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Shin Jie Yong
MSc student | 5x first-author academic papers | 100+ articles on coronavirus on Medium | Freelance medical writer | Malaysia | contact:

A newsletter providing a short account of the articles published during the past month.

Hi everyone! Here’s another monthly issue from Microbial Instincts, an independent publication about infectious diseases on Medium (that’s managed by someone who’s doing it as a hobby). As usual, articles (friend linked) published in July 2021 are briefly described, which I hope will keep you more scientifically informed on topics that matter.

Vaccine safety

Ivermectin’s situation reminds me of vitamin D.

Source: iStock

Ivermectin is oddly popular among health officials and the public alike in some countries —notably Latin America, South Africa, and Indonesia — as the ‘cure’ or ‘miracle drug’ against Covid-19. The price of ivermectin has skyrocketed as a result, even more so in the black market. But the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 outside clinical trials.

As such, there are two main schools of thought about this:

  • Ivermectin is ineffective or not very effective against Covid-19. …

Evaluating the claims of unsafe Covid-19 vaccines based on what has been reported to VAERS objectively.

Image adapted from

Vaccine safety is a polarized topic. Many either stay on the side of safe or unsafe vaccines when the reality isn’t so black and white. A vaccine is a type of drug. Like antibiotics, birth control pills, statins, and antidepressants, they all come with risks and hopefully more benefits.

That said, this article will examine if there’s any truth or validity in the claims that Covid-19 vaccines are unsafe based on what has been reported to the vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS), a passive surveillance system that monitors vaccine safety in the U.S. beyond clinical trials.

The unsafe Covid-19 vaccines narrative

In the rather…

It’s easy to misinterpret science, and it takes more effort to understand the true narrative.

Source: iStock

In the past few months, there has been a push for the idea that the spike proteins related to mRNA vaccines are toxic to our bodies. The vaccine can cause spike protein deposition in the ovaries, for example, but is this really true? I wish there’s a yes or no answer to this question, but the science behind it isn't so straightforward. Rest assured, however, that the mRNA vaccines aren't toxic to the ovaries or any other tissues.

This article will explain why, as objectively as possible, and also serve as an update to a related article about spike protein…

A newsletter giving a short description of articles published in the past month.

It’s me again, Shin, editor of Microbial Instincts, an independent publication on infectious diseases in Medium. The articles (friend linked) published here in June 2021 may seem controversial to some, but I hope they provide a more objective and less polarizing look into the current pandemic situation. Here is a brief account of those articles that I hope will keep you more informed:

Coronavirus vaccines

  1. Covid-19 Vaccine for Minors: All The Possible Benefits and Risks Explained: Minors (children and adolescents) have started to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in several countries, so it’s about time to discuss if it’s worth doing so. Minors…

There are always statistical outliers, exceptions to the rule.

Image by Alexander Gresbek from Pixabay

We can’t expect everyone to react to vaccines exactly the same way. Depending on one’s age, sex, and health status, the efficacy and safety profile of vaccines can differ by a wide margin. Thus, even though approved or authorized vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority, there are and will always be statistical outliers.

Speaking of outliers, there’s no better time than a pandemic to identify them. As mass vaccination against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is going on, many reports of vaccine adverse reactions have surfaced. But note that such reports represent the tiny minority. The Covid-19…

A concise update of what’s going on and what it would take to convince everyone.

Image by

Everyone wants an answer to the origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the culprit behind the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. It’s not just a want but a need as well. We need to know; otherwise, we may be repeating the same mistakes and playing dice roll.

Without knowing how a pathogen of pandemic potential came to be, we won’t know how to stop the next one. Sure, we can take more stringent precautions, but we won’t know if they are the correct ones to take. …

Topics discussed include acute Covid-19, long-COVID, MIS-C, anaphylaxis, Shoenfeld’s syndrome, ITP, myocarditis, VITT, societal factors, and X-factor.

Medical photo created by

While I won’t hesitate to get the Covid-19 vaccine when my turn comes, my parent is anxious about it (even though I’m already 21). Other parents probably feel the same way. After all, we can’t help but wonder if it’s really necessary to inject a bioactive substance into our body — much more into our child’s body — when there might be no need for it. But others may feel relieved, knowing that their child can return to some level of normalcy after getting vaccinated.

In May 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use…

A newsletter providing a short account of the articles published in the past month.

The lab-leak hypothesis of Covid-19 has been the hot topic during the past month, appearing across almost every news outlet. For example, here’s one from April I wrote that summarizes the 120-page WHO-China report and discusses the current knowledge and, more crucially, the next steps forward. But I digress. As usual, here’s a short note of the articles (friend linked) that Microbial Instincts or I covered in May that I hope will keep you more scientifically informed.

Coronavirus vaccine

  1. Why Vaccine Boosters May Not Solve the Mutating Coronavirus Problem: With the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) spreading far and wide, mutations will happen. Some mutations…

We got it wrong with cholera, measles, tuberculosis, and SARS-CoV-2

Source: iStock/exdez

How an infectious disease spreads from one person to another is a question so vital that if we get it wrong, we will fail to control its spread and may even make it worse than it has to be.

During the 19th century in London, people believed that miasma (‘bad air’) spread cholera, a diarrheal bacterial disease. So, stinky sewers were dumped into the Thames River, a major source of drinking water. This move ended up killing far more people, as in fact cholera spreads via contaminated food and water.

We have made similar mistakes with measles and tuberculosis, which…

Shin Jie Yong

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