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Fake News At WND: Coronavirus Edition, Part 9

WorldNetDaily freaked out over possible abatement measures as COVID cases increased over the summer, and it continued to spread misinformation and outright lies about COVID vaccines.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 1/8/2024

Peter LaBarbera

As the number of COVID cases increased over the summer, WorldNetDaily not only kept up its usual fake news falsely smearing vaccines, it freaked out over possible mask requirements and other abatement measures. First, though, Joe Kovacs gave space to a right-wing senator's conspiracy theory in an Aug. 13 article:
A U.S. senator is reviving debate over the COVID pandemic, alleging on national television the health catastrophe was "pre-planned by an elite group of people" intended "for our loss of freedom."

The remarks from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., came during an interview with Maria Bartiromo of the Fox Business Network on Friday.

Bartiromo lamented about information suppression by the federal government as well as Big Tech.


Johnson explained: "This is all pre-planned by an elite group of people, that is what I am talking about, 'Event 201' occurred in late 2019, prior to the rest of us knowing about the pandemic. Again, this is very concerning in terms of what is happening, what continues to be planned for our loss of freedom."

In fact, "Event 201" was a simulation by governmental and nonprofit officials to examine possible reactions to a pandemic, and there's no evidence that the organizers knew that a real pandemic was coming -- something Kovacs hid from his readers.

As cases increased, Peter LaBarbera spent an Aug. 21 article fearmongering about possible mask mandates and hyping extremists declaring they won't comply with something that didn't yet exist:

With new COVID variants, including BA.2.86 and EG.5, in the news, the same media and activists on the Left who were most fanatical about masks and other heavy-handed COVID policies during the pandemic are now pushing mask mandates again.

Conservatives warned it could be a precursor to a return to oppression in the name of fighting COVID, and vowed collectively not to "comply."

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, tweeted out the message: "COVID [does not equal] constitutional authority" above a tweet by Ryan Cunningham that states: "The WHO [World Health Organization], CDC, Biden Admin are fear mongering a new COVID variant BA.2.86 after highly mutated strain reported in Michigan. Sources in DHS and Emergency Management (my field) are already preparing for lockdowns and restrictions. Look at todays headlines. It’s a coordinated government & media campaign."


But with most Americans enjoying their freedom and thrilled the era of compelled mask-wearing is over – and conservatives already vowing not to comply with renewed COVID restrictions – it appears it would be a lot harder for elites to instill mass COVID paranoia and the tyranny that flows from it than it was in the initial phase of the pandemic under Donald Trump's presidency.

Never mind, of course, that it was LaBarbera that was instilling paranoia.

Bob Unruh followed with an Aug. 24 article pushing the very weird conspiracy theory that a new COVID outbreak is being manufactured to help President Biden's re-election chances:

The undue influences on the 2020 presidential election already have been documented: Mark Zuckerberg's $400 million handout to election officials who often used it to recruit leftist voters. And the FBI's interference when it falsely told media groups to censor accurate reporting about the Biden family's international business schemes because it was Russian disinformation, when it wasn't.

But the rampage of COVID-19 across the country also had an impact. Voting rules were changed, vote-counting procedures changed. voting periods extended until sometimes weeks after election day and more.

Now that the 2024 election is coming into view, it seems that COVID is surging again.

"Mandates are coming back just in time for the 2024 election cycle," conservative Collin Rugg posted online. "What impeccable timing!"

A report at Just the News noted Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk cited new COVID restrictions are "just in time for Democrats to reinforce the importance of mass mail-in ballots."

Unruh offered no evidence that mail-in ballots were in any way a problem in 2020.

LaBarbera returned to serve as stenographer for Donald Trump in an Aug. 31 article:

Former President Donald Trump in a campaign video Wednesday made a defiant reply to "left-wing lunatics" and "COVID tyrants" who are "trying very hard to bring back COVID lockdowns and mandates with their sudden fear-mongering about variants": "We will not comply."

Trump mocked the timing of the resurgent COVID hysteria, saying, "Gee-whiz, you know what else is coming? An election."

