She’s baaaaaack. The obnoxious, science-denying, far-right, anti-vaccine, vile Dr. Jane Orient was called to testify before the United Stated States regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Predictably, pro-science Senators (Democrats, mostly) were not amused that she testified about the vaccine.
I’ve written about Dr. Orient several times in the past. She has written an assessment of Hillary Clinton’s health without ever meeting her. She has complained about aluminum in vaccines. It goes on and on with her. She got into a “fight” with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about climate change.
So, let’s talk about Dr. Jane Orient and what she said. None of it will make you happy.
Who is Dr. Jane Orient?
Dr. Jane Orient is an MD, and that’s about all I can say nice about her. She appears to be the permanent Executive Director of the right-wing physician organization, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).
She is also the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JAPANDS), published by AAPS. The journal does not have an impact factor and does not appear to be indexed in PubMed.
Of course, PubMed is run by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, as you will see, would be antithetical to their anti-government beliefs.
AAPS is generally recognized as politically conservative or ultra-conservative. According to David Gorski, “it is not an exaggeration to say that the AAPS, through its journal JPANDS, is waging a war on science- and evidence-based medicine in the name of its politics.” It takes pseudoscience and anti-science beliefs and mixes them with the far-right beliefs of its members. It is not a part of the American Medical Association and is not recognized by any legitimate medical organization.
But it’s worse than that. The AAPS stands firmly against any sort of effort at healthcare reform, including medical care for anyone in need. In fact, the AAPS was founded in 1943-4 in response to the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill, which was one of the earliest bills in Congress to reform the country’s healthcare system. It lost, of course, and the US healthcare system is still a mess.
The AAPS opposed the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid, stating that “the effect of the law is evil and participation in carrying out its provisions is, in our opinion, immoral.” It actually encouraged, at the time, AAPS members to boycott Medicare and Medicaid.
In opposition to just about any ethical standard of physicians, the AAPS argues that individuals should purchase medical care directly from doctors – there is no right to medical care. Believe it or not, AAPS requires its members to sign a “declaration of independence” pledging that they will not work with Medicare, Medicaid, or even private insurance companies.
In other words, if you can’t afford healthcare, you don’t deserve to receive it. That is against everything that most physicians believe.
Yet despite the lab coats and the official-sounding name, the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of the mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD.
But it’s not just public healthcare that’s on their radar of hatred. They are also opposed to abortion, pharmacists who must fill prescriptions for all patients, organ donations, and just about anything a moderately science-based physician would accept.
Importantly, AAPS is anti-vaccine at many levels. They are opposed to “mandatory vaccinations” as a requirement for attending public schools (and I’m not even certain they think public schools are a good thing). They even published a “paper” from two discredited anti-vaxxers to oppose mandatory vaccinations. The two, David and Mark Geier (son and father), have had numerous legal and criminal actions against them that lead to them being prohibited from practicing medicine.
Furthermore, Dr. Jane Orient and the AAPS also repeat just about every anti-vaccine trope about Gardasil, and they obviously oppose the use of Gardasil.
This is an awful group. I’m pretty sure I would never ever respect the opinion of any AAPS member. It’s simply too much for my rational mind.
But they have become even more crackpot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the FDA reversed its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 because it wasn’t effective. A mere four days after the FDA decision, AAPS claimed that the drug has “about a 90% chance of helping COVID-19 patients.” There is just no reliable published evidence that supported that claim. It is ineffective, despite the disinformation from Donald Trump and the AAPS.
Furthermore, last week, the AAPS published an op-ed that denied the usefulness of social restrictions to limit COVID-19’s spread. They actually accused the experts who advocate for these restrictions as “channeling Communist China.”
Of course, they literally hate President-elect Joe Biden:
One is hard-pressed to deny that Joe Biden is a weak, corrupt, pathologically lying, creepy dirty old man who has lived off the government teat for 50 years. And he allegedly won the 2020 presidential election. Are Americans that ignorant? Or has Joseph Stalin’s political philosophy that has been simmering in America for years finally come to fruition?
Dr. Jane Orient and AAPS aren’t just on the lunatic fringe, they are on the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe.
Dr. Jane Orient testifies before the US Senate
On 8 December 2020, Senator Ron Johnson, (R-Wisconsin), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, appears to be focused on supporting President Trump’s narrative on COVID-19 while ignoring the science. He has claimed that “the reaction to the coronavirus pandemic has been overblown and that public health officials have been too quick to come to conclusions about the best ways to deal with it.”
Of course, Senator Johnson decided to call Dr. Jane Orient to testify before his committee, because her COVID-19 denial matches his. The New York Times summarized her testimony:
Dr. Jane M. Orient, a prominent skeptic of vaccines, also cast doubt on mask wearing, suggesting that “maybe instead of putting masks on everybody, we should be putting lids on the toilet or putting Clorox into it before you flush it.” While there is some evidence that toilet bowls can be infectious, the virus is most commonly distributed through close contact with others, and masks do offer some protection.
Dr. Orient also cited “192 studies compiled on hydroxychloroquine with all showing some benefit when used early.”
That appeared to be an exaggerated reference to a database of studies gathered by an anonymous group. Of those studies, about 40 were categorized as researching use of hydroxychloroquine as an early treatment, and about two dozen of those concluding that the drug demonstrated “positive” effects.
Her testimony was so embarrassing that only three other Senators attended the hearing – one, Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan), only attended for a few minutes to criticize the travesty. Of course, former AAPS member and well-known anti-vaxxer, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), showed his support by attending the hearing.
Orient claims she is not an “anti-vaxxer…but.” You know the type. “I’m not a racist, but…” “I believe in evolution, but…” And, “I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but…”
For anti-vaxxers, they’ll pull out every weasel-worded trope that they can. They only want “safe” vaccines. They want “freedom” to choose whether to vaccinate or not. They believe that COVID-19 will disappear because of miracles.
And that’s all folks
Dr. Jane Orient is not credible on anything with regards to COVID-19, vaccines, or, in fact, anything in medicine. She represents a far-right, anti-vaccine, climate-change-denying, anti-healthcare, anti-science physician’s organization.
Basically, nothing she has to say about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines should be accepted by anyone in government, but those Republicans have doubled down on their science denialism under Trump.
Of course, anti-vaxxers will probably embrace what Orient says. But I hope most of you don’t.
As the subversive Orac just wrote,
Given how thoroughly President Trump and his conspiracy mongering have completely infested and taken over the Republican Party, it is, sadly, no surprise that Sen. Johnson would invite a crank like Dr. Orient as the lead “expert” witness to testify before his committee about COVID-19 vaccines. Sadly, what he has provided is yet another platform for anti-vaccine and COVID-19 cranks and conspiracy theorists to spread their disinformation, quackery, and pandemic denial to a large audience. I only hope that reporters covering this hearing don’t go all “both sides” and “false balance” when reporting the scientifically unsupportable nonsense that Dr. Orient will no doubt spew in abundance before the committee. I hope even more that Senators who support science, be they Democrats or Republicans (although, let’s face it, in this case in the waning days of Donald Trump’s Presidency, it will, sadly, almost certainly be just Democrats), will grill her thoroughly when the time comes to ask questions.