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The Long, Strange History of Bill Gates Population Control Conspiracy Theories

Source: Type Investigation
How the billionaire philanthropist displaced George Soros as the chief bogeyman of the right.

PHOTO BY WILLIAM WEST/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGESAnti-vaccine protesters in Melbourne, Australia on May 10, 2020.

Three months into the global pandemic, Bill Gates has displaced George Soros as the chief bogeyman of the right.


In April, dozens of Texans crowded around Infowars host Alex Jones at an anti-shutdown demonstration in Austin, Texas, chanting “arrest Bill Gates.” A New York-based tech nonprofit falsely rumored to be working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to implant vaccine microchips in people received so many death threats that it contacted the FBI. And a White House petition demanding the billionaire’s foundation be investigated for “medical malpractice and crimes against humanity” amassed half-a-million signatures in three weeks.

Gates, who has announced that his $40 billion-foundation will shift its “total attention” to fighting COVID-19, has been accused of a range of misdeeds, from scheming to profit off a vaccine to creating the virus itself. On April 8, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Attorney General Bill Barr speculated about whether Gates would use digital certificates to monitor anyone who got vaccinated.


  • Accusations that Bill Gates has sinister plans to control or experiment on the public under the guise of medical charity date back at least a decade, in part to an obscure political fight in Ghana. 

A Christian Right broadcaster, Brannon Howse of “Worldview Watch,” warned that Gates and the “medical globalist deep state” were using the crisis to regulate people’s fertility depending on their worldview, through “procreation tickets” and microchips. On Instagram, anti-vaccination activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., posted a video featuring a “1984”-style audience listening to Gates, with text declaring that the Microsoft Corp. co-founder “is conducting global social and medical experimentation,” via the World Health Organization. The New York Times noted that misinformation about Gates has become “the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods” trending online.ARINDAM SHIVAANI/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

An anti-lockdown rally in Toronto, Canada, on April 25, 2020.

But while these themes have fed the imagination of QAnonPizzagate and anti-vaccination proponents since January, conspiracy theories involving Gates actually have a much longer history. Accusations that he has sinister plans to control or experiment on the public under the guise of medical charity date back at least a decade, including to an obscure and different political fight in Ghana.

A New War Over Birth Control In Africa

In 2010, a former staffer with a government health initiative in Ghana made a shocking claim: a project partially funded by the Gates Foundation had tested the contraceptive Depo-Provera on unsuspecting villagers in the remote region of Navrongo, as part of an illicit “population experiment.” The woman making the charge was the Ghanian-born, U.S.-educated communications officer for another Gates-funded initiative by the Ghanaian government and Columbia University to use mobile phones to improve health care access for rural women and children. She had previously attempted to sue her employer for a multi-million dollar settlement when, after repeated clashes with her boss, her contract wasn’t renewed.

The lawsuit fizzled, but with help from a small U.S. nonprofit called the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, she shopped a series of stories to Ghana’s tabloid press. The Depo-Provera story caused a national scandal. Although it was denounced by Ghanaian health professionals and traditional leaders as libelous—the Navrongo project hadn’t tested any medications— so many death threats were directed at the project that some staff had to be evacuated across the Burkina Faso border.

  • The new narrative was that Gates was waging “chemical warfare on poor women” in a neocolonial effort to suppress African births. 

The episode would mark the opening shot in a new war over birth control in Africa. It also reflected an evolution in the U.S. anti-abortion movement’s strategy in which it started to co-opt the language of women’s and civil rights used by progressives. There were fewer bloody fetus posters and more talk about how abortion and contraception violated women’s safety and impeded racial justice.

Anti-abortion groups hired black activists and highlighted uglier aspects of the history of reproductive health care — in particular, the courting of the eugenics movement by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger in the early part of the 20th century. A right-wing documentary, Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America, used a Swahili word that refers to the holocaust of African enslavement to denounce Planned Parenthood as racist. Billboards in Atlanta and Manhattan carried messages like, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” And federal and state legislators proposed a series of bills banning race- and sex-selective abortions in order to insinuate that abortion providers deliberately target communities of color.


