Green Bay Packers quarterback/crypto bro Aaron Rodgers has been in the news this week for the worst possible combination of reasons: contracting COVID-19 and, in the process, revealing that he gave a misleading answer when asked by reporters months ago if he’d been vaccinated. While Rodgers said at an August press conference that he’d been “immunized,” it turns out—according, at least, to a vaguely-sourced NFL.com report—that he meant that he’d received an alternative homeopathic treatment meant to “raise his antibody levels.”
This is not how antibody levels work, homeopathic “vaccines” are not real vaccines, and, yet again, an athlete’s bizarre and wrongheaded stance on vaccination is revealing a powerful undercurrent of dangerous pseudo-medical bullshit that is pervasive even among America’s wealthiest and most powerful.
According to the strenuously neutral piece of reporting on NFL.com, Rodgers, who tested positive for COVID this week, “previously had sought and was denied an exemption from the NFL-NFL Players Association COVID-19 protocols based on his antibody levels this summer.” The site reported that Rodgers had “received homeopathic treatment from his personal doctor to raise his antibody levels.”
Athletes First, a talent agency and PR shop for NFL players, has not responded to questions from Motherboard about what, precisely, Rodgers was taking, and likely never will. But the description of a homeopathic treatment meant to raise his antibody levels sounds awfully like homeopathic “vaccines,” which are a recognized piece of pseudo-scientific bunk that have been promoted to vaccine-hesitant parents for years as a purportedly safe “alternative” to vaccines.
Also known by the name “nosodes,” these faux-vaccines are, like all homeopathic medicines, supposedly made from a biological substance that has been heavily diluted. In the case of nosodes, this is often diseased tissue or an infectious agent; homeopathy relies on the principle of “like cures like,” the idea being that something which can sicken a person in a large amount would activate their immune response when taken in a diluted form. But that dilution, of course, means that people taking homeopathic medicines are in essence just taking meaningless, completely inert tinctures or sugar pills. This is in no way similar to receiving a vaccination. During COVID (and long before, in some circles), homeopathic remedies have also been promoted as a way to counter vaccine “side effects,” which is also unreserved bullshit and functions solely as a way for natural health practitioners to sell products that don’t work.
It’s worth noting, finally, that much of the online discussion around Rodgers’ bad medical choices has also centered around his fiancee, actor and well-known woo enthusiast Shailene Woodley. She’s issued a variety of wacky, do-not-try-this-at-home wellness pronouncements over the years, including professing a love for homeopathy and making her own medicines. A homeopathic medicines company quoted her in 2012 as saying that their products are “the only medicine I use.” In an interview with beauty site Into the Gloss, she also enthused about eating clay, telling the site, “I first heard about the benefits of eating clay from a taxi driver. He was African and was saying that, where he’s from, the women eat clay when they’re pregnant. Seriously—ask your taxi drivers where they are from and about their customs. You will learn a lot.” What Woodley described sounds a lot like pica, a medical condition in which children and, occasionally, pregnant people compulsively eat non-food substances. (Pica is often seen in people suffering from anemia or malnutrition.)
A PR representative for Woodley did not immediately respond to a question about whether she, too, is taking homeopathic “remedies” for COVID prevention. A Woodley fan Twitter account pointed out that the show she’s currently working on does have a mandatory vaccination policy. Regardless, of course, Rodgers’ medical choices are his own, and his diagnosis this week should provide some powerful evidence about just how well they’re working out.