"They want to restart the COVID hysteria so they can justify more lockdowns, more censorship, more illegal drop boxes, more mail-in ballots, and trillions of dollars in payoffs to their political allies heading into the 2024 election. Does that sound familiar?" he said in the statement, which is posted on the "Team Trump" X account with the words: "COVID Tyrants want to take away our Freedom. Hear my words – WE WILL NOT COMPLY." (Team Trump is the official X account for the Trump campaign.)


There is widespread consensus on the Right, and even grudging acknowledgement on the Left, that COVID fears and lockdowns enabled emergency changes in various state election rules that were used to great advantage by Biden and the Democrats in the 2020 election against Trump.

Unruh hyped more fearmongering about almost entirely nonexistent restrictions in a Sept. 6 article:

There's no doubt that COVID-19, in its first form, was a catastrophe, killing some seven million people around the world after having come out, as most experts now believe, of a research lab in Wuhan, China, where bat viruses were being studied by scientists who wanted to know how to make them for lethal.

The death toll in the U.S. alone was about one million.

But subsequent variations all have since proven to be far, far less lethal.

Many people infected with a variant have reported nothing more than sniffles or brief cold-like symptoms.

It was the No. 3 cause of death in the U.S. in 2020 and 2021, fourth in 2022, and so far in 2023, No. 7.

So why are headlines now insisting that mask mandates, those infamous shots and business-killing lockdowns coming back?

And do they have to?

A commentary by John Daniel Davidson, senior editor at The Federalist, charged that the precautions actually nothing to do with anyone's health.

Neither Unruh nor Davidson offered any evidence that COVID vaccines are "infamous" (beyond their right-wing bubble, anyway) or that vaccines are, in Davidson's words, a "Violation of basic civil rights."

Back to vaccine misinfo

LaBarbera tried to fearmonger in a Sept. 20 article:

A new study of lactating women who took the COVID vaccine finds "trace mRNA amounts were detected" up to 45 hours after vaccination in the breast milk of 10 the women – contradicting the government's and vaccine enthusiasts' official narrative that mRNA was safe for breastfeeding moms and their infants because it did not travel throughout the body.

"Our findings suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine mRNA administered to lactating mothers can spread systematically to breast milk in the first two days after maternal vaccination," states the study, "Biodistribution of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in human breast milk," published in the October 2023 edition of the British medical journal Lancet.

LaBarbera didn't explain, however, why this is an issue, even as he conceded that "The paper's authors remain pro-vax." Instead, he tried to tried to baseless claim that medical officials purportedly lied in earlier claims that mRNA did not travel to mother's milk -- never mind that this study just came out, meaning that earlier claims could not have been a lie LaBarbera suggested they were. However, he failed to mention that the study also pointed out that "the mRNA vaccine seems to be translationally inactive," meaning that its presence in mother's milk appears to be irrelevant.

Unruh served up straight-ahead quackery in an article the next day:

Another possible side effect of those COVID-19 shots demanded for Americans by many governments and employers during the pandemic has shown up, and it's not good.

It's that cancers are "occurring in excess," Dr. Harvey Risch explained in a report by the Epoch Times.

He's professor emeritus of epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine.

He appeared recently on EpochTV's "American Though Leaders" and explained that clinicians have been observing "very strange things."

For example, he said, there have been "25-year-olds with colon cancer, who don't have family histories of the disease – that's basically impossible along the known paradigm for how colon cancer works..."


He warned that those whose systems are compromised also could be subject to other infectious diseases, too.

"Those are the initial signals that we’ve been seeing, and because these cancers have been occurring to people who were too young to get them, basically, compared to the normal way it works, they’ve been designated as turbo cancers," he explained.

"Some of these cancers are so aggressive that between the time that they're first seen and when they come back for treatment after a few weeks, they've grown dramatically compared to what oncologists would have expected for the way cancer normally progresses."

