Ladapo defends COVID stance against criticism from federal health authorities

Florida’s surgeon general must be confirmed by the Florida Senate

By: - March 16, 2023 4:29 pm

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo was featured in a roundtable discussion on actions against COVID-19 vaccines and made other announcements on December 13, 2022. Credit: Screenshot/Facebook

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo is standing by his controversial opinions about COVID-19 vaccines and precautions even in the face of a rebuke by federal public health officials.

Ladapo, with strong support from Gov. Ron DeSantis, has been insisting that those same authorities have been playing down adverse reactions to the mNRA vaccines, developed to protect against the coronavirus, including heart problems.

Moreover, Ladapo claims that the feds and “sinister” news media are pushing a false narrative about COVID’s dangers and how to protect against them because they want to control Americans.

“We have a vaccine — an mNRA COVID-19 vaccine — that has a terrible safety profile. I mean, that is the truth,” Ladapo insisted during a news conference the governor called to mark the three-year anniversary of the federal government’s first COVID lockdown advisory.

“The media, they work overtime to rewrite reality, to make people believe that what is happening isn’t actually happening. These vaccines have a terrible safety profile. At this point in the pandemic, I’m not sure anyone should be taking them, and that is the honest truth,” the doctor said.

“These guys are geniuses at rewriting reality. But the reality is that Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, Dr. [Rochelle] Walensky, Dr. [Robert] Califf at the FDA, these individuals have been making decisions that — I don’t know what the hell they’re prioritizing, but it is not your wellbeing; it is not my wellbeing. It is someone else’s agenda. And that’s unfortunate, and that’s not something that we’re going here in Florida. Not under the governor, not under the [Florida] Department of Health.”

Confirmation process

The exchange comes as Ladapo faces re-confirmation by the Florida Senate.

He was initially confirmed in February 2022, but must undergo the process again following DeSantis’ reelection, according to a Senate press aide. He cleared the Senate Health Policy Committee on Monday on an 8-3 vote. He next goes to the Ethics and Elections Committee on the way to the Senate floor.

For their part, Califf, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Walensky, who runs the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, argue in a March 10 letter to him that Ladapo is attributing health problems to the vaccines that might be purely coincidental.

“The claim that the increase of [Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System] 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,” Califf and Walensky admonished.

“Recent concerns about increased reports of cardiovascular events provide an instructive example of the need to do further analysis when increased reporting of an event occurs. Despite increased reports of these 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,” the federal officials wrote.

Ladapo refuted such evidence.

‘Back to reality’

“I’ve seen this spate of news articles about me and a letter we wrote to the CDC and the FDA about their MNRA COVID-19 vaccines and their safety, or their lack thereof. And so, the CDC and the FDA and their heads send this letter; I don’t know, 50 different news stations carry their response and how Dr. Ladapo is wrong,” he said Thursday.

“Just to come back to reality a little, but: I went to med school; I got a Ph.D. in research science while I was in medical school; went to a place called Harvard — not as cool as it used to be. My wife and I were talking on the way up here and we’re not even sure we would send our kids there because they’re indoctrination factories and we’re raising our kids to be resistant to that stuff. You don’t really want to drop your kids in an environment where they’ve got to have their shields up all the time because people are trying to indoctrinate them from left, right, and center,” he continued.

“I was a tenured faculty member at UCLA; I’m now a tenured faculty member at the University of Florida. All of that is to say I know what I’m talking about; I’ve spent some time in this area.”

The trend goes beyond COVID, Ladapo argued.

Transgender care

“Yes, we’re here talking about COVID-19, but the rewriting of reality to control your behavior and control your thoughts and your beliefs, it is an ongoing battle that they are waging.

“We are fighting on the fronts of gender dysphoria. These people want to make you believe that kids should have sex organs removed and receive completely experimental therapies that are very risky in terms of these hormone blockers. Like, that’s the reality. Every article you read in the Associated Press or NBC, CBS, New York Times, what they like to say is that, oh, every scientific body in the United States supports these, thinks this is what you should be doing for children,” he said.

“The reality is that, you look across the Atlantic countries in Europe, guess what they’re doing? They’ve gone the opposite direction. They’ve pulled back on these procedures because they are finding that, essentially, the risks are outweighing the benefits. They’ve pulled back. Do any of these articles ever mention that? They don’t mention that because they’re not prioritizing the truth. They’re prioritizing — again, I don’t know whose agenda it is but it’s not the agenda of you or me or our children.”

A story published by The New York Times last summer did mention that, reporting that European nations including Sweden are reconsidering the use of puberty blockers and hormones but remain much more permissive that states in this country.

The state boards of medicine and osteopathic medicine have voted to deny gender-affirming care for minors, and GOP lawmakers this session want to make those prohibitions state law. The state cut off Medicaid provision of such care for adults in August.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.