Joe Rogan admits broadcaster Josh Zepps made him ‘look dumb’ during vaccine debate

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Joe Rogan has admitted he was made to “look dumb” by ABC broadcaster Josh Zepps during a debate about the effects of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Rogan has come under fire for the past two years for inviting several vaccine sceptics onto his show, where he allows them to air unsubstantiated or disproven theories about Covid-19.

This week, an open letter signed by 270 scientists demanded that Spotify address the misinformation shared on Rogan’s show.

However, in this week’s episode, Rogan was left somewhat speechless after Zepps was able to point out he was incorrect in his claims about the effects of the coronavirus vaccine on children and young people.

Rogan said he had read reports that showed there was an “adverse risk” of myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle – among 12-17-year-olds who received the vaccine.

Zepps countered by pointing out that there is an increased risk of myocarditis from Covid-19 among the same age group that exceeds the risk from the vaccine.

Rogan continued to disagree and suggested they look up a scientific report. He then read a headline that said: “Myocarditis more common after Covid-19 infection than vaccination.”

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Joe Rogan has been accused of promoting vaccine conspiracy theories (Getty Images)
Joe Rogan has been accused of promoting vaccine conspiracy theories (Getty Images)

“Is this with children?” he asked, continuing to read the article. “With children is the issue... ‘12-17 more likely to develop myocarditis within three months of catching Covid at a rate of 450 cases per million infections. This compares to 67 cases of myocarditis per million in the same time following their second dose of Pfizer.’”

“Yeah, so you’re about eight times likelier to get myocarditis from getting Covid than from getting the vaccine,” Zepps pointed out.

“If anyone was going to make me look dumb on the podcast I’m glad it’s Josh Zepps,” Rogan tweeted after the episode aired, “because I love him, and he’s awesome.”

“However this is why I was confused,” he added, linking to a Guardian report from September last year. The article cited US researchers who published a report, which had yet to be peer-reviewed at the time, claiming healthy teenage boys were more likely to be admitted to hospital with adverse side effects from the vaccine, than from Covid itself.

An article published by the British Medical Journal said critics called the US report “deeply flawed”.

In a blog post on the website Science-Based Medicine, Dan Freedman, a Texas-based paediatric neurologist in Austin, Texas, pointed out that many “cases” of myocarditis may have been from an infection or another diagnosis altogether. He described the analysis in the US report as “half-baked” with “data that will certainly be co-opted by the anti-vaccine movement”.

In an April 2021 episode of his podcast, Rogan discouraged young people from getting vaccinated, saying, “if you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go no.’”

He later walked back his comments, saying he is “not an anti-vax person” and that he is “not a respected source of information, even for me”.

Rogan himself announced last September that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and had suffered from “fevers and sweats”, which caused him to postpone a show in Nashville.

“That video is cringey, but it’s what happens when you stumble in a long form podcast when you didn’t know a subject was going to come up and you wing it,” Rogan tweeted of his conversation with Zepp.

“Obviously I have no idea what is right, but the article I posted was what I was referring to. I’m sure I’ll stumble again in the future, but I honestly do my best to get things correct.”

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