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HHS to award $1 million to study "vaccine misinformation" effects 

CDC project to monitor research, viewpoints straying from public health consensus in support of COVID-19 vaccines is envisioned as first step toward developing tool to anticipate and combat the impact of independent challenges undermining confidence in official narratives.

Published: November 19, 2022 8:18am

Updated: November 19, 2022 11:20pm

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just The News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week's Golden Horseshoe is awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services for announcing a new $1 million grant opportunity to study how "vaccine misinformation" spread on social media impacts public trust in vaccines.

Posted in late October by HHS' Centers for Disease Control under the title "Developing a Public Health Tool to Predict the Virality of Vaccine Misinformation Narratives," the grant will be awarded next year to a single applicant. 

"The purpose of this Notice of Funding Opportunity is to support research to develop a predictive forecasting model that identifies new or reemerging misinformation narratives that are likely to disseminate widely and have a high potential for impact on vaccine confidence," according to the grant synopsis.

The project's monitoring of  viewpoints deviating from the public health establishment consensus — or "vaccine misinformation," as the CDC terms it — is envisioned as an initial step toward creating and, later, evaluating a tool to anticipate the emergence and public impact of independent challenges to official narratives in support of the COVID-19 vaccines. Such orthodoxies are frequently presented as embodying the unitary and unassailable expert findings of "the science." A growing body of independent, peer-reviewed research, however, has challenged, among other issues, the safety, efficacy, protective duration, targeting, testing and developmental transparency of the novel mRNA vaccines, thus calling into question many claims made by public health authorities in their zealous public advocacy of the injections.

"The information from this model will then be used to develop a tool that public health agencies could use to predict misinformation trends in the populations served," the grant synopsis explains. "Finally, the researchers will evaluate the tool's predictive capabilities on both future social media misinformation narratives and real-world events."

In justifying the public health necessity for the funding, the CDC claims that misinformation and disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic caused $50 million to $300 million per day in additional "medical costs, monetized lives lost and morbidity, and economic costs."

Signaling that information gleaned from the program will ultimately be used in continuing federal attempts to prebunk and debunk independent research and opinion diverging from approved narratives, the CDC explains, "[P]redicting which misinformation is likely to prove viral and confidence-eroding is important to ensure that time and resources are used on vaccine misinformation that drives public discourse for an extended time."  

In an article for RealClearPolicy, Adam Andrzejewski, CEO/founder of government spending watchdog OpenTheBooks.com, warns of the dangers of tapping taxpayer dollars to monitor and stigmatize scientific challenge and popular dissent as "misinformation" — especially in light of growing evidence of federal health authorities' own record of secrecy, expediency, error, and evolving messaging in their development and marketing of the COVID-19 vaccines.

"Government agencies have no place in determining what constitutes 'misinformation,' particularly in an environment where facts on the ground continue to change," Andrzejewski told Just The News. "As we've seen with the Covid vaccines, Moderna's leadership has now openly admitted that preventing transmission was never an outcome they tested for. Yet the 'disease of the unvaccinated' and the assertion that a vaccine would 'stop the spread' permeated throughout public health guidance. Who was around to label that 'misinformation?'"

"It's troubling when private organizations like a social media network are taking ad hoc directives from the feds," Andrzejewski added. "We've lost the ability to freely exchange ideas and let others correct us or add context. This million-dollar grant is your taxpayer dollars being spent on efforts to quiet dissent in the face of a public health misfire."

 Neither HHS nor the CDC responded to requests for comment for this story.

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