Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why Joe Rogan and I sat down and talked -- for more than 3 hours


I do not suppose I have ever had a dialog that lengthy with anybody. Seriously — take into consideration that. We sat in a windowless podcast sales space with two units of headphones and microphones, and a number of toes between us. Not a single interruption. No cellphones. No distractions. No toilet breaks.

At a time when there’s a want for shorter, crisper content material — responding to abbreviated human consideration spans — probably the most well-liked podcasts within the nation options conversations that final exceptionally lengthy and go significantly deep.

Many buddies cautioned me towards accepting Joe’s invitation. “There is little room for reasonable conversations anymore,” one individual instructed me. “He is a brawler and doesn’t play fair,” one other warned. In reality, when I instructed Joe early within the podcast that I did not agree along with his obvious views on vaccines towards Covid, ivermectin and many issues in between, a part of me thought the MMA, former Taekwondo champion would possibly hurtle himself throughout the desk and throttle my neck. But, as a substitute he smiled, and off we went.

OK, I am embellishing right here, however Joe Rogan is the one man within the nation I needed to change views with in an actual dialogue — one that would probably be among the many most necessary conversations of this complete pandemic. After listening to his podcasts for some time now, I needed to know: Was Joe merely a sower of doubt, a creator of chaos? Or was there one thing more? Was he asking questions that begged to be requested, fueled by crucial suspicion and skepticism?

Into the lion’s den

It wasn’t what Joe Rogan thinks that almost all me, it was how he thinks. That is what I actually needed to know.

Truth is, I have at all times been a naturally skeptical individual myself. One of my private heroes, the physicist Edwin Hubble, mentioned a scientist has a “healthy skepticism, suspended judgment and disciplined imagination, not only about other people’s ideas but also about their own.”

Joe Rogan addresses his controversial anti-vaccine commentsJoe Rogan addresses his controversial anti-vaccine comments

It’s a great way of occupied with the world — stuffed with honesty and humility. I dwell by that, and I suppose Joe might to some extent as effectively. He would be the first to level out that he’s not a physician or a scientist who has studied these subjects. Instead, he appears to see himself much less a rapscallion and more of a type of guardian of the galaxy, stating the missteps made by massive establishments resembling the federal government and mainstream medication, and then questioning aloud if they will nonetheless be trusted to make suggestions and even mandates for the remainder of us. To many, he represents a queen bee in a hive thoughts, advancing free will and private liberty above all else.

The free will of your fist ends the place my nostril begins

When I mentioned this to Joe, the MMA fighter, he paused, sat again and listened for some time. I requested him: Is it not doable to advocate strongly for private freedoms, but additionally acknowledge the distinctive menace a extremely contagious illness represents? He appeared to agree, however then rapidly countered with a typical false impression in regards to the general utility of the vaccines.

If vaccinated individuals transmit simply as a lot because the unvaccinated, why are they actually crucial?

It was like Joe and I have been now in the octagon, circling each other. He stared at me intently now, eyebrows raised. I admitted that the vaccinated might nonetheless carry the virus at related hundreds because the unvaccinated, however swiftly added — earlier than he might declare victory — that there was more to the story.
New analysis estimates $5.7 billion price tag for treating unvaccinated Covid-19 patients in the last 3 monthsNew analysis estimates $5.7 billion price tag for treating unvaccinated Covid-19 patients in the last 3 months
I shared information with Joe exhibiting the vaccinated have been eight times less likely to turn out to be contaminated within the first place, and that their viral hundreds came down more rapidly in the event that they did get contaminated — making them contagious for a shorter interval and much less more likely to unfold the virus.

Vaccines will not be excellent, however he needed to agree they’re actually a worthy device to assist management the unfold of the virus. And, they’re significantly efficient at retaining individuals from getting severely ailing or dying. They additionally might assist forestall the event of lengthy Covid, a persistent state of sickness that some individuals develop after pure an infection, even when their bout with the acute section of an infection was delicate.

What he mentioned subsequent shocked me

So, it seems that Joe Rogan almost acquired vaccinated. That was a headline. It was a number of months in the past when he was in Las Vegas. He had an appointment scheduled however had logistical hurdles and could not make it. He supplied up this story as proof he’s not essentially “anti-vaccine,” even when he does constantly elevate points questioning their legitimacy.