  • Thinly sourced research from a small nonprofit, The Rebecca Project, suggested a massive international conspiracy, led by the Gates Foundation, to push dangerous contraceptives on poor black women as a means of decreasing African births. 

As black feminists pointed out, these groups cared little for women’s or civil rights in general, or black women’s well-being in particular. (A 2009 U.S. House bill titled the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” was co-sponsored by a champion of the Confederate flag.)

But the strategy exploited the real and painful history of medical abuses against people of color in the U.S., from compulsory or coercive sterilization campaigns from the 1910s to ’60s (including the sterilization of a third of all Puerto Rican mothers between 20 and 49 years old by 1965) to unsafe contraceptives marketed to poor women of color from the 1970s to ’90s. And the legacy of those abuses could be profound. One 2016 study found that the notorious Tuskegee Study, wherein hundreds of black men were left with untreated syphilis so U.S. government researchers could track the progress of the disease, led to such mistrust of the medical establishment that it reduced the life expectancy of a generation of black men by more than a year.

The Rebecca Project, a small, Washington-based nonprofit focused on issues disproportionately affecting women of color, hadn’t been involved on either side of the abortion fight. But in 2011, the group released a thinly-sourced report titled “Non-Consensual Research in Africa: The Outsourcing of Tuskegee,” outlining what it claimed was a series of unethical U.S.-backed medical experiments in Africa.

Some of the examples were documented stories of legitimate concern — for instance, HIV-positive women in southern Africa had been pressured into sterilization procedures by local health care entities. The report attempted to link them to shakier allegations of USAID funding being used for coercive sterilization campaigns in other countries. But the report’s real target, it seemed, was the Gates-backed health initiative in Navrongo. Later, the report’s lead author would suggest that people involved with the project should be charged with attempted genocide.

The report had numerous factual problems. Its author ― the Rebecca Project’s chief financial officer, Kwame Fosu ― also hadn’t disclosed a significant conflict of interest: The employee who’d leveled the charges against the Ghana project was the mother of his child. The fallout wound up splitting the organization, as one of its founders and several staff departed, taking with them all the Rebecca Project’s funding. Left with the group’s name, Fosu doubled down on his conspiratorial claims.

In 2013, Fosu published another report, “Depo-Provera: Deadly Reproductive Violence Against Women.” Drawing heavily on unnamed sources, paranoid accusations and the rhetoric of right-wing anti-abortion groups, this report used the Ghana story to anchor claims of a massive international conspiracy, led by the Gates Foundation, to push dangerous contraceptives on poor black women as a means of decreasing African births and advancing “population control ideology.” Fosu brought the Rebecca Project into alliance with a network of conservative Catholic nonprofits, like C-Fam and the Population Research Institute (PRI), that had long focused on fighting reproductive rights in developing nations or at the United Nations.REBECCA PROJECT FOR JUSTICE

A portion of the title page from The Rebecca Project for Justice’s 2013 report.

His new allies began publicizing Fosu’s claims to a large audience of conservative activists, arguing that he had uncovered the smoking gun confirming their long-held suspicions. As the head of PRI put it, “The population controllers will stop at nothing to stop African women from having children.” By 2014, the Rebecca Project was focusing full-time on the scourge of Depo-Provera. At the same time, the Gates Foundation was undertaking a new mission to radically expand contraceptive access to women in Africa, including with a new, low-dose adaptation of Depo-Provera.

The foundation’s family planning campaign had already drawn predictable backlash from religious groups. But as U.S. anti-abortion groups and websites circulated the Rebecca Project’s allegations, the opposition was no longer dominated by complaints that Gates was tempting African women to defy their faith. The new narrative was that Gates was waging “chemical warfare on poor women” in a neocolonial effort to suppress African births.

Soon, powerful figures across Africa were making similar claims, undermining vital public health projects in the process. In 2014, Zimbabwe’s Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede — the official responsible for overseeing the country’s dubious elections — warned women to avoid modern contraceptives because they caused cancer and were a Western ploy to limit African population growth. In 2015, Mudede told parliamentarians, “Western countries are bent on curtailing the population of the darker races of the world.” According to a parliamentary committee, Mudede’s campaign panicked Zimbabwean women, who flooded into clinics to have contraceptive implants removed.