By contrast, the folks at Science-Based Medicine debunked Risch's conspiracies:

Indeed, Prof. Risch’s “logic,” such as it is, entirely escapes me. Up front, he reiterated what I just said above, namely that it is the hematologic malignancies that appear first after an exposure to a strong carcinogen, with the solid malignancies coming much later, as many as 30 years later. Then he basically implicitly admitted that no such increase in hematologic malignancies is being observed. That didn’t stop him from pivoting to make the claim quoted in the article that I cited above about 25-year-olds without a family history or predisposing genetic mutation supposedly getting colon cancer and then declaring that to be “impossible” based on the “known paradigms” of cancer.

It’s clear to me from this claim alone that Prof. Risch is not a surgeon or an oncologist, because over my time training before I subspecialized in breast cancer, I recall a number of patients in their 20s with colorectal cancer and even a 19 year old with gastric cancer. Yes, it was very uncommon because these are malignancies associated with aging and I probably saw these patients because I trained at a tertiary care hospital, but it was not nonexistent, nor was it “impossible.” I suspect that Prof. Risch knows this, but also thinks that his audience will be impressed with this claim. Basically, he was either being dishonest or he’s ignorant, and, given that he is a professor emeritus of epidemiology who specialized in cancer epidemiology the latter possibility strikes me as much less likely than the former.

Science-Based Medicine also pointed out, while Unruh didn't, that Risch admitted that he has no evidence that the COVID vaccines are actually causing an increase in cancer. It also pointed out that Risch also pushed the baseless claim that hydroxychloroquine works to treat or prevent COVID, and that he has "gone all-in on antivax conspiracy mongering." Unruh won't admit that either -- but then, he's an anti-vaxxer too.

WND got an assist in promoting COVID vaccine misinformation from none other than Elon Musk, as Unruh touted in a Sept. 26 article:

Elon Musk has posted on his social media company X a video assembled by contributor Wall Street Silver that shows the stunning claims that COVID shots were "100%" effective.

And then the stunning plunge in that confidence level as the facts became known.

The falling numbers are in quotes from the experts on that topic, as well as legacy media reports that appeared to begin by promoting the experimental treatments, which science now shows had the capability of inflicting major damage on some patients.

The video also cites headlines regarding the billion dollar profits for drug-makers.

But as actual journalists at AFP reported, the video is highly misleading:

However, AFP found the succession of images in the video does not follow the chronology of when each article was published and uses incomparable data by looking at results for different vaccines and reactions to different variants of the disease.

"The argument that the effectiveness or efficiency of vaccines has declined on the basis of the available data is totally false," said Jeffrey Cirillo, a professor of immunology at the University of Texas, on October 3.


The headlines in the video also juxtapose articles which are discussing Covid-19 inoculations' effectiveness at different points during the pandemic, which saw the development of variants of the virus that were more resistant to previous formulas of the vaccine.

"A vaccine against one virus (variant) provides different levels of protection against a different virus (variant)," said Cirillo of the University of Texas.

He went on to explain that as the virus changes over time, the formula being used in a vaccine will become less efficient. This is why new vaccines have had to be developed.

Unruh has once again promoted false and misleading information, and he refused to report on the fact that the video Musk promoted has been discredited. Why would anyone trust WND's so-called reporting?

Inventing 'VAIDS'

WND publishes so much misinformation about COVID vaccines that it occasionally has to outsource some of it. That's what it did with an Oct. 2 article it stole from something called the People's Voice:

Official data released by the Canadian government reveals that at least 74% of the vaccinated population across Canada now have full-blown Vaccine Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (VAIDS).

The data reveal that the double vaccinated population across Canada have now lost on average 74% of their immune system capability, and the triple vaccinated population across Canada have now lost on average 73% of their immune system capability compared to the natural immune system of their unvaccinated counterparts. reports: So much damage has now been done that the figures show the double vaccinated population are on average 3.8 times more likely to be infected with Covid-19 and 3.3 times more likely to die of Covid-19 than the unvaccinated population.

Media Bias Fact Check calls The People's Voice, formerly known as NewsPunch, a "clickbait news website that promotes extreme right-wing conspiracy theories and pseudoscience misinformation," where "Headlines use loaded emotional language" and "story selection almost always favors the right through negative stories regarding liberal policy and politicians." It concluded: "This website has zero credibility due to the routine publishing of fake news." The People's Voice's source for this story, Expose News, has a similar lack of credibility.

