If you’re looking to rile up a crowd on social media these days, take an anti-vax stance. That likely isn’t the reason Alex Foxen and his bride-to-be, Kristen Bicknell, used Twitter to opine on the COVID-19 vaccines. But they sure did cause a stir by questioning if the non-FDA-approved vaccines are even safe.
Despite the existence of a vaccine, in the U.S., the pandemic remains a problematic public health issue. Over the past week, more than 1,000 Americans have died daily, on average, from the coronavirus. That’s significantly down from the pandemic’s peak daily death toll of over 4,000 per day back in January, but still troublesome.
A huge part of the problem is the Delta variant, considered by medical experts a deadlier and more contagious COVID-19 strain. Delta now represents over 80% of all coronavirus positive tests in the U.S., and some epidemiologists claim it is fairly resistant to the vaccines currently available.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, believes the way to stop Delta, or at least prevent deaths and severe illnesses, is for everyone (over age 12) to get vaccinated. But there are two prominent poker pros who aren’t so sure the immunologist of over 40 years knows what he’s talking about on…immunology.
Questioning the Science or Questioning Science?
Over the past couple of weeks, Bicknell and Foxen, two of the top high rollers in poker, have been quite active on Twitter sharing a differing viewpoint to the pro-vax crowd, and also retweeting medical professionals who share their viewpoints. What are those viewpoints? That the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t proven to be safe and the scientists who disagree are manipulating data, supposedly.
Bicknell shares Foxen’s beliefs on the vaccine issue. She argues that the media is playing a role in turning the pro-vax crowd against those who refuse to get the jab.
The data, however, tells a different story. According to the New York Times, the vaccinated represent less than 5% of all COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in every state. And the states with the lowest vaccination rates have the most hospitalized patients, per capita.
Every piece of data seem to suggest the vaccines are safe and effective. Over 167 million Americans are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, yet very few have died from complications related to the vaccine. Studies also show that over 97% of all COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. over the past month were those who weren’t vaccinated. But Foxen and Bicknell argue the media has manipulated the data, and they also have another reason for refusing to get the shot.
I’ve been at a live stop and somehow poker feels very meaningless right now when I feel like we’re in a state where we need to fight for freedom immediately,” Kristen Bicknell tweeted
It’s not just about believing in the supposed medical experts or the data presented by what they dub the “mainstream media” to the poker power couple. They argue that forcing vaccinations on civilians is an attack on their freedom.
Many who support the vaccine often point to a June survey from the American Medical Association (AMA), which states, “more than 96 percent of surveyed U.S. physicians have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, with no significant difference in vaccination rates across regions.”
If medical professionals are comfortable getting the jab, why shouldn’t every Tom, Dick, and Harry? The high-profile poker couple has an explanation, of which many in the poker community were critical.
Both poker pros shared videos of doctors who claim the vaccines are unsafe, an issue that concerns both Bicknell and Foxen. But that take didn’t go over well with a number of their followers.
As mentioned earlier, the stat came from a June AMA survey, of which another Twitter user informed Foxen. Ryan Meese (@RyanMeese) responded: “actually can’t believe so many genius poker players like Foxen are this confused about the vaccines lol.”
Foxen, who was called out by multiple others for refusing to acknowledge that most doctors in the U.S. support the vaccine, fired back with a reasonable argument of his own.
“A study of 300 doctors from WebMds doctor group self reported 96% vaccination. What does this oppose that I said?” Foxen responded. The two-time defending GPI Player of the Year award recipient then turned his attention to another follower who made a valid point about why humans should trust the COVID-19 vaccine.
Somehow, although Twitter users on both sides of the aisle passionately argued their points, the debate, for the most part, remained civil, a rarity in 2021.