COVID Misinformers Rule WND
The fringe-right Association for American Physicians and Surgeons and its leader, Jane Orient, use WorldNetDaily to push questionable coronavirus cures and falsely fearmonger about vaccines.
By Terry Krepel
Dr. Jane Orient
From an anonymously written Sept. 22 WND article:
With media solemnly spotlighting the passing of the 200,000 mark in deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the United States, a physicians association has a question.
That link to the "country-based analysis" goes to an anonymous website, HCQTrial.com, featuring a bogus study. Lifehacker pointed out that the results on the website are "not a study, but it’s definitely packaged to look like one":
What it actually is, is an anonymous website with many of its sources credited to also-anonymous Twitter accounts. But it wears the garb of science: The charts mirror the style of other epidemiological graphs that have been floating around; the typography smacks of certain scientific journals’ style.
The Science-Based Medicine website detailed further that "There’s no such thing as a 'country-randomized trial'. It’s a meaningless term. Subjects were not 'randomized by country'. They couldn’t have been. This is a retrospective study," concluding that HCQTrial.com "is obvious pseudoscience to anyone who has any expertise in epidemiology and/or clinical trials, but unfortunately it has spread far and wide faster than experts could debunk its disinformation."
It also theorized (since the site's operators are anonymous and the domain owner has been hidden form public view) that Orient's AAPS may be affiliated with this website, but admits that this and an apparently affiliated website, c19study.com, "are simply useful repositories of disinformation for AAPS to use. Either way, it’s clear that these sites are all related and that they are all spreading the same sort of disinformation."
Indeed, in a WND column published the same day (and also published at Newsmax), Orient made a similar claim about hydroxychloroquine having a "75% lower mortality rate," but this time linking to c19study.com, which is just a list of HCQ-related studies with a similarly anonymous provenance.
In that column, Orient also wrote about how "Epidemiologist Harvey Risch of Yale University estimates that 100,000 people may have lost their lives needlessly because of governmental agencies obstructing the use of HCQ." But Science-Based Medicine argued that Risch was employing "bad science" in trying to defend HCQ through the use of cherry-picked studies and positively referencing Vladimir Zelenko, who made numerous unverified claims about HCQ's efficacy (debunked by state health officials) that WND promoted earlier in the pandemic.
Orient went on to argue that "the authorities' cherished dogmas about viral diseases in general are wrong," citing what is effectively an opinion piece in the AAPS' own journal by one Dr. Lee Merritt, who concluded by likening "a corrupt, and yes murderous, vaccine industry" to "the murderous and corrupt Soviet regime." Merritt is not an epidemiologist; she's an orthopedic surgeon. Also, she was formerly known as Lee Hieb, a past president of AAPS who is, as ConWebWatch has documented, an anti-vaxxer who's more than a little factually challenged.
In her Dec. 23 WND column fearmongering about the then-upcoming coronavirus vaccines, Orient concluded, "For more information on protecting yourself, see "A Home-Based Guide to COVID Treatment." For a variety of treatment protocols and physician resources, see c19protocols.com."
The former is a free PDF booklet you have to give up your email address to get; ConWebWatch is not in a hurry to do that, given Orient's and the AAPS' history of promoting conspiracy theories and dubious treatments for coronavirus.
But what is c19protocols.com? It's simply a list of links to various alleged treatments. But the fact that the third link involves a protocol from Vladimir Zelenko -- an AAPS-promoted doctor who got notoriety early in the pandemic for pushing hydroxychloroquine despite lacking documentation for his claims -- does not inspire confidence. The website also links to America's Frontline Doctors, a right-wing group known for pushing dubious treatments despite its members lacking experience treating COVID-19 patients.
The website itself is a one-page generic-looking WordPress design, and there's no indication of who runs it -- which also doesn't inspire confidence in its contents. But a look at the WHOIS information for the domain name indicates that it's run by ... Orient's AAPS. It's strange that the AAPS wouldn't put its name on this website, and it makes one wonder what they're trying to hide by keep it somewhat secret. It's especially ironic given that Orient has written a column, published Dec. 30 by WND, attacking health authorities for putting out "fake news" and "scaremongering," adding that "Public health authorities are very worried about loss of public trust."
