FEW things spread faster on the internet than apparent proof that Covid vaccines are doing more harm than good.

Sometimes the claims are so preposterous they are best enjoyed for their comedy value, such as the recent post by one anonymous Twitter user - since removed by the social media site after tens of thousands of shares - who insisted that a “high up biologist (who is a good honest mate of mine) has confirmed that the toxins present in the mRNA poison Covid vaccine are set to be activated on October 10”.

The schoolboy error here was naming a specific date for Doomsday: the end is always “nigh”, not tomorrow or next Tuesday.

READ MORE: Vaccines ruled out in Scotland neonatal death spike

Not that this will deter the most ardent of antivaxxers, however.

The failure of the vaccinated masses to keel over on Monday just means the bioweapon activation date has been delayed; like all good conspiracy theories, the goalposts can keep on shifting.

Not all misinformation is quite so blatant, however. The really dangerous stuff comes from seemingly respectable sources.

Take the recent controversy in Florida, where the state’s own surgeon-general issued official guidance on October 7 advising men aged 18 to 39 against the mRNA Covid vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) due to an analysis apparently showing that they increased their risk of a fatal heart attack or cardiac arrest by 84 per cent.

Dr Joseph Ladapo is a physician who obtained his degree in medicine and a subsequent PhD in health policy from Harvard. He was also a professor of medicine at NYU and UCLA.

This would be rather like Scotland’s chief medical officer issuing a health warning about the vaccines.

The Herald: Dr Joseph Lapado, Florida surgeon-general (Getty)Dr Joseph Lapado, Florida surgeon-general (Getty) (Image: Getty)

Yet Dr Lapado’s analysis has, most kindly, been described as "phoney baloney" by scientists who were quick to pick apart its shortcomings.

For context, it is probably worth knowing that Dr Lapado was appointed in September last year after his criticism of lockdowns and promotion of debunked therapies such as ivermectin caught the eye of Florida Governor and antivax sympathiser, Ron DeSantis.

But that aside, what exactly was wrong with the Florida study (besides the fact that it was non-peer-reviewed and by anonymous authors)?

Quite a lot, in fact, but one of the main flaws was how it calculated deaths.

The study examined the death records of Florida adults who died within 25 weeks of any Covid vaccine (not just the mRNA ones) since December 2020 in order to compare the incidence of adverse events during a designated risk period (in this case, 28 days post-vaccination) against a “baseline” period (the further 21 weeks after the risk period elapsed).

The idea is to work out whether there is a statistically significant excess rate of complications (e.g. strokes, heart attacks) during the risk period versus the baseline period which would point to a potential link to the vaccines.

The trouble was, the Florida study continued to count people in the baseline period who had actually died in the risk period by including these individuals’ ‘person days’ (ie. one person = 147 days in the baseline) as part of the denominator when it divided adverse incidents over time.

The result inevitably underestimates risk in the baseline period.

As the epidemiologist, Deepti Gurdasani, put it: “People can’t die while not alive”. Unless they can in Florida? Who knows.

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Also bizarrely excluded from the tally were any Covid-related deaths (precisely what vaccines are designed to prevent), and even among those not deemed to have died from Covid directly, it was unclear whether or not they had recently tested positive (Covid is associated with an increased risk of blood clots and heart attacks).

Meanwhile it has also been noted that the grand total of cardiac-related deaths in the 18-39 age group during the risk period - 20, compared to 52 in the baseline - is actually too small to ascertain whether the difference is real (ie. “statistically significant”) or down to chance.

“If even just a few of these have another cause (which is highly likely), they lose statistical significance,” said Kristin Panthagani, a physician-scientist based at Yale Medical School.

Even more excoriating reviews have met another recent paper, authored by British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, in September.

Writing in the journal, Insulin Resistance - dubbed by one infectious disease doctor as the “Four Seasons Landscaping of the Covid literature” in reference to the infamous press conference held by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani amid claims that the 2020 election had been stolen - Dr Malhotra called for a global halt to the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine.



He believes, like Dr Lapado, that the vaccine increases the risk cardiac arrest to such an extent that the harm outweighs the benefit, especially in younger adults.

An accompanying documentary points to increased excess deaths as probable evidence of the vaccine's effects.

A crucial fact omitted is that we have literally tonnes of real-world data now, from millions of patients - including in the UK - comparing outcomes in the fully vaccinated versus unvaccinated population.

What that shows - age-adjusted, and per 100,000 - is that the unvaccinated are statistically more likely to die from all causes.

So, yes - excess deaths are up, but Covid vaccines are a red herring.

READ MORE: More than half of Scotland's excess deaths now caused by non-Covid illnesses

Spiralling A&E logjams, ambulance delays, missed diagnoses, elective treatment backlogs, and the long-term effects of Covid: these are doing the real harm.

But does it matter?

At this stage, when eight in 10 adults in Scotland are at least three triple-jabbed, such misinformation is probably more likely to bolster existing antivaxxers rather than persuade the already-vaccinated to turn against it.

Then again, as a report by Public Health Scotland noted this week, some communities - such as the Scottish Polish community (where nearly half are still unvaccinated, with distrust of the vaccines a major factor) - are more adversely affected than others.

If there's one take-home message, it's that not all "experts" are equal.