  • Recently, these claims have grown to suggest that a Gates-backed vaccine against COVID-19 — in which the foundation has invested $300 million — could be a stealth attack on African populations. 

In Kenya, all 27 members of the nation’s Conference of Catholic Bishops declared that a WHO/UNICEF campaign to administer neonatal tetanus vaccines to women of childbearing age was really “a disguised population control programme.” According to the bishops, the vaccines were laced with a hormone that would cause repeated miscarriages and eventual sterility.

The same conservative Catholic network the Rebecca Project had allied itself with published numerous stories amplifying the bishops’ accusations and casting doubt on the government’s response. The Kenyan Parliament was forced to have the vaccine tested repeatedly. But by the time the claims were debunked, priests around Kenya had already instructed their congregants to refuse the vaccine.

Back in the U.S., Fosu also worked with C-Fam to lobby delegates from African nations, with some success. After a meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, a regional grouping of African countries released an unprecedented statement expressing concerns over “harmful contraceptives,” echoing specific claims by Fosu and his allies. The next month, at the Commission on Population and Development, delegates couldn’t agree on an outcome document for the first time in the commission’s 48 years — the result, conservative advocates claimed, of African and other developing nations’ frustration with “the profusion of references to population control, adolescent sexual activity, abortion, and comprehensive sexuality education.”

Undermining Confidence In A Coronavirus Vaccine

The Rebecca Project has long since faded into obscurity. But the current attacks on Gates and his foundation are now broadcasting the same themes to a massive global audience.

In April, Trump boosters Diamond & Silk vowed they would never take a vaccine created by Gates because he’d sought to make Africans “guinea pigs.” (This claim was helped along by erroneous media reporting that falsely suggested Gates planned to test his vaccine in South Africa.) “I have a problem receiving any vaccine from any entity, especially anybody like Bill Gates who pushed for population control. The same thing that Margaret Sanger pushed for,” Diamond said. “Abortions! Genocide!” Silk explained.

In response to these and other conspiracy theories, including their contention that the virus was a “plandemic,” Fox Nation reportedly cut ties with the pair. But Diamond and Silk weren’t alone.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens tweeted in April that “vaccine-criminal Bill Gates” had used “African & Indian tribal children to experiment w/ non-FDA approved drug vaccines.” Last week, she declared “that under no circumstances will I be getting any #coronavirus vaccine that becomes available. Ever. No matter what.”

  • In the U.S. alone, nearly a third of Americans say they’ll refuse a coronavirus vaccine. 

An Infowars video suggested that Gates was the successor of eugenicist population controllers from Sanger to Nazi collaborators, and asked whether viewers would “allow your government to impose forced vaccines.” In a viral sermon, Rev. Danny Jones, the pastor of a 250-member Georgia church, predicted that Gates would use vaccines to usher in a new world order under which Christians might be forced to accept biometric tattoos.

On Twitter, hundreds of posts claimed that the billionaire had publicly said that vaccines could be used to lower the population by 10% to 15%. This was an old misrepresentation of Gates’ suggestion that increasing vaccination rates in the developing world could slow population growth, since families in which more children survive to adulthood might have fewer children overall.

Doctored photographs falsely suggesting the Gates Foundation runs a “Center for Human Population Reduction” spread so widely that both Reuters and Snopes published articles debunking them. Anti-vaxxer and Pizzagate proponents began sharing old C-Fam articles as proof that Gates “Thinks There Are Too Many Africans.” And the White House petition resurrected the old Kenyan controversy, informing new believers that Gates has “already been credibly accused of intentionally sterilizing Kenyan children through the use of a hidden HCG antigen in tetanus vaccines.”

By Saturday, the Gates-population control narrative had made its way onto conservative network One American News, quoting an anti-social distancing protester who charged,“This is not about COVID or about a virus. This is about gaining control over the human race and limiting population.”

