42

An acquaintance of mine has been very adamant that viruses can't be caught and continues to link me things like this Ickonic video, where Jaymie Icke interviews Dr. Andrew Kaufman M.D. who claims:

I lived my whole life believing we can pass these infections from person to person [...] but interestingly all those times I learned it - especially in medical school - I was never presented with the series of experiments that actually proves that to be true.

[...]

There are almost no studies [that test that diseases spread from infected to healthy animals]. There are almost no studies like that. There are several studies more than a century ago, after the Spanish Flu, but since then I have not been able to find any studies to actually provide the scientific validation that we can actually have contagious diseases.

I'm very skeptical of a number of claims in this video, really, but I wanted to get a more thorough understanding of how we have come to our current understanding of epidemiology and viral pathogenesis. I have familiarized myself with some of the material in this microbiology textbook, but it's somewhat dated material and I wanted to seek input.

He expands on his points (at around 15:16) in ways which I think might conflate infection with disease, stating that the pre-existing presence of streptococcus in a person not experiencing symptoms means that the it is not the cause of the symptoms in another person. This seems fallacious to me, but I thought I'd see what others thought and if anyone knew outright of sufficient evidence while I dig around to improve my understanding.

| improve this question | | | | |
  • 29
    And the reason why there are few experiments deliberately transmitting diseases between people is that most such experiments would be considered unethical. So most of the evidence is indeed indirect (e.g animal studies), but quite overwhelming. (Aside: even "live challenges" with pathogens from a dish are considered highly problematic in human studies medicalsciences.stackexchange.com/questions/23096/…) – Fizz Apr 10 at 8:57
  • 27
    I hate to say this, but the best direct evidence that pathogens pass diseases between people comes from highly unethical studies, of the kind conducted by the Nazis and the Japanese in WWII. The Nazis for example deliberately created tuberculosis epidemics in order to study them. Of course, extermination of the subjects was a desired "side effect" doi.org/10.1159/000481474 – Fizz Apr 10 at 9:20
  • 69
    One reaon that there are relatively few studies proving this point (aside from the ones proven specific subpoints that are already given in anwers is that it has already (in the past) been soundly proven beyond any reasonable doubt. You will have a hard time finding any recent studies proving that gravity is a thing or establishing the speed of light, either. Claiming that he can't find recent studies is basically demanding from science that it needs to re-prove everything every generation or so. That's ridiculous. – Tom Apr 10 at 11:59
  • 12
    Is this Jaymie Icke related to David Icke, the well-known insane conspiracy theorist? – DJClayworth Apr 10 at 16:40
  • 1
    Excellent - the video has been taken down for violating YouTube rules. – Rory Alsop Apr 23 at 22:36
154

A qualified doctor challenging the Germ Theory of Disease after 1900? Wow.

This is just a smattering - just a random tasting - of the thousands - or perhaps millions - of studies showing that contagious diseases are contagious.

  • Dog to dog transmission of a novel influenza virus (H5N2) isolated from a canine

    To determine whether the novel H5N2 was transmitted among dogs, we conducted contact exposure and inoculation experiments. Susceptible dogs were housed in the room which the novel H5N2 infected dogs were housed in. As a result, the direct contact resulted in intraspecies transmission.

  • The guinea pig as a transmission model for human influenza viruses

    Moreover, influenza virus was transmitted from infected guinea pigs to noninfected guinea pigs housed in the same cage, an adjacent cage, and a cage placed 91 cm away. Our results demonstrate that influenza virus can pass between guinea pigs by means of droplet spread and thereby establish the suitability of the guinea pig as a model host for influenza virus transmission studies.

  • Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature

    (Warning: same authors as above)

    We have shown that the transmission of a human strain of influenza virus between guinea pigs, a highly susceptible mammalian species, is acutely sensitive to conditions of RH and temperature.

  • Transmission of influenza A in human beings. The Lancet Infectious Diseases

    This is a systematic review of the literature about Influenza A. They identify dozens of studies related to how the virus is transmitted, including no fewer than six of the animal-to-animal studies that apparently haven't been done. [Confession: I haven't read these studies, but the systematic review didn't find that they contradicted the past 100 years of understanding of viruses, so I assume they don't have any staggering news in them.]

    List of studies

  • Aerosol Transmission of Rhinovirus Colds

    I wanted to include at least one example of the many that have used human volunteers. This one involved infected and healthy subjects playing cards for 12 hours, including some volunteers who were restrained from touching their faces during that time.

    These results suggest that contrary to current opinion, rhinovirus transmission, at least in adults, occurs chiefly by the aerosol route.


Aside: Kaufman makes several basic errors about how science works. His layman confusion about "theories", "laws" and "proof" of suggest he is not well read in science, despite his qualifications.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • 89
    btw, that video should be reported to Youtube as a scam. It is endangering the lives of other people and spreading dangerous misinformation. – Nzall Apr 10 at 9:37
  • 7
    @Nzall: Go ahead! – Oddthinking Apr 10 at 10:05
  • 35
    @Nzall this is the same youtube channel that has been promoting the 5G-Covid conspiracy theory gsmarena.com/… – Fizz Apr 10 at 11:10
  • 7
    Also worth mentioning - Mythbusters sort of tackled this years ago: youtube.com/watch?v=UbQ9Kl9CqUU. It clearly shows that infected individuals can spread a virus with two assumptions they don't address - that mucus from an infected individual contains the pathogen, and that exposure to said pathogen can result in infection. The first is trivially easy to check, the second has mountains of supporting evidence (as mentioned in this answer). It's a great visual indicator of why hygiene and distancing are important to mitigate spread, though Adam may have been exaggeratedly handsy... – cpcodes Apr 10 at 18:20
  • 6
    @plasticinsect: The word "apparently" is carrying a lot of weight here. It was some minor snark about the claim, which denied that such studies had been done. – Oddthinking Apr 10 at 23:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .