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100+ sources I've found helpful when learning about the COVID-19 vaccines

Posted by Sarah Stogryn on

I wrote recently about my decision to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after months of saying no. I had a lot of questions and I'm not the kind of person to do something just because the government has said I should. I also understand that all choices have outcomes and consequences and I need to be willing to own those, for better or worse, as well as recognize how my choices can ripple out beyond me. The bottom line was that I needed answers and understanding before making a decision on something as significant as being vaccinated with a new vaccine. That's not new for me or unique to this situation. lol 

I feel fortunate that as an autistic person and because of my particular personality, my tendency is to focus on data over emotions (not that emotions are bad!!). Listening to my intuition and following my heart are skills I've had to develop. For many people though, emotions and feelings are what primarily drive decision making, sometimes to the exclusion of data. For those who have personal or inherited trauma at the hand of the medical system or government the feeling of needing to protect oneself by staying away can amplify those emotions even further. All of which makes looking at information that is contrary to ones current opinion or beliefs incredibly difficult. Because that new information doesn't just challenge a neutral fact, it challenges ones intense personal beliefs and feelings, and it challenges ones sense of safety and place in the world. It can make them question who they are as a person. Actively and openly seeking out information which may conflict with ones sense of self is not unlike the feeling of reaching ones hand toward a flame. And if I'm being honest, they might find things burning away if they do. Beliefs and values which were integral to how one sees themself may very well ignite and turn to ash. Which is hella scary but the exciting thing is, a more authentic and true version of a person can appear as a result.

In her comedy special Douglas, which is about her being diagnosed autistic as an adult, Hannah Gadsby 'jokes' that  
"Pretty much, it's like, I have a piece of information you seem to be missing. You may or may not be ready to hear this information, but I'll tell you anyway because knowledge is power, ignorance is a cage, and feelings can be dealt with. I bid you good day." 

And so here, I have gathered up a collection of sources I have found helpful in my decision to be vaccinated with a COVID mRNA vaccine in Canada.....

This is not a clearing house of scientific papers because honestly, understanding scientific research is a serious skillset most of the population doesn't have, which means sharing the papers only would kinda be like sharing something in a foreign language and ultimately that isn't useful to those of us outside the scientific community. And, not all legitimate information comes in the form of a research paper either.  Often in the TikTok's I've shared you'll see references made to specific research papers - if they are of interest to you I encourage you to look them up. The few news articles shared also frequently contain links to other data/supporting sources. This article of mine is not an exhaustive list either way, because our knowledge base is constantly growing. My purpose is only to share for others who have questions, concerns, or are hesitant. "Because knowledge is power, ignorance is a cage, and feelings can be dealth with". ;)

This is not an exhaustive list, and there may well be "better" links and sources out there than some of what I've shared. That's ok.  This list isn't intended to be the best of of the best for everyone. I might have popped a link under a particular heading when it fits better under a different one. meh. The information is still there. lol. And if you "disagree" with something I've linked to, that's your prerogative. I just suggest, with all kindness and love, that before you jump to the default of disagreement because it challenges your worldview, that you consider the possibility that there is truth to be seen if your eyes are open, if you are willing to shift your lens. 
I hope you find something here which allows you to see in a new way. <3

Oh, and if it's a direct link you're clicking on from here - which is most of them - they DO NOT open in a new window because that would have taken me ages and I've already spent hours just getting them all cut and pasted. I suggest having two tabs open :)  And maybe brew a cup of gentle tea for while you read <3

First - the difference between science and misinformation:

And why we need to "verify before we amplify"

This article from FiveThirtyEight covers a lot of territory. I’d start here.

A video course from the National Science Foundation in the US
(I just learned about this one the day I was writing this and haven't gone through all of it yet. It's the only source I'm including like that)


How do the vaccines work?

ASAP Science

Mayo Clinic

McGill University

Does it slow down illness? hospitalizations? deaths?
What about asymptomatic infections?

Initially from the clinical trials we only knew that it reduced symptomatic infection. The real life data since has shown and continues to show that vaccination significantly reduces rates of symptomatic and asymptomatic infection, serious illness, hospitalization, and death.  

Effectiveness against symptomatic infection with DELTA is reduced compared to earlier strains, but the vaccines are still very effective at reducing serious illness, hospitalization, and death.









