Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) is neither a medical doctor nor a scientific researcher. And he isn’t the Johnson in Johnson & Johnson. But that didn’t keep him from talking about the use of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin against Covid-19 and his YouTube account from posting a video featuring his comments. And now surprise, surprise this video has gotten his account banned from YouTube for seven days.
So if you are waiting for Johnson’s YouTube account to upload some delightful cat videos or anything else, you’ll probably have to wait at least until National Flip Flop Day on June 18. According to Bill Glauber reporting for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a YouTube spokesperson said the following about the Johnson video: “We removed the video in accordance with our Covid-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus.” Per Glauber, Johnson apparently stood up and made the comments at the Milwaukee Press Club on June 3. Glauber also quoted Johnson criticizing the U.S. government for “not only ignoring but working against robust research [on] the use of cheap, generic drugs to be repurposed for early treatment of Covid.”
Here’s a TMJ4 News segment about the YouTube suspension:
Johnson has since issued a firm statement that said: “YouTube’s ongoing Covid censorship proves they have accumulated too much unaccountable power. Big Tech and mainstream media believe they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives. They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies.”
Again, Johnson is not a medical doctor in the traditional sense, meaning someone who actually has a medical degree and has studied medicine. So when he mentions “medical doctors,” he is presumably not referring to himself. The question then is who specifically is he referring to and what exactly are their qualifications.
Now, Johnson referred to the removal of his videos as “censorship.” But curtailing the spread of false medical information is different. Imagine what would happen if a medical doctor told patients that the best treatment for any disease is head-butting cabbage. This could cause some real harm. By spreading misinformation or disinformation about Covid-19, its prevention, and its treatment, you could endanger hundreds, thousands, and even millions of lives.
YouTube’s policy about ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine is pretty clear. It says, “Don’t post content on YouTube if it includes any of the following:
- Content that recommends use of Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of Covid-19
- Claims that Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine are effective treatments for Covid-19
- Content that recommends use of Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of Covid-19”
This is completely in line with what’s indicated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines about hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
Here’s what the NIH guidelines say about hydroxychloroquine:
- “The Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) recommends against the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.
- In nonhospitalized patients, the Panel recommends against the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin for the treatment of Covid-19, except in a clinical trial.”
Hydroxychloroquine is not avocado toast. It is not a completely benign medication. It’s potential side effects include abnormal heart rhythms, which could potentially be life threatening. That’s why you have to be careful about recommending hydroxychloroquine when there is no clear potential benefit. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already recommended against the medication when treating Covid-19, which as I covered for Forbes previously left some states with stockpiles of unused hydroxychloroquine.
And here’s what the guidelines say about ivermectin: “There are insufficient data for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. Results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed to provide more specific, evidence-based guidance on the role of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19.”
Keep in mind that these recommendations are based on a review of available scientific evidence conducted by a panel of real experts in the field, not people who sell pillows or believes that gynecological illnesses are due to receiving demon sperm. If you somehow think that these recommendations are wrong about ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, to sort of quote Tom Cruise from the movie Jerry Maguire, “Show me the study!” And not just some random paper uploaded to MedRxiv or some other website by a person who happens to have a computer and access to the Internet. It should be a peer-reviewed study that’s been published in a respectable scientific journal.
This ain’t the first time that Johnson has spouted off what-the-hecks about Covid-19. For example, in March, The New York Times ran a article entitled, “Senator Ron Johnson has spread misinformation on the virus, the election, the Capitol riot, even Greenland’s greenness.”
Then in April, on a radio show hosted by Vicki McKenna, Johnson seemed to argue against efforts to get as many people vaccinated against Covid-19 as possible. The following segment on MSNBC replayed what Johnson said and the response from Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) :
As you can see Johnson argued, “Because it’s not a fully approved vaccine, I think we probably should have limited the distribution to it to the, to the vulnerable, to people that really are. To the very young, I see no reason to be pushing vaccines on people.”
Umm, no reason? It’s not as if Covid-19 vaccines were a reversible sequin pillow case that features Nicholas Cage’s face or some other simply nice to have product. There is a reason why public health experts are encouraging vaccination. The whole purpose of getting as many people vaccinated as possible is to stop the Covid-19 coronavirus from spreading. As long as you have a nose, a mouth, and a respiratory tract, you can get infected with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) and potentially spread the virus to others. And if you don’t have a nose, a mouth, and a respiratory tract, you either should see a doctor immediately or perhaps come to realization that you are actually a ficus plant.
Remember getting vaccinated is not like having a gigantic concrete, full body condom, ahem, erected around you. The vaccine does not offer you 100% protection. You can still get infected with the virus and get sick with Covid-19 even after getting fully vaccinated. Yes, the vaccine will probably reduce your risk of getting Covid-19 significantly. But your risk will still depend on the amount of virus that’s spreading around you, which, in turn, depends on what proportion of people around you are vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated, the less opportunity the virus has to spread. That’s the concept of herd immunity.
And in May, Joy Reid on her MSNBC show Joy Reid called Johnson a “dangerous disinformation peddler” after Johnson inaccurately claimed that Covid-19 vaccines had killed over 3,000 people:
Once again, Johnson is not a medical doctor. Rather than speak for whatever “medical doctors” Johnson may claim that he is speaking for, why doesn’t he let real medical doctors do the talking themselves instead? This will allow everyone to better see the qualifications, experience, and scientific information or lack thereof behind the statements. After all, didn’t Johnson say something about those believing that they “are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives?”