Doctors Speaking Out with Science

October 20, 2021

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Vaccines

A few months ago Voices for Freedom, an anti-vaccine group of Multi-Level-Marketing Mums, created a group called New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science (opens new window) - with a website address of The group has 56 doctors as members who have apparently signed an open letter that erroneously states the following concerns:

  1. The following are unknown:
  • Effectiveness at preventing the individual from contracting COVID-19
  • Effectiveness at preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • Effectiveness of mitigating the clinical illness in those who do contract COVID-19
  • The adverse events profile
  1. The legality of prescribing and administering a medication which is only provisionally approved. Once the New Zealand government was found to be in breach of the Medicines Act, it hastily changed the law without consultation
  2. The unknowns of this intervention in assessing and discussing the risks and benefits when counselling patients
  3. The use of lay vaccinators who would not be competent to undertake informed consent procedures with individuals

Many years ago in the US a group of Creationists, who believe the world could only have been created by a Christian God, put together a list of academics who support their position. In response, the National Center for Science Education made a longer list (opens new window) of scientists called Steve who support evolution rather than creationism - the list currently has 1,465 names, and over half of them are biologists. This is many more than the total number of scientists (most of whom aren’t biologists) on the creationists’ list.

The reason I mention this is because of a recent open letter that was penned in response to the Voices for Freedom anti-vaxx declaration and its signatories. The new open letter speaks out in support of the COVID vaccine, saying:

We wish to present a united and evidence-based voice to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand in support of vaccination against COVID-19 for all eligible New Zealanders... We overwhelmingly support vaccination against COVID-19 and other public health measures such as mask use in public areas, physical distancing and hand hygiene. These measures are not just an individual choice: when we undertake these measures, we do so for our whānau, friends, work colleagues and the entire country.

The letter has so far been signed by 6,535 New Zealand doctors who support vaccination - a group titled "Doctors Stand Up For Vaccination (opens new window)". Sadly when this letter was first published, it didn’t have a public list of names. But now, they’ve released a verified list of all six and a half thousand doctors - with their full names and specialties.

It took a little while to convert the list to a spreadsheet and clean it up, but now I have a list of names I can process - and it turns out that there are a few popular New Zealand names in the list.

There are 102 Davids, 95 Sarahs and 78 Andrews on the list. If we Include Daves and Saras, we have 109 Davids and 105 Sarahs. That’s almost double the 56 doctors who have apparently signed the NZDSOS list - if that number is even accurate. It turns out that the NZDSOS signatures aren’t public, and so are impossible to verify, and most doctors probably didn’t sign the open letter but just a "declaration" that mentions support of the Hippocratic oath, informed consent and the Bill of Rights.

So, like the list in the US of Steves in support of the science of evolution outnumbering the number of scientists who think God created us, New Zealand has a list of doctors called Sarah who support mass vaccination that outnumbers the total number of doctors who have publicly supported an anti-vaccine group.

So, I’m wondering what to do with this list. Maybe I’ll buy the domain name - New Zealand Doctors called Sarah Speaking Out with Science, or - New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Actual Science - and put the list of doctors up there.