What are the side effects and how common are they?
Things like a headache, sore arm, low grade fever, and fatigue are all common responses to immune activation of any sort including COVID19 vaccination and are not side effects of concern. They are mild, pass within a day or two, and are rarely reported outside of when the information is actively solicited in clinical trial settings unless they escalate to a degree which significantly interrupts activities of daily living at which point if the person reports them to their doctor and they meet the criteria, you’ll see them appear in the stats for non-serious adverse events because while they aren't defined as serious, they're still disruptive.

The rate of non-serious adverse events in Canada is .021%

The rate of serious adverse events in Canada is .008%. 

The rate of death from the vaccines is 0.003% (189 deaths/54,129,701 doses administered in Canada) This number INCLUDES 73 deaths which were ruled as unlikely to have been caused by the vaccine based on the criteria from the WHO, 71 with insufficient data to make a determination, 39 under investigation, and 6 from the AZ vaccine before it was halted for 1st doses in Canada.  

If we exclude the 73 deaths ruled unlikely, the rate drops to 0.002%. 

Specific information about serious adverse events can be found at the link:
(as of September 22 2021)

What is an adverse event? Serious adverse event?https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Definition-of-an-adverse-event-and-a-serious-adverse-event_tbl1_344316768

What about myocarditis?
Your risk of myocarditis from COVID itself is substantially higher than it is from the COVID vaccination and the myocarditis associated with vaccination is mild compared to the form you experience with COVID infection, which is also associated with significant morbidity and mortality in the 5 years following infection. 





What about long-term effects?

Unlike drugs which are taken daily over time, vaccines are limited. Because of how vaccines work in the body, long-term effects that show up years down the road aren't a thing. :)



What are the odds of contracting CV?
What are the odds of experiencing negative long-term effects from CV?Currently in Canada, about 1 in 25 people have tested positive for COVID.
1,569,186 (total positive tests)/38,144,415 (current population)
Of those, roughly 7.5% have required hospitalization and 1.86% have died.

As of the end of August 2021, 87.5% of cases, 84.3% of the hospitalizations, and 81% of the deaths are among those who are unvaccinated. This is compared to 2%, 1.7%, and 2.5% among the fully vaccinated.


Many experts believe it is no longer a matter of IF, but WHEN a person is exposed to COVID. While wealthy countries have been able to implement mass vaccination campaigns, only 2.1 % of low income countries have been able to get even a first dose to their citizens. We're not comparing the risk of vaccine adverse events against ZERO risk from COVID itself.  Even if someone is choosing to stay home as much as possible, at some point they’ll have to leave for an appointment or event, or have someone come into their home, and at any time they may find themself having to interact with emergency services personnel of some variety, or interacting with the health care system.

Of the 1 in 25 Canadians who have tested positive so far, 10%- 30% are experiencing long haul symptoms. Which means .41%- 1.23%  of Canadians are experiencing long haul COVID. Long-haul COVID symptoms include things such as debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, muscle and joint pain, chest pain, memory, concentration, or sleep problems, headaches, loss of or altered smell or taste, fever, dizziness, depression or anxiety.


September 23, 2021)




"As many as 14.4 percent of people hospitalized with severe covid-19 developed diabetes, according to a global analysis published Nov. 27 in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism."


Does being vaccinated reduce the likelihood of experiencing long-haul COVID?
Yes. Depending on which strain you’re exposed to, the mrna vaccines are effective at stopping a very significant portion of infections. So right off the bat, if you’re that much less likely to get sick, you’re that much less likely to get long haul COVID. Current evidence also shows that among those who are vaccinated and experience a breakthrough covid infection, their risk of experiencing long haul covid is cut almost in half.




What are the ingredients?





But what about fetal cells? I heard there are fetal cells in the vaccines.
No, the vaccines do NOT contain fetal cells. Like many other drugs and vaccines though (including things like painkillers, antihistamines, and antibiotics) it is common for decades old cell lines to be used during the testing phases of new pharmaceuticals.



Who else is researching all this besides the pharmaceutical companies?
While the research started with the pharmaceutical industry (or in the case of AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company in combination with a University), it is now being conducted by governments, academic institutions, independent think tanks, and beyond, all around the world. 


