The double ‘fake news’ of Robert Malone: ​​vaccines, mRNA and efficacy

Robert Malone is an American physician who in recent months has gained notable prominence in the field of vaccines for his role as investigator of infectious diseases, but especially for being considered as inventor of mRNA vaccines that in the COVID-19 pandemic have saved millions of lives.

  • NowMalone casts a skepticism on them that pits him against the overwhelming majority of his fellow scientists.

Robert Malone maintains on Twitter to be “Inventor of mRNA vaccines”, although it is a meaning that he has corrected as his resume has received greater scrutiny. He now describes himself in interviews as “inventor of the technology platform for mRNA vaccines”.

Despite that supposed title, news networks like CNN either MSNBC They have been inviting key figures in the fight against COVID-19 who are not named Robert Malone since the beginning of 2020.

  • Among themDr. Anthony Fauci, a key figure in the pandemic in the United States, or researchers and managers of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, BioNTech or Moderna that have produced the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.

The same goes for leading US print media outlets like New York Times, The Wall Street Journal either Washington Postwho have used the opinions of those epidemiologists or vaccine experts for news coverage of the pandemic.

  • Nevertheless, Robert Malone has been ignored by those headlines. When searching for him on Google, his name only appears in fact-checking articles, in alternative media YouTube videos and in a profile Atlantic which highlights the reasons Malone has achieved fame: the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

The reason none of that is justified. As we already have in Through Science Feedback verifiers, “the development of messenger RNA vaccines is the work of hundreds of researchers.”

  • And what he did? Robert Malone contributed as a researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (USA) in the early stages that showed that messenger RNA could enter cells to make proteins.

Youtuber Defunk The Funkan expert doctor in molecular biology, summarized in an image the only contribution of Robert Malone to the research process of mRNA vaccines thanks to a chronology of advances in technology published in Nature:

The exaggerations of Robert Malone about his role (as alleged inventor) in the development of mRNA vaccines should not blur his contributions, which after all exist, but they should serve to understand the way in which some bad actors are taking advantage of his figure.

  • Mainly, to cement the false or exaggerated narratives that seek to challenge the narratives of scientific and media consensus that defend that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are reliable and safe.

To understand how Robert Malone fits into vaccine misinformation, it is first important to keep in mind that alternative media represents a media ecosystem in which challenging established narratives in traditional media is a raison d’être.

  • The success of alternative media comes from offering alternative narratives with which to make their followers believe that the rest of the people around them are sheep incapable of seeing the truth that the big media are hiding.
    • And yes, if it sounds similar to what we see on a daily basis with conspiracy theories, it is because the principles of audience capture are very similar.

In this context, Robert Malone presents itself as a fantastic opportunity for the alternative media because they have at their disposal an authority figure ignored by the traditional media and who is skeptical about vaccines.

  • The result has probably already passed through your whatsapp groups or your Twitter timeline in the form of a square video with Spanish subtitles and a large title: “Robert Malone, inventor of mRNA vaccines”.
  • The comment from whoever forwarded it to you might read something along the lines of: ‘Are you going to get the vaccine? This is not what I say, eh, the inventor of the vaccine says it’.

The questions that can arise from the virality of these videos (‘Why haven’t I heard of this guy before?’, ‘What are they trying to hide from me?’) later turn into headlines for these alternative media: ‘We interviewed the inventor of the mRNA vaccines that the mainstream media doesn’t want you to know about’.

  • Traditional media are already interviewing experts who say the same thing as always: that the fight against COVID-19 is often unpredictable and that it requires a prolonged scientific, social and political effort, so a dissenting voice will always call for more the attention
    • And the alternative media know how to take advantage of this situation to bait an audience thirsty for different headlines. Because in the face of uncomfortable truths and changing villains, what better than to cross them all out? manipulators who are deceiving us.

It is in this cocktail that Robert Malone has managed to establish himself as an acclaimed totem in the alternative media ecosystem that misinforms about vaccines, be it through Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson or The Gateway Pundit.

  • All these spokesmen, generally from the extreme right, take advantage of challenging the narratives established by the scientific and media consensus to validate themselves as champions of the authentic truth and alternative to the powers that be that have always considered them too fanatical.

With constant invites to YouTube channels and alternative radio shows, Robert Malone has a platform where he gets attention he never got from traditional media — and where he gets the recognition he may think he should have gotten in the past.

  • His Twitter account has gone from having some 50,000 followers in the summer of this year to accumulating more than 500,000 right now.

But precisely because of moving in this alternative media ecosystem, Robert Malone has been more likely than usual to share studies, news and statements that represent a version contrary to the one defended by the scientific and media consensus: that mRNA vaccines are effective and safe. .

But as journalist Tom Bartlett summed up in Atlantic: “No matter how nuanced he tries to be, or how many qualifiers he adds to his views, Malone is raising doubts about vaccines at a time when hospitals in the least vaccinated parts of the US are struggling to cope with the influx of new COVID-19 patients.”

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The double ‘fake news’ of Robert Malone: ​​vaccines, mRNA and efficacy

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