persistent brand of hoax cure for at least several years, with one pair of doctors in 2017 telling vaccinated adherents: “The past is the past. Let’s not dwell on it. Accept that you are injured in some way... do something to rid the body of these harmful toxins NOW.”
But the idea has become more popular as vaccinations and vaccine mandates proliferate, with many proponents advocating (and often selling) relatively innocuous supplements, diet tips or organic cures while others recommend riskier substances.
One popular video still circulating on TikTok and Facebook features Dr Carrie Medaj, an internal medicine specialist from Alpha Internal Medicine who bills herself as “practising the truth in Jesus through medicine” and claims, spuriously, that Covid vaccines contain tiny computers designed to turn humans into cyborgs.
In the video, Dr Medaj tells an unseen audience to bathe in a mixture of baking soda, Epsom salts, Bentonite clay, and borax. “That’ll take nanotechnology out of you,” she says. “You scrub down, scrub down, scrub down, 20 minutes as hot as you tolerate it.” Audience members can be heard reacting with amazement and calling out for more information.
Borax is used for a wide array of purposes, from taxidermy to preventing woodworm to preserving food. While it is less toxic than other mainstay pesticides, the US Food and Drug Administration has banned it as a food additive, and studies have linked it with infertility and developmental problems.
Many of the vaccine detox videos seen by The Independent took a more uplifting tack, framing their methods as a way to heal from health problems that anti-vaxxers attribute to the jab. Research by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that anti-vaxxers have begun targeting vaccinated people for persuasion.
Tara C Smith, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Kent State University, said: “These [hoaxes] have gone around for a while with prior vaccines. At least 1) they’re getting vaccinated, and 2) these are likely less harmful than ingesting bleach. Small victories.”
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