Fake News At WND: Coronavirus Edition, Part 4
WorldNetDaily just can't stop publishing false and misleading stories about COVID and its vaccines, and giving platforms to discredited COVID misinformers.
By Terry Krepel
WND's chief COVID misinformer, Art Moore, wrote in an April 14 article:
A long-term study published by the prestigious British journal The Lancet that follows up on participants in the Moderna and Pfizer trials found the vaccines had no effect on overall mortality.
Moore got one key fact wrong. The study has not been published in The Lancet -- it was published on a separate preprint website prior to peer review; if it clears peer review, only then will it actually be published in The Lancet. Moore also didn't explain why the Blaze writer was demanding that COVID vaccines prevent death from non-COVID causes.
On top of that, Moore (along with the Blaze) overstates what the study actually says. PolitiFact reported:
"The study isn’t about the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against COVID," said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security. "The study is aimed to determine if COVID vaccines have non-specific mortality impacts that extend beyond the incontrovertible mortality benefit they confer with COVID-19. Certain vaccines have effects that extend beyond the target infection and decrease mortality from other causes (e.g. measles vaccine)."
Moore did it again in a May 12 article:
A new peer-reviewed analysis of data published in the prestigious British scientific journal Nature found a 25% increase in emergency calls for cardiac arrest and other sudden-onset coronary issues among young adults.
Moore omitted a lot from that description -- which he rather lazily lifted from an eight-day-old article at the right-wing Epoch Times, a prolific misinformer about COVID vaccines. Both Moore and the Epoch Times got the journal's name wrong -- the study appeared in Scientific Reports, not Nature, though the journal is hosted on Nature's website. Moore did leave a clue in noting that two of the researchers were associated with the MIT Sloan School of Management and not a medical organization; as a fact-checker pointed out, this was a statistical analysis, not a clinical one, meaning that data and not patients were examined. The fact-checker also highlighted other issues with the study:
Moore also censored mention of an editor's note added to the study: "Readers are alerted that the conclusions of this article are subject to criticisms that are being considered by the Editors. A further editorial response will follow once all parties have been given an opportunity to respond in full." Instead, Moore hyped "a growing body of scientific and clinical evidence of severe side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines."
Moore was at it again in a June 8 article:
A report that healthy young people are dying suddenly and unexpectedly from a mysterious syndrome has caught the eye of epidemiologists and analysts who have documented an alarming rise in excess deaths they believe is connected to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Moore then cited one of his favorite fellow COVID misinformers:
Dr. Peter McCullough, a world renowned cardiologist and a leading critic of the mRNA vaccines, wrote Wednesday on the website America Out Loud that because "so many physicians were duped into the taking one of the COVID-19 vaccines, they are having a hard time coming to terms with the reality that their patients are developing complications that indeed a physician could develop, including well-recognized problems such as myocarditis, blood clots, bleeding, and skin rashes and immune system problems."
As we've come to expect from WND's COVID coverage, this story is bogus. An Australian fact-checker documented:
Some social media users have claimed “sudden adult death syndrome”, a term describing abrupt death from cardiac arrest where no specific cause can be found, is a “new disease” emerging since the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
Another fact-checker similarly blew up the story:
As for the Daily Mail story that sparked the claims on social media, “There was some mis-reporting,” Dr. Elizabeth Paratz who was referenced in the story but wasn’t contacted for comment told us by email.
So: Another fake-news story from a "news" story from an outlet that has published so many of them. Is anyone surprised?
Bogus claims from misinformer
ConWebWatch has documented how Dr. Ryan Cole is an anti-vaxxer and a hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin enthusiast -- to the point that some of his patients have ended up in the emergency room suffering from COVID after following his advice. His lab was kicked out of Idaho's largest health care network over his divergence from sound medical care, and he has falsely claimed that COVID vaccines cause cancer and autoimmune illnesses. He has since been accused of misdiagnosing patients with cancer. But despite that dubious and dangerous medical record -- likely because his bogus claims generate clicks -- WND gives him regular promotion. Moore did just that in a June 12 article:
A pathologist who heads one of America's leading labs is finding unusually long blood clots, as long as one foot, in the bodies of deceased people who received COVID-19 vaccines.
