10 myths told by COVID-19 experts — and now debunked
By Marty Makary. February 27, 2023
In the past few weeks, a series of analyses published by highly respected researchers have exposed a truth about public health officials during COVID-19:
Much of the time, they were wrong.
To be clear, public health officials were not wrong for making recommendations based on what was known at the time.
That’s understandable. You go with the data you have.
No, they were wrong because they refused to change their directives in the face of new evidence. When a study did not support their policies, they dismissed it and censored opposing opinions.
At the same time, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention weaponized research itself by putting out its own flawed studies in its own non-peer-reviewed medical journal, MMWR.
In the final analysis, public health officials actively propagated misinformation that ruined lives and forever damaged public trust in the medical profession.
Here are 10 ways they misled us:
Misinformation #1: Natural immunity offers little protection compared to vaccinated immunity
A Lancet study looked at 65 major studies in 19 countries on natural immunity. The researchers concluded that natural immunity was at least as effective as the primary COVID-19 vaccine series.
Public health officials downplayed concerns about vaccine-induced myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle
In fact, the scientific data was there all along — from 160 studies, despite the findings of these studies violating Facebook’s “misinformation” policy.
Since the Athenian plague of 430 BC, it has been observed that those who recovered after infection were protected against severe disease if reinfected.
That was also the observation of nearly every practising physician during the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
People who were fired for not having the COVID-19 vaccine already had antibodies that effectively neutralised the virus, but they were antibodies that the government did not recognise.
Misinformation #2: Masks prevent COVID-19 transmission
Cochran Reviews are considered the most authoritative and independent assessment of the evidence in medicine.
And one published last month by a highly respected Oxford research team found that masks had no significant impact on COVID-19 transmission.
When asked about this definitive review, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky downplayed it, arguing that it was flawed because it focused on randomised controlled studies.
But that was the greatest strength of the review! Randomised studies are considered the gold standard of medical evidence.
If all the energy used by public health officials to mask toddlers could have been channelled to reduce child obesity by encouraging outdoor activities, we would be better off.
Misinformation #3: School closures reduce COVID-19 transmission
The CDC ignored the European experience of keeping schools open, most without mask mandates.
Transmission rates were no different, evidenced by studies conducted in Spain and Sweden.
Misinformation #4: Myocarditis from the vaccine is less common than from the infection
Public health officials downplayed concerns about vaccine-induced myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle. They cited poorly designed studies that under-captured complication rates.
A flurry of well-designed studies said the opposite.
We now know that myocarditis is 6 to 28 times more common after the COVID-19 vaccine than after the infection among 16- to 24-year-old males.
Tens of thousands of children likely got myocarditis, mostly subclinical, from a COVID-19 vaccine they did not need because they were entirely healthy or because they had already had COVID-19.
Misinformation #5: Young people benefit from a vaccine booster
Boosters reduced hospitalisations in older, high-risk Americans.
But the evidence was never there that they lower COVID-19 mortality in young, healthy people.
That’s probably why the CDC chose not to publish its data on hospitalisation rates among boosted Americans under 50, when it published the same rates for those over 50.
President Biden pushed extreme policies to attempt to get every American vaccinated.
Ultimately, pressure to recommend boosters for all was so intense that the FDA’s two top vaccine experts left the agency in protest, writing scathing articles on how the data did not support boosters for young people.
Misinformation #6: Vaccine mandates increased vaccination rates
President Biden and other officials demanded that unvaccinated workers, regardless of their risk or natural immunity, be fired.
They demanded that soldiers be dishonourably discharged and nurses be laid off in the middle of a staffing crisis.
The mandate was based on the theory that vaccination reduced transmission rates — a notion later proven to be false.
But after the broad recognition that vaccination does not reduce transmission, the mandates persisted, and still do to this day.
A recent study from George Mason University details how vaccine mandates in nine major US cities had no impact on vaccination rates.
They also had no impact on COVID-19 transmission rates.
Misinformation #7: COVID-19 originating from the Wuhan lab is a conspiracy theory
Google admitted to suppressing searches of “lab leak” during the pandemic.
Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, claimed (and still does) he didn’t believe the virus came from a lab.
Ultimately, overwhelming circumstantial evidence points to a lab leak origin — the same origin suggested to Dr. Anthony Fauci by two very prominent virologists in a January 2020 meeting he assembled at the beginning of the pandemic.
According to documents obtained by Bret Baier of Fox News, they told Fauci and Collins that the virus may have been manipulated (illegal gain of function enhancement) and originated in the lab, but then suddenly changed their tune in public comments days after meeting with the NIH officials.
The virologists were later awarded nearly $9 million from Fauci’s agency.
Misinformation #8: It was important to get the second vaccine dose three or four weeks after the first dose
Data were clear in the spring of 2021, just months after the vaccine rollout, that spacing the vaccine out by three months reduces complication rates and increases immunity.
Spacing out vaccines would have also saved more lives when Americans were rationing a limited vaccine supply at the height of the epidemic.
Misinformation #9: Data on the bivalent vaccine is ‘crystal clear’
Dr. Ashish Jha famously said this, despite the bivalent vaccine being approved using data from just eight mice.
To date, there has never been a randomised controlled trial of the bivalent vaccine.
In my opinion, the data are crystal clear that young people should not get the bivalent vaccine. It would have also spared many children myocarditis.
Misinformation #10: One in five people get long COVID
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention claims that 20% of COVID-19 infections can result in long COVID.
But a UK study found that only 3% of COVID-19 patients had residual symptoms lasting 12 weeks. What explains the disparity?
It’s often normal to experience mild fatigue or weakness for weeks after being sick and inactive and not eating well.
Calling these cases long COVID is the medicalisation of ordinary life.
What’s most amazing about all the misinformation conveyed by CDC and public health officials is that there have been no apologies for holding on to their recommendations for so long after the data became apparent that they were dead wrong.
Public health officials said “you must” when the correct answer should have been “we’re not sure.”
Early on, in the absence of good data, public health officials chose a path of stern paternalism.
Today, they are in denial of a mountain of strong studies showing that they were wrong.
What do you think?
At the very minimum, the CDC should come clean and the FDA should add a warning label to COVID-19 vaccines, clearly stating what is now known.
A mea culpa by those who led us astray would be a first step to rebuilding trust.