Trump Admin Gave $800K to Anti-Vax Groups
With just hours left of a single term plagued by death and controversy, the Trump Administration is leaving behind more destruction than any of its predecessors. The American public may never know the full depths of its criminality, despite a potential censure even after impeachment, but even as they’re packing up, we’re learning more about just how little Trump and his staff tried to help the country amid the worst public health crisis of the 21st Century.
It’s no secret that Trump knew how deadly COVID-19 could be, and said as much on the infamous Woodward Tapes that were released to much fanfare last September and then quickly forgotten in the turbulent news cycle that Trump controlled with his every tweet. But now that he’s lost his social media platforms and can’t directly delude his fanbase, more facts about the ineptitude of Trump’s non-response to the deadly pandemic that’s on track to hit half a million dead before Valentine’s Day. It was revealed on Monday afternoon that despite touting its response to the virus and its rollout of the vaccines, the Trump Administration gave PPE to anti-vaccine groups who then used the money to spread misinformation.
Five prominent anti-vaccine organizations known for their disinformation campaigns about the coronavirus received more than a combined $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, raising questions about why the government is giving money to groups actively opposing its agenda and seeking to undermine public health during a critical period. As the PPP program was open to a wide range of businesses and nonprofit groups, they technically met the requirements for the loans.
The groups that received the funds are the National Vaccine Information Center, Mercola Health Resources, the Informed Consent Action Network, the Children’s Health Defense, and the Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center. These groups have been ramping up their tactics and messaging at a moment when more and more Americans are searching for accurate information about coronavirus vaccines. Encouraging the safe use of vaccines is considered a vital component of the government’s efforts to alleviate the public health crisis. Several of the Facebook pages for these organizations have been penalized for pushing misinformation about the coronavirus but had not been banned as of Monday.
Many Americans are skeptical about vaccinations, attitudes that public health experts have said are attributable in part to misinformation that has only spread in the age of social media. A recent poll from Pew suggested nearly 40% of Americans are hesitant about a new coronavirus vaccine. However, the Biden Administration will attempt to counter the disinformation with information, a refreshing tactic in a post-Trump social media landscape.
Warp Speed did real good. But I don't think it's sunk in just how little the Trump admin did to prepare for vaccine distribution. They acted like a vaccine would solve the problem for them. But that's not how this works. And now we've wasted so much time. https://t.co/6woZ0LkUc2
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) January 18, 2021