Members of America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) took stage during an informational meeting titled COVIDs Impact on the Black Community to discuss the COVID-19 vaccinations now available to the American public.
According to an official press release, AFLDS — a not-for-profit organization — spoke at the event in partnership with Alveda King Ministries and the Urban Global Health Alliance to “caution policy makers and Americans about the risk of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine,” ahead of their release of a position paper to stress the organization’s concerns from a clinical perspective.
AFLDS came into the public spotlight after video about the benefits of Hydroxychloroquine went viral earlier this year, amassing more than 15 million views.
Dr. Simone Gold, MD, JD, FABEM, board-certified emergency physician, and founder of AFLDS spoke to attendees in Atlanta, stressing the importance of referring to the newly released and highly anticipated vaccinations as “experimental.”
According to a press release, AFLDS is not “anti-vaccination,” and that each member participating in the position paper has received immunizations.
Dr. Gold, referencing her own clinical experience, states that most people do not sign up for experimental trials, and she expressed concerns that the term “experimental” is not included in language about the vaccine.
A host of other physician members took to the podium to inform the public of their position paper calling for greater transparency and additional study before Americans participate in what the AFLDS calls the “largest medical experimentation program in U.S. history.”
“The accelerated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is an admirable example of public-private cooperation in the interest of public health,” says Dr. Gold. “Impressive logistical features aside, the vaccination program itself should be approached with caution. Vaccination mandates at the state, local, and private level are incompatible with civil liberties and subject millions of Americans to an experimental drug.”
According to the released position paper, AFLDS suggests the figures and data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not indicate that the “Infection Fatality Ratio” justifies the notion that COVID-19 is a “highly lethal infection.” The paper also suggests the vaccines lack independently published animal studies and that for decades scientists have tried but failed to create a successful coronavirus vaccine.
The position paper also gave its own set of vaccine recommendations for individuals and highlighted potential legal issues regarding widespread mandates.
Clearing Controversy Surrounding Clinical Therapies
The paper also criticized the media’s handling of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), stating that the “incredibly safe” medication was rebranded as unsafe. Circulating headlines warned that HCQ could “cause heart problems.’ In spring 2020, the American Medical Association (AMA) led the conversation about both HCQ and chloroquine, stressing strong opposition against prescribing HCQ for COVID-19 in manners that could lead to shortages for others with chronic health conditions.
This December, the AMA rescinded their statement from April, allowing physicians to return to prescribing the medication “at their discretion.” This draws some criticism and concerns across social media regarding whether HCQ could have saved some lives had it not been discouraged.
AFLDS has gone public with their position on HCQ, which Dr. Gold says “is safer than a Tylenol” and is prescribed to adults of all ages, children, pregnant and nursing women. Her organization makes HCQ available on their website which includes physician counsel prior to prescription.
Social Response to the Push for Vaccination in the Black Population
The COVIDs Impact on the Black Community discussion was held in response to resounding pushback from blacks and African Americans who are taking to social media and streaming platforms about their reluctance to accept a vaccine. The Hill reports that among those hesitant to take the vaccine include black adults, people between ages 30 and 49, rural residents and Republicans, according to a recent poll.
Much of this resistance in the black community is influenced by the harrowing Tuskegee Syphillis Study, in which many black participants died upon the trial’s end in 1972.
To counter the reluctance, health experts and leaders are urging black Americans to take part, stressing medical advances being made over decades. In fact, a black nurse from New York City was among the first to receive the newly released vaccine, stating that she encourages people who “look like” her to take the vaccination.
To assist the efforts to encourage black Americans to accept a vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to a group of black leaders to answer questions. Dr. Fauci stated that a black female scientist helped lead the development of the vaccine, which he says is among the factors some people “don’t fully appreciate.”