Anti-Gates theories have resurfaced in Africa, as well. Unfounded rumors that Gates had bribed Nigerian lawmakers to pass a compulsory vaccination bill sparked a legislative investigation there. African Twitter influencers posted threads linking him not just to population control but the entire history of colonialist medical violence. One described the foundation’s family planning work “as genocide in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Another suggested that Gates would turn to “toxic Covid-19 vaccines” to depopulate South Africa next, since it had become “clear that this Depo is not working fast enough.”

Nancy Rosenblum, author of “A Lot of People are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy,” said that some people may simply see the proliferation of these conspiracy narratives as a vehicle to advance their agenda, exploiting the swirling outrage around Gates to introduce fringe arguments to a much larger audience. To Quassim Cassam, author of the book “Conspiracy Theories,” the anti-Gates attacks reflect a larger global trend towards populism, characterized by profound distrust of the establishment and experts.

“If you say it’s Gates or big corporations who are responsible for developing coronavirus via 5G, these are all ways of expressing anti-elitist sentiment,” Cassam said. “They’re fantasies, but they’re fantasies that give expression to real things in their lives.”

The potential impact of such fantasies could be dire. The legacy of medical abuses against people of color helped give rise to HIV/AIDS conspiracy theories, Rosenblum noted, from claims that it was a government-crafted bioweapon to charges that life-saving medications were poison. After the latter theory was adopted by South Africa’s former president, Thabo Mbeki, Harvard University researchers found it was responsible for more than 330,000 unnecessary deaths.

The Gates Foundation has already committed $300 million to fighting the coronavirus and finding a vaccine. Tens of millions of that sum are dedicated to ensuring that vaccines are distributed in poor countries. Conspiracy theories suggesting an eventual vaccine is part of a nefarious plot could leave many of the world’s most vulnerable at greater risk; in the U.S. alone, a late April survey found, nearly a third of Americans say they’ll refuse a vaccine.

Of course, the same side that is accusing Gates of planning an imminent eugenicist attack is also loudly pushing to reopen the economy, even though this will almost undoubtedly come at the cost of thousands of lives, overwhelmingly people of color. Rather than reckon with that reality, Republican leaders have argued that “there are more important things than living” and the public will “have to accept” massive new casualties.

Wisconsin’s chief justice dismissed superclusters of infection in the minority-staffed meatpacking industry as distinct from the threat posed to “regular folks.” One local California official mused that allowing the virus to “run rampant” through the ranks of the homeless, the old, the sick and the poor, represents a “natural” process of culling the “herd” that could lighten Social Security and health care burdens and free up jobs and housing.

Against this backdrop, right-wing claims of eugenics or population control begin to seem not just disingenuous, but like the most amoral form of projection.

Unethical medical experiments are not new and without past apologies. What are your thoughts on the information in this article? Why? What are your thoughts on COVID 19? Why?

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Should COVID-19 vaccine testing be done on prisoners? Some researchers say we should ask them.

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September 4, 2020 by Hannah Critchfield
Source: North Carolina Health News

Is it time to reconsider restrictions on using prisoners in medical experiments? Some experts say we should ask incarcerated people themselves.

By Hannah Critchfield 

As the COVID-19 infection toll inside United States prisons and jails reaches 100,000, some researchers are wondering if it’s time to reconsider bans on using prisoners in medical trials, such as the vaccine trials currently underway across the country.

Though often in the center of the discussion of a contentious topic, prisoners have had little input into the conversation. The researchers say it’s time to ask prisoners what they might want.

In the past, prisoners were used as medical study subjects, sometimes against their will. Prisoners were paid hundreds of dollars — far more than what a person normally receives doing prison labor, even today — to undergo studies involving everything from the toxic substance in Agent Orange, dioxin, to Johnson & Johnson bubble bath products (which reportedly led one prisoner to break out in painful blisters) to skin viruses like herpes.

Since 1978, however, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research has heavily restricted most research involving incarcerated people. The regulations followed reports of widespread abuse in drug and vaccine testing on prisoners in places like Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, where inmates were exposed to radioactive, carcinogenic and hallucinogenic chemicals without independent oversight or obtaining informed consent.

