Just doing what he does best, making things worse for everyone.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that people will die unnecessarily because of comments like this. Farrakhan is a figure of some influence among African-Americans, mainstream enough to have appeared onstage with Bill Clinton in 2018 and significant enough to have had then-senator Barack Obama pose for a photo with him despite O’s national ambitions. That’s not to say that most black Americans will take Farrakhan’s anti-vaxxism to heart, but some will.
And some of those who do will get infected and die. At a moment when very soon there’ll be enough vaccines for everyone.
Chuck Ross asked a good question in reporting this out. Why are Twitter and Facebook allowing Farrakhan to use their platforms to proselytize against the vaccine when they’ve said publicly they intend to crack down on anti-vax propaganda? Farrakhan can do more damage than some rando with a thousand followers or “friends” can. Once again, it appears, he’s benefiting from a double standard that allows him to spread poison simply because he has a following among African-Americans and thus shutting him down would be some sort of crime against wokeness.
“By rushing so fast to get something out, bypassing normal steps in a true vaccine, now God is going to turn your vaccine into death in a hurry,” Farrakhan said at the end of a plenary session held on Saturday.
“It is death itself, created by what you call ‘Warp Speed,’” Farrakhan also said, referring to the U.S. government’s project, Operation Warp Speed, to develop a vaccine for the virus.
Farrakhan also took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top epidemiologist, saying that he has sought to make money on the vaccine, which he referred to as a “vial of death.”
Farrakhan, 87, falsely accused Fauci last year of plotting with Bill Gates to use a coronavirus vaccine to “depopulate the Earth.”
The idea that “steps” were skipped in the process is one of the biggest lies circulating about the vaccines, and one which Fauci has been at pains to correct. No shortcuts were taken. The vaccines had the same three-stage trials as traditional vaccines do, and the trials were of comparable size to traditional ones. The reason the products arrived so soon was because the innovative mRNA technology used by Pfizer and Moderna allowed them to develop a vaccine literally within days after they had the virus’s genome. The immense urgency to bring the vaccine to market ensured that trials began quickly, in some cases with R&D funding from the federal government via Operation Warp Speed.
That’s one lie. Per Ross, another circulated by a speaker at the same anti-vax event with Farrakhan claims that there have been nearly 1,000 deaths connected to the vaccine. Not only is there no evidence of that, even if it were true it would still make the vaccine a much more attractive proposition than infection by the virus itself. We can guesstimate that 100 million Americans have had COVID by this point, yielding more than 500,000 deaths. Coincidentally there have also been around 100 million doses of the vaccine administered, yielding — according to the NOI — a thousand deaths. (In reality, either zero or something close to it.) Even the propaganda somehow can’t avoid making the vaccine seem like a smart choice relative to taking your chances with SARS-CoV-2.
The miraculous truth about the vaccine is that it’s not only more effective than scientists dared hope at the start of the pandemic, it’s so effective that we may not even need a full dose to be protected. The latest data from the UK, where they’re administering first doses to huge numbers of people instead of making sure everyone gets their second shot in a timely way, is that just one dose of Pfizer is 60-70 percent effective in preventing symptomatic illness in people over 70. Against the more contagious British variant, the vaccine was just as strong. The health of some of the most frail members of the population is being protected by a vaccine at half-strength.
So naturally Farrakhan’s encouraging his supporters to stay away from it. Which is especially bad considering blacks are more reluctant to get vaccinated in the first place:
Interestingly, younger African-Americans are much more hesitant than older ones to get the shot, with just 24 percent of those under 50 saying they’ve already been vaccinated or will be ASAP versus 81 percent of those over age 65 who say the same. Across all racial demographics, older people are more willing than young to get the vaccine because of the greater threat posed to them by COVID, but I wouldn’t have expected a gap quite like this one. Older black Americans remember segregation, after all, and have more of a cultural memory of things like the Tuskegee experiments. You might expect them to evince more distrust of novel scientific initiatives aimed at them. But their skepticism isn’t stopping them from taking the plunge on COVID, knowing how lethal the virus has been to black senior citizens.
And yet Farrakhan, a senior citizen himself, is going to do his best to talk them out of protecting their health.
In lieu of an exit question, read this exciting WSJ piece about how the vaccines pioneered by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson might lead to breakthroughs against other infectious diseases. Their products don’t work exclusively on the coronavirus, after all.