Florida Governor Desantis of Florida has placed Joseph A. Ladapo, M.D., Phd, as Surgeon General of his state. Despite an apparently good educational background, Ladapo has been branded accurately by many as a quack. He is a member of the “Front Line Doctors” which is an American right-wing political organization that was opposed to measures intended to control the COVID-19 pandemic, such as business closures, stay-at-home orders, and vaccination. The group actively promoted falsehoods about the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines, shamelessly making its first public appearance during a media event on July 27, 2020, where they advocated the use of unproven and debunked drugs such as hydroxychloroquine as treatments for COVID-19. Their statements were made without the support of well-established evidence or regulatory approval, and the group also alleged that the pharmaceutical industry was intentionally sponsoring studies showing the drugs to be ineffective. Later, this group shifted to anti-vaccine activism with the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, denying the vaccines’ well-established efficacy and safety profiles, and began to provide paid telehealth promotions by their affiliated physicians that would prescribe unproven medications claimed to be COVID-19 treatments.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., MPH, sent a letter correcting Ladapo’s misinterpretations and misinformation about data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).  In the letter, they explained:

  • The claim that the increase of VAERS reports of life-threatening conditions reported from Florida and elsewhere represents an increase of risk caused by the COVID-19 vaccines is incorrect, misleading and could be harmful to the American public.
  • Reports of adverse events following vaccination do not mean that a vaccine caused the event.
  • Despite increased reports of these (adverse cardiovascular events), when the concern was examined in detail by cardiovascular experts, the risk of stroke and heart attack was actually lower in people who had been vaccinated, not higher.
  • Based on available information for the COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized or approved in the United States, the known and potential benefits of these vaccines clearly outweigh their known and potential risks. Additionally, not only is there no evidence of increased risk of death following existing vaccines, but available data have shown quite the opposite: that being up to date on vaccinations saves lives compared to individuals who did not get vaccinated.
  • The most recent estimate is that those who are up to date on their vaccination status have a 9.8 fold lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated and 2.4 fold lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who were vaccinated but had not received the updated, bivalent vaccine.

Both the CDC and FDA have stated that Ladapo has repeatedly spread falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines.

But is gets even worse: The independent Center for Inquiry (CFI) is calling for an ethics investigation into allegations that Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo improperly altered key findings in a study on COVID-19 vaccine safety. CFI has sent a letter to the medical boards Florida, California, and New York, where Ladapo holds licenses, and the University of Florida, where he is a faculty member.

In October 2022, Ladapo announced, contrary to advice issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that young men should not be vaccinated against COVID-19 based on a Florida state analysis of data suggesting an elevated risk of cardiac-related deaths. But draft versions of the state analysis included contradictory data excluded from the final version showing much greater risk of cardiac-related death from COVID-19 than from the vaccine. According to Politico (April 24, 2023), Ladapo personally altered the analysis. Ladapo has also falsely described mRNA COVID-19 vaccines as having “a terrible safety profile” and has opposed other COVID-19 containment measures. Yet he was confirmed for another year as the state’s top public health official on May 4. In his book, “Transcend Fear: A Blueprint for Mindful Leadership in Public Health,” published in August 2022, Ladapo wrote that he “gained the courage to share his opinions on the COVID-19 response after a spiritual awakening from a five-day counseling session in Chinese meridian theory and the qualities of chi.” In an interview with Republican politician Dr. Ben Carson, Ladapo said: (a) he believes it was God’s plan to speak out against COVID-19 policy, and his wife also encouraged him to speak out about the vaccine. Joseph Ladapo says anti-vaccine crusade was ‘God’s plan.” His wife’s author bio (Amazon) states: “Brianna Ladapo is an intuitive spiritual healer, movement therapist, and teacher. She has a master’s degree in English from Harvard University, and has studied traditional naturopathy, plant and herbal medicine, and shamanism.”

In line with Ladapo’s misguided messaging, the Florida Legislature is considering two bills that would expand prohibitions against mandatory masking and vaccination. The bills would also forbid regulatory boards from disciplining providers who offer quack advice on social media and would require doctors to discuss the pros and cons of “alternative” treatments before treating patients for COVID-19. [Legislature emboldens quackery of lying Ladapo. South Florida SunSentinel, May 1, 2023]

Since vaccination and masking have unequivocally saved many lives and much suffering, there is little doubt that contrary measures promoted by Ladapo have produced adverse effects, including thousands of needless deaths.

This leads us to a critical question: Can we trust Desantis to lead the nation, should he ascend to the presidency? My concern is multiplied by the fact that Desantis has recently denounced Anthony Fauci, a proven medical scientist, stating that, if he (Desantis) were in leadership, he would not have tolerated this competent leader (Fauci), suggesting that he would have replaced him by the likes of Ladapo?




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