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Renowned oncologist’s speech canceled over contrarian COVID views

Doctor says pharmacy group should have stuck to its principles

A handful of activist-academics succeeded in getting a renowned hematologist-oncologist canceled from speaking at an upcoming conference due to his nuanced and contrarian views on COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Dr. Vinay Prasad has over 12,000 citations on Google Scholar and an h-index of 50, a marker that shows his academic work has been prolific and highly-cited. During the COVID lockdowns, he emerged as a critic of universal masking, widespread vaccination of kids and in general opposes strict mitigation measures.

A handful of activist voices successfully bullied the American College of Clinical Pharmacy into canceling the November keynote address by the University of California San Francisco doctor.

He wrote in The Free Press:

What was my crime? The critics were vague. In one open letter, Alicia Lichvar, a University of California, San Diego pharmacist, alleged that I had a “history of spreading misleading and inaccurate information” about Covid policy, and that my presence on the podium would be to “spit in the faces” of virtually everyone who has been affected by Covid…

As a physician and medical scholar who has published over 450 academic articles and two books, my research team and I base our opinions on a sober assessment of available evidence. We found that there was no strong data to back up masking kids or closing schools.

The drug Paxlovid lacks evidence to support its use in vaccinated people. The CDC has made numerous errors, including inflating the number of children who died from the virus. In early 2021, Covid vaccines did benefit the elderly and vulnerable people who had not contracted the virus. But there’s no solid data to support their repeated use in children or in young people who have already had Covid, especially as of 2023. I believe our policy was largely a self-inflicted wound, one that should have been subjected to rigorous debate.

He wrote that he had changed his views on COVID related issues before and welcomed a debate. “But instead of debate or dialogue, the ACCP organizers preferred to cancel my talk on a topic unrelated to Covid.”

Other opponents of Prasad’s appearance included Indiana University medical school professors David Aronoff and Gabriel Bosslet, as well as Kevin Astle of the University of San Francisco College of Pharmacy.

“[L]ol this aged well,” Astle wrote on X, in response to Prasad announcing he would be speaking.

Other academics celebrated the decision.

“Vinay Prasad, a COVID contrarian, has been uninvited from giving the keynote talk at this pharmacy conference. This is the right decision,” Canadian professor John Laxton wrote in response to a social media post announcing the cancellation.

“Wonderful to see a society’s board listening to its constituents to support science and public health!,” University of Washington Professor Rahul Banerjee wrote.

Dr. Prasad wrote further of what this decision means.

“No one is entitled to give a speech. But once an invitation to speak has been extended, it should not be canceled merely because a tiny online minority dislikes the speaker,” he wrote. “It simply incentivizes online rage, and the more that organizers give in, the more calls for cancellation they will get.”

“It’s a lot harder to have principles and stick to them.”

MORE: Ohio professors lose battle to derail ‘intellectual diversity’ centers

IMAGE: Vinay Prasad/Twitter

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.