“I was in prison with a low bail,” former Holmesburg prisoner Leodua Jones told Executive Intelligence Review in 1999. “I couldn’t afford the monies to pay for bail. I knew that I wasn’t guilty of what I was being held for. I was being coerced to plea bargain. So, I thought, if I can get out of this, get me enough money to get a lawyer, I can beat this. That was my first thought.”

An exposé of the prison experiments in 1974 came on the coattails of the public’s discovery and the subsequent shutdown of the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, a 40-year study commissioned by the U.S. Public Health Service in which researchers withheld and concealed the existence of widely available, effective treatment for syphilis from its all-Black participants in order to study the long-term effects of the disease.

“You can make a strong argument that Holmesburg was as bad, if not worse,” said Allen Hornblum, who worked as a literacy instructor at the prison at the time and later wrote the book Acres of Skin about the experiments. “Because it’s not happening in the backwoods of Alabama, it’s happening in the third-largest city in the nation. A city loaded with universities, and medical schools, and very sophisticated people. Yet nobody seemed bothered or perturbed by it.”

In the time of pandemic 

Today, research in correctional settings is only permitted in limited conditions. Two of the categories of potentially permissible research are “research on conditions particularly affecting prisoners as a class” and “research on practices intended and deemed likely to improve the health or well-being of participants.”

Federal law requires that the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must convene a panel of experts before any trial takes place, a barrier that drastically reduces the likelihood that studies of this kind would occur.

With present regulations, vaccine trials for COVID-19 will not include currently-incarcerated people. But the novel coronavirus has ravaged the very places where incarcerated people live, leading some researchers to ask if now is the time for convening a DHHS panel. Inmates are more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general population, and to have chronic conditions that increase risk of severe illness from the virus, such as diabetes and heart conditions.

Outbreaks have ravaged North Carolina prisons, infecting thousands and killing 10 in the state correctional system alone. The facilities have been likened to petri dishes for the virus, as incarcerated people are housed in close, crowded conditions that make it difficult to social distance.

In a report released earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, health experts from the schools of medicine at Yale, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina asked DHHS to consider if a Phase 3 vaccine trial for COVID-19 might meet the criteria for study of a condition “particularly affecting” prisoners.

“We’re just calling into question whether we’re taking away the agency of people who are in these settings,” said Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, a public health researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill and co-author of the report. “A majority of cluster outbreaks in this country are happening in these settings, and so why wouldn’t you give people that live there the option of participating or not?”

Trial participation would need to be voluntary, according to the authors, and couldn’t be tied to any condition, such as release from incarceration or special treatment

It would also require approval from an Institutional Review Board, those bodies that oversee the ethics of drug trials, that would need to include a prisoner representative.

Prisoner participants shouldn’t make up more than 50 percent of the test subjects to avoid exploitation and would need to be adequately briefed on risks, including “potentially the unique risks in the correctional health system of obtaining aftercare.”

“What we tried to communicate in that article is not that we definitely should be doing [correctional testing],” said Brinkley-Rubinstein. “But we tried to create a framework that could be used, if we were to consider it, that tries to center the voice of people who have been incarcerated.”

Oversight and equitable access

Clinical vaccine trials involving incarcerated people must ensure their correctional facilities have the resources to provide adequate treatment for vaccine complications, as well as funding for an incarcerated person’s aftercare in a community setting upon release.

The report also emphasizes that clinical trials should guarantee that incarcerated people have universal access to vaccines once one is proven successful. They also call for the federal government to pass legislation guaranteeing this universal access.

“I think once vaccines are proven that they work, the first places they should be deployed are nursing homes, prisons and jails,” said Brinkley-Rubinstein. “So that’s a part of [considering research with incarcerated people] too — if we are to do that, we need to understand how best to implement vaccine programs in the settings.”

The authors emphasize the need for a Federal Oversight Board in addition to an IRB, regardless of whether the trials are funded by the U.S. government, to monitor any clinical COVID-19 trials in prisons and jails.

Is consent possible behind bars?

Still, some people like Hornblum, the former Holmesburg worker, remain skeptical about whether it’s possible to ethically implement any medical trial behind bars.

“A lot of people in high positions do not want to ruffle the feathers of the medical-industrial community,” he said. “Can you imagine what ‘federal oversight’ would be with the Trump administration?

