Marjorie Taylor Greene Compares Covid-19 To Cancer, Here’s The Twittersphere Response
Bruce Lee, Senior Contributor December 4, 2021
On Saturday morning, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene compared Covid-19 and cancer in a four-tweet thread. There was at least one itty bitty problem with the thread: Covid-19 and cancer are not the same thing.
Sure Covid-19 and cancer both start with the letter “c.” But so does cummerbund and camel. They are also both health issues but so is walking corpse syndrome. Nevertheless, as you can see in the following first two tweets of the thread, Taylor Greene brought Covid-19 and cancer together like hot dogs and peanut butter.
Taylor-Greene started the first tweet by saying, “Every single year more than 600,000 people in the US die from cancer.” OK, that’s roughly true. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), “in 2021, an estimated 608,570 people will die of cancer in the United States.” So far so good then. No mention of space lasers, medical brown shirts or a June 31, 2021, deadline.
The second line her tweet stated, “The country has never once shut down.” Ok, that’s kind of true as well. But isn’t that like saying, “The country has never once covered everyone completely in spaghetti sauce?” It’s a true statement but doesn’t seem to follow from the first statement about cancer deaths.
The third line offered a little more of the same, “Not a single school has closed.” Again, this is true. But how could closing schools help fight cancer, especially when cancer rates tend to be much lower among school-aged children. It’s not like the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) where school-aged children are very likely to carry and spread the virus to each other during school and then bring home the virus to infect their family members. Closing schools can thus prevent schools from becoming cauldrons to further fuel the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the pandemic. By contrast, closing schools because of cancer deaths would be akin to putting a stick in your eye. It would serve no purpose except cause even more problems.
Her first tweet concluded with “And every year, over 600,000 people, of all ages and all races, will continue to die from cancer.” Yes, her tweet had already said something like that. So why repeat that? Does this have anything to do with closing schools? Unless Taylor Greene is somehow suggesting that cancer spreads like the Covid-19 coronavirus, through the air and casual contact.
Yikes, airborne transmission of cancer from spending just 15 minutes with someone with cancer? If cancer were to spread as quickly as the SARS-CoV-2, our society would be in serious, serious trouble. You’d see some really serious toilet paper hoarding then. Looks like writer Thor Benson would have no problems going into lockdown mode if that were the case.
Sure, air pollution, tobacco smokes, and other airborne substances may lead to cancer. But typically that takes many months or even years of exposure. Was Taylor Greene suggesting that there could somehow be cancer superspreader events like what happened at the White House with Covid-19 in 2020?
Before you jump to conclusions about how cancer may be spread actor, Angela Belcamino reminded everyone that things with skin cancer don’t get quite that jumpy.
Many responses on Twitter to Taylor Greene emphasized that cancer is not contagious. That is in large part accurate. You are not going to get cancer by staying in the same room for an hour with a person who has cancer. To be fair, though, there are cancers that can be triggered by infectious pathogens. For example, human papilloma virus (HPV) infection can cause cervical, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancer. And HPV can be transmitted via sex, which by the way is not the same as sharing a bus with someone. There is no evidence that HPV can float in the air like the SARS-CoV-2.
The second tweet in Taylor Green’s thread stated that “Since #COVID19 tracking has started, 780,000+ people have died in 22 mo in the US, but more than 1 million still died of cancer. More have died in 2021 from covid than 2020 in spite of Gov mandated widespread vaccines, mass public masking, & trillions spent.”
It is true that over 780,000 people in the U.S. have already died from Covid-19. In fact, reported Covid-19 deaths are probably underestimates since not everyone is getting tested for Covid-19. Nevertheless, it’s not clear though why citing the number of cancer deaths would make the large number of Covid-19 deaths any better. Wouldn’t that be like telling a person, “don’t worry about your house being on fire because it is sitting on quicksand?”
The first half of the second line in Taylor Green’s second tweet is correct in that more people have died in 2021 than 2020 from Covid-19. However, the second half of the second tweet should prompt you to say, “hold on a second.” Deaths have been higher in 2021 probably in part because the pandemic has been going on a little longer in 2021 compared to 2020. While the pandemic didn’t really pick up in the U.S. until March 2020, this year the pandemic was already in full swing as of January 1, 2021. Moreover, people seemed a lot more diligent with social distancing and face mask wearing earlier on during the pandemic in 2020. Through much of 2021, especially after mid-May, face mask use has become less and less widespread even though the pandemic has continued.
The availability of vaccines is one big thing that’s different about 2021 compared to 2020. The Covid-19 vaccines probably have already saved numerous lives. The problem though is vaccination rates have not yet been high enough to make an even more dramatic difference. As of December 3, less than 60% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, well below the 80%-plus herd immunity thresholds that are needed to break the transmission of the virus. Coupling these too low vaccination rates with premature relaxation of other Covid-19 precautions like face mask wearing has led to the Covid-19 death situation of 2021.
Many people are remaining vaccine-hesitant perhaps because they do not fully realize the threat of the Covid-19 coronavirus and the benefits of the vaccine. Continuing with Taylor Greene’s suggestion that Covid-19 may be like cancer, the following tweet suggests that people would be quite willing to get cancer vaccine if offered one.
Now there isn’t a vaccine against most cancers. One exception is the HPV vaccine, which can in turn cut down your risk of HPV-caused cancers like cervical and anal cancer.
Taylor Greene’s third and fourth tweets in the thread were short on medical knowledge as well.
As seen above, Taylor Greene claimed that “Covid predominately targets obese & older people.” The Covid-19 coronavirus doesn’t “target” anyone in particular. It doesn’t weigh you or ask you your age before infecting you. If you have a nose or mouth and a respiratory tract, you can get infected. If you don’t have such body parts, you may be a ficus plant. While those with obesity or those who are older may be more likely to have more severe outcomes from Covid-19, everyone is at risk for Covid-19 badness.
Taylor Greene also asserted that ivermectin is saving lives without the evidence that this is the case. As I’ve covered previously for Forbes, ivermectin may help remove parasitic worms from your body, there just isn’t enough scientific support for its use against Covid-19.
In case you couldn’t tell from her cancer references, Taylor Greene is not a medical doctor or a scientist. Therefore, adapting the words of Alanis Morissette’s song, isn’t it ironic that she was tweeting that “it’s time to take a different approach based on the facts” and “stop the politically driven mass hysteria.” It is time for the U.S. to take a different approach and have politicians stop tweeting about how to deal with Covid-19. Real scientists, medical doctors, and public health experts should be leading the way and not politicians. At the very least, it should be people who can make it very clear that Covid-19 and cancer are not the same thing.