Dr. Robert Malone, a self-described vaccine research expert who has done early work on mRNA, spoke to a group of people in Santa Barbara over the weekend, decrying mandates and claiming the COVID-19 vaccine does not work.
A former Goleta resident and alumnus of Santa Barbara City College, Dr. Malone has been widely criticized for spreading debunked or misleading information about COVID and the vaccines, particularly after an appearance on Joe Rogen’s podcast in December 2021.
Dr. Malone addressed a crowd gathered for a rally organized by The Unity Project and Stand Up Santa Barbara at Chase Palm Park on March 19 where he decried the media, mandates and COVID vaccines. Dr. Malone said he’s received two shots of the Moderna vaccination but will not get another shot.
“Regarding mRNA vaccines, the science is settled. Despite what fact-checkers in the mainstream media want you to think … these vaccines are not working,” Dr. Malone said. “They’re not working to prevent infection, replication, spread to others, and they’re not completely safe.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains the COVID vaccines are safe and effective.
“The vaccines have prevented countless hospitalizations, severe illness and death from COVID-19. The data on this are not ambiguous at all,” Dr. Henning Ansorg, with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, told the News-Press.
Dr. Ansorg is also a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a doctor at Cottage Health.
mRNA, or messenger RNA, vaccines teach cells to make a protein that will trigger an immune response, according to the CDC. Both Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA COVID vaccines.
The ingredients in the vaccines (including mRNA) are not harmful and the vaccines do not contain microchips or alter a person’s DNA or genes, the CDC said. mRNA vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID and cannot cause an infection with the virus that causes COVID, per the CDC.
Dr. Malone also claimed the vaccine, when given to children, can cause permanent and irreparable damage to the brain and nervous system, heart and blood vessels and reproductive system.
“There is no evidence whatsoever to back up this claim,” Dr. Ansorg said. “There is growing evidence that the mRNA vaccine is very safe for children.”
According to the CDC, there is no evidence that vaccines, including the COVID options, can cause fertility problems in men or women.
As for reported cases of myocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart muscle, the CDC said these instances have “rarely been reported, especially in adolescents and young adult males within several days after COVID-19 vaccination.” The CDC also said in rare instances of myocarditis reported following vaccination, most patients respond well to medication and rest and recover quickly.
Guidance from the American Heart Association also said “the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the very limited risks in children.”
“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, highly effective and fundamental to saving lives, protecting our families and communities against COVID-19, and ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Please get your child vaccinated as soon as possible,” American Heart Association President Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., said in a statement.
Dr. Malone, who received his M.D. from Northwestern University, opened his speech by questioning why children should be masked in schools, asking tongue-in-cheek if the masks are to “protect grandma as Big Bird suggests.”
The Unity Project bills itself as a group of concerned business leaders, families and others who are opposed to COVID vaccine mandates for children in schools.
Justin Shores, an organizer for Stand Up Santa Barbara, encouraged those in attendance to run for local elections, such as school boards and city councils. Mr. Shores claimed that “governments all took the crisis of COVID and used it to control people and transfer wealth from the lower and middle classes.”
The Stand Up Santa Barbara group said it is “cultivating, training and supporting local candidates who align with our platform and leave party politics behind,” pointing specifically to “medical choice [and] freedom,” “excellence in education” and “environmental stewardship and community sustainability.”
As of Tuesday, 72.1% of the eligible population (at least 5 and older) is fully vaccinated, according to the Public Health Department. Overall, 669 people have died from COVID in the county.
Dr. Ansorg pointed to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC that showed the COVID incidence and hospitalization rates in Los Angeles County among unvaccinated people were 3.6 and 23.0 times, respectively, during the omicron predominance. In comparison, those rates were 2.0 and 5.3 times, respectively, among fully vaccinated people without a booster, according to the Jan. 8 report.
“During both delta and omicron predominance, incidence and hospitalization rates were highest among unvaccinated persons and lowest among vaccinated persons with a booster,” the study said.
Individuals can find out more about COVID vaccines from the CDC here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html.