On Wednesday, November 17 Jeffrey Aeschlimann, Pharm.D., Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, and Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Medicine, joined a Select Subcommittee hearing on the impact of Coronavirus misinformation on the nation’s public health in Washington D.C.
Representative James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, held the hybrid remote/in-person hearing examining the harm caused by the spread and monetization of coronavirus misinformation online. The hearing also considered actions needed to curtail this danger while promoting the dissemination of scientifically accurate public health information.
As noted in the sub committee’s press release “Misinformation endangers public health and fuels vaccine hesitancy by sowing distrust in safe and effective coronavirus vaccines and promoting the false notion that alternative drugs can prevent or cure coronavirus infections. Exploiting falsehoods for financial gain puts American lives at risk and sets back our nation’s progress in combating the coronavirus. While the Biden Administration has invested federal resources to fight coronavirus misinformation and called for greater accountability, increased efforts may be necessary.”
Witnesses (listed below) discussed the harm to Americans caused by coronavirus misinformation every day, current trends in online misinformation and how it is impairing the pandemic response, and what actions lawmakers should consider to stop the spread of misinformation and protect the lives it is endangering.
- Dr. Kolina Koltai, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for an Informed Public, University of Washington Information School
- Dr. Jay Kennedy, Assistant Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Assistant Director of Research, Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection, Michigan State University
- Dr. Jeffrey Aeschlimann, Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Connecticut (UConn)
- María Teresa Kumar, President and Chief Executive Officer, Voto Latino
“… many individuals have spent hundreds of dollars and have put their health in jeopardy using unproven therapies over proven-effective therapies. Effective vaccines and therapies would have lowered their risks of developing severe COVID-19 infections, prevented unnecessary and costly hospitalizations, and even prevented COVID infection deaths.” – Jeffrey Aeschlimann, Pharm.D.
Please view the proceedings below. Aeschlimann provides his formal 5-minute testimony to the Subcommittee at 27:17. He also answers questions and has discussions with Chairman Clyburn from 47:07 – 48:55, Rep. Jim Jordan from 1:03:26 – 1:06:40, and Rep. Bill Foster from 1:23:00 – 1:25:45.
“I am very proud of how much our School, faculty, staff, and students continue to do in the fight for science and the facts surrounding COVID-19. This hearing represents an important step forward in acknowledging the serious problems misinformation has caused in our nation’s fight against the Coronavirus. Thank you to Dr. Aeschlimann for taking time to go to Washington to present first-hand experience treating COVID-19 infected patients who tried alternative, unapproved treatments,” said Dean Philip Hritcko.