**KAT EDITED TO ADD: I wrote this post to help my friends sort through misinformation and did not expect it to go viral. Several commenters have asked me to cite sources, and I agree that this is important to do. I still have a day job, but I have edited to include primary sources for all points when possible.
**SECOND EDIT: People seem to not understand that PubMed (ncbi) is the international database for cataloguing medical research studies and instead think it only contains government-funded information or research. This is not the case. It is basically the Google of peer-reviewed research studies.**
*The following statements represent my personal informed views and not those of any institution*
First, background: I’m a physician (specifically a board-certified pathologist, which includes microbiology and laboratory medicine) with a master’s degree in epidemiology.
In the last day or two, several friends have shared or posted about a video “documentary” called “Plandemic”. The film depicts now-discredited former researcher Judy Mikovits who shares a plausible-sounding narrative about the current pandemic. The problem here is that nearly all of her scientific statements are demonstrably false. If you have more to add to this list, or credible data to the contrary, please start a discussion. I suspect there are many more false claims in this video, but these are just the ones that stuck out to me as a physician with epidemiology training.
– She states “There is no vaccine for any RNA virus that works.” Incorrect: Polio, hepatitis A, measles, to name a few. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4763971/)
– Her retracted paper was actually not about vaccines at all, even though she insinuates that it was. (Here is the article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19815723)
– She states that Ebola could not infect humans until it was engineered to do so in her laboratory. This is false. (Here is an article describing an outbreak of Ebola in 1976, long before Dr. Mikovits was conducting research: https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/214/suppl_3/S93/2388104 )
– Likewise, many other zoonotic viruses have been shown to gain mutations that allow them to infect humans. This would not be some kind of new, crazy idea. We actually predicted it years ago: we just didn’t know exactly which virus or when it would occur. (Here is an article from 2015 discussing the likely emergence of future coronavirus pandemics: https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12985-015-0422-1 )
– She states that the US was working with Wuhan to study coronaviruses years ago, like it’s a “gotcha” moment: yes, of course we were doing this – Wuhan is a coronavirus hotspot and it makes sense to study this family of viruses where it naturally occurs. (Same article as above: https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12985-015-0422-1 )
– She states that COPD lungs are identical to COVID-19 lungs. As a pathologist, this is ludicrous – any practicing physician would be able to tell COPD from COVID-19, both clinically and histologically. (One article discussing an overview of tools for diagnosing COVID19 https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsnano.0c02624, one about CT specifically https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/22221751.2020.1750307, and one about histology specifically https://academic.oup.com/ajcp/article/153/6/725/5818922)
– The statement taken out of context from the CDC death certificate recommendation reads in full “In cases where a definitive diagnosis of COVID-19 cannot be made, but is suspected or likely (the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID-19 on a death certificate as “probable” or “presumed”. In these instances, certifiers should use their best judgment in determining if a COVID-19 diagnosis was likely. Testing for COVID-19 should be conducted whenever possible.”. My physician colleagues are not being pressured to put COVID-19 on death certificates when it should not be there. (Here is the actual document with instructions for
filling out death certificates from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvss/vsrg/vsrg03-508.pdf )
– The idea that physicians are incorrectly diagnosing COVID-19 due to financial incentive is also ridiculous. Medicare sometimes bundles payments for some conditions (i.e. if you have a heart attack, medicare may pay XX for your treatment) – it’s possible the hospital could get paid $13,000 for your COVID-19 admission, but do you know what that’s based on? The fact that the average cost of a hospital admission for a respiratory condition is $13,297. (I can’t post a scientific study here, since this isn’t a scientific fact, but this article describes the procedure in detail: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/04/24/fact-check-medicare-hospitals-paid-more-covid-19-patients-coronavirus/3000638001/ )
– She states that hydroxychloroquine has been “extensively studied in this family of viruses” – in fact, it has not been studied well in coronaviruses. It HAS been studied in malaria, which is not a virus. (Here is the one study that was performed that people like to cite, and it is an in vitro study (not in humans), of SARS (not COVID-19), and chloroquine (not hydroxychloroquine): https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-422X-2-69 ). And yes, it is considered an essential medicine for the treatment of malaria. Not for coronaviruses.
– Furthermore, the data on hydroxychloroquine are much weaker than they originally appeared: the small study that was highly publicized was not a randomized controlled trial, and the only patients who died were those who received hydroxychloroquine (and these were EXCLUDED FROM ANALYSIS!). This is terrible science. Even so, we want to investigate all possible treatments, so controlled trials are being conducted on hydroxychloroquine right now. (One study published on May 7 shows no benefit to using hydroxychloroquine https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa2012410?listPDF=true )
– She insinuates that there is a hydroxychloroquine shortage as a result of reduced production. In fact, the shortage has resulted from an increase in demand: people who take this medication regularly are writing extended prescriptions and because physicians are using it for COVID19 patients because they have nothing else to try. (https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2764607?fbclid=IwAR2oKdwc0aZVFvkKUvw82r6XpnKeq0sFc1iIxqO4JdKscy-81mC6hkRQ6fs).
– “All flu vaccines contain coronaviruses”. Nope, absolutely false. (In fact, it’s so false based on the way vaccines are made that there are no studies specifically stating this claim. It would be like trying to conduct a study to examine whether humans can live with zero oxygen. Nope, we can’t. No study needed.)
– The ideas that sheltering in place somehow harms your immune system or that you may reactivate a virus in yourself by wearing a mask have been thoroughly debunked in other posts and I won’t get into the details here. Both national societies of emergency medicine have condemned the statements of these doctors, one of whom is not board-certified. (Please refer to Dr. Kasten’s post and others about these)
– Lastly, private companies removing false information from their platforms does not represent repression or promotion of propaganda. It’s helping to promote the spread of sound scientific information. If you think lies should be permitted to circulate freely alongside the truth with the intention of reaching people who won’t be able to tell the difference, you are part of the problem.