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Study reveals tactics used to repress scientists

'If they know about my position against vaccines, it can be terrible and horrible'

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Yudi Sherman

Yudi Sherman

Yudi Sherman

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May 27, 2022

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12:32 AM

Study reveals tactics used to repress scientists

A study published last week in SpringerLink shows the methods used by authorities to silence scientists who express vaccine dissent. 

The study notes that while many assume vaccine dissenters to be “mostly hysterical parents or members of anti-vaccination groups” who spread “fake news”, there are researchers and healthcare professionals “who raise scientifically grounded concerns and criticisms about certain vaccines.”  

“In response they experience exclusion, are misquoted, denounced as ‘anti-vaxxers’, and are even threatened with job dismissal and/or revocation of their medical license,” the authors wrote. 

The researchers studied 26 of these vaccine-questioning health professionals, including doctors, nurses and researchers, who reported various methods of censorship and suppression of opposing scientific views: 

Defamation 

Participants reported an organized hunting of healthcare professionals who so much as point out the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine online or who even just provide both the benefits and risks of the vaccine to their patients and let them make their own choices. 

“It’s a really structured mechanism, a real method: there is the XXX Association that monitors such publications and takes care to complain, the Ministry of Health is forced to investigate the complaint and then it publishes against you, and there is the journalist who writes about it,” said one participant. “Here is a triangle that aims to destroy the name of the person who writes against, who reveals the truth…” 

Those professionals are hunted by entities who “locate and attack critical publications on vaccines, aimed at undermining their authors’ credibility and delegitimizing them by referring them as distributors of fake news, misinformation and conspiracies that endanger public health. 

Some doctors at a local clinic said that these entities are sometimes proxies of the authorities. 

Online censorship 

Participants reported the presence of a “big brother” on the web that monitors scientists who question the vaccine, like Wikipedia. 

“There is another phenomenon called supervised entries in Wikipedia, it is something amazing,” said one doctor. “Supervised value is a value that is overseen by the industry…. If I try to add a line in Wikipedia about research against the measles vaccine for example - it will be removed immediately … Who censors Wikipedia? The answer is simple: the industry pays money to scientists and academics to enter information, track, and erase if necessary.” 

Paper Retraction 

Scientists and researchers who submit papers that mention risks to the vaccine see their papers retracted, often without any explanation until weeks after. Then, that retraction is used to discredit them by noting how their science has been rejected. 

“One day after it was published, we received messages from our colleagues that the paper was retracted personally by the journal editor, whose relationship with the pharmacological companies is well known…” said a researcher. “After several weeks, we received comments on how bad this paper is. Obviously, he [the editor] contacted his people and asked them for negative opinions…” 

Denial of Research Grants 

Getting a grant to explore a vaccine is “mission impossible”, one researcher said. Instead, they are forced to approach philanthropists for private funding. 

Some researchers who have so much as raised potential concerns about the vaccine are blocked from getting grants not just for vaccine research, but for any research at all. After giving his interview for the study, one researcher’s university cut him off from pursuing even philanthropic funding. 

Calls for Dismissal 

Some doctors and researchers reported letters of complaint sent to their workplaces calling for their dismissal. Usually, the healthcare professionals are forced to hire attorneys and, even if they are able to stay in their jobs, report taking extra care not to slip up because the slightest infraction would be used to have them dismissed. 

Hearings 

Some doctors reported being summoned to hearings by medical boards or by the Ministry of Health after publishing questions about the vaccine or offering patients alternative treatments. 

“They said, how do you say you treated thousands of ‘vaccine victims,’ there is no such thing…” said one doctor. “I said,’ read the vaccine’s leaflet, where it says that there are vaccine victims.’ I was shocked by the superficiality; I need to teach them that there are vaccine victims?! It is ridiculous… It annoys them that I’m not afraid of them, unlike other doctors they have forced to sign all kinds of documents to stop them … They can try to revoke my license, but I will of course appeal.” 

Another doctor reported having to pay out of pocket for legal fees in order to retain his license. 

But others, of course, were not as successful and had their licenses revoked. 

Self-Censorship 

Some health professionals stay silent about the vaccine’s risk after seeing the consequences faced by those who did not. 

“There is a kind of self-censorship,” said a family doctor. “I will not talk about it in public or with other doctors so that I will not be ‘marked’… I am afraid to speak in public, I’m just at the beginning of my career and I do not know where things I say will end up… I know of doctors who expressed their opinion against vaccines and were immediately categorized as ‘vaccine opponents.’ They were persecuted, summoned to a hearing, a disciplinary committee, did not get a job in [HMO] clinics.” 

“Today it is very, very scary to say it, that I am against vaccines…” reported a nurse. "If they know about my position against vaccines, it can be terrible and horrible, they can fire me, absolutely. You cannot work as a nurse in a primary care clinic and say you are opposed to vaccines, you cannot.” 

Vaccine Monitoring and Rewards 

Respondents also reported being monitored to hit vaccination quotas. When they do, they are rewarded. 

“The Ministry of Health is putting pressure on the HMOs’ doctors to vaccinate,” said a family doctor. “It happens mostly in the fall and winter months, in early September, and it disappears in March … A clinic that succeeds on a weekly basis receives an award, breakfast somewhere … A doctor who is ranked high in the vaccine index, is considered a good doctor.” 

“In two clinics I have worked at so far, there has been pressure to vaccinate children because they are a factor today,” said a nurse. “Clinics measure the rate of vaccination and accordingly determine how good we are or bad… If the clinic does not meet the target, a lot of pressure is applied.” 

Another doctor said that he is paid 6 euros for every vaccination and for every COVID-19 test. 

But Dr. Josh Guetzkow, one of the study’s authors, says that this did not start with COVID-19. 

“The censorship and suppression we’ve witnessed these last two years already existed — it has only kicked into overdrive,” he said. “The deliberate dismantling of science didn't start two years ago.” 

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