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The Vaccine Scientist Spreading Vaccine Misinformation - 2021-08-12

F374.png The Vaccine Scientist Spreading Vaccine Misinformation August 12, 2021, Tom Bartlett, The Atlantic

Robert Malone—a medical doctor and an infectious-disease researcher—recently suggested that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines might actually make COVID-19 infections worse. He chuckled as he imagined Anthony Fauci announcing that the vaccination campaign was all a big mistake ("Oh darn, I was wrong!") and would need to be abandoned. When he floated that nightmare scenario during a recent podcast interview with Steve Bannon, both men seemed almost delighted at the prospect of public-health officials and pharmaceutical companies getting their comeuppance. "This is a catastrophe," Bannon declared, beaming at his guest. "You're hearing it from an individual who invented the mRNA [vaccine] and has dedicated his life to vaccines. He's the opposite of an anti-vaxxer."

Before going any further, let's be clear that the back-and-forth between Bannon and Malone was premised on misinformation. The vaccines have repeatedly been shown to help prevent symptomatic coronavirus infections and reduce their severity. Malone was riffing on a botched sentence in a USA Today article, one that was later deleted but not before being screenshotted and widely shared. That kind of overheated, spottily sourced conversation is par for the course on shows like Bannon's, which traffic in a set of claims that sound depressingly familiar: The vaccines cause more harm than experts are letting on; Fauci is a liar and possibly a fascist; and the mainstream news media is either shamelessly complicit or too stupid to figure out what's really going on.

In that alternate media universe, Robert Malone's star is ascendant. He started popping up on podcasts and cable news shows a few months ago, presented as a scientific expert, arguing that the approval process for the vaccines had been unwisely rushed. He told Tucker Carlson that the public doesn't have enough information to decide whether to get vaccinated. He told Glenn Beck that offering incentives for taking vaccines is unethical. He told Del Bigtree, an anti-vaccine activist who opposes common childhood inoculations, that there hadn't been sufficient research on how the vaccines might affect women's reproductive systems. On show after show, Malone, who has quickly amassed more than 200,000 Twitter followers, casts doubt on the safety of the vaccines while decrying what he sees as attempts to censor dissent.

Wikipedia cite:
{{cite news | first = Tom | last = Bartlett | title = The Vaccine Scientist Spreading Vaccine Misinformation | url = | work = The Atlantic | date = August 12, 2021 | accessdate = November 4, 2021 }}