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Fired Harvard Professor: ‘All the Basic Principles of Public Health Were Thrown Out the Window’

Martin Kulldorff, Ph.D., co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, told “The Defender In-Depth” podcast, “If we don’t have this freedom of speech, then gradually, science is going to dwindle down … Academia would go there also and society as a whole.”

Martin Kulldorff, Ph.D., co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration said Harvard University’s decision to fire him for non-compliance with the university’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is just one example of the consequences faced by anyone who questioned the official COVID-19 narratives.

In an appearance on “The Defender In-Depth” podcast, Kulldorff, an epidemiologist, said his firing is part of a broader trend of censorship and intolerance toward people who express diverging views in the broader fields of science, medicine and academia.

Kulldorff is one of the five individual plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Biden administration alleging key administration officials and government agencies coerced social media platforms to remove content, in violation of the First Amendment.

Kulldorff discussed the latest developments in the suit — Murthy et al. v. Missouri et al. — whose plaintiffs also include the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on an injunction, previously granted by lower courts, barring the administration and certain federal agencies from communicating with social media platforms for the removal of content.

He also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic response of his native Sweden, which bucked the global trend by eschewing lockdownsvaccine and mask mandates, making the country the target of global pressure and widespread media criticism. Yet, Sweden now demonstrates better public health outcomes than most other countries.

‘Never a consensus in the scientific community’ for lockdowns

Kulldorff said Harvard was “not happy” with him when he co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in 2020. However, it was Kulldorff’s decision not to get a COVID-19 vaccine that ultimately led Harvard to fire him.

“We had a disagreement about infection-acquired immunity,” Kulldorff said. “I was fired because I didn’t want to take the vaccine because I didn’t need it. I had better immunity from having had [COVID-19] already, and so, there was no medical reason for me to do it. And there was certain risk, because with every vaccine and drug, there’s some risk.”

Yet, many of his colleagues at Harvard and other institutions “sort of kept quiet” and “went along with it,” Kulldorff said. He attributed their cooperation to the federal funding many scientists and researchers receive from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“They sit on the biggest pile of medical research money in the world,” Kulldorff said. “So, it’s pretty scary for a scientist to speak up against their wishes, because you risk losing the resource funds that you depend on to support your family, and also to support the other people that work in your laboratory.”

Still, in personal contacts with fellow epidemiologists, Kulldorff said “The majority were arguing for focused protections over better protecting the older people, by letting kids go to school and so on. So, there was never a consensus in the scientific community, at least not in the epidemiological community, for these lockdown measures.”

Kulldorff said that during the pandemic, “all the basic principles of public health were thrown out the window.” His former institution, Harvard, was no exception, “going to online teaching before there was any government incentive or push to do so.”

This, Kulldorff said, “set the stage, and a lot of other colleges and even high schools and elementary schools sort of followed Harvard’s lead” in locking down.

Similarly, Harvard later imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate — which it finally ended on March 5. “There was no public health reason to mandate vaccines for students” in particular, Kulldorff said, because most of them “had COVID, so they have superior immunity. But even those few that haven’t [caught COVID-19] face minuscule risk from COVID.”

Children ‘will never fully recover’ from school closures

Kulldorff cited his native Sweden as an example of a country that bucked the trend and kept schools — and society more broadly — open during the pandemic.

“If you look at the elementary and high school students, we know that the test results went down” in countries that closed their schools, Kulldorff said. “The kids were hurt by this, and they will never fully recover from the damage that we did to them.”

Sweden was the only major Western country that kept schools open for ages 1-15, according to Kulldorff who said test results in Sweden have shown “no comparable drop — it’s just as normal, slightly going up.”

Among 1.8 million children who went to school in Sweden throughout the virus wave during the spring of 2020, “there were exactly zero COVID deaths and only a few hospitalizations,” he said.

Public health outcomes in Sweden also were positive for other population groups. “Sweden has low COVID mortality, less than the average in Europe [and] the lowest excess mortality in the Western world.”

Kulldorff said Swedish authorities were able to resist global pressure to impose lockdowns and mandates because they “had very strong support from other epidemiologists in Sweden” and “very strong support by the public” for their approach.

He noted that Sweden’s then-prime minister, Stefan Löfven, had a working-class background, having begun his career as a welder. Noting that lockdowns favored “the upper class,” Kulldorff said Löfven’s background might have made a difference as he could “understand what the effect these lockdowns had on regular people.”

Science will ‘dwindle down’ without freedom of speech

Yet, in other countries, including the U.S., dissenting views were silenced, Kulldorff said.

“Those of us who tried to speak up were either silenced or, after they couldn’t silence us anymore, we were slandered,” he said, noting that after the Great Barrington Declaration was published, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., then the director of the NIH, called for “a devastating published takedown” in response.

“With scientific or other logical arguments, they have two options: They can sort of silence it by ignoring it or censoring it, which was done, or they can attack it through slander and smears,” Kulldorff said. He said postings he made on Twitter and YouTube critical of mask mandates and school closures, were removed by those platforms.

“They didn’t want the science to be known, the true science, and the true principles of public health,” Kulldorff said.

That’s why Kulldorff joined the Missouri et al. v. Biden et al. (now known as Murthy et al. v. Missouri et al.) lawsuit. He said the central argument the plaintiffs are making in this case “is that the federal government should not be allowed to coerce social media to censor people like myself.”

“They actually censored accurate, correct scientific information from scientists at Harvard and other places. And to me that’s pretty astonishing,” Kulldorff said.

Kulldorff said that during Monday’s Supreme Court hearing, “There were clearly some justices who seemed to be very sympathetic” to the plaintiffs’ position, and “seemed very concerned about the First Amendment.”

But other justices argued that “the government should be allowed to coerce social media to censor” in some instances.

By June, the Supreme Court will issue a ruling on whether or not to uphold the injunctions lower courts previously granted in this case. Kulldorff said the case will then return to the lower courts and is expected to “take years” to resolve, proceeding “in tandem” with Kennedy et al. v. Biden et al. — a similar lawsuit in which Children’s Health Defense is a plaintiff. The two lawsuits were consolidatedin July 2023.

“I thought we were in agreement, as a country, as a society, that freedom of speech is important, that it is the foundation for us,” Kulldorff said. “It saddens me greatly that that’s not the case.”

“If we don’t have this freedom of speech, then gradually, science is going to dwindle down … Academia would go there also and society as a whole.”

Watch ‘The Defender In-Depth’ here:


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