On Monday, Fox News host Dan Bongino opened his daily podcast on what seemed like old news: Covid-19 vaccines. He brought them up after initially complaining that other conservatives “got bogged down in the story” about classified documents confiscated from President Biden’s Delaware home and former Washington, DC office, ” because the left are absolute experts at deception,” he said.
Instead, Bongino wanted to focus on what he sees as growing distrust among those who had received vaccines and boosters. “I sense a tremendous cultural shift here, folks,” he said, arguing that even Democrats had concerns. The centerpiece of the segment was a clip from the podcast by dilbert Creator Scott Adams, in which the cartoonist expressed regret over his decision to get vaccinated. “I will tell you that anti-vaccination appears to be right,” he said.
Elon Musk had responded to Adams’ statement on Twitter on Friday, noting that he felt “dying” for days after his own second booster shot, adding, “Hopefully no permanent damage, but I don’t know.” He also claimed that a cousin of his had to be hospitalized because of a heart infection because of the vaccine. Bongino – who is also vaccinated but has been permanently suspended from YouTube for trying to dodge a suspension he received over misinformation from Covid – said on his Monday show he hopes comments like Adams’ will resonate with people in the future would make them “more skeptical of the government”.
“There are a lot of people living in fear right now,” he concluded. “Again you know I’m one of them. I don’t want to harp on about it, but I’d be lying to you if I said I don’t spend two to three hours of my day thinking about how much damage my heart might have done.”
And my cousin, who is young and in excellent health, had a severe case of myocarditis. Had to go to the hospital.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 21, 2023
While the anti-vaccine movement supposedly welcomes pro-scientific types like Musk and Adams into its camp, it’s also reinvesting in the notion that the drugs cause long-term harm, including death. In early 2022, after fighting over vaccination regulations had died down somewhat, conspiracy theorists falsely claimed that celebrities like Betty White and Bob Saget had died from the drugs. The end of the year brought the premiere of Died suddenlya fake but popular “documentary” that “revives several debunked claims and repackages them to claim that Covid-19 vaccines are part of a depopulation plan by global elites intent on establishing a global regime,” according to PolitiFact.
No sooner had 2023 begun than Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapsed from cardiac arrest during an NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals — a terrifying moment witnessed by millions and quickly used by anti-vaccination conspiracy opponents to misleadingly claim that the availability of shots coincided with a trend in medical emergencies among young athletes. Then came the unexpected death of Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway, member of MAGA World sister duo Diamond and Silk. On Saturday, Rochelle “Silk” Richardson appeared at the Hardaway memorial to make a link between the vaccine and her sister’s death, although it’s unclear if either had gotten the shot.
“In the wild, when they want to depopulate and sterilize a large group of animals, they typically inject one animal, and that one animal then infects the rest of the animals,” Silk said at the event. “So technically and scientifically, it doesn’t matter if you’re vaccinated or not.” She also alluded to the narrative put forward by Died suddenly – that a conspiracy is under way to kill a large part of the population. “A lot of people call it a conspiracy theory. I call it murder,” she said. Her comments, heavily laden with the new anti-vax dog-whistle word “suddenly,” prompted MP Marjorie Taylor Greene to call for an investigation into vaccines as potentially life-threatening. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and serious post-vaccination reactions are rare” and that “the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination continue to outweigh any potential risks.”)
I demand an IMMEDIATE investigation into the Covid vaccines and the dramatic increase in people dying suddenly!
This can no longer be ignored and is NOT political. https://t.co/5vOfMFJ57c
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) January 21, 2023
Alongside these episodes, social media has seen a recent resurgence of videos purporting to show vaccine recipients suffering from tremors or seizures. Similar content dates back to 2021 and went particularly viral in May 2022, when Twitter user Angelia Desselle posted footage of her shaking feet with the caption, “Thank you Pfizer.” (Convulsions are not a proven side effect of the vaccines; these claims have been widely ridiculed and parodied.)
Desselle shared another clip in response to the Twitter discussion between Scott Adams and Elon Musk, and another video of her has just been reshared on the Twitter feed by James Cintolo, who describes himself as a medical and nutrition expert. His year-old account, followed by around 62,000 people and sporting a verification mark thanks to his Twitter Blue subscription, is an anti-vax hybrid horror stories, memesand jokes like: “Having an immune system is a conspiracy theory.” In recent days, he has posted several videos of alleged tremor symptoms caused by vaccines.
/URGENT – Angelia, 45, a healthcare worker ordered to take Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, 3 days later paralyzed from the legs down followed by severe convulsions and seizures, unable to clean, cook , drive, need full-time caretaker, “I’m a prisoner in my own house” pic.twitter.com/xHaR1iLVdL
— James Cintolo, RN FN CPT (@healthbyjames) January 19, 2023
Cintolo — who didn’t respond to a request for comment about his education, current position in the medical field, or whether he had personally diagnosed any of those featured in the clips he posted trumpeted Adams reversal of the vaccine and on Anti-Vax street protest This weekend in the UK The “Truth Be Told” rally, held at the BBC’s London headquarters on Saturday, was intended to mark “Covid Vaccine Victim Awareness Month”, support people said to have been hurt by the drugs and commemorate those of who are believed to have died there Government hands and Big Pharma.
Speakers listed for the event included prominent anti-vaccination Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who either did not attend the crowd as planned or addressed the crowd, and Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who had been suspended by his party days earlier for tweeting that mass vaccination against Covid-19 was “the greatest crime since the Holocaust”. He told the assembled protesters: “We were told ‘safe’. It was a lie.” The group also directed shouts of “Shame on you” at the BBC and chanted, “Take down the BBC”.
“SHAME ON YOU” – British audience for the BBC
Truth be told, London, a demonstration outside BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London on January 21st 2023. pic.twitter.com/f65tRVb6Ox
— Neil by mouth (@nbreavington) January 23, 2023
The US may soon witness organized action in this direction. Right now, a group of attorneys representing various firms across the country — as well as the general counsel of Kennedy’s nonprofit Anti-Vax Child Defense Fund — are selling tickets to a Covid trial conference scheduled for March 25-26 in Atlanta. David Sunfellow, an anti-vax writer with a following of 30,000 on Rumble, summarized Focus of the meeting in a tweet: “Legal strategies to compensate vaccine victims and hold governments and companies to account.”
“Over the next 10 years, Covid lawsuits are expected to experience tremendous growth,” the event page reads. “The conference will feature networking opportunities and panel discussions led by attorneys involved in Covid-19 litigation. The conference is intended for a legal audience; However, the public is also welcome to purchase tickets.” Early bird admission is $445, while tickets with bonus weekend events go up to $570.
The conference is hosted by the Vaccine Safety Research Foundation (VSRF), an anti-vaccination organization founded in October 2021 by Steve Kirsch, a wealthy technology entrepreneur. Kirsch had founded the Covid-19 Early Treatment Fund in April 2020, which was trying to test drugs already approved by the FDA to treat the disease, and then became impatient with his advisory board after discussing the effectiveness of fluvoxamine and hydroxychloroquine, which he looked at, disagreed was promising. The entire board resigned, and soon Kirsch was a major transmitter of misinformation about vaccines, falsely claiming at a public FDA forum that they “kill more than they save.” He was also forced to step down as CEO and board member of his newest startup, M10.
Another Twitter user who has been running an anti-Vax account since June 2022, @C19VaxInjured, seemed inspired by Saturday’s protests in London. They floated the idea of a similar protest at CNN headquarters in Atlanta — the same weekend when lawyers will gather to discuss plans to sue those they hold responsible for vaccine damage. A request for comment on these plans went unanswered.
I am thinking of organizing a rally/march for the vaccine injured on March 24th, 25th or 26th at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Throughts? Are you in to help?
— Silenced Survivor Vax Injured (@C19VaxInjured) January 22, 2023
Everything shows that anti-vax sentiment hasn’t gone away over the past year — it’s only evolving, with chief architects and influencers looking for new ways to mobilize the movement. What is particularly insidious is how much of her narrative is driven by implications: any allusion to “suddenly” or “excess“Deaths that are actually primarily due to Covid-19 infections are being taken as a sign that the vaccines are killing people, with the CDC and medical experts being part of an extensive cover-up.
With President Biden saying the pandemic is “over,” efforts to combat this type of misinformation could dry up as quickly as Americans stop masking. It certainly doesn’t help that Twitter is doing less on this front since Elon Musk took over, while other conspiracy theorists are finding safe haven and meaningful audiences on alternative tech platforms. For those looking to capitalize on paranoia amid an endless health crisis, the sky’s still the limit.