Governments, medical authorities, media outlets, Big Pharma, and Big Tech colluded to censor medical professionals—with differing views on COVID-19 science—by deploying a range of tactics, including suppression of academic journals and online censorship, a new study confirms.
Together the five researchers behind the study said there were attempts to silence prominent medical experts on issues such as the origins of SARS-CoV-2, mask mandates, the efficacy of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, the usefulness of lockdowns and restrictions, the effectiveness of vaccines, and whether vaccine mandates and passports were appropriate.
This censorship targeted "well-credentialed, highly accomplished mainstream" doctors and scientists, not fringe figures.
"Many of them leading experts working in prestigious universities and/or hospitals, some of whom have authored books and published dozens or even hundreds of papers and whose studies have been widely cited," the paper said.
Broad Range of Tactics Used to Maintain the ConsensusThe range of tactics deployed to censor health experts was "unprecedented" compared to the suppression of dissenting viewpoints in other areas like fluoridation, environmental studies, and AIDS science.
Some experts said media outlets stopped interviewing them for comment and claimed they were defamed while being slapped with labels such as "anti-vaxxer," "COVID denier," "misinformation spreaders," or "conspiracy theorist."
Further, some reported having their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Google, and LinkedIn taken down.
One expert says they even experienced censorship on Google Docs.
"Google Docs started restricting and censoring my ability to share documents … This is an organisation telling me that I cannot send a private communication to a colleague or to a friend, or to a family member," the expert told researchers.
Medical experts also reported being suppressed by the academic and medical communities.
One doctor's name appeared on the website of his country's Ministry of Health—out of 55,000 physicians—saying he was distributing disinformation.
"There was a concerted effort to … ruin my reputation even though, this is unbelievable, they [the hospital where I work] had the lowest death rate basically in the world," he told researchers.
Other experts reported receiving warnings or being dismissed from prestigious committee positions without transparency. While some faced official inquiries for the removal of their medical license or multi-million-dollar lawsuits from the country's health department.
Journal articles were also pulled from publication or rejected without peer review.
One doctor said the police suddenly arrived at his home clinic.
Big Tech a Major Player in CensorshipAnother key feature of the silencing of the medical profession was the role played by Big Tech.
One example cited by the study was the down-ranking of the website of the Great Barrington Declaration by Google. The Declaration argued against lockdowns and was started by three epidemiologists at Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford university on October 2020—it has been signed by over 54,000 notable scientists and doctors.
Another example occurred in 2021 when LinkedIn and Twitter both removed the accounts of Dr. Robert Malone, an internationally renowned virologist involved in the development of mRNA vaccines.
At the same time, the study said the influence of pharmaceutical firms on public discourse was "self-evident."
Characteristics of CensorshipThe researchers said all the tactics used against medical professionals were consistent with the five characteristics of censorship identified in earlier studies.
The first was to "cover up" any evidence of censorship. The researchers said "fact-checkers" deployed by media outlets were a common way to achieve this. By posing as an independent, third-party fact checker, a health professional could easily be discredited while masking the real source behind censorship.
Second, "devaluation" involves smear campaigns or dismissing a person from an official position as a way to deflect attention from the substance of an alternative viewpoint and instead focus attention on the individual.
The third was "reinterpretation" or reframing any move to censor as a means of "protecting the public" from misinformation.
The fourth involves using "official channels" to silence dissident medical experts via formal proceedings like investigations, withdrawal of their medical licenses, lawsuits, or police searches.
All the above tactics were deployed with the motivation of "intimidating" the medical expert into silence.
Yet the censored individuals were still determined to circumvent all the tactics and expose the censorship, with the paper stating there were "too many alternative communication options" available.
"Some of the respondents noted that they are working to establish new alternative platforms and organisations dedicated to developing and providing health information and medical treatments—including new journals and non-profits, instead of the existing ones, which they claim have failed and disappointed."