As the new school year in mid-August and early September approaches in the US, misinformation about Covid-19, vaccine mandates and mask wearing is picking up. A video of a family doctor at a school board meeting in Mount Vernon, Indiana — during which he criticized the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and amplified a wide array of misinformation — has gone viral in the past 48 hours, receiving tens of millions of views.
During the school board meeting last week, Dr. Dan Stock, who runs a “functional medicine” service but claims he is “specially trained in immunology and inflammation regulation,” asked the school board to reject the CDC’s “counterfactual” advice on mask wearing, vaccination and treatments. Stock also claimed he successfully treated a dozen Covid-19 patients at his practice, including through the use of ivermectin, an unproven Covid-19 treatment that’s popular among anti-vaccine individuals and groups.
“Ask yourself, why is a vaccine that is supposedly so effective having a breakout in the middle of the summer when respiratory syndromes don’t do that,” Stock said, falsely attributing the current spike in Covid-19 cases to the vaccine.
“That’s a condition done when vaccines work wrong as they did in every coronavirus study done in… cause the immune system to fight the virus wrong and let the virus become worse than it would with native infection,” Stock said, in what appears to be echoing the Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE) theory, a debunked narrative championed by anti-vaccine figures who baselessly claim vaccine-induced antibodies will enhance the disease and cause death.
As data from the CDC and other government bodies show, cases are high and rising fast in pockets of the US with lower vaccination rates. Stock’s remarks also broadly ignore what health experts say is the most important benefit of vaccination: It is highly effective against severe Covid-19 and death. Although “breakthrough infections” are uncommon, they are expected.
Stock’s comments are the latest example of how unproven or false claims from health workers — even when they are not epidemiologists or infectious disease experts — can resonate because they are perceived as experts. Stock’s remarks have been uploaded to YouTube and alternative video platforms such as BitChute and Rumble. An analysis by Media Matters found that the video has received at least 90 million interactions on Facebook in recent days. — Keenan Chen