How Do We Practice Gracious Dialogue When Talking about COVID-19 Vaccines?

A mom reflects on a recent conversation her son had with his friend, and how it reminded her of the importance of grace in our relationships with others who think differently than we do.

Good tips and reminders for us all here on the forum :slight_smile:


Thanks. This is great advice for anyone discussing a difficult topic.


Here in South Africa, I heard the other day a radio presenter said that he has proof that wearing masks is so effective, that flue and common cold infections dropped significantly.
Maybe it is because the flue virus got a new name. It is now called Covid 19.
It has the same symptoms and has a 96.4% recovery rate, and that while here in South Africa, 25% of our population suffer from HIV and Tuberculosis.
Makes me wonder how long the media will continue to spread this fear mongering propaganda.
To answer your question on how gracious dialogue can be possible when discussing Covid vaccines, the answer is a rhetorical question. How gracious can a lie be?

Welcome. I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed: influenza and Covid 19 are caused by very different viruses. We routinely sequence the genomes of cases of both and know exactly what their genetic make-up is.

Influenza does not routinely cause pneumonia and extensive blood clotting. Covid-19 does.

Why would all of the world’s epidemiologists, infectious disease experts, virologists, and public health officials be lying about Covid vaccines? And why would they almost all be vaccinated if they were lying?


OK Glipsnort. You believe that.

No, I know that. I study infectious diseases for a living, including Covid-19, and I know what our lab is doing as well as what other researchers are doing. Facts matter I don’t know who you’ve been getting information from, but what you’ve heard is not at all accurate when it comes to this disease.


So does it sound right to you that we should consider Steve’s science-based knowledge and your ignorance as two equal things for consideration?


Even leaving science aside, it’s a matter of first-hand knowledge vs. hearsay.


It is true that flu and cold infections dropped to amazing low levels, some of which is due to masking, but In biology and in science, it is never that simple. Social distancing and hand sanitizer also contributed to the fall, as well as other factors.
I will grant that masking was not as effective for Covid as it was and is for flu, as it is much more contagious especially as an airborne virus, but not as effective does not mean ineffective, as masking still helps. Now that vaccines are available, the benefit of masking is much less, and probably makes sense only for high risk individuals.


Looks like a good time to rehash the old COVID convo


Welcome, Drino. I was born in Nigeria and grew up in Niger, the son of missionaries. I’m a family doc, as is @jpm .

I agree that HIV and TB are awful. I have seen people with both when working in Africa. In fact, I don’t know why the Covid infection rate seems a bit less in Africa than in the West. There is some thought that antibodies to malaria and other illnesses may confer partial immunity. However, as you know, the all-cause death rate is awfully high in Africa. With a severe lack of resources, we hardly know what is the cause of death in many cases. Easily preventable infectious diseases kill millions. Sometimes it’s hard, without the resources, to find who dies of what. Two of my family members live in West Africa, for example. A missionary friend died of Covid there, but as my brother says, no one wants to register Covid because of all the rigmarole. With malaria, TB, HIV, Hep B, meningitis, and a score of other disease, they would rather focus on other things.

One way of measuring potential Covid death is to look at the excess death that shot up in some areas (the US is an example) soon after it started spreading (before the advent of highly accurate PCR tests). It’s possible that that reflect Covid deaths. It is not clear. At any rate, more than 1 million have died of laboratory diagnosed Covid in the US alone. BBC has a good article on that and how it may be under reported in the developing world, too.

It was interesting about the masks–your are right! I remember one estimate that asthma exacerbations dropped by a half in the first year of careful mask wearing. It works well for many things.

There is good news-- PCR testing is highly specific for Covid. It does not cross react with flu, and they use this for detection in the US, along some other very good antigen tests. The bad news is that Covid, at least in the delta and some other variations, is much worse than the flu. In my lifetime, I’ve had 1 person die of the flu; I’ve had double digits die of Covid in the space of about a year (thankfully, that dropped significantly after the vaccine came out). It also causes a lot of long term problems in many people–breathing, mentation, weakness, and other neurologic problems often last for months or more.

Our hospitals were flooded with Covid sufferers–some into the dining rooms. My aunt couldn’t even get treatment on a regular floor for breast cancer complications because of Covid flooding, and heart attacks and strokes delayed care because ER docs were overwhelmed last fall and early winter. Thankfully, with omicron, that has been less (but not negligible).

I agree with @glipsnort , who does the first hand work. I love to read WHO, CDC and the thousands of world class scientists who put together their expertise regarding epidemiology and other factors in making the best recommendations they can.

CDC and WHO are also excellent for optimum treatment of HIV and TB, by the way. It’s scary how much resistance there has been with TB. I did my research paper at the end of residency (post graduate study in the hospital) on primary care of HIV, because I planned on going back to Africa. It is rampant in Africa. We have to remember to support Third World nations in all their suffering, as Dr Fauci with President Bush did a few years ago, with anti retrovirals.

Again, I agree strongly with the need to remember all of the least of these. I believe that Glipsnort actually works on malaria vaccines. He has a heart for these, too. I think you would find his work very interesting.

Thank you.


I actually agree with you that there’s a lot of fear mongering going on in regards to COVID. Only yesterday my parents told me how they heard about COVID making your lungs disappear, that they opened corpses with completely missing lungs(?!?). All at the same time suggesting this is just strong strain of flu.
But when you say media, what do you mean by that? Do you mean official and trustworthy sources like scientists, doctors and various other experts? None of the things I wrote above came from them. It’s almost always “articles from the internet” where one cannot determine sources.


What do you think people are lying about?

I, like @glipsnort, am working with SARS-CoV-2. I have sequenced thousands of PCR positive samples, and the sequence I get back is a variant of the Wuhan strain that was first isolated in December of 2019. The sequence does not match influenza, but it is similar to known coronaviruses. So what do you think I am lying about?


This past Sunday one of the guys at church commented that athletes were dying of cardiac arrests, and all were vaccinated. I had to bite my tongue. While no doubt there are rare fatal cases where vaccine induced myocarditis is involved, the risk is minimal and no doubt less than the risk of fatal myocarditis from an infection. And of course, if the majority of people are vaccinated, the number of those dying of any cause are likely to be vaccinated. Fortunately, in this case, his comment was met with crickets, as in that group at least, they recognized the conspiracy theory expressed.


It’s also odd to see people saying, “it’s just the flu,” when the last massive pandemic was caused by the flu back in 1918. Even non-pandemic influenza strains pose a significant risk to the immunocompromised and elderly.


Very true. I encourage the flu shot a lot, and we have quite a bit of morbidity from the regular flu, too. It’s odd, though–many more seem to be refusing the flu shot lately, too.

Are people giving reasons as to why?

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I wonder if it couldn’t be chalked up to a kind of “lateral gene transfer” of skepticisms, if you willl. Once somebody has invested themselves into all the conspiracy theories of why COVID shots are going to do xyz to them, it’s probably difficult to just “turn all that off” when it comes to considering all the other vaccines that they had considered just fine before.


I should push it harder, and ask. It seems that some (my family included) have said they no longer trust shots at all.

There has always been that few percent who were susceptible to conspiratorial thinking, but it is a bit frustrating to see more and more people get fooled by the same misinformation.