DeSantis blown up over ‘Orwellian’ vaccine probe

DeSantis blown up over ‘Orwellian’ vaccine probe

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Miami on December 1. (Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire)

A day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a push to probe suspected harm from coronavirus vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser, dismissed the move as a pointless exercise that would only undermine public confidence in efforts to strengthen and maintain protection from the circulating pathogen.

“We have a vaccine that is clearly highly effective and safe and has literally saved millions of lives,” Fauci said on CNN on Wednesday. “What’s the problem with vaccines?”

The problem is that vaccines have become part of polarized American politics. Since the advent of COVID-19 vaccines late in the Trump administration, skepticism about mainstream medical science has become something of a creed for many conservatives, but also for some on the far left. Political disagreements over lockdowns, mask requirements and vaccination requirements have hardened into an aversion to the vaccines themselves.

Faced with rare unwanted side effects and declining effectiveness – the result of new variants and low uptake of booster shots – vaccine critics have dismissed the vaccine as ineffective and potentially dangerous.

Some have also embraced outlandish conspiracy theories about vaccines as a form of government and corporate control.

At a rally, an opponent of vaccination holds a sign that reads: No mandates.  My body, my choice.

Anti-vaccination activists at a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC in January. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

During a pandemic-related House Representative hearing, Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland progressive, named the proposed grand jury “Orwellian” development. “These measures are transparently designed to falsely suggest that coronavirus vaccines, and not the coronavirus itself, are dangerous,” he said on Wednesday.

DeSantis, who is widely expected to be running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, was open about those concerns on Tuesday. when he announced it he would ask Florida’s Supreme Court to set up a grand jury “to conduct investigations.” committed crimes and misconduct against Floridians related to the COVID-19 vaccine.” He also seeks “further surveillance for the sudden death of individuals who received the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida.”

Such deaths are rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose immunization surveillance statistics show that 17,868 people — or 0.0027% of vaccine recipients — died after being shot. These reports undoubtedly include thousands of deaths that occurred after vaccination but had nothing to do with the vaccines themselves.

Vaccine skeptics have often used reports of supposed side effects — like those from a vaccine database does not require confirmation – to exaggerate perceived dangers. And such critics invariably downplay the fact that vaccines are exceptionally effective in stopping the serious and critical COVID-19 disease that has killed more than 6.6 million people worldwide.

A healthcare worker gives an injection to someone sitting in a car.

A healthcare worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-through location in Miami last December. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

And with online misinformation and partisan politics putting intense pressure on the American public, vaccine fears have been easily exploited, resulting in low acceptance among Republicans. As a result, strongly republican areas have higher mortality rates as democratic.

More than 83,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Florida, and cases have been rising recently. DeSantis, who has denounced what he terms “faucism” (the echoes of “fascism” are hard to miss), has downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic from the start, although he also credited the opening of schools and other businesses long before it did Credited to Democratic Party colleagues, some of whom remained cautiously low-key well into 2021.

Earlier this year, DeSantis clashed with former President Donald Trump for supporting vaccination, refusing to say if he had received a booster shot. Trump fired back by calling DeSantis “gutless.”

DeSantis has also regularly attacked Fauci personally. “Someone has to grab this little elf and throw him across the Potomac,” he said earlier this year of Fauci, who has been the face of the pandemic for both the Trump and Biden administrations. (He was eventually sidelined by the former in favor of experts closer to DeSantis’ views.)

end of 2021, DeSantis introduced Dr. Joseph Ladapo a as Surgeon General of Florida. Ladapo has no experience with infectious diseases and has routinely attacked vaccination and masking. “With these new measures, we will shed light on the forces that have obscured truthful communications about the COVID-19 vaccines,” Ladapo said after Tuesday’s event.

Florida's Surgeon General Dr.  Joseph Ladapo speaks from a podium as Gov. Ron DeSantis looks on.

Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, with DeSantis in November 2021 in Brandon, Florida. (Chris O’Meara/AP)

DeSantis’ announcement comes days after new Twitter owner Elon Musk attacked Fauci on Twitterdemands his indictment. A supporter of DeSantisMusk has argued that prior to his possession, Twitter executives suppressed information about the coronavirus that is believed to have undermined public health messaging.

Last week he invited Dr. Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya — an outspoken critic of pandemic precautions — chimed in at Twitter’s headquarters. Bhattacharya, who has advised DeSantis in the past, along with Dr. Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff (a co-author with Bhattacharya of the pro-reopening) will sit on the governor’s new Public Safety Committee Great Barrington Declaration) and Bret Weinstein, a quasi-celebrity on the so-called Intellectual Dark Web with no work experience in vaccinology.

“I’m not sure what they’re trying to do down there,” Fauci said in a CNN interview on Wednesday. Though nearing retirement after four decades of federal service, he will likely face testimony from House Republicans who continue to accuse him of making misleading statements about masks, vaccines and the origins of the coronavirus.

As his retirement approaches Fauci became increasingly vocal and defiant on the challenges posed by the nation’s stalled coronavirus response, which has claimed more than a million lives across the United States

In an essay in the New York Times complained Fauci the role that “disinformation and political ideology” have played in sowing doubts about masks, vaccines and other measures.

The silhouette of Dr.  Anthony Fauci against a blue background.

dr Anthony Fauci on Dec. 9 during a virtual event to urge Americans to get vaccinated ahead of the holiday season. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

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