In April 2022, the Surgeon General of the US issued a call to end covid misinformation. He further urged people to submit information on covid misinformation that is circulating in the public sphere.
“Health misinformation is a serious threat to public health,” he said. “It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, harm people’s health, and undermine public health efforts.” His office has issued a detailed advisory, urging actions by technology companies, social media, government, and individuals.
Todd Rokita, Indiana Attorney General, has responded with a detailed report on covid misinformation. To assist in the preparation of this report, he called upon the assistance of Professors Jayanta Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff. The full report was published on May 2, 2022, and submitted to the Surgeon General’s office.
These following are the main nine points in the report. The full report follows.
#1 Overcounting COVID-19: The official CDC numbers for COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are inaccurate.
#2 Questioning Natural Immunity: There has been consistent questioning and denying of natural immunity after COVID-19 recovery.
#3 COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent Transmission: The CDC director and other health officials falsely claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine prevents the transmission of COVID-19 to others.
#4 School Closures Were Effective and Costless: In the United States, most schools were closed for in- person teaching for some time, and many schools were closed for over a year. This decision was based on false claims that it would protect children, teachers, and the community at large.
#5 Everyone is equally at risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection: Though public health messaging has blunted this fact, there is more than a thousand-fold difference in the risk of hospitalization and death for the old relative to the young.
#6 There was no reasonable policy alternative to lockdowns: Even from the beginning of the pandemic, the sharp age-gradient in the risk of severe disease on COVID-19 infection has provided an alternative to the lockdown-focused policies that many U.S. states adopted – focused protection of the aged and otherwise vulnerable.
#7 Mask mandates are effective in reducing the spread of viral infectious diseases: Contrary to assertions by some public health officials, mask mandates have not been effective in protecting most populations against COVID-19 risk.
#8 Mass testing of asymptomatic individuals and contact tracing of positive cases is effective in reducing disease spread: Mass testing of asymptomatic individuals with contact tracing and quarantining of people who test positive has failed to substantively slow the progress of the epidemic and has imposed great costs on people who were quarantined even though they posed no risk of infecting others.
#9 The eradication of COVID-19 is a feasible goal: Throughout the pandemic, from “two weeks to flatten the curve” and onwards, the suppression of the spread of COVID-19 has been an explicit policy goal. Implicitly, public health leaders have made the suppression of COVID-19 spread to near-zero levels the endpoint of the pandemic. However, SARS-CoV-2 has none of the characteristics of a disease that can be eradicated.