Top epidemiologist slams federal health agencies for acting like 'PR department' for drugmakers

Feds were wrong about everything from vaccinations to masks because they abandoned science, Yale's Dr. Harvey Risch says.

Published: December 2, 2022 8:01pm

Updated: December 2, 2022 11:28pm

One of the nation's top epidemiologists is blasting federal health agencies, saying science has proven they have been wrong about everything from vaccine efficacy to mask protections during the COVID-19 pandemic and have eroded their trust with the public by acting like a "PR department" for drug and vaccine makers.

Dr. Harvey A. Risch, professor emeritus at the Yale School of Public Health, told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show on Friday that agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration manipulated statistics to portray plausible theories as scientific fact through the coronavirus emergency.

"When you play fast and loose with statistics trying to be plausible, that's not science," he said.

The end result, Risch said, was that public health agencies' proclamations have been proven wrong repeatedly, eroding essential trust with the American public.

"Where we ended up is that the government said, you know, 'You won't get the infection if you get vaccinated,'" he said. "That was untrue. 'You won't spread the infection if you get vaccinated.' That was untrue. It said reasonably that you won't get sick or die from the infection if you get vaccinated. That's, as we are seeing, not true. The majority of people now dying from COVID are vaccinated."

Risch said the latest hit to federal officials' credibility came with a new peer-reviewed randomized study that found N-95 respirator masks — long portrayed as superior virus filters — provided no better protection from the COVID-19 virus than cloth surgical masks and that neither provided significant protection to patients or medical providers.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt also claimed that retiring National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, whose flip-flops on masking led to mass public confusion early in the pandemic, couldn't name any studies showing mask effectiveness in his recent deposition in state-led litigation against alleged federal censorship.

"The idea that masks work, because you put them in front of your face — and the breathing looks like it's going through it even if it's going around it — that's a plausibility,” Risch said. "The only way to know whether it works or not, is to test the possibility with some actual measurements, an observational study or a randomized study. And those studies have shown nothing.

"There isn't any evidence, any real evidence that masks work. There's 150 or more studies that show that masks are useless."

Risch equated the failures to industry "capture," comparing the current federal health bureaucracy's failings to those highlighted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower a half century earlier when he warned the Pentagon was in the grip of a "military industrial complex."

"President Eisenhower said that in his final speech to the country about the military industrial complex, and now we have a Pharma government complex that's doing the same thing," Risch said. "The regulatory agencies are captured. The CDC is captured by interests. Whether they think they're captured or not, they're behaving as if they're the PR department for pharma companies and vaccine manufacturers. And they're not acting in the public interest."

Risch said fixing the problem requires removing financial and other incentives from government scientists and executives, such as royalties paid to them for helping industry develop vaccines and drugs.

"I think we have to remove the motivations that cause people to be aligned, to be captured with industry," he said.

"What needs to be done is the people who are either incompetent ... or that are doing things for reasons that are not objective, not scientifically objective, need to change careers," he said. "They need to move somewhere they can work for Pharma. Let them work for Pharma. But we need objective people reviewing science, using good scientific processes in the regulatory agencies."

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