Does covid cause brain damage?

The latest in the long succession of attempts at maximizing people’s fear of covid is the claim that it causes brain damage. And not just in those who have spent time in the ICU, in everyone, even if all they had was a mild cold. The claim is currently doing the rounds on social media (apparently alarmist propaganda only counts as misinformation if it’s going … Read more

Do drug trials underestimate side effects?

One commonly used trick in drug trials is to exclude any group that might make the drug look worse, such as those that are more likely to experience side effects. A good recent example of this is the covid vaccine trials, which largely excluded people with auto-immune diseases (more likely to develop an auto-immune disease after vaccination), people with allergies (more likely to have an … Read more

Does it make sense to vaccinate those who have had covid?

One of the strangest things about the last few months on planet Earth has been the relentless drive to vaccinate everyone, regardless of what their individual risk from the virus is, and whether or not they’ve already had the disease. It was well known long before covid came along that people who have had an infection are usually at least as well protected as those … Read more

Is covid a danger to children?

With many countries rapidly reaching the point where most adults have been vaccinated against covid, attention has been turning to the issue of whether or not children should also be vaccinated. This has been accompanied by an increase in claims in the media that covid is in fact more dangerous to children than was previously thought.

I think most people intuitively agree that children shouldn’t … Read more

Are regular health checks good for you?

Regular health checks (a.k.a routine visits) are probably the bane of many a primary care physician’s existence. I can’t imagine many things more boring than running through a standardized list of questions with a patient who feels absolutely fine, then going through a list of lab values that are almost invariably within the normal reference range, and finally topping it off with a perfunctory physical … Read more

How well do doctors understand probability?

I’m very interested in how doctors think. How do we use the information gained from talking to and examining a patient to reach a reasonable list of likely diagnoses (a so called “differential”)? When we order a test, what specifically are we looking for, and how will we react to the result that comes back? More cynically, I’m curious about the extent to which we … Read more