You will not be surprised to learn that this story is completely false, as a real news organization (and Health Canada) reported:

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said October 10 that it "would not be possible for a Covid-19 vaccine to cause AIDS," as messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) shots do not use a live virus to trigger an immune response and viral vector jabs include "a harmless virus (in this case, an adenovirus) as a delivery system."

"To date, no reports of AIDS following Covid-19 vaccines have been submitted to PHAC," the agency said by email.


To support their claims, the articles analyzed government data< on the number of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Canada in January and February 2022 -- when the Omicron variant was circulating widely.

What Canada's data actually shows is that the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines wanes over time and that the initial jabs were less effective against Omicron.

AFP also pointed out that "Independent experts say VAIDS is not a real condition":

"There is no VAIDS," said Rachel Roper, professor of microbiology and immunology at East Carolina University, in an October 5 email. "All data worldwide show that Covid vaccines save lives and do not increase deaths."

WND has not told its readers this story is discredited, nor has it told them the truth. That refusal to correct the record means WND is discredited as well.

Utterly false claims

Unruh served up even more fake news about COVID vaccines in an Oct. 13 article:

A new study shockingly has linked the mRNA shots, the DNA treatments used as vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic that came out of a Chinese lab working on bat viruses, to millions of sudden deaths.

The study by Correlation Research in the Public Interest is titled, "COVID-19 vaccine-associated mortality in the Southern Hemisphere," and looked at 17 equatorial and Southern-Hemisphere countries including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand and Uruguay.

They include 9.1% of the world's population and reported 10.3% of the world's COVID shots.

"In the 17 countries, there is no evidence in all-cause mortality (ACM) by time data of any beneficial effect of COVID-19 vaccines," the stunning results found. "There is no association in time between COVID-19 vaccination and any proportionate reduction in ACM. The opposite occurs."

The COVID shots, mostly mRNA-based shots that actually are not vaccines, but are DNA therapies, were fabricated in a rush to respond to COVID, and governments, corporations and organizations demanded people around the world take them.

The side effects long have raised questions, including sudden heart failure in relatively young people, and others equally as threatening.

The study states, "The all-ages vaccine-dose fatality rate (vDFR), which is the ratio of inferred vaccine-induced deaths to vaccine doses delivered in a population, is quantified for the January-February 2022 ACM peak to fall in the range 0.02 % (New Zealand) to 0.20 % (Uruguay). In Chile and Peru, the vDFR increases exponentially with age (doubling approximately every 4 years of age), and is largest for the latest booster doses, reaching approximately 5 % in the 90+ years age groups (1 death per 20 injections of dose 4). Comparable results occur for the Northern Hemisphere, as found in previous articles (India, Israel, USA). We quantify the overall all-ages vDFR for the 17 countries to be (0.126 ± 0.004) %, which would imply 17.0 ± 0.5 million COVID-19 vaccine deaths worldwide, from 13.50 billion injections up to 2 September 2023."

The study described it as a "mass iatrogenic event that killed (0.213 ± 0.006) % of the world population (1 death per 470 living persons, in less than 3 years), and did not measurably prevent any deaths."

But as actual journalists at AFP reported, this study is shoddy and dishonest:

Correlation Research in the Public Interest claims that, in the countries analyzed in its report, "there is no association in time between Covid-19 vaccination and any proportionate reduction in (all-cause mortality)."

The group bases that conclusion on figures from the World Mortality Dataset, Our World in Data and a few other regional sources. The authors accurately note that excess deaths -- those recorded in a crisis beyond what would have been expected in a "normal" year -- rose in early 2022 after an uptake in Covid-19 vaccination.

But Oliver Watson, a visiting researcher in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, told AFP that instead of proving Covid-19 shots cause death, the report simply "correlates vaccine rollout with increases in mortality" without accounting for other events that could have caused the spikes.


