Some Conspiracy Theorists Are So Afraid To Be Around Vaccinated People, They’ve Begun … Wearing Masks & Social Distancing
A new conspiracy theory has taken hold in the anti-masker/anti-vaxxer/anti-common-sense community. It’s always a tricky tightrope with things like these, wanting to share some bananas news but also not wanting to give more oxygen to dangerous conspiracies. This one, though, is so far removed from any sense of reality that the threat of giving it any sort of validation seems impossibly low.
According to Reuters, the theory puts forward the idea that vaccinated people “shed” vaccine particles and that those particles can be ingested or otherwise absorbed by non-vaccinated people. These people believe that this causes special harm to pregnant people and can lead to miscarriage or otherwise affect reproductive systems.
This is, obviously, not true. “Top medical experts agree that it is impossible for a person to transmit the vaccines to people they happen to be near and for a woman to experience miscarriage, menstrual cycle changes, and other reproductive problems by being around a vaccinated person,” the outlet writes. Numerous studies have proven this to be true (like this one and also this one), while it has been shown that COVID-19 itself can have severe effects on pregnant or recently pregnant people.
In fact, the Pfizer clinical trials included 23 pregnant volunteers and the only person to experience a miscarriage during the trial was receiving the placebo, not the vaccine.
The conspiracy seems to stem from an article on a now-defunct blog called Health & Money News that claimed the “head of Pfizer research” said the vaccine causes “female sterilization” because it causes a spike in a certain protein that the body is then programmed to attack, except that our bodies can’t tell the difference between that protein and a fetus. Or something. Again, none of this is true! But it is exactly the kind of fact-free, almost-sciency-sounding sound bite that was made specifically to spread like wildfire on Facebook. And it did.
The conspiracy morphed for some (there are a number of versions of the conspiracy in circulation) into a belief that the government (i.e. Deep State Democrats) is deliberately trying to limit the population and even “depopulate the world,” as Vice writes.
The solution that some of these conspiracy theorists have settled on is—brace yourselves—quarantining, social distancing, and mask-wearing. All the things medical experts and informed humans have been advocating for all along.
— tyrese vaxey🇺🇬 (@8Fourteen) May 11, 2021
With so many different variations of the theory going around, people are reacting differently. Some have been talking about wearing masks while others are holding to the unfounded belief that masks never worked in the first place. Some think vaccinated people should be quarantined (in fact there is a two-week quarantine period recommended after getting the vaccine before considering yourself “fully vaccinated”), but others believe they may need to stay away from their vaccinated freinds and family members “forever.”
“Rhetoric over the past year like ‘my body, my choice,’ ‘facts over fear,’ ‘take off the muzzle’ are going to look silly if they do (wear masks),” said [ant-fascist researcher] Drew, who didn’t want his last name to be used out of fear of reprisals.
Nevertheless, the conspiracy is picking up steam. Recently a private school in Miami went so far as to ban vaccinated teachers from interacting with unvaccinated students. In April, a Gold Shop in Kelowna, British Columbia, caused a stir when the owners put up a sign saying the vaccinated were banned from entering the store, citing worries about vaccine shedding. The store also had a sign that masking was not allowed and instructed customers to “lower their face diaper.”
While this is obviously laughable, there is real damage being done. A lot of us have seen loved ones slip farther and farther from reality over the last year-plus, thanks to a toxic combination of Facebook and Fox News. It’s hard to watch people you care about be scammed (because as Vice notes, “where there is a fear, there’s money to be made“), and the personal divides that have been created are only worsening with the fear over people’s vaccination status now going both ways.
(via Vice, image: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
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