I’m young and thin and healthy and have no co-morbidities so why should I get vaccinated?




If the vaccine isn’t approved for kids under 12 how can it possibly be safe for pregnant people and the fetus they are carrying?
Clinical trials for kids for pfizer and moderna are expected to be completed before the end of 2021 and preliminary data was released in September 2021.

(you may need to make a free account to read this article)


Giving the vaccine to a child is different than giving one in pregnancy, because the child receives the mrna vaccine directly, their body then makes a limited amount of non-infectious closed spike protein, creates antibodies to the non-infectious, closed spike protein, and breaks down the mrna messenger and the spike proteins, leaving only antibodies for immunity behind. In pregnancy, there is no evidence at this point (Yes, they are actively looking) that either the mrna instructions or the non-infectious, closed spike proteins get to the fetus - its the antibodies produced by the pregnant person that pass to the fetus, conferring a limited amount of immunity to the fetus.



You mean it doesn’t cross the placenta? How does it decipher between the blood brain barrier (bbb) and the placenta then?
Okay, so this question requires a bit of unpacking because its based in some faulty information. There was a study done with whole COVID virus (NOT with the vaccine), where researchers deposited whole infectious COVID virus deep into the noses (aka close to the brain) in mice. It appeared that this whole virus was able to cross the blood brain barrier of those mice. The more virus they were infected with the sicker they got, and the majority of the mice in the study died (they were euthanized). Unfortunately some people have extrapolated this to mean that because the whole virus deposited intranasally got into the mouse brains and the mice also died, that the vaccine-induced spike proteins must cross into the brain, and because they must cross into the brain they must also cross into the placenta, and because they cross into the placenta, they are a risk to the fetus because the spike proteins themselves are inherently toxic and lead to death. This is inaccurate on multiple levels.

First - inserting a whole virus intranasally (aka planting it right up close to the brain) is very different than injecting instructions to make a non-infectious piece of it, intramuscularly into the arm which is where the vaccine is given.

The majority of that vaccine stays in the arm muscle, some goes to surrounding lymph nodes, and the remaining 1% to the liver where it is destroyed by liver enzymes.




The spike protein that the mrna vaccine prompts your body to make is DIFFERENT from the spike protein on the whole live virus. The spike protein on the whole live virus is “open” so it can attach to ACE2 receptors on the cells, get inside the cells, and replicate freely, causing infection.
The spike protein made by your body in response to the mrna vaccine is closed, and can’t be opened. That means it can’t bind to ACE2 receptors, and can’t get inside your cells to replicate. It also only produces a set number of spike proteins so does not replicate freely like the whole virus does.
So even though a small amount of the non-infectious, closed spike proteins can travel elsewhere in your body, they aren't inherently toxic and can’t bind to any of the cells.



ACOG & SMFM on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy

What about the mrna itself though? 
Research out of Israel shows the mrna pieces don’t cross the placenta either.


And research from Boston, Mass, USA shows that there is generally a lack of transmission of the WHOLE covid virus across the placenta to the fetus. The whole virus is much more transmissible than the vaccine spike protein is so we have no reason to believe that the vaccine induced non-infectious closed spike protein is regularly crossing either at this point.


That being said, we are seeing an increase in serious risks like preterm births and stillbirths in those who experience COVID -infection- during pregnancy, possibly due to inflammation of blood vessels which impacts fetal well-being.



OBGYN Capital Women's Care

They’re not finding evidence of whole COVID virus in breastmilk (breastmilk is made from blood.) They're also not finding evidence of the vaccine in breastmilk. Which would make sense, because the very small amount that makes it into the bloodstream gets processed by the liver first. 
There are antibodies though which is a good thing. 


Yeah, but I heard that 1 in 8 pregnant women who got vaccinated before 20 weeks lost the pregnancy, and that the NEJM retracted the paper they’d published saying the vaccine was safe, because its actually not?
In the initial paper of preliminary findings that came out in June, it showed how many of the completed pregnancies (827) they were following had ended in loss so far (104), but stated that those numbers (a rate of 13.9%) were not directly comparable to pre-COVID rates because they didn’t have enough information yet and these were only preliminary findings. OTHER people not involved in the study then stated that the risk was 1 in 8, even though the study itself didn’t do so. Between 10% & 22+% of pregnancies are expected to miscarry prior to 20 weeks.

