Fact check on Joe Rogan’s interview with Robert Malone that caused uproar

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Spotify has been rocked in recent weeks by controversy engulfing its most popular podcaster, Joe Rogan.

Several prominent musicians and podcasters left the streaming service to protest what they described as Mr. Rogan’s story of promoting misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines. There have been calls for a boycott, and Mr Rogan has apologized for his past use of a racial slur and removed up to 70 old episodes of his podcast, ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’, without explanation.

The catalyst for much of the controversy was a December episode of his podcast featuring virologist and vaccine skeptic Dr. Robert Malone. Hundreds of public health officials and professors, citing the promotion of “several lies about Covid-19 vaccines”, have urged the service to crack down on misinformation about the virus.

For more than three hours, Dr. Malone and Mr. Rogan discussed theories and claims about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines. The conversation included a false equivalence between the vaccine and Nazi medical experiments, baseless speculation that President Biden is not actually vaccinated, and inaccurate interpretations of data and government guidelines.

Here is a fact check of some of their claims.

what was said

“Rumour was that everything in those packages included ivermectin. But there was a specific visit from Biden to Modi and a decision was made within the Indian government not to disclose the contents of those packages which were being deployed in Uttar Pradesh, where they are still there, and the Uttar Pradesh is blocked at the moment. —Dr. Malone

It is misleading. Dr Malone’s suggestion that Mr Biden urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cover up the successful use of the drug ivermectin in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, does not add up.

It’s not exactly a secret that Uttar Pradesh has promoted ivermectin as a prophylactic. The state issued government advice in August 2020 recommending the prescription of the drug to those who had come into contact with Covid patients, and officials publicly acknowledged its use throughout the pandemic. Mr. Biden and Mr. Modi met in September, and Uttar Pradesh officials have continued to publicize the state’s use of ivermectin ever since, even though India has stopped recommending it.

Dr Malone was also wrong to say that cases in Uttar Pradesh have “stabilized” as the world grapples with the Omicron variant. Although the number of cases in the state remained low through the summer and fall, it began to rise in late December, when Dr. Malone spoke with Mr. Rogan, and said surpassed 23,000 daily cases in mid-January.

Proponents of ivermectin often cite the low death toll in Uttar Pradesh as proof of the drug’s effectiveness, but experts say there is no proof of this causal link. It should also be noted that the researchers questioned the reliability of the data from Uttar Pradesh.

what was said

Mr Rogan: ‘But I saw the plan where Joe Biden got it on TV and they didn’t suck it up. They are right –“

Dr. Malone: ​​”I don’t know what to say——”

Mr. Rogan: “I’ll tell you what to say – it’s not the right way to do it.”

Dr. Malone: ​​“Yeah, and was it really a vaccine? Alright, so we’re taking this whole bunny down——”

Mr. Rogan: “It’s my favorite rabbit hole because of the fake decor, remember.”

False. Aspiration involves removing the plunger from a syringe to check that the needle has not been inserted into a blood vessel. The practice and its perceived benefits are the subject of debate among medical professionals. Mr. Rogan and others have incorrectly suggested that Mr. Biden did not actually receive the vaccine since his injections were not aspirated. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend aspirating before giving vaccines because it could cause additional pain.

Mr. Biden received his on-camera reminder photo in September, in front of a backdrop that looks like the White House but is actually in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Some social media posts cited the use of the backdrop as evidence that Mr Biden had not actually been vaccinated. In fact, Mr. Biden and his predecessors have been using the auditorium for events for years.

what was said

Mr Rogan: ‘So if they just did what Sweden had done and some other countries where they hadn’t instituted lockdowns and they kind of let people live their lives and make their own choices , they said that millions of people would be dead?”

Dr. Malone: ​​”It would be so, it seems.”

Mr Rogan: “But time has shown that Sweden actually has a more effective approach to the virus.”

It is misleading. Unlike many other European countries, Sweden has not imposed a full-scale lockdown, although it has adopted some restrictions, including limiting the size of gatherings and imposing partial travel bans and distancing requirements. social. But Mr Rogan is wrong to say that Sweden has been “more effective” in stemming the virus.

“Now it’s been two years and Sweden doesn’t really stand out,” Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist, told the Financial Times in November. “We’re not the best, but we’re certainly not the worst.”

Compared to other countries in Europe, Sweden’s death rate and number of cases are indeed in the middle of the pack. Among its Scandinavian neighbours, however, Sweden has the highest death rate.

what was said

“These neighboring states of the Palestinian territory do not have this level of vaccination at all. Mortality in states neighboring the Palestinian Authority is significantly lower from this virus than mortality in Israel. — Dr. Malone

False. About two-thirds of Israel’s population had been fully vaccinated by the end of December, compared to about a third of those living in the West Bank and Gaza. Both the case fatality rate and the cumulative death rate of Covid are higher in the occupied territories than in Israel.

what was said

“The CDC determined that they were going to make a basic assumption – if the PCR is positive and you die – that’s death due to Covid. And so the extreme example, just to show the absurdity: if the patient comes in with a bullet hole in their head and they take a nasal swab and they’re PCR positive, it’s determined that they died of Covid. — Dr. Malone

It is misleading. The CDC has issued death certification guidelines that detail how to track the immediate cause of death, an underlying cause, or a significant condition that contributed to the death. The guidelines do not require counting Covid-19 as a cause of death when someone tested positive but died for unrelated reasons.

Robert Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, said in a podcast in January that a victim of a car accident who tested positive and died would not be counted as a death by Covid in “most cases”.

“Maybe the person comes in and they have a very serious injury and they just tested positive for Covid and there are no symptoms that might be incidental to death,” he said. -he declares. “But if you had someone who, say, had chest trauma from a car accident and they were, they’re already struggling to breathe. They catch Covid in the hospital and they have certain symptoms. There, that could help.

what was said

“Now one of the things that people have said in response to vaccine injuries is that about one in 1,000 people get these significant injuries like myocarditis.” — Mr. Rogan

False. Studies have shown that the Covid-19 vaccine may be associated with an increased risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, but Mr Rogan’s figure of one in 1,000 comes from a retracted study.

Researchers have identified 32 cases of post-vaccination myocarditis in Ottawa from June to July 2021 out of some 32,000 doses of vaccine administered. But the actual number of doses given during that time was over 800,000. When alerted to the error, the authors retracted the article and apologized for their error.

Additionally, several studies have shown that Covid-19 is more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine.

what was said

“Ninety-five percent of people who died from Covid had an average of four comorbidities.” — Mr. Rogan

It is misleading. Throughout the pandemic, some social media users have misinterpreted CDC data to suggest the Covid death toll is inflated.

According to the public health agency, the virus was “the only cause listed on the death certificate” for around 5% of deaths involving Covid-19. For the remaining 95% of deaths, the certificate listed an average of four additional conditions or causes.

But as experts have repeatedly explained, the presence of other conditions or illnesses does not mean that Covid-19 was incidental to death. In fact, Covid-19 is listed as the underlying cause in 91% of cases.

For example, the immediate cause of a person’s death could be respiratory distress syndrome, which was caused by viral pneumonia, which in turn was caused by the coronavirus. Other comorbidities would be listed on this death certificate, but the underlying cause is still Covid-19.

what was said

“These warrants for an experimental vaccine are explicitly illegal. They are explicitly incompatible with the Nuremberg Code. They are explicitly incompatible with the Belmont report. — Dr. Malone

False. The vaccination mandates do not violate either the Nuremberg Code or the Belmont Report, sets of ethical principles for conducting medical research involving human subjects, given that Covid-19 vaccines are not experimental.

At the time of the podcast’s release, the Food and Drug Administration had fully approved the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech and granted emergency use authorization for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Moderna’s vaccine was fully approved in January.

Sound produced by Adrian Hurst.

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