The post making the rounds on social media suggests that anyone who has already taken a COVID-19 vaccine might be doomed.

It quotes Mike Yeadon, a man it identifies as the former chief scientist at Pfizer, warning that a small percentage of these folks will be dead within weeks and the rest will have an average life expectancy of two years.

I’ll be honest. When I first saw the post, I thought it might be satire, a claim so absurd as to be beyond belief.

I had never heard of Yeadon, but a quick internet search revealed he was never the chief science officer at Pfizer. According to a fact check by Snopes.com, that job has been held by a man named Mikael Dolsten since 2010.

Yeadon did work for Pfizer. He was vice president and chief scientific officer for Pfizer’s United Kingdom-based allergy and respiratory unit until that unit shut down in 2011.

And just to be clear, the division had nothing to do with vaccines or infectious diseases. It was focused on developing drugs to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Snopes also took a look at Yeadon’s frequently cited pronouncements about the pandemic. All of them, it said, proved to be “alarmingly incorrect.”

The news service Reuters took an in-depth look at how Yeadon had gone from quiet scientist to hero of the anti-vaccine movement. Former colleagues told Reuters they no longer recognized the man they once knew. They described the Yeadon they remembered as a knowledgeable and intelligent man who always insisted on seeing evidence and generally avoided publicity.

The latest claims attributed to Yeadon appear on a website called LifeSiteNews. Just for the record, LifeSiteNews, by its own admission, has been banned from YouTube. I’d guess there’s a reason for that.

It might be, I suppose, because of headlines like this: “EXCLUSIVE – Former Pfizer VP: ‘Your government is lying to you in a way that could lead to your death.’”

The story reports on an interview Yeadon supposedly had with an organization called America’s Frontline Doctors. It quotes Yeadon saying it’s entirely possible the vaccine campaigns will be used for “massive depopulation.”

“Please warn every person not to go near top up vaccines,” he’s quoted as saying. “There is absolutely no need to them.”

The online news service MedPage Today published a report in July revealing that many members of America’s Frontline Doctors weren’t actually on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 and had little to no experience in treating the virus.

A report posted in January noted that the organization’s warnings about the vaccines hadn’t gone over well with actual frontline physicians such as Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“No real frontline doctor objects to this vaccine,” he tweeted.

Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, agreed.

“For the record,” he said. “nearly all the frontline doctors I’ve worked with and spoken to who’ve actually taken care of critically ill COVID-19 patients and seen how horrible this virus can be have been eagerly getting in line and grateful to roll up their sleeves.”

During a recent talk hosted by the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University, Hotez discussed the growing anti-science movement.

“If there’s any silver lining on this pandemic,” he said, it’s that “now people are hearing from scientists and public health experts directly.”

The pandemic has taught him, he said, that it’s sometimes necessary for experts like him to venture into political discussions and call out disinformation.

“It’s a minefield, and you have to be careful,” he said, “but in some cases, it’s necessary.”

Indeed, it is.

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at kelly.hawes@indianamediagroup.com. Find him on Twitter @Kelly_Hawes.

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