If that sort of obliqueness sounds familiar, it is: It echoes websites such as c19study.com (which c19protocols.com links to) and HCQTrial.com, which are completely anonymous websites -- their owners have been hidden on WHOIS -- pushing dubious claims and pseudoscience. It's been speculated that AAPS also runs those websites, given that Orient and other AAPS-linked writers have touted them.
Orient has continued this lack of transparency in her WND columns. In her Jan. 11 column, Orient declared that "Lack of early treatments for which there is substantial and growing evidence may cause more than 100,000 needless deaths," in which she linked to c19protocols.com and c19study.com without disclosing the links between them and her AAPS. She unironically added, "Those who are for protecting human lives are against censorship, central planning and unfettered, unaccountable government and for freedom and individual rights."
In her Jan. 13 column, Orient fearmongered again about coronavirus vaccines, declaring them to be "not a magic bullet." She again linked to c19protocols.com, this time in a bullet list at the end of her column along with the AAPS "Home-Based Guide to COVID Treatment."
On Jan. 18, Orient wrote about the mutating coronavirus and touted how "Re-purposed old drugs ivermectin and antimalarials such as hydroxychloroquine act by mechanisms that do not depend on a stable virus." In addition to linking to c19protocols.com and the AAPS guide, she also linked to a article from something called Physicians for Civil Defense.
What is Physicians for Civil Defense? It appears to be something run by Orient ... and apparently nobody else. Its website is merely a blog. Nevertheless, WND has promoted it before, such as in a June 2019 article fearmongering about disease-ridden immigrant and featuring Orient, as "spokeswoman" for Physicians for Civil Defense, declaring that "officials and news outlets all should be demanding to know whether entrants from Congo are screened for Ebola, and what precautions are being taken to protect workers."
Orient devoted her Feb. 12 column to attacking mask mandates, insisting that "natural immunity, sensible precautions and early treatment" make more sense (which conveniently ignores the fact that a significant amount of coronavirus cases are spread by asymptomatic carriers). In her bullet list at the end of the column, Orient promoted not only c19protocols.com, the AAPS guide and Physicians for Civil Defense, but also websites touting vitamin D and zinc as treatments -- apparently run by the same anonymous folks behind the other COVID-related operations.
Orient seems more interested in making political arguments and pushing anonymous arguments than genuinely trying to help people. That just makes her look even more dubious and untrustworthy.
More vaccine fearmongering
For someone who loves plugging unproven medications like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to treat coronavirus, Orient sure loves to fearmonger about coronavirus vaccines, whose efficacy is much more thoroughly and credibly documented. Orient served up more of it in her March 18 column, which was also filled with falsehoods under the guise of "a few facts that you should know before getting in line." First up in her bullet points:
Orient is lying -- mRNA vaccines like the ones from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are not gene therapy because the RNA does not stay in the body.
In fact, the rate of adverse effects from coronavirus vaccines are comparable to other vaccines.
Did Orient evaluate the long-term adverse effects of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin before promoting them?
Not true. it's a misinterpretation of data leading to flawed conclusions.
Orient offered only an unverified chart from a random German Twitter account in support, but it appears that's not true either.
Orient followed up in her March 31 WND column in which she again attacked the mRNA vaccines, in which she uncritically repeated the outlandish claim that the vaccines "constitute 'human experimentation,' which was and still is in violation of the Nuremberg Code."
For the love of ivermectin
As if hydroxychloroquine wasn't enough, WND and its columnists found another dubious treatment for coronavirus to embrace: ivermectin. The dubious fringe-right docs at the AAPS were, of course, among the top backers:
They weren't the only ones, of course. Non-physician WND columnist Dennis Prager declared on Feb. 8 that "I put my medicines where my mouth is. I have been taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc (as well as vitamin D and selenium) on a regular basis for half a year, and ivermectin for the past three months," adding, "Given how safe hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are, what could we have possibly lost by allowing millions of people to take these medicines?"