“I see the argument that is being made, and there is merit to it,” Hornblum added. “But I’m not just an academic who has read this in a journal, I witnessed it. I saw the lies, I saw the deceit. I saw inmates trusting their doctors, who were from an Ivy League institution, yet people were being damaged on an industrial scale.

“When it can happen at prison in a major sophisticated city, just think what can happen in smaller-scale facilities.”

Central to this debate is the issue of free and informed consent.

Some researchers believe that a person who cannot leave their present environment due to incarceration cannot truly give “informed consent” — that incarceration itself is too great a power dynamic to surmount. Many cite the Nuremberg Code, a set of research ethics principles drafted in the aftermath of the Nuremberg Trials at the end of World War II.

“Prisoner testing flies in the face of the first principle of the Nuremberg Code, which argues that if you’re confined or in a facility that lacks freedom, if you can’t walk out, you should not be used as a test subject,” said Hornblum.

‘A million ethical landmines’

Brinkley-Rubinstein conceded that there would be “a million ethical landmines” to navigate in vaccine trials inside prisons and jails.

“I do think the entire critique of whether it should happen or not really rests on that power dynamic, and that can manifest in a million different ways,” she said. “It would take a lot of time to figure out how to do it well.”

But the authors of the JAMA report said a blanket bar on research involving prisoners lacks nuance — in this moment, researchers must ask if it’s also unethical to not allow incarcerated people to participate.

“While the history of clinical trials in US prisons suggests that there is potential and opportunity for coercion in correctional settings, research on this issue in the contemporary era is limited,” the report states, noting that while prisoners need protection from coercion and exploitation, respect for prisoners requires “recognition of their autonomy in decision-making.”

“An ethical position that could be considered is that because of the epidemiology of this disease, it may be unethical to not provide clinical trial opportunities to these groups,” it adds.

“There are definitely places in which I would be terrified if they tried to do something like this,” said Brinkley-Rubinstein, who researches addiction treatment for incarcerated people in North Carolina, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania facilities. “But I think there are some systems, like Rhode Island’s, that are primed for this and have demonstrated their ability to properly take care of people in their custody.

“It’s context dependent, and lots of different voices should be at the table,” she added.

Considering the inclusion of incarcerated people in vaccine testing, according to Brinkley-Rubinstein, would signal a shift away from what she called “patriarchal” ideas about prisoners in research.

“We [on the outside] may all agree that this could never ethically happen in these settings, but like it’s not for us to decide,” Brinkley-Rubinstein said. “There needs to be this paradigm shift where people who have lived in those settings, and experienced the risks to their health from COVID, get to decide if this is a prevention activity that they want to engage in.”

Is it ethical to include unknowing people in medical experiments in or out of jail? Informed consent is not always received by people not in prison. What is the difference? Would you recognize health care fraud when you see it?

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
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Source: Northeastern EDU by Emily ArntsenOctober 23, 2020

As the race to create a COVID-19 vaccine speeds ahead, many people have expressed an unwillingness to receive the immunization once it’s available, arguing that the vaccine won’t have enough time to undergo proper vetting.

Now, researchers fear that some of those same people won’t be interested in participating in vaccine clinical trials, illuminating a tricky catch-22—people don’t want a vaccine unless it’s been tested, but people also don’t want to be part of the tests because of the unknown risks. 

Suspicions about the vaccine development process were reinforced last week following the death of a Brazilian volunteer in an experimental trial for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University, and produced by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. 

While it’s unclear whether the participant’s death was linked to the trial, the incident nonetheless sowed doubt among an already dubious section of the population, as reflected in the subsequent downturn in AstraZeneca shares

The recent event has sparked a debate over the ethics of human subjects in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer, says John Basl, associate professor of philosophy at Northeastern, who specializes in bioethics. 

John Basl, associate professor of philosophy. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“We’re in an unprecedented medical emergency, and the benefits of getting a vaccine quickly are extremely high,” he says. “How do we balance the desire to manage this [pandemic] with the same ethical care we hope to apply in the everyday medical research context?” 