The study was not retracted, a correction to the preliminary findings was issued which clarified some sentences. As more information became available through followup, the study authors posted supplementary material with the updated information regarding the rate of pregnancy loss in those who were vaccinated before 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is still within the normal and expected range that we see in the population as a whole, which means the research is showing that being vaccinated against COVID does not increase your risk of pregnancy loss.







This is an additional submission to the NEJM showing that the risk of pregnancy loss after COVID vaccination is not beyond that we expect to see in the population at large. 


I heard it could mess up my menstrual cycle and make me infertile.
There have been many anecdotal reports of temporary menstrual cycle changes. The link between those temporary changes and covid vaccination is a plausible  (though not overtly concerning) one, and it warrants further investigation.  Much like a mild fever or sore arm are very common and not concerning after vaccination, because the menstrual cycle is so easily impacted on a month by month basis by things like both stress, and immune system activation, it is logical that just like some people experience non-concerning transient fatigue or headache post-vaccination, some people appear to be experiencing non-concerning transient menstrual cycle changes. Because individual menstrual cycles are so variable it is very possible that some portion of the anecdotal reports are coincidental not causational and research will need to happen to sort that out.


As for fertility - there is NO evidence that COVID vaccination leads to infertility or reduced fertility rates, and there is no biologically plausible mechanism by which COVID vaccination could lead to decreased fertility. 






TikTok Team Halo

Male fertility


You should read the “fine print” in the manufacturers insert.
Reading the manufacturers insert is a great place to start, but not a great place to finish and you need to understand what you’re reading (which most of us don't unless we ask for help from someone who speaks that 'language'). The information is readily available online. Sometimes its suggested to ask a pharmacist for a paper copy, but oftentimes now they don’t actually have paper copies they only have digital - the same ones I’ll link below :)

The information found in the manufacturers insert is based on what the manufacturer studied in the phase 1-3 clinical trials.  If a team of scientists researched something in relation to a particular vaccine afterwards, that information isn’t going to be found in the manufacturers insert. Just because something isn’t included in the manufacturers insert, doesn’t mean the information doesn’t exist.
We also need to understand what we’re reading. Section 13.1 is sometimes brought up, because it says that the vaccine ‘has not been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, or impairment of fertility.’  Some people read that, and assume it means that the vaccine might -cause- cancer or infertility because they haven’t even bothered to study it so how could they know?  Or that they know it does and are intentionally not testing in order to keep that information hidden. What it actually means, is that the individual ingredients in the CV mrna vaccines have been evaluated for those potentials, and none was found. And due to the nature of those ingredients, there is not a potential for combining them to change that. They don’t waste money testing the cookies because they’ve already seen that the flour and the sugar and the eggs and the butter are safe, and there is no mechanism by which combining those ingredients as they did could render them inherently unsafe. They still have to state that the product as a whole isn’t tested for legal reasons. And if there IS an ingredient that has a concern of some sort attached to it, that’s listed elsewhere in the insert. (In this case there isn't).

Vaxopedia on Section 13.1

But the vaccine isn’t fully approved. It only has emergency use authorization. That means if you take it you’re part of a clinical trial without consent which violates your human rights and the Nuremberg Code.
Pfizer got full FDA adult approval in the US on August 23 and Moderna is expected to follow there in a month or so. Here in Canada they were used under an ISAD-IO Interim Order which transitioned to full approval September 16, 2021 Pfizer & Moderna both have Interim Orders for use in populations 12+ in Canada as well.

What’s the difference between an Interim Order and full approval anyway? Basically in the standard full approval process, trial phases happen one after another with potentially some overlap, then researchers gather all the data up afterwards, submit it for review to Health Canada, HC looks at safety data obviously but also things like labeling, instructions for use, language etc. Once that is all cleared, if all the required standards are met, then there is full approval. 

With an ISAD-IO, trial phases are more likely to have overlap (phase 3 might start while phase 2 is wrapping up for instance if phase 2 was all green lights and no red flags, in large part because the funding and participants are available to make that possible with this), and data is submitted as its obtained (rolling submission) so that once Health Canada has enough data to make a clear determination on safety, the approval for interim use may be granted. Health Canada also has the flexibility to intervene and suspend or halt any part of or an entire trial based on the rolling data that is being submitted. Once an IO is granted, Health Canada then continues with the other parts of approval like french language labelling, and once all that's done, then the full approval gets granted. All the safety data that would be necessary for full approval is also necessary before Interim Order approval is granted.

If you get the vaccine under the IO you are not part of the phase 1-3 clinical trials. You are not part of a clinical trial without consent, and you are not experiencing a violation of the Nuremberg Code. 

You are however part of  'phase 4' which begins only after vaccine approval (IO or full) and which actively looks for safety issues that are too rare to have appeared in trials, based on the real world data. Phase 4 is for all vaccines and drugs not just CV. Often this stage can last many years if not decades with vaccines not because effects appear years later, (they generally appear in under 6-8 weeks) but because it takes that long for enough people to have received the vaccine to give them sufficient breadth of data. Because so many people (actual billions globally) are receiving the mrna vaccines that real world data is being obtained more quickly than is typical so we're getting safety data faster than ever before.






CTV - Nuremburg Code

This article is from before the current mrna vaccines were approved. It gives some great insight into the science that was already in place which contributed to CV19 vaccines becoming available so much more quickly than past vaccines.

More info on how this vaccine was developed more quickly without compromising safety.



Ontario Public Health on the vaccine approval process

I trust my natural immune system.  Besides, I'm healthy and I take XYZ supplements to "boost" my immune system.  
Health is a privilege which can be taken from anyone at any time without warning. Even if someone is currently at their own level of optimal health, there's no guarantee they'll stay there. And if someone contracts COVID while unvaccinated, they have a 10x higher risk of needing to be hospitalized and an 11x higher risk of death. Even if they do fight off COVID and survive (which is likely), it could decimate that optimal health they're so proud of if they're one of the up to 30% of people who experience long-haul COVID.

No matter how good one believes their immune system is, when it is encountering a virus for the first time, the virus will invade your cells and replicate before your body has even realized there is a problem. Which means not only have you given the virus a headstart on making you seriously ill, you're also carrying a higher viral load for a longer amount of time and therefore more likely to spread the virus to others who may not have the privilege of "health" that you have, who can't afford the lifestyle choices you make or the supplements you take. It also gives the virus more time to replicate which means more time to mutate and that can lead to more problematic strains of the variant. (A different process than antibiotic resistance).






The thing with supplements, diet, exercise etc, is they are what's known as modifiable health behaviours. And those things that are personally modifiable only account for about 30% of our overall health. The remaining 70% are things outside our control like genetics and social determinants of health. So while those supplements some can afford may give them an edge as long as the other 70% of factors outside their control are in their favour, at any time if some of those other factors slip out of their favour they're no longer gonna be as helpful as they were hoping. 



But the vaccine isn't natural so the immunity isn't natural and natural is better.
Actually, the immunity ones body makes in response to the vaccine IS the body's natural immunity. :)  The vaccine (which yes, contains synthetic mrna that the body recognizes and treats like natural mrna) simply gives the immune system a sneak peak at its COVID opponent so it can safely prepare a natural immune defense and be ready when exposed to the COVID virus.

And really, if someone says they won't take it because it isn’t natural I presume that means they don't ever use any pharmaceutical? No antihistamines or sleeping pills or pain relievers? ;)  Or TREATMENTS for COVID for that matter! 

Ok, but, isn't the immunity derived from natural infection better though? And why can't we just test antibody levels?




Still, it seems like they're really pushing vaccines and ignoring treatments. I heard it's because they could only get the vaccines approved if there were no treatment options.

If a city discovers that a particular intersection is experiencing an extremely high rate of collisions, they don't build a collision center and a hospital on the corner (treatment), they look at how to redesign the intersection to reduce the number of accidents (prevention) first. Making sure people can easily access the collision center and hospital is still important, but is not the first priority because it doesn't reduce the harm as effectively as preventing it does. Likewise, as much as yes its important for treatments to be explored and developed for COVID, which is happening globally, the greater benefit comes from preventing illness in a consistent and equitable way in the first place - vaccine programs. 

