When he saw U.S. institutions ignoring Swedish data out in June 2020 showing children hardly transmitted or contracted Covid-19 at school, Harvard University Professor of Medicine Martin Kulldorff decided to start speaking more on Twitter (now called X).
“I have three children and I need to be able to see them in the eyes,” Kulldorff told The Federalist when asked why he risked his position at Harvard, government research grants, even friendships, for publicly opposing lockdowns and vaccine mandates. “If I’m a scientist, I have to humbly seek the truth and honestly communicate that. I don’t think there’s another choice as a scientist. … It was obvious that we had to speak up.”
The epidemiologist and infectious disease expert with more than 200 research articles published in peer-reviewed publications and cited more than 25,000 times had tried to make scientific arguments against lockdowns in U.S. publications since February 2020, but he could only get his views into Swedish publications, he told The Federalist in a phone interview Wednesday.
So Kulldorff tried getting his support for “focused protection” instead of mass lockdowns out on social media. In his view, it was especially important that American children be allowed to go back to school, while neighbors continued to take precautions on behalf of the elderly and others at high risk of a Covid infection, unlike most children.
In attempting to speak on X, however, Kulldorff was blocked by what a lawsuit later discovered was a “vast censorship enterprise” throttling Americans’ ideas online at the behest of multitudes of government officials and government-funded proxies. The Biden administration has appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which paused lower courts’ injunctions against the censorship while considering whether to take the case. In the meantime, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is also considering whether to re-expand an injunction against the censorship to more federal agencies based on further evidence.
Censorship Gives a Monopoly to Government Misinformation
Kulldorff is a plaintiff in Missouri v. Biden. His New Civil Liberties Alliance lawyers have stressed that Department of Justice lawyers arguing to keep government manipulating what Americans can see and say online have not contested any of the shocking facts the lawsuit has uncovered. Instead, they defend the censorship as necessary to stop “misinformation.”
Yet “it wasn’t just that the government censored false information but it censored true information,” Kulldorff noted. “Of course, the First Amendment should be valid for both, but it’s also true that the government censored true information, and people died because of that.”
One of the true things government censored, he said, is that people who survive Covid-19 develop robust immunity against a repeat infection. The immunity conferred on survivors of most diseases, “We’ve known about this since 400 BC with the Athenian plague. We’ve known about this for 2,000 years, yet they questioned that for Covid,” Kulldorff said. “It’s astonishing.”
Acting on this long-proven scientific fact by hiring naturally immune workers in nursing homes, for example, could have prevented deaths in one of the highest-risk locations.
Either the 5th Circuit or Supreme Court could grant further discovery in this case that would reveal even more than the current 20,000 pages of evidence and eight depositions of government officials engaged in online censorship.
“There’s a lot left to learn,” Kulldorff pointed out, “because we only did a deposition for a few government officials and there are many more officials mentioned in the emails between the government and the social media companies that we received as part of the discovery process.”
Shutting People Up Instead of Refuting Their Ideas
When the lawsuit was filed, Kulldorff and other plaintiffs including Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University had no idea how expansively the White House and other federal agencies including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security were naming Americans’ social media accounts and keywords to platforms to ban and throttle, Kulldorff said. They just knew social media platforms kept banning their accounts, posts, and ideas when they publicly disagreed with federal officials.
Open records requests before the lawsuit revealed that high-level federal officials moved to stop people from reading or hearing about the Great Barrington Declaration that Kulldorff coauthored with Bhattacharya and Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, other epidemiologists with sterling professional records.
The October 2020 declaration was eventually co-signed by nearly 1 million people, including more than 62,000 verified scientists and health-care professionals. It argues for “focused protection,” or extra measures to protect those at high risk from Covid while ending lockdowns, because for the vast majority of people the costs of lockdowns were greater than their risks from Covid. (This publication featured similar arguments as early as March 2020.)
“[F]our days after the Declaration’s publication, then-Director of NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, emailed Dr. Anthony Fauci and Cliff Lane at NIH/NIAID about the Great Barrington Declaration,” says the plaintiffs’ Supreme Court filing. “This email stated: ‘Hi Tony and Cliff, See: https://gbdeclaration.org/. This proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists who met with the Secretary seems to be getting a lot of attention – and even a co-signature from Nobel Prize winner Mike Leavitt at Stanford. There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises.'”
Instead of engaging with these scientists, however, it appears federal officials sought to secretly shut down their ability to communicate with people online. The lawsuit notes that soon after the declaration was published, Google made it harder for people to find in online searches and elevated hit pieces on the declaration in its search results.
“YouTube parent company Google controls 92 percent of the world’s search results,” this author noted recently. “Wall Street Journal and other investigations have found that Google alters its search results in ways that benefit leftists. So does YouTube’s current criteria for hiding information.”
Reddit banned links to the declaration in its Covid forums, and Facebook temporarily suspended the declaration’s page without an explanation, the lawsuit also says.
In May 2021, Twitter suspended Kulldorff’s account for a month after he posted that “masks endow vulnerable individuals with a false sense of security, because they actually do not work well to protect against viral infection.” In 2022, the “Twitter Files” showed that Twitter employees had also kept Kulldorff’s ideas from spreading on an equal basis to other posts on their platform. Twitter “slapped” his expert opinion with a “misleading” label and banned likes and replies.
“Anthony Fauci, when he was director of NIAID, he sat on the biggest pile of infectious disease money in the world. NIH, [controlled during lockdowns by] Francis Collins, controls funds for not only infectious diseases but all of public health,” Kulldorff noted. “So when they take a very strong stand on a specific policy … it’s very concerning, because that means that scientists are not going to dare to speak up because they are afraid of losing research funds, they are afraid of losing their livelihood. I think that was a huge problem in the pandemic.”
Cleaning House of Bureaucrats Who Betrayed Americans’ Constitutional Rights
Kulldorff noted that silencing people increases their distrust and anger, while allowing them to speak and engaging with their ideas is the most effective way to change minds in the long run. Censorship also endangers people’s lives by shutting down innovation and creativity, which requires an openness to new and contrarian ideas.
“If we had more debate, schools would have opened earlier, for example. This is very important for children,” Kulldorff said. “At this point I think everybody realizes that was a big mistake and people like Fauci, who were arguing for school closures in 2020, they are now claiming they wanted schools to be open. Silencing people, censoring people, slandering people did create worse outcomes in this pandemic than we would otherwise have had.”
The highly cited epidemiologist thinks scientific funding needs to be decentralized to increase the pro-science flow of ideas and reduce the cartelization of research that allows federal funding to induce self-censorship. That might mean dividing the NIH and NIAID into several regional institutions, Kulldorff suggested. Some of the best research on Covid questions came from advanced countries not dependent on U.S. research funds like Denmark, Sweden, Qatar, and Israel, he noted.
“It is a problem that the people who are responsible for what I think is the biggest public health fiasco in history, they are still largely in place,” Kulldorff said. “Sometimes an individual might step out, but these structures and those communities who were responsible for this, they are still in charge in terms of public health and in terms of the scientific community. That has to change.”