In most of the vaccine trials currently underway, one group receives the COVID-19 vaccine while the other group does not. Then, participants go about their lives as usual to test the efficacy of the vaccine. 

The participant in the AstraZeneca trial who died of COVID-19 was reportedly part of the placebo group and did not receive the vaccine, Bloomberg News reported, citing an unofficial statement by a person familiar with the matter. 

In this case, it appears that the participant’s death was unrelated to the trial. “But then the question is: What would have happened if they had received the vaccine?” Basl says. “Would they still be alive?”

And what if receiving the placebo, under the assumption that it could be the real vaccine, emboldened the participant to engage in risky behavior they would otherwise avoid?

“We know that the placebo effect is real, and in this case, the worry is that people aren’t taking the health guidelines seriously if they think they have immunization,” Basl says. “The way that’s usually managed is in the disclosure and consent procedure. Participants should be told to act as if they never received the vaccine.” 

Since participating in vaccine trials could potentially be dangerous to people’s health, some might be surprised to learn that volunteers don’t usually receive compensation. 

“Usually any kind of compensation is frowned upon by the research community,” Basl says. “It has a flavor of exploitation. The people who are most motivated by monetary compensation are probably the most vulnerable and feel the most economic pressure to participate in these trials.” 

Basl says the most important bioethical consideration in human trials is consent. “And that goes beyond just signing consent forms. You need to make sure the study is presented in a way that participants can understand,” he says. 

The consent process is twofold—researchers must disclose all relevant information that doesn’t compromise the study while also ensuring that participants understand the parameters of the experiment. 

“In a situation like this, that would mean highlighting the risks and having a medical professional present to answer questions while the participant is reading through the consent form,” Basl says. 

As with all philosophical quandaries, there’s no golden rule for handling these situations. But one thing Basl says researchers should always keep in mind is—do the means justify the ends?

“Sometimes the consequences are so bad that it requires us to ignore certain human rights,” Basl says. “But I don’t know if we’re currently at that point in this medical emergency.”  

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As the article states, many people are not interested in taking the vaccine. What are your thoughts on taking the vaccine? Why? How will this effect the pandemic?

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Not All Doctors Get Informed Consent — Here’s Why It’s Hurting Patients

Source: Forbes
Mar 28, 2016,07:00am EDT

Nichole Bazemore, Former Contributor: Amino, Contributor Group: Pharma & Healthcare

  • This is the second in a series of articles that focuses on your rights as a patient—both inside the hospital and out. First up, we explored the Patient’s Bill of Rights (yes, that’s a thing!). Today we’re focusing on everything you need to know about informed consent.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), a patient can only make an informed choice about whether or not to receive a treatment if they have enough information about the treatment, its benefits, and side effects.

It’s called informed consent, and it’s your doctor’s job to provide you with this information.

Photo by Adobe

Photo by Adobe

Informed consent is meant to honor your right to decide what’s done with your body. Rules and the law pertaining to this topic have changed over the years, but one thing hasn’t: Failure to obtain informed consent is a crime—medical malpractice, specifically—and the doctor can be charged with negligence and battery.

Your doctor or healthcare provider must give you enough information about your treatment so you can make an informed decision. But just how much information is “enough?” The AMA lists six basic features that make up informed consent:

  • The diagnosis, if known
  • The nature/purpose of the treatment or procedure
  • The risks and benefits of said treatment or procedure
  • Alternatives to the treatment or procedure
  • The risk and benefits of alternatives
  • The risks and benefits of not having the treatment or procedure

Informed consent isn’t required for all procedures or in all situations. For instance, in all but a few cases, minors can’t provide informed consent—their parents or guardians assume this responsibility. It’s also not required in cases of life-threatening emergency, where you may not be conscious to give consent; nor in cases where you have impaired decision-making ability, as in dementia. In this instance, doctors must find an alternate decision maker, like a family member.

Standard practices vary when it comes to doctors getting informed consent, and that hurts patients

There is no “right” way to obtain informed consent. In fact, while all 50 states have laws that mandate some form of it, the specifics vary from state to state and region to region. In addition, each medical institution typically develops its own list of surgeries, procedures or situations where informed consent is needed.