In Canada, the ISAD-IO allowed for vaccines to be be developed yes, but also for existing drugs to be repurposed if there's evidence to support that and for new treatments to be explored. It's not one or the other. Its both and. :)


There's some fascinating treatment research going on around the world (llama based nasal spray anyone?)



What about my religious rights?
While the right to practice one's religion is protected by law, those laws still intersect with and exist alongside laws regarding the public good. Further to that, while an individual member of a religious group may claim they believe the vaccine would violate their religion, no religious organization has blatantly forbade their members from receiving the COVID-19 vaccines which makes seeking a religious exemption somewhat of a grey territory. As someone who was raised in a devoutly evangelical Christian home (and who is no longer Christian), I learned early on that I was to be "in the world but not of the world". That is to say, there were things which "worldly" people would do that I couldn't and that might be uncomfortable or difficult for me. That's just part of the gig of being religious. If you choose a religious path which places limits on your life that interfere with your ability to participate fully in society, well that's your choice. Your right to practice your religion is protected yes, but only in so far as it doesn't impede on another person or the public good.  

VUMC on Vaccinations & Religion


Even if all that is true - aren’t these mandates we’re seeing in parts of Canada a violation of my Charter rights? Are mandates even legally enforceable?

The way the vaccine passports rolled out in Ontario was problematic on multiple levels. I wrote about that here.

Even so, just because they do it badly, doesn't make the concept inherently wrong. Much of what we assume are rights (like eating in a restaurant or going to the gym) are not provided for and protected (which rights are), but rather, are consumer choices. They're privileges. And they're privileges that, if we CHOOSE not to be vaccinated, are now being limited as a result. Our consumer and employment options have looong been limited by public health laws and while this is hitting at a new level perhaps, and brings significant ethical and legal dilemmas with it, it isn't actually new. 

While mandates are not "laws" this is true, mandates are a legitimate and legally enforceable part of the legal system. In very simple form, law are long term and orders/mandates are short-term/time-limited. Officially they are known as "orders" but we frequently refer to them as mandates. 


CTV article on the Charter 

I personally know someone who literally doesn't believe in washing their hands after using the bathroom. It's not "laziness" or "bad habit". They believe its harmful so they don't do it. And that's their prerogative even though it increases risk of illness for themselves and unfortunately for those they come in contact with, especially anyone vulnerable, even if those people take extra precautions. Like it or not, that person would be prohibited from working in the food service or healthcare industries because their strongly held belief (which is also not rooted in evidence) would put the public at risk so they're not allowed to hold those jobs.
Yes is complex and yes it's uncomfortable but the fact remains,  at the end of the day ones personal rights are always limited at the point where they intersect with the public good. Someone can decline vaccination. That is absolutely their choice. (Unlike things like ones race or sex or gender or body size which are NOT choices) And if they're told making that choice will lead to limits on their consumer and employment choices, that isn't force or coercion - that's simply saying if you don't wash your hands you can't prep and serve the food -- for the safety of those around you. 

But where there's risk there has to be choice so unless you can guarantee me the vaccine is zero risk, then saying if I don't choose it my consumer and employment choices will be limited is coercion and force. 

That's a strawman argument because no choice in life is zero risk. Choosing to be vaccinated has some risks. Choosing to remain unvaccinated has substantially more risks both for the individual and those they're in contact with. 






(she's a little snippy)

Guide to the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms




And that's a wrap :) I hope some things in this post have spurred on your thinking and that if you have new questions as a result, you are inspired to continue reading and learning. 


  • Thanks for compiling all of this information in one place. I made the choice to be vaccinated early on after looking into many (not all) of the topics you covered, and I love that you’ve made it easier for others to find and sort through all that information, in presentation methods that make it more accessible.

    Joyce on

  • I have come back to read this many times over. Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate it!

    Amy on

  • I agree this is an excellent post and a lot of us in the same position will find it really helpful

    Dennis on

  • The only link I’ve ever wanted to share with anyone still hesitating or out right refusing. My dad gets a covid test from work every other day, so says he’s less of a risk than I am.

    Mira Gallaway on

  • Thank you for the gift of your exhaustive and thorough research. A very helpful resource.

    Julie Bell on

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