AP offers some sketchy analysis of "sketchy medical advice" re: COVID

(Doctors Without Borders)

The Associated Press has a bone to pick with Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) concerning some of his purported “medical advice.” Senator Marshall is a physician who worked in the medical field prior to entering politics, so the media consensus seems to be that he bears a greater responsibility for “getting it right” when talking about ways to combat the COVID pandemic. But they insist that he’s selling snake oil to his constituents (and the rest of the nation) when it comes to the novel coronavirus. He’s being accused of sounding “more like a politician than a physician” while issuing “sketchy medical advice.” And he has also dared to disagree with official federal government positions on various treatments and remedies. So what is it that the good doctor is supposedly getting so wrong?

Roger Marshall won’t let people forget he’s a doctor, putting “Doc” in the letterhead of his U.S. Senate office’s news releases. But when he talks about COVID-19 vaccines, some doctors and experts say the Kansas Republican sounds far more like a politician than a physician.

He’s made statements about vaccines and immunity that defy both medical consensus and official U.S. government guidance. He’s aggressively fighting President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements, arguing they’ll infringe on people’s liberties and wreck the economy. He’s acknowledged experimenting on himself with an unproven treatment for warding off the coronavirus.

Marshall’s positions are pushing the first-term senator and obstetrician closer to the medical fringe. But he has company in other GOP doctors, dentists and pharmacists in Congress, several of whom have also spread sketchy medical advice when it comes to the pandemic.

Before getting into the details of this supposedly controversial medical advice, I will take this opportunity to note that it’s always a good idea for experts to make sure they get their facts straight when discussing important matters. But even more so, the public needs to be savvy about where they are getting their advice from because not all professionals are created equal. Marshall is indeed a doctor who completed medical school and his residency. But it’s worth noting that he’s an OBGYN. Yes, he no doubt received training in medical school on infectious diseases and all the rest, but that’s really not the same as specializing as a virologist. And since leaving that profession for politics, he may not have had time to keep up to date on all of the latest developments in viral research.

But with that out of the way, looking down the AP’s list of supposedly “questionable” medical advice and practices promoted by Marshall, it’s difficult to say that he’s done more than come down on one side or the other on questions that are still being debated globally by the medical experts. Just because the FDA listens to a variety of medical opinions and decides on one of them does not mean that the debate is over, particularly when discussing a disease that’s only been around for a couple of years and treatments that were not developed until the past twelve months.

One example cited by the AP is the fact that Marshall has signed on to a letter urging the CDC to “consider natural immunity in people who have had the virus.” Even if not every medical expert agrees 100% on the level of immunity recovered patients exhibit, they all agree that surviving the disease confers immunity. Some studies have certainly suggested that people with natural immunity who get vaccinated have even more antibodies and are more protected, but that doesn’t discount the existence of natural immunity.

The AP argues that “natural immunity arises after an infection, but the general medical consensus is that the degree of protection varies from person to person and is likely to wane over time.” I’m sure that’s true, but we’ve been fed one study after another showing that you can say the exact same thing about the vaccines. That’s why we’re having the booster debate right now.

Marshall is also accused of telling people he took weekly doses of hydroxychloroquine, citing one FDA warning about using it to fight off COVID. They fail to note that the National Institutes of Health argued that the drug was indeed effective in some treatment plans. At most you can say that the efficacy of the drug remains “disputed” in the medical community and more data is required, but it has definitely helped some people. So why is Marshall’s take on the subject so “sketchy?” The reality is that most liberals in the media wanted to trash hydroxychloroquine because Donald Trump endorsed it.

It just seems like the press is trying to treat Marshall like some sort of wild-eyed anti-vaxxer who is trying to destroy science. In reality, Marshall is fully vaccinated and recently encouraged his parents to sign up for booster shots. He’s appeared in government public service announcements encouraging people to get vaccinated. He just doesn’t want the government making that decision for everyone. Is that really such a crazy position for a person to take, particularly when they’re a doctor?