The U.S. surgeon general sent a message to all 50 states asking for examples of misinformation on COVID during the pandemic. Here was what the surgeon general was expecting: long lists of local social media posts from deplorable people who dared to question the official government narrative.
In the case of at least one brilliant attorney general from the state of Indiana, however, what the surgeon general got was a long list of the misinformation and disinformation peddled by the U.S. federal government. Collaborating with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Senior Research Fellow at the Brownstone Institute and former Professor at Harvard University School of Medicine, Indiana Atty General Todd Rokita detailed a few of the most egregious examples of misinformation from the government.
(It might be worth pointing out that M* has discussed many of these issues since the beginning of the pandemic, so it is nice to see our perspective corroborated).
1 Overcounting COVID-19: The official CDC numbers for COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are inaccurate. The official tallies include many people who have died with rather than from COVID-19. CDC has not distinguished deaths where COVID-19 was the primary cause of death, where COVID-19 was a contributing cause of death, or where the death was entirely unrelated to COVID-19, but they incidentally
tested positive. There are three reasons for this problem. (i) The counting of COVID-19 cases and deaths is unlike the way that public health counts the incidence and mortality caused by other diseases; physicians have been
advised to fill out death certificates to privilege COVID-19 as a proximal cause, even when the medical facts suggest otherwise. (ii) The population-wide testing to identify asymptomatic individuals infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is unprecedented in human history. (iii) Although it would have been easy, CDC has not conducted random national surveys of medical charts to determine what proportion of reported
COVID-19 deaths were truly due to COVID-19. Ex-post audits of death certificates and medical records in Santa Clara County and Alameda County, California, for instance, found that in ~25% of death certificates in which COVID-19 was labeled as the primary cause of death, other causes of death were more likely.
2 Questioning Natural Immunity: There has been consistent questioning and denying of natural immunity after COVID-19 recovery. Using seriously flawed studies, CDC falsely claimed that natural immunity is worse than vaccine acquired immunity.
In October 2020, the CDC director published a “memorandum” in The Lancet, questioning natural immunity. Most critically, by mandating vaccination
for people who have recovered from COVID-19, the government, corporations, and universities de facto deny natural immunity. For scientists, this has been the most surprising disinformation. We have known about natural immunity
since the Athenian Plague in 430 BC; other coronaviruses generate natural immunity; and throughout the pandemic, we knew that the COVID-19 recovered have good natural immunity if and when they get exposed the next time.
3 COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent Transmission: The CDC director and other health officials falsely claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine prevents the transmission of COVID-19 to others. This was also the rationale for vaccine mandates and passports — to prevent the spread of the virus to others.
4 School Closures Were Effective and Costless: In the United States, most schools were closed for in person teaching for some time, and many schools were closed for over a year. This decision was based on false claims that it would protect children, teachers, and the community at large. Already in the early summer of 2020, we knew this was false. Sweden was the only major Western country to keep schools
open throughout spring 2020 without masks, social distancing, or testing. Among these 1.8 million children ages 1 to 15, there were zero COVID-19 deaths, only a few hospitalizations, and teachers did not have a higher COVID-19 risk than the average of other professions.
5 Everyone is equally at risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection: Though public health messaging has blunted this fact, there is more than a thousand-fold difference in the risk of hospitalization and death for the old relative to the young. Though the risk of death is high for the old and some other vulnerable populations with severe chronic illness, the risk posed to children from COVID-19 infection is on par with the risk posed by a bad influenza season. Surveys indicate, however,
that both old and young overestimate the risk of death from COVID-19 infection.14 This misperception about risk is harmful because it leads to demand for policies – such as school closures and lockdowns – that were themselves harmful.
6 There was no reasonable policy alternative to lockdowns: Even from the beginning of the pandemic, the sharp age-gradient in the risk of severe disease on COVID-19 infection has provided an alternative to the lockdown-focused policies that many U.S. states adopted – focused protection of the aged and otherwise vulnerable. In October 2020, along with Prof. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, we wrote the Great Barrington Declaration – a public petition that proposed heightened measures to protect the vulnerable and a return to near-normal life for the less vulnerable (including the opening of schools). Tens of thousands of doctors and scientists signed the Declaration in opposition to lockdowns.
7 Mask mandates are effective in reducing the spread of viral infectious diseases: Contrary to assertions by some public health officials, mask mandates have not been effective in protecting most populations against COVID-19 risk.18 The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads by aerosolization. Unlike larger viral droplets, which are pulled by gravity to the ground shortly after emission, aerosols are tiny particles that
can persist in the air for extended periods. Aerosols escape through gaps of poorly fitted masks, greatly reducing their ability to stop disease spread. Cloth masks, in particular, cannot stop aerosols, and even well-fitted N95 masks have diminished capacity to stop viral transmission when they become moist from breathing.
8 Mass testing of asymptomatic individuals and contact tracing of positive cases is effective in reducing disease spread: Mass testing of asymptomatic individuals with contact tracing and quarantining of people who test positive has failed to substantively slow the progress of the epidemic and has imposed great costs on people who were quarantined even though they posed no risk of infecting others.
9 The eradication of COVID-19 is a feasible goal: Throughout the pandemic, from “two weeks to flatten the curve” and onwards, the suppression of the spread of COVID-19 has been an explicit policy goal. Implicitly, public health leaders have made the suppression of COVID-19 spread to near-zero levels the endpoint of the pandemic. However, SARS-CoV-2 has none of the characteristics of a disease that can be eradicated.
As the Indiana Attorney General pointed out: “For two years, the government forced us to stay in our homes, cover our faces, and keep our kids home from school. We were expected to blindly follow and obey these public health orders and not question the wisdom of unelected officials. Families across Indiana and across the nation demand the truth.”
The truth is that many government offices, from the CDC to the FDA to the NIH, spent the entire pandemic peddling misinformation. In many cases, this misinformation involved blatant lies that the purveyors of the misinformation knew to be untrue. And in a classic case of projection, officials from these offices accused people trying to tell the truth about the pandemic of being the sources of “misinformation” when they cited real scientific data contradicting the government lies.
Why would government officials do this to us? That is the subject of a future post, but in the meantime you may want to ponder the fact that government health officials received millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies who benefited directly from the COVID vaccines. If the government pushes panic rather than science, more people are going to get vaccinated, and Big Pharma makes billions. So, yes, there is a secret combination to get gain, and it involves government officials and the companies they are supposed to be regulating. Shameful.