WND writer Art Moore has also contributed to the pro-ivermectin propaganda. In December, he cheered how a doctor in a Republican-led Senate hearing on COVID treatment claimed that "another blocked drug that is inexpensive and widely available, ivermectin, prevents infection and saves lives." Later that month, Moore claimed to cite "many health experts who decry the politicization of COVID-19 treatments such as the cheap, proven and widely available drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin." Moore then gushed in a Feb. 25 article:
A new, peer-reviewed study finds that one of the cheap, widely available drugs that has been dismissed by the left, establishment media and many in the health establishment as a treatment for COVID-19 reduces infections, hospitalizations and deaths by about 75%.But Moore never reported what happened next: A week later, the journal withdrew the article before actual publication, stating that it contained unsubstantiated claims and violated the journal’s editorial policies.
The study was manufactured by something called the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, which was formed to push unapproved treatments like ivermectin. The journal that ultimately rejected the study noted that the authors, who are key officials at FLCCC, "promoted their own specific ivermectin-based treatment which is inappropriate for a review article and against our editorial policies."
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has taken a pretty solid stance against ivermectin absent genuine, objective research:
There seems to be a growing interest in a drug called ivermectin to treat humans with COVID-19. Ivermectin is often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses.
But that's not what WND or the AAPS want you to hear, unless that opposition can be twisted into an anti-government stance. The narrative is more important than the truth at WND.
More fearmongering from Orient
In her April 9 WND column, Orient mixed coronavirus fearmongering with an old AAPS standby, fearmongering about swarthy, filthy immigrants:
Migrants are pouring in from Central America and Mexico, where there are large outbreaks, traveling under crowded conditions where good hygiene is impossible.
Of course, Orient plugged her favorite dubious medication as something of a solution: "Give all the migrants and the agents caring for them a dose of ivermectin, repeated in 48 hours. This would wipe out the COVID threat, along with scabies, head lice and all manner of parasites. It has been safely taken by billions of people since 1981. Why not protect the migrants, along with people who will be in contact with them?"
In her April 20 column, Orient touted the Great Barrington Declaration, a far-right project that advocated herd immunity to get past coronavirus pre-vaccine, though it's still unclear how long antibody protection lasts after what would essentially be a global chicken pox party. Then it was time to fearmonger about the vaccine and downplay deaths caused by the virus:
They are coming for the children. First with experiments although minors cannot give informed consent. Likely then with warp-speed mandates that are illegal for not-yet-FDA-approved products given under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Why?
Orient served up even more vaccine fearmongering in her May 10 column:
Of all COVID deaths, only about 0.1% have been in 15-to-24-year-olds. Yet young people can suffer death or serious disability after getting the jab. (Authorities point out that it is not necessarily because of the jab.) According to a controversial independent analysis, the aggressive Israeli vaccination campaign killed more than 200 times as many young persons as the coronavirus itself could have killed during the same 35-week period.
In fact, fact-checkers found no evidence the vaccine caused any fatal reactions in Israel. But never mind the facts, Orient was in a fearmongering mood:
We do not know the precise number of post-vaccine "adverse events," because of incomplete reporting, or the percentage that were caused by the jab and not coincidental. But one can see the number and types of events reported to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) or the more user-friendly British Yellow Card system. These include death, clotting or bleeding problems, paralysis, blindness and miscarriages (213 of the latter in VAERS as of today).Orient surely knows that a report of an adverse effect to VAERS does not mean there is a link to those events and the vaccine. VAERS even states, "the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not imply causality." But telling you that important fact would interfere with her fearmongering.
A good part of Orient's column was devoted to ranting about colleges requiring that students get vaccinated before returning to campus full-time -- even going so far as weirdly advising students to get a job or study at a library rather than go to school:
There is no abundance of caution in forcing this product onto students entering their prime reproductive years. No concern about "reproductive rights."
It's probably a lower risk than the risk of misinformation and malicious fearmongering one is getting from Orient.