It’s this type of again and forth that makes it exhausting to pin Joe Rogan down, each in martial arts and a podcast interview.

(*3*)
For instance: Even as he generally railed towards masks, “The Joe Rogan Experience” masks emblazoned along with his emblem can be found for sale on his website. I even purchased one forward of time and gave it to him as a present. He seemed shocked. (Incidentally, they’re made in China.)

Despite a downplaying of Covid dangers typically heard on Joe’s podcast, his personal studio prioritizes security. A nurse was current to carry out a fast Covid take a look at earlier than we started. We have been even checked for the presence of antibodies with a finger prick blood take a look at.

Both of us carried antibodies — his from pure immunity, mine from the vaccine. I was vaccinated in December of final 12 months and Rogan contracted Covid on the finish of August. Even although this antibody take a look at might solely detect the presence of antibodies and not their energy, Joe took nice delight in his take a look at, insisting the thickness of his traces should imply stronger immunity. I am pretty sure he was joking. And, I did not have the center to inform him that my antibody line was considerably thicker than his anyway.

The nuance of immunity

It bears repeating that nobody ought to select an infection over vaccination. That is the priority many public well being officers have had because the earliest days of the pandemic. If nothing else comes out of my dialog with Joe Rogan, I hope at the very least this level does. Far too many individuals have turn out to be severely ailing and died, even after the efficient vaccines grew to become obtainable. Just within the final three months, there have been more than 90,000 preventable Covid-19 deaths within the US amongst unvaccinated adults, in line with a brand new evaluation by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
At the identical time, an Israeli study garnered quite a lot of consideration after it appeared to indicate that pure immunity supplied vital safety — even stronger than two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in individuals who had by no means been contaminated.”

So the question Joe raises, as do many others: Why should those who have previously had Covid still get the vaccine?

It’s a fair question, and one that I raised myself with Dr. Anthony Fauci back in early September. At the time, he told me there was no firm answer on this, and they were still looking into what the recommendations should be going forward and how durable natural immunity is in the long run.”
CDC predicts continued declines in Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths over next 4 weeksCDC predicts continued declines in Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths over next 4 weeks
Part of the difficulty is that we nonetheless haven’t got a transparent thought of how many individuals have contracted Covid within the United States. The official quantity is round 45 million, however as a consequence of continued lack of enough testing, it stays unsure. And most of the antibody checks which might be presently obtainable have excessive charges of each false negative and false positive results, oftentimes making them unreliable as proof of immunity.

Another concern with pure immunity is that it will probably differ considerably based mostly on the age of the person and simply how sick they acquired within the first place. Milder sickness in older individuals typically resulted in fewer antibodies being produced.

Some studies have proven between 30 and 40 p.c of people that have recovered from Covid didn’t have detectable neutralizing antibodies in any respect. That most likely explains why a recent study confirmed that unvaccinated individuals who already had Covid have been more than twice as more likely to get reinfected as those that had additionally been vaccinated.
I instructed Joe that even within the examine from Israel, the authors concluded with the advice that individuals who had recovered from Covid nonetheless get a vaccine. And when Joe pushed exhausting on the chance of myocarditis in children who obtain the vaccine, particularly younger boys, I countered again equally exhausting that the chance of myocarditis has been shown to be much higher for contaminated youngsters beneath 16 years outdated in comparison with their uninfected friends. Those numbers dwarf the risk of myocarditis in kids who obtain the vaccine (and, to make sure, most circumstances of myocarditis will be handled with out hospitalization). For me, the risk-benefit evaluation is evident: Vaccination is safer than an infection.

I guess a small a part of me thought I would possibly change Joe Rogan’s thoughts about vaccines. After this final change, I realized it was most likely futile. His thoughts was made up, and there would at all times be loads of misinformation on the market neatly packaged to assist his convictions. Truth is although, I am nonetheless glad I did it. My three-hour-long dialog wasn’t simply with Rogan. If only a few of his listeners have been satisfied, it’ll have been effectively value it.

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