Black influencers across social media recount their own stories of vaccine injuries, including BLEXIT co-founder Candace Owens, who went public about her adverse reaction to two doses of the HPV vaccine. Owens, who expressed that she is neither “anti-vaccine” nor “pro-vaccine,” gave her testimony in an Instagram video, encouraging people to think and research before considering receiving any vaccine.
“I always do my own independent research,” Owens says. “I certainly acknowledge that vaccines are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’, and I think it’s important to assess the risks and the benefits and to conduct your own independent research.”
Physicians Questioning Prioritization and Adverse Effects
The AFLDS also shared additional questioning of the CDC’s prioritization tiers that put seniors who do not reside in skilled care communities last on the list to be vaccinated. The organization stressed that this methodology is flawed when positioned in context to the total tally of U.S. deaths being the greatest among seniors ages 70 and older. Though some sources suggest that seniors are a priority group, so clarity about this is necessary.
Dr. Gold, who says she has worked in predominantly black hospitals in California, expressed her position against prioritization based on race, stressing that doctors use their own judgement with each individual patient.
She shared an opinion statement including her reservations to target certain ethnic groups.
“This was sold to black people as a true racial difference,” Dr. Gold says, claiming that the spread of racial inflammatory statements about COVID-19 “did not make scientific sense.”
She cited research suggesting that people with diabetes, obesity and heart conditions, as well as people who work closely with the public are at greater risk of dying from the condition, and that race is an “independent risk factor.” Dr. Gold continued, stating that COVID deaths are “exceedingly rare” in Africa, around less than one percent.
Dr. Gold also expressed strong reservation against language that suggests taking the vaccine is “racial justice” and that the most “disenfranchised members of society” should be vaccinated first in order to “reflect fairness and justice.”
Fertility concerns were also called into question during the event. The organization says it calls for more research into the vaccines’ “potential fertility side effects” for women of childbearing age before safety can be assured.
Also heightening concerns are reports of Bell’s palsy in a few Moderna vaccine trial participants. CNBC reports that among 30,000 participants, four cases of the condition were reported. Symptoms of Bell’s palsy includes acute but temporary weakness of facial muscles that “might be a reaction that occurs after a viral infection,” according to Mayo Clinic.
People attending the COVIDs Impact on the Black Community event expressed concerns about mandates at the federal and local level, as well as among private companies that intend to require patrons to be vaccinated in order to use services. Concerns centered around airline travel, concerts and other venues with large gatherings of people. Members of the AFLDS agreed that an “experimental biological agent” should ever be coerced on as part of public policy, that the practice “cannot ever be justified on scientific grounds.”
Analysis: A Conversation Worth Having
Angela Stanton-King, author, motivational speaker and 2020 candidate for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, helped arranged the event — a partnership with Alveda King Ministries and Urban Global Health Alliance. Stanton-King says the AFDLS members volunteered to attend the event which drew a diverse audience with an intent to inform the black community about the incoming vaccines.
Stanton-King opened up the event with her personal story as well as her own questions and concerns.
“How do we deserve it first?” She asked. “What’s in my skin that makes me deserve the vaccine first?”
Dr. Kevin Jenkins, CEO of Urban Global Health Alliance who spoke at the event, said black families “should fight back, not to allow our families to be commoditized.”
As the public health experts and articles surface with numbers and figures about the vaccine, it is critical for all people to seek and understand the data and ask as many questions as needed to affirm one’s decision about something as essential as one’s own health and wellbeing. Whether one is pro-vaccination, anti-vaccination or in the middle on these matters, the exchange of information is vital if the public at large is to understand the social and physical implication of their actions.
This call for additional and continued study should not be taken as an unreasonable request, especially if these vaccines are indeed safe for public reception — because no one person should feel rushed or experimented on, pandemic or not. As more data about treatment methodologies rise to the surface, it’s critical that the public maintain access to such resources as well as all information for and against the methods used. After all, health experts agree that the most important team member in one’s healthcare is the patient himself.
Editor’s Note: Updates to this article will be made periodically as new information emerges.