According to President Biden and just about every Democrat mayor and governor, the emergency phase of COVID-19 is over. Biden assured the nation that he has ordered sufficient outpatient treatment to meet the needs of Americans who are at risk. California, Oregon, and Washington announced that COVID restrictions would end in mid-March. Schools are lifting requirements for face masks, and employers are nixing vaccine mandates.
Heck, even Bill Gates said the Omicron variant saved the day. At the Munich Security Conference, he told the audience: “Sadly, the virus itself, particularly the variant called Omicron, is a type of vaccine. That is, it creates both B-cell and T-cell immunity, and it’s done a better job getting out to the world population than we have with vaccines.” The T and B cell immunity confers long-term protection from severe illness with COVID. Gates noted that the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant reduced the risk of severe disease.
Yet, the top-down approach from the federal government and the heavy-handed response to information that deviates from its preferred narrative continue. On Thursday, the U.S. surgeon general took unprecedented action. Dr. Vivek Murthy posted a preview of a Request for Information. The final document will get published to the federal register on Friday.
Murthy’s office requests input from interested parties on the impact and prevalence of health misinformation in the digital information environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Essentially it is a call for the Democrats’ allies in Big Tech to pony up data about individuals who disagreed with the ruling regime. The purpose is evident from the goals of the request:
- Understanding the impact of COVID-19 misinformation on healthcare infrastructure and public health more broadly during the pandemic, including (but not limited to) quality of care, health decisions and outcomes, direct and indirect costs, trust in the healthcare system, providers, and healthcare workers’ morale and safety.
- Understand the unique role the information environment played in the societal response to the COVID-19 pandemic and implications for future public health emergencies.
- Understand the impact of exposure to health misinformation and how access to trusted and credible health information, particularly during a public health emergency, impacts lifesaving health decisions such as an individual’s likelihood to vaccinate.
- Use the information requested to prepare for and respond to future public health crises.
Specifically, it seems Murthy’s office wants to understand the role of social media in disseminating information during the COVID-19 emergency so they can shut down dissent more effectively in the future. It is easy to tell what the goal is by how “misinformation” is defined. According to the request, health misinformation is “health information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time.”
It is not clear who decides what the best available evidence is. Some of the studies posted by the CDC and the NIH were horribly constructed and used to implement the administration’s preferred policies. One example is David Zweig’s takedown of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s favorite school masking study in The Atlantic. Dr. Antohnoy Fauci’s remdesivir study is another. The research team changed the outcome criteria during the study, and the results have never been replicated. In other words, neither of these studies was the “best available evidence at the time.”
Two other features of this request are of concern. First, it uses the safety of healthcare workers as a predicate for collecting the information. Like so many initiatives in the Biden regime, it assumes disagreement leads to violence. Dissenting doctors and researchers will be the next people the DOJ designates domestic terrorists. Almost as dangerous as parents who oppose radical race and gender curriculum, ruining their careers and reputations with media hits coordinated by the likes of Dr. Fauci was not enough.
Second, the only individual outcome it is specifically concerned with is an individual’s likelihood to vaccinate. Pretty absurd outcome criteria when America is staring at booster number four in slightly over 12 months, and the data on vaccine effectiveness in preventing transmission or symptomatic illness is dismal. One of the most effective programs to reduce hospitalizations during the Delta wave was monoclonal antibody clinics in Florida. The Biden administration vilified Governor Ron DeSantis for starting them even though over 60% of treatment was provided to vaccinated Floridians in some locations.
The deleterious futility of COVID lockdowns is just beginning to emerge. Recently, a Johns Hopkins study estimated that these policies reduced deaths by 0.2% while the physical, social, and educational costs were immense. But governors, doctors, and researchers who objected to those policies were accused of spreading misinformation. Now, they have been proven primarily correct—another case where the “best information at the time” was more than suspect.
The government wants the tech companies to aggregate how many people may have been exposed to or engaged with the information they don’t like. Most of the time that is information that opposes the federal health bureaucracy’s preferred narrative. The top-down approach taken by the bureaucracy during the pandemic and this request for information are destructive to the healthcare system and a complete departure from the tradition of medical practice in the United States.
In our system, the doctor-patient relationship has been the primary driver of healthcare. Together, patients and providers made decisions based on individual risk, symptoms, and preferences. The COVID pandemic removed the doctor from the equation by taking testing out of the doctor’s office and providing no guidance for symptomatic treatment on an outpatient basis. If the administration is serious about learning to live with COVID, as the president implied, the doctor-patient relationship without bureaucratic interference is the first thing that needs to return to normal.
Until then, all Americans have the opportunity to comment on Dr. Murthy’s request beginning March 7. Perhaps you have complaints about the suppression of information by the regime on things like the prevalence of myocarditis in young men following vaccination. Maybe you are upset that the health experts on television did not communicate enough about monoclonal antibodies for at-risk patients. It could be you believe the CDC when it told you the vaccines prevented symptomatic disease and transmission of COVID. The form link and email to make comments will be available when the final request is published.
The desire to censor dissenting voices now and in the future is evident in the memo’s language. Just remember: If the last five years are any indication, today’s misinformation is a headline six months from now. Silencing the truth in advance is just one authoritarian impulse on the modern American Left. And it cannot be allowed to advance