The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Editorial: Please listen to health officials about COVID

illustrated+by+Amber+Davis
illustrated by Amber Davis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 16 and up last week. Now, health officials are begging anti-vaxxers to stop ingesting cattle dewormers as an alternative.

This isn’t anything new.

From the first signs of a pandemic breaching the country early last year, there’s been a wide rift between the scientific community and a large part of the nation who believe they know better.

Early on, when little was known about the virus and its treatment, it made sense that so many Americans were unsure of what they believed could be rushed data. But now, after a year and a half of the best minds in science at work, something needs to be made clear.
There’s a difference between hesitancy and ignorance.

The use of ivermectin — the drug intended to treat parasites in livestock — to fight COVID-19 picked up traction after being touted by leading conservative pundits including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. It has since spread rapidly across social media, prompting a warning from the FDA.

“You are not a horse,” the agency tweeted Aug. 21. “You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”.

In addition to the FDA, countless health care workers across the country have spoken out against the use of the drug in humans.

In Mississippi, where reports of hospitalization after taking ivermectin have emerged, the state health department issued an emergency alert claiming that 70% of recent calls have been related to the drug. Like the FDA, the state urged citizens against using any substance not intended for human consumption.

At this point, though, what good will that do?

Leading conservative pundits have managed to convince a large portion of their audience that the study of science is corrupt. This isn’t new — conservatives have been doubting the principles of science for a long time — but the spread of COVID-19 misinformation goes beyond the belief that dinosaur bones were planted in the earth by Satan to trick wavering Christians.

Lives are at stake.

Of all the conservatives talking heads who have touted the use of dangerous alternatives to an approved vaccine, how many have taken these treatments themselves?

How many remain unvaccinated?

Fox News, the organization platforming many of these figures, enforces a strict COVID protocol with its hosts and crew. So while Tucker Carlson rails against masks and compares asking someone’s vaccination status to asking about their sex life, he is being required to mask up in small spaces and to upload his vaccination status to an internal database at Fox.

When Sean Hannity speaks out against mask mandates from behind a desk, he’s in a room filled with a fully masked production team.

So why this discrepancy?

The truth is that Fox News, like most others spreading vaccine misinformation, is too far gone. It’s built a contrarian culture within its audience that feeds into itself. Any facts are doubted, discarded and replaced with conspiracy.

The Pfizer vaccine isn’t FDA approved? Don’t take it. It’s not safe.

The Pfizer vaccine is approved? Don’t take it. The FDA must be corrupt.

This line of thinking on the right is much deeper than just blindly following the views of pundits and politicians. Last week, Donald Trump was booed at his own rally for recommending vaccination.

It’s fair to ask questions. A person should always try to be as familiar with all of the facts available before making a medical decision. That’s exactly why public health agencies like the FDA exist — to help educate and advise the public with the latest information, backed by science.

When political institutions build a following by doubting the scientific resources put in place to help us, we get deliberate misinformation.

We get people taking cow dewormer to fight a virus that has a free, approved vaccine available to protect against it.

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