Joe Rogan had a “dirty” suggestion about how to protect yourself against Covid-19 on Wednesday’s episode of his Spotify podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. He was talking to his guest, CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD, when Rogan said, “You know what I think you should do. I think you should get vaccinated and then get sick.”
That prompted Gupta to go, “what?!?” After all, Rogan didn’t seem to mean “sick” in a “that’s sick” sense. Instead, Rogan meant get sick with Covid-19 after getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Rogan elaborated with the following: “This is why: because then you got the vaccine protects you from a bad infection and then you get Covid so then you get the robust immunity that’s imparted from having the actual disease itself, which is far more complex and comprehensive than you are getting from the vaccine that targets one specific protein, right?”
Well, not necessarily. But more on this later.
Rogan continued by saying, and here’s the dirty part, “So that’s the move, get vaccinated, let it wane, and then hang around with a bunch of dirty people.”
Rogan added: “And then get a lot of therapeutics on hand so that you can take care of it quickly.”
Here’s a clip of the exchange from a CNN news segment:
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Rogan didn’t clarify what exactly he meant by “dirty people,” whether it was dirty in the sexual sense as in “you dirty, dirty person”, dirty in the moral sense, or dirty in the “caked in mud” sense. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is not known to preferentially infect people who talk about their genitals a lot, who are more likely to backstab you, or who are more likely to backstab you while talking about their genitals. Lack of showering won’t necessarily make you more susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 either, unless, of course, you are replacing normal showering time with playing Twister with unvaccinated strangers. In general, what’s going to make you much more susceptible to infection is remaining unvaccinated while failing to maintain social distancing and face mask use.
Even if you are fully vaccinated, it’s not a good idea to hang around folks who may be carrying the Covid-19 coronavirus. That would be like wearing a bicycle helmet and then repeatedly slamming your head against the toilet. While the Covid-19 vaccine can offer good protection against Covid-19, it’s not like a gigantic full body concrete condom. It won’t offer you 100% protection. The amount of protection offered depends on the risks that you take. If you don’t maintain other precautions, you can still get Covid-19, even severe life-threatening Covid-19, albeit your chances would be significantly lower than if you were not fully vaccinated.
And don’t rely on “a lot of therapeutics” to rescue you if you do get severe Covid-19 or prevent you from getting severe Covid-19. That would be akin to showing up to a job interview or date naked and then hoping to explain yourself out of the situation subsequently. Rogan said that he basically threw “the kitchen sink” at the virus when he got Covid-19 in August and claimed that his Covid-19 infection ended up being like a “bad cold.” Presumably, he didn’t throw an actual kitchen sink at himself but instead was referring to taking “a lot of therapeutics.”
Even though Rogan apparently did manage to avoid more serious consequences of Covid-19, it’s not clear which of the “therapeutics” that he had taken if any may have made any difference. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel does recommend the use of certain anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody regimens under certain circumstances. However, the Panel also has determined that there is insufficient evidence there is “insufficient evidence” for them “to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19.” When you do multiple things, it’s hard to tell which can take the credit. Plus, a sizeable percentage of people infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus do end up having milder illness.
On the same episode, Rogan continued to claim that people who recover from the Covid-19 have “amazing immunity” against the virus. However, this is not necessarily true. For example, in August, I covered for Forbes studies have shown that levels of antibodies can be “variable and weak” after a Covid-19 infection and that compared to those who have been fully vaccinated, those unvaccinated may be 2.34 times as likely to get infected a second time with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Then, in September, I covered for Forbes on a study that found that 36% of those who had had Covid-19 didn’t even have antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 in their blood. Even if you do end up developing antibodies after recovering from Covid-19, it’s not clear how long such “natural immunity” may last in a person.
By contrast, the Covid-19 vaccine offers a much more consistent and controlled exposure to the part of the virus that is responsible for the virus entering your cells. As a result, the immune protection generated by the vaccine may be less variable than what natural immunity can offer. Additionally, researchers have been closely following those who have been vaccinated to determine how long vaccine-acquired immune protection may last. So, as a result, you better know what you are getting with the vaccine versus natural immunity.
This probably won’t be the last time that Rogan will talk about Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccine on his show. That’s natural because the Covid-19 pandemic is kind of a big deal right now and has remained a public emergency. Remember though what Rogan said earlier in the year: “I’m not a doctor, I’m a (bleeping) moron. I’m not a respected source of information, even for me.” So if you are looking to Rogan for entertainment and some entertaining suggestions, that’s one thing. If you are looking for real medical and public health advice, you may want to turn elsewhere. After all, you probably wouldn’t walk into an emergency room and say, “I’m looking for a (bleeping) moron to take care of me.”