Neither Moore nor the Just the News article from which he cribbed his article offered independently verifiable proof of Ryan's claims; indeed, both are servile stenographers for Cole despite his dubious medical history.
Moore also referenced a February WND article centered on COVID misinformer Steve Kirsch in which "a veteran embalmer told Kirsch he and more than a dozen colleagues in the industry had been noticing strange blood clots in most of their cases." But a fact-checker pointed out that the embalmer had been making the rounds of COVID conspiracy operations like WND with his tales, but argued that that the stories shouldn't be treated as anything beyond anecdotal and definitely not authoritative because embalmers typically do not know the vaccination status of those they are embalming. The fact-checker also noted that blood clots are linked to COVID itself, but not to most vaccines.
There's no reason to trust WND if it continues to publish unverified information -- especially from someone who has been repeatedly been discredited.
Misreporting another study
He did it again in a June 21 article, under the screaming headline "Study: COVID vax INCREASES risk of infection":
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that two doses of the mRNA vaccines increased the risk of COVID-19 infection during the omicron wave.
Moore's first mistake here was to trust the Epoch Times, the right-wing Falun Gong-run newspaper that is a firehose of COVID misinformation. It's clear that Moore did no fact-checking of the article before copying-and-pasting out of it to make his own, because what Moore wrote is wildly misleading. The key results as reported in the study are these:
The effectiveness of previous infection alone against symptomatic BA.2 infection was 46.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 39.5 to 51.9). The effectiveness of vaccination with two doses of BNT162b2 and no previous infection was negligible (−1.1%; 95% CI, −7.1 to 4.6), but nearly all persons had received their second dose more than 6 months earlier. The effectiveness of three doses of BNT162b2 and no previous infection was 52.2% (95% CI, 48.1 to 55.9). The effectiveness of previous infection and two doses of BNT162b2 was 55.1% (95% CI, 50.9 to 58.9), and the effectiveness of previous infection and three doses of BNT162b2 was 77.3% (95% CI, 72.4 to 81.4). Previous infection alone, BNT162b2 vaccination alone, and hybrid immunity all showed strong effectiveness (>70%) against severe, critical, or fatal Covid-19 due to BA.2 infection. Similar results were observed in analyses of effectiveness against BA.1 infection and of vaccination with mRNA-1273.
BNT162b2 is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine, mRNA-1273 is the Moderna vaccine.
Translation, which Moore didn't make clear at all: The risk of infection by Omicron variant BA.2 is effectively the same for someone who only got the initial two-vaccine series as someone who had gotten no vaccine or previous infection -- -1.1% is effectively the same as zero, so it's deceitful for Moore to portray it as a significantly higher risk. This isn't surprising because Omicron has mutated to evade the protection of the original vaccines, which were best attuned to the original strain -- something Moore failed to explain to his readers; all the better to fearmonger about vaccines.
Moore also censored other results that don't fit into his anti-vaccine narrative. The results also stated that the highest rate of effectiveness against infection was for those who had a previous infection and were fully vaccinated. The study also stated that vaccination alone offered similar protection as prior infection and infection/vaccination against severe, critical, or fatal COVID due to BA.2, which Moore also censored.
Moore's article was published while WND was still begging for money to stay alive for a while longer. Do those who donated to WND's campaign really feel they're Being truthfully and accurately informed? Because the record says no.
Fearmongering over boosters
Bob Unruh ranted in a July 12 WND "news" article:
Just when things were getting back to normal, mostly. People could do their shopping without wearing a face covering in most retailers. The masks still are being demanded in doctors' offices, but, heck, that's where sick people are anyway.
Unruh appears to be gleefully unaware that the reason "things were getting back to normal, mostly" is precisely because of those vaccines and boosters. Because Unruh lives in WND's world of anti-vaxxer fearmongering, he followed up with anti-vaccine propaganda:
Meanwhile, an MIT study as tied COVID shots to cardiac arrest among young patients. And the CEO of the maker of the Astrazeneca shots was caught saying millions of people should avoid them completely.