The paper shared online also focuses solely on the Southern Hemisphere, which Tara Moriarty of the University of Toronto said "had really high rates of all-cause mortality before vaccines came out."

That trend continued after the rollout in the United States and Europe, the infectious disease researcher added, because many countries "didn't have access to vaccines."
Health Feedback similarly noted that the study "arrived at its conclusion by claiming that spikes in excess mortality in the post-vaccination period correlated to vaccine rollout. Apart from the fact that correlation alone cannot demonstrate a causal relationship, it neglected to account for the fact that these spikes in excess mortality corresponded to surges of COVID-19 deaths. This means that these spikes were very likely due to COVID-19, not the vaccines.

Also, contrary to Unruh's assertion, mRNA vaccines are vaccines and do not alter DNA.

Interestingly, both of these analyses debunking the study were published before Unruh's article -- AFP's analysis was published on Oct. 10 and Health Feedback's was published the next day. This means that Unruh knew or should have known that the study was bogus. Further, the only outside source Unruh cited regarding the study is a far-=right side called Slay News. But it appears Slay News has deleted the article without explanation; Unruh's link to it currently redirects to a donation page. Slay News has been rated unreliable due to is conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, right-wing propaganda, poor sourcing, lack of transparency, failed fact checks, and blatant plagiarism," so it's strange that it found a story that no longer met its abysmal standards.

Yet this story remains live and uncorrected -- a story that should never have run in the first place, at least if anyone at WND actually cared about the truth.

Misinfo from Dr. Drew

Unruh wrote in an Oct. 19 article:

A new video has surfaced revealing Dr. Drew, the popular media personality and medical commentator who runs his own show, being interviewed on the Megyn Kelly Show on SiriusXm.

And he's warning of the "emergency" myocarditis danger to young men from the COVID-19 shots, actually genetic treatments that were described by government officials as "vaccines."

"It's more common than we thought," he said. Sarcastically, he states: "It's mild ... it's mild ... it's no big deal."

However, it is, he said.

"Look, in my world, throughout my entire career, 40-year career, myocarditis is a medical emergency," he charged. "It's a dire problem."

And then he reveals what's troubling.

"A publication just came out five days in circulation," he said. "A major cardiology journal, ... excellent study and it showed, it took my breath away. I don't know why it wasn’t headline news. Large study and it showed that about approximately half of the young males that got myocarditis had permanent heart damage."


He said, "That means that a we don't what percentage are going to be disabled by this [or] are going to develop heart failure. Or [are] going to need cardiac transplants."

He called the study, which he did not identify, "breathtaking."

Of course Drew Pinsky didn't identify the study -- that would have made it easier for someone to fact-check him (not that Unruh fact-checks anything that advances employer's right-wing agenda).Based on a retweet on Dr. Drew's Twitter feed, we can deduce that he appears to be referring to this study from the journal Circulation, which was actually published in August, not "five days" before his interview with Kelly. And, yes, he's grossly misrepresenting the study results.

First, the study was comprised of just 39 young people in Hong Kong, but as many as six of them were female, contrary to Pinsky's claim that it involved only "young males." Second, the study made no claim about "permanent heart damage," as Pinsky asserted; it merely stated that such conditions persisted in that subset of study subject and that "there exists a potential long-term effect on exercise capacity and cardiac functional reserve during stress." The study authors also admitted that there is a "lack of a trajectory that depicts changes in myocardial deformation over time."

Unruh inserted his own lie as well -- mRNA vaccines are vaccines, not "genetic treatments."

Pinsky, by the way, is an anti-vaxxer activist. His Twitter (well, X) account showed him promoting and appearing with fellow anti-vaxxers like Robert Kennedy Jr. as well as a host of other right-wingers, and he has touted the "Zelenko protocol," a dubious regimen of medications that purportedly fight COVID invented by dubious, deceased and WND-hyped doc Vladimir Zelenko. He also promoted the bogus conspiracy theory that actor Jamie Foxx's recent hospitalization was caused by a COVID vaccine. He can't be trusted as a source of reliable medical information -- but he's a reliable anti-vaxxer, and that's good enough for Unruh and WND.

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