DeSantis comes out against World Health Organization’s pandemic treaty talks

‘We want to make sure that stuff like that can’t happen again,’ governor says

By: - May 11, 2023 3:34 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs health care legislation in Destin on May 11, 2023. Source: Screenshot/DeSantis Facebook

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday denounced moves led by the World Health Organization to devise a strategy to respond to future pandemics, accusing President Joe Biden of attempting to use that process to “institutionalize lockdown policies.”

“He wants to take this WHO treaty and he wants to impose that on the American people. That is unacceptable,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Destin.

“And, first of all, what they’re doing with WHO is they want to memorialize in cement lockdown policies as the way to respond to future pandemics. And they’ve not had any introspection; they’ve not looked to see and acknowledge the huge mistakes that their recommendations caused and the damage that it did to so many people around the country,” he said.

“We want to make sure that stuff like that can’t happen again.”

An AP analysis refutes such suggestions that the voluntary treaty, which is not close to ratification, would cede U.S. health policy to international control.

“The treaty lays out broad recommendations related to international cooperation on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Nowhere in the 30-page document are lockdowns, closures or specific citizen surveillance systems mentioned,” AP reported.

DeSantis, who has bucked federal public health guidance after initially embracing the COVID-19 vaccines, paints the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as inept and controlling of the U.S. population when mandating vaccination and masking.

“These restrictions and these mandates, the purpose of them was not to safeguard your health. The purpose of them was to control your behavior,” he said Thursday.

Praise for Ladapo

DeSantis’s COVID policies differed markedly from the federal government’s guidance, and he surrounded himself with medical figures and researchers who supported his approach, including Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s surgeon general, who attended the press conference.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo in Destin on May 11, 2023. Source: Screeshot/DeSantis Facebook

“That’s why you have people like Ladapo — he’s telling the truth and a lot of these people are attacking him, but they don’t attack him with the data. They just attack him with kind of the catchphrases and the group think,” DeSantis said.

News organizations have reported that Ladapo “personally altered” state research to inflate the cardiac danger from COVID vaccines to young men.

DeSantis appeared at a Destin church to sign health-related legislation approved during the recently concluded regular session.

SB 252 continues existing bans on mask and vaccine mandates by businesses and government bodies as a condition of service or employment, plus discrimination based on vaccination or immunity status. No vaccine approved under an emergency-use authorization can be forced on people under the legislation.

HB 1580 allows health care providers and insurers to opt out of providing treatments to which they object on conscience grounds without being subjected to punishment or civil liability. Democrats objected that the measure could be used to target people based on race, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Related legislation, SB 238, would shield records of these cases from Florida’s public records laws.

Gain of function

HB 1387 contains provisions including a ban on “gain of function” research, through which scientists seek to enhance a virus’ transmissibility or virulence. No such research could be conducted in Florida as of the new law’s July 1 effective date.

Gain of function studies provide ways to study the properties of viruses to better learn how to control them. They are routine elements of medical research.

A fight has broken out between U.S. conservatives and federal public health officials over whether the government underwrote gain-of-function research that resulted in the COVID pandemic. In February, the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that COVID most likely emerged from a lab leak in Wuhan, China. However, the department expressed “low confidence” in that conclusion, and other agencies think it stemmed from animal-to-human infection.

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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.

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