Jennifer Schmid is a naturopath and registered nurse in Santa Clara, CA. She says that lack of consistency, combined with other issues affecting the healthcare industry, create barriers to obtaining true, informed consent in many situations.

“The reality is that we have a system-wide failure as far as patient empowerment and informed consent go. Insurance companies dictate the choices they’ll pay for. Doctors are limited in their time. Patients don’t know what to ask. [When they do ask a question] it’s sometimes hard to get a straight answer. People really aren’t given answers that make them feel empowered.”

And that’s unfortunate, Schmid says, because research shows that patients who feel more empowered about their healthcare have better outcomes and higher survival rates. The only way to achieve this in an overburdened system, she adds, is for patients to be their own best advocates. Schmid urges patients to take the initiative—to do the research and ask the hard questions to make sure you’re informed before you undergo any procedure.

“A lot of people don’t realize they have the right to ask their physician or prescriber for information about the procedures and medications the provider is recommending,” she says. “I really want people to know that they have the right to ask. If the doctor is too busy, ask the resident. Don’t be afraid to be empowered.”

You’re allowed to refuse treatment

A key component of feeling empowered about your healthcare is having the freedom to refuse treatment after learning about the risks and benefits involved. You have this right, even if your doctor believes it’s a bad decision. This is called informed refusal.

But there’s a catch: If your doctor believes for some reason that your decision-making capacity is compromised (in cases of extreme emotional stress or intoxication, for example), you may not be allowed to refuse treatment. In this case, the law would side with the doctor, holding that the average reasonable person would consent to treatment in order to prevent permanent disability or death.

There’s really only one way to make sure your wishes are honored—and to maintain control of your treatment decisions in these situations: Fill out an advance directive and living will while you’re healthy. These allow you to decide—while you’re competent and before an emergency occurs—what treatments you do or do not want, should an emergency, illness or injury happen that renders you incompetent.

In our next article, we’ll examine patient advocacy—what it is, why it’s important and how to do it. Nichole Bazemore

Nichole Bazemore is a freelance writer in Atlanta.

Were you aware of informed consent? Do you know what informed consent is in your state? How could informed consent effect the quality of your health care?

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Ex-owner of home health care company gets 1 year for $863,000 Medicaid fraud

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Source: The Virginia Pilot

The former owner of a home health care company in Portsmouth was sentenced Wednesday to one year in federal prison for her role in an $863,600 Medicaid fraud.

Prosecutors had wanted 54-year-old Sandy Varzmanesh locked up for at least 2½ years while the defense wanted house arrest or probation.

Varzmanesh, formerly of P&S Home Health Care Solutions, pleaded guilty last September to one count of health care fraud.

According to court documents, Varzmanesh’s company was authorized to provide home health care and respite care services for Medicaid patients. To do so, however, the company was supposed to have a registered nurse review requests to ensure that the services were medically necessary.

Varzmanesh, also known as Sandy Vincent, didn’t always secure the registered nurse’s approval, though. Documents said Varzmanesh, a lesser-qualified Licensed Practical Nurse, sometimes forged an RN’s signature on the required paperwork.

The scheme stretched from about December 2010 through June 2016.Advertisement

In all, Varzmanesh billed Medicaid $764,826 for numerous patients who had not been assessed by registered nurses and were therefore not eligible for the services provided.

From June 2011 through June 2016, she also collected $98,774 for respite care services that were provided ineligible Medicaid recipients. Some of the patients lived in group homes with other P&S clients.

“This was systemic and routine over a period of years, not a onetime transgression,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Yusi wrote in court documents, arguing Varzmanesh was motivated by greed.

“Varzmanesh wanted money to support her lavish lifestyle, which included travel for her family and beauty and nail salons,” she said.

Defense attorney Trey Kelleter described his client as a “compassionate friend and mentor who has devoted herself to the care of others, both in her profession as a nurse and as a daughter who has shouldered, with love, the responsibility for taking care of her physically and mentally disabled mother.” He said she lives with her mother in a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment and works during the day when an aide is available to visit with her mother.

Providing the court several letters from family, friends and the loved ones of former patients, Kelleter asