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Rochelle Walensky’s Terrible Testimony
Last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave testimony to Congress that was jaw-dropping even by the abysmal standards to which we’ve been accustomed during COVID. In just a few hours, Walensky managed to tell Congress that the CDC’s guidance to mandate masks in schools would never change regardless of new evidence, that the CDC had conducted no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) as to whether masks were effective because it was so obvious that they worked, and that COVID vaccines had been added to the child immunization schedule so they could be given to uninsured children.
First, in light of the recent Cochrane review including 78 peer-reviewed RCTs with over 600,000 participants concluding masks made “little to no difference” in preventing COVID or flu, Walensky told Rep. Cathy Rodgers that the CDC’s guidance to mandate masks in schools would “not change with time” regardless of the new evidence.
Walensky’s response is astonishing for several reasons. First, to say that the CDC’s masking guidance “does not change with time,” despite the recent Cochrane review, is effectively to admit that the CDC’s guidance does not change with new data or evidence, either. This is a far cry from the commitment to “science” which the American people had long been told they were following.
If that’s not bad enough, Walensky’s statement is, of course, also flatly untrue. After discouraging Americans from obtaining facemasks in the initial weeks of COVID, the CDC made an abrupt about-face in April 2020, and facemasks soon became mandatory for day-to-day activities, which the CDC at the time had attributed to a change in “science.” Making all this even more horrific is the fact that the United States stands out conspicuously as the only developed nation in which its national public health agency recommends masking children as young as two years old.
Next, Walensky goes on to tell Rep. Gary Palmer that no one in the US federal government would have thought to propose an RCT to determine if masks were effective because “there wasn’t equipoise to the question anymore.”
Effectively, Walensky is saying that the CDC wouldn’t consider conducting an RCT, widely considered the “gold standard” of evidence-based medicine, because it was so obvious that masks worked. It’s unclear if Walensky’s butchering of the word “equipoise” was simply a result of her trying to use a big word in order to sound scientific. But if taken literally, the actual meaning is even worse: To say there was no “equipoise” to the question is to say that conducting an RCT to determine if masks worked would have been a violation of research ethics.
Finally, Walensky tells Rep. Dan Crenshaw that the only reason COVID mRNA vaccines had been added to the routine pediatric immunization schedule for all children over six months old was so that they could be given to uninsured children.
As has been known since early 2020, COVID poses virtually zero risk to young children. That there have been 2,000 pediatric deaths from COVID is belied by the CDC’s own data—and the vast majority of these children had severe comorbidities.
But moreover, adding COVID mRNA vaccines to the routine immunization schedule has broad implications far beyond simply making them available to uninsured children. Seeing these shots on the routine immunization schedule is certain to make it more likely for individual schools and municipalities to mandate those shots for young children to attend school, while affording legal protection to those that do. Healthcare providers will also be more likely to lump those shots in with other routine childhood vaccinations, giving them to young children with only minimal disclosure and parental consent. And finally, having COVID mRNA vaccines on the routine immunization schedule may afford certain legal protections to vaccine manufacturers, such as Pfizer and Moderna, for any harms they might cause.
Walensky has a long history of testimonies nearly as terrible as these. Back in 2021, Walensky couldn’t explain to the Senate why the CDC hadn’t conducted any field studies on natural immunity from COVID.
And then there was the time when Walensky explained that the CDC’s initial bravado for vaccine passes, mandates, and grandiose promises about vaccine efficacy back in 2021 had been based on a “CNN feed” claiming the vaccines were “95% effective.”
These galling testimonies aside, it’s not surprising why Rochelle Walensky was picked to be CDC Director. On the surface, she’s articulate and presentable. So it’s a real testament as to how far public health has fallen over these last three years that someone in her position would be telling these kinds of falsehoods and defending such atrocious policies.
Yet for all her poise, Walensky demonstrated at least one horrendous error in moral judgment that may help illuminate how she wound up on this path. In 2020, Walensky was a signatory to the John Snow Memorandum, a kind of rebuttal to the Great Barrington Declaration. The John Snow Memorandum endorsed the efficacy of lockdown, denied evidence of natural immunity following COVID infection, and essentially acted as the blueprint for “Zero Covid.” All of these positions were, of course, resoundingly discredited in the ensuing years.
Walensky’s signing the John Snow Memorandum was in keeping with what may be her most damning quote of all. In a radio interview just before being appointed as CDC Director, Walensky contrasts Sweden’s light-handed response to COVID negatively with China’s “really strict lockdowns,” and gives her stamp of approval to the CCP’s data purporting to show that the lockdown of Wuhan had succeeded in eliminating the virus from all of China.
Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.
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