By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Social media has taken a major role in shaping opinion. It really does not matter if there is no truth to what is said. People will take comments that they read as gospel.

In most instances the things that people take as truthful do not have significant consequences. That is not always the case.

For example, TikTok provided what was called a blackout challenge. The idea was for the child to hold their breath until they passed out. Several children carried it to an extreme. They tied something around their throat to “blackout” and wound up choking themselves to death.

Another TikTok challenge is to stack milk crates and climb them. A number of children have tried this. A number of them have had orthopedic injuries as a result.

Social media advice is not confined to children. Adults have taken medical advice from some of these sources. Sometimes the advice offers no benefit. 

For example, I often see comments about taking a pill to “lose 60 pounds in 15 days by taking a pill and not needing to diet or exercise.” Really? But they would not be advertising if people were not sending them money. 

The most recent example is related to what is called vaccine “detox” programs. There are online suggestions for removing the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for those who received a mandatory vaccine and did not want them.

The suggested solutions are from people with no medical knowledge. For example one of the suggestions is that taking a bath in borax will nullify the effects of the vaccine. Nothing you do to the body externally will affect the immune system in the bloodstream. It is a hoax.

It is much like the weight loss pill. The only one getting a benefit is the person selling the treatment. Of course, this is nothing new. People have been making snake oil salesmen rich for centuries.

The original snake oil salesmen were in the 19th century. That was before the early 1900s Pure Food and Drug Act. They put narcotics in their preparation because it was legal to do so. No wonder people bought so much of it.

Social media provides very little in the way of physical benefits. However, you would never know that if you listen to some of the people who swear by the schemes that they fall for on it.

COVID update- Nationally, the number of cases went from 1,557,000 last week to 2,918,000 this week. Last year for the same period the number was 1,470,000.

Locally Sussex County went from 1,452 last week to 3,070 this week. These figures confirm the fact that the Omicron surge is real as opposed to just being hyped by the media.

The Omicron infections are clearly more contagious than previous variants. That might actually take us much closer to herd immunity.

There have been many mild infections in vaccinated individuals. Therefore it is hard to say for sure what the statistics are like for unvaccinated individuals who get the illness.

However, to this point the data suggests that the mortality rate is much closer to the annual flu epidemics than it is to the previous versions of COVID-19 infection.