First: The AstraZeneca vaccine isn't even available in the U.S. Second: As noted above, WND and other anti-vaxxers have misrepresented not only the the findings of that study (the study itself states it does not establish "causal relationships" between vaccines and heart problems) but also the link to MIT; two of the researchers were associated with the MIT Sloan School of Management and not a medical organization.
Unruh kept up the fearmongering, declaring that "WND reported earlier this year when New York Times reporter Alex Berenson called for the "dangerous" shots to be withdrawn." In fact, Berenson hasn't worked for the Times in a couple of years, and he too is a documented liar and anti-vaxxer. (Funny how WND hates the "liberal media" but will invoke the Times to put a veneer of credibility on a right-wing narrative.)
Unruh also named checked "renowned cardiologist and medical scientist Dr. Peter McCullough," who "told WND in a video interview the official pandemic narrative is 'completely crumbling' and the vaccines 'should be pulled off the market.'" Calling McCullough "renowned" doesn't wipe away the fact that McCullough too is a dishonest anti-vaxxer whom, of course, WND loves for his lies.
Moore found a new COVID misinformer to promote in a July 20 article:
A video PSA by the Health and Human Services Department suggesting loving parents will want to get their young children vaccinated with the experimental COVID-19 MRNA shot amounts to "shameless propaganda," says a prominent epidemiologist at the University of California at San Francisco.
Actually, Moore's the one pushing misinformation. Prasad is not an epidemiologist; he's an oncologist and hematologist with no demonstrated expertise in virology (or pediatrics). The Science-Based Medicine blog has documented Prasad spreading confusion about the efficacy of masks and falsely accusing credible medical and government authorities of irrationally scaring people about COVID, among other things. He has also likened reasonable efforts to contain the spread of COVID to Nazi Germany in a way considered by some to be anti-Semitic, which earned him a rebuke from a college where he spoke. Prasad is also tied to the Brownstone Institute, created by the folks behind the highly dubious Great Barrington Declaration.
Moore used an Aug. 29 article to give a platform to another COVID misinformer:
Alleging fraudulent data was used to create COVID-19 guidance, a student is suing Massachusetts officials after he was kicked out of law school for refusing to be vaccinated for the disease.
Speaking of our litigant: calling him merely a "student" is a touch misleading. Beaudoin is actually well into middle age; the ruling tossing out a previous lawsuit he filed to stop mask mandates in Massachusetts noted that he "purportedly suffers from a hearing impairment caused by an adverse reaction to a prophylactic treatment he received during the 'Hong Kong flu' outbreak in 1968." Moore didn't mention that one of his demands in the lawsuit is "a workspace in a state office and a robust computer with Excel" so he can rummage through state records and spend who knows how much time figuring out who actually died of COVID.
In short, a nuisance lawsuit filed by a right-wing crank -- you know, WND's readership.
Gloating over Fauci's COVID bout
When Anthony Fauci caught COVID in June, WND -- a sworn enemy of Fauci, particularly columnist Joel Hirschhorn -- was quick to gloat. A June 15 article by Art Moore made a point of noting that Fauci had been vaccinated and double-boosted to suggest the purported lack of efficacy of the vaccines, then turned to a right-wing reporter for further attacks:
Investigative reporter Daniel Horowitz noted the news came as an FDA panel recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 6 months.
Moore concluded his article by reprinting selective hateful -- and anonymous -- "reactions on social media."
When Fauci reported that he tested positive again despite taking a course of the treatment Paxlovid, Moore framed it as him getting "sicker" in a June 29 article:
President Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci have touted the Pfizer drug Paxlovid as an effective treatment for COVID-19.
You know what else kept Fauci's symptoms mild? Being vaccinated and double-boosted. Moore didn't report that, though. He also didn't report that rebound symptoms also happen in those who weren't treated with Paxlovid. Moore then attacked the vaccine as ineffective:
At the launch of the vaccines, Fauci, other health officials, pharmaceutical companies and media declared the coronavirus shots to be virtually 100% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 then gradually lowered their estimations to as low as 20% after only six months.
Moore didn't mention that the main reason the vaccine saw decreased protection against infection was because the Delta and Omicron variants are much more contagious and mutated in a way that evade the vaccine's original defenses against infection.
This is just another reminder that Moore is a highly dishonest reporter.