Four high-profile doctors who are challenging the COVID-19 response
A sign that reads “No Jab” is held by a person taking part in a demonstration opposing mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates outside the Legislative Building, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that Washington state is expanding its vaccine mandate to include all public, charter and private school teachers and staff, as well as those working at the state’s colleges and universities. Inslee also expanded the statewide indoor mask mandate in place for non-vaccinated individuals to include those who are vaccinated. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) Ted S. Warren/AP
Four high-profile doctors who are challenging the COVID-19 response
Cassidy Morrison January 11, 09:49 AMJanuary 11, 09:49 AM
Medicine has long benefited from robust debate among practitioners, scientists, and scholars, but the response of the United States and other nations to the COVID-19 pandemic has left some highly acclaimed doctors believing their field is in the grip of dangerous groupthink.
White House COVID-19 czar Dr. Anthony Fauci and former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins have aggressively silenced doctors who don’t toe the government line on matters including vaccine mandates, natural immunity, and the safety and efficacy of inoculations. But the questions haven’t gone away, and doctors who have been asking them at their own professional peril haven’t, either. Below are the stories of four esteemed physicians who have challenged the COVID-19 status quo and the medical establishment they know well.
Dr. Robert Malone
Malone is a vaccine scientist who, in the late 1980s, performed foundational research that helped establish mRNA vaccine technology used in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. He appeared on a New Year’s Eve episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which rocketed him to viral stardom. In the podcast, which has been scrubbed from YouTube and Twitter but uploaded to the Congressional Record by Texas Republican Rep. Troy Nehls, Malone characterized the all-hands-on-deck federal vaccination push as an example of “mass formation hypnosis,” a psychological phenomenon that gave rise to the Nazi Party in 1930s Germany.
Malone, troubled by what he argued is the federal government’s adamant push for adherence to a single school of thought about COVID-19, called this a “coordinated campaign of censorship and propaganda.”
“I’ve kind of been increasingly drawn into a position of leadership of those who have been speaking out against the narrative … and I’ve become very committed to trying to counter the absence of actual data because of all this suppression,” Malone told the Washington Examiner.
As he first raised questions about the use and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, Malone faced “shadow banning” on the internet. That soon ripened into full-blown bans from Twitter and LinkedIn last month as he ratcheted up his criticism. The efforts left Malone puzzled as to why someone with his credentials would be excluded from a debate of such magnitude.
“This coordinated campaign of censorship and propaganda has created an environment in which individuals that are being told they should take these unlicensed products [and] are not able to get access to the spectrum of information necessary for informed consent, because by definition, if information would cause vaccine hesitancy, it is deemed disinformation, and it will be deleted and censored,” Malone said.
Although the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been granted Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has received full approval.
Malone, 62, bristles at attempts to portray him as a misinformation peddler. Not only was he integral in the development of mRNA and DNA vaccine technologies, he has also worked with virologists and infectious disease experts at the National Institutes of Health as well as with the Defense Department’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency to help develop Ebola vaccinations and repurpose drugs that could treat Zika virus. Malone has served as assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore school of medicine and as a senior officer at multiple pharmaceutical and scientific research companies and has won millions of dollars in federal research grants.
As for Fauci, whose circles he has moved in for decades, Malone is dismissive.
“Tony has no integrity,” Malone told Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham earlier this month. “He lies all of the time. And me and my peers have been watching this for decades.”
Dr. Marty Makary
Makary is a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a fixture for the last two years on Fox News Channel, where he often takes issue with Fauci and the broader U.S. government response to COVID-19. He has been especially critical of what he believes is the federal public health apparatus’ ignorance of the natural immunity acquired by those who survive COVID-19 infection. Fauci and other public health officials under the Trump and Biden administrations, Makary argues, have placed too strong an emphasis on getting vaccinated as being the only way to prevent severe infection and death due to the virus.
“You can spin science just like one can spin politics and the art of selective outrage or selective focus on part of the story,” Makary told the Washington Examiner.
In addition to decrying the government’s unwillingness to recognize natural immunity, Makary also opposes what he sees as an all-out government campaign to vaccinate young, healthy people without fully considering potential adverse effects, such as myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation that has occurred in some cases following mRNA vaccination, primarily in young men.
“Dr. Fauci brings a significant bias toward vaccines as the solution to the pandemic. I agree that vaccines are an important tool in response to the pandemic, but there’s a way in which it’s been such an intense focus on vaccination that is kind of to the exclusion of recognizing the role of therapeutics and natural immunity,” Makary said.
Trained in surgical oncology and gastrointestinal surgery, Makary saw patients and served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine while conducting research. He was a pioneer in the laparoscopic surgical method used at Hopkins known as the Whipple procedure, a minimally invasive method to remove cancerous tumors from the pancreas. He has worked with the federal government on medical research looking into the causes and treatments for obesity. Makary is also a widely published public health policy expert who has championed greater price transparency and public reporting of care quality measures by hospitals.
Dr. Peter McCullough
McCullough is a cardiologist and former vice chief of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, where he treated patients with common medical problems such as heart and kidney disease, lipid disorders, and diabetes. He has a body of work exceeding over 1,000 publications, is the editor-in-chief of the medical journal Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine and senior executive editor of the American Journal of Cardiology.
Like Malone, McCullough is a fierce critic of Fauci who last month took his concerns to Rogan, where more than 40 million people downloaded the podcast of a near-three-hour interview. McCullough claimed in the interview that there was “an intentional, very comprehensive suppression” of early COVID-19 treatments to “promote fear, suffering, isolation, hospitalization, and death.”
“Censorship that has suppressed for two years, information on safe and effective early treatment and censorship on vaccine safety, has led to large numbers of deaths, hospitalizations, and permanent disability,” he said. “There is no bigger public health crisis than the impact of censorship in COVID-19.”
McCullough has been an advocate for the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, once championed by former President Donald Trump, as a treatment for COVID-19. The FDA, which had granted hydroxychloroquine an emergency use authorization for the treatment of COVID-19 in April 2020, revoked the EUA two months later over clinical trial findings that showed the health and safety risks of taking the drug, as well as a lack of conclusive evidence it was an effective antiviral, outweighed the benefits.
McCullough’s support for the use of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, a common medicine that is approved by the FDA as an antiparasitic, has led other physicians to criticize him. For instance, Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, called McCullough “a friend of the virus.”
McCullough was accused in 2021 by former employer Baylor Scott & White Health of illegitimately affiliating himself with Baylor for nearly six months after his position there was terminated. The lawsuit alleges that McCullough has conducted “dozens, if not hundreds” of media interviews in which he shared misinformation that will likely cause the organization “irreparable reputational and business harm that is incapable of remedy by money damages alone.”
Dr. Scott Atlas
Atlas is the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and currently a healthcare policy fellow at the right-leaning think tank the Hoover Institute at Stanford. He served as an adviser on the pandemic to Trump for a brief time in 2020 after making several media appearances in which he stressed the harms of restricting business activity and keeping schools closed as a means of curbing transmission of COVID-19.
Atlas was also an avid opponent of shelter-in-place orders that were common early in the pandemic nearly two years ago, pointing to the increased rates of substance abuse and mental health crises linked to those early pandemic practices. He also argued in April 2020 that lockdowns and isolation have cost the lives of people too afraid to seek critical medical care not related to COVID-19.
The ideas Atlas championed were outlined in an online petition known as the Great Barrington Declaration, which he was briefed about by its authors — three epidemiologists from Harvard University, Stanford University, and University of Oxford — in October 2020. The declaration was bolstered by more than 910,000 signatures from infectious disease experts around the world and called for an end to mass lockdowns and school closures. It stated that children and healthy adults who were least likely to be harmed by the virus “should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal.”
The authors, like Atlas before them, were decried by many experts. But perhaps the harshest response came in an email from Collins to Fauci that was only revealed through a freedom of information request.
“This proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists … seems to be getting a lot of attention — and even a co-signature from Nobel Prize winner Mike Leavitt at Stanford,” Collins wrote his famous and ubiquitous subordinate on Oct. 8. 2020. “There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises.”
For doctors who believe diverse opinions and robust debate provide the best road map for “following the science,” the email was as chilling as it was revealing.
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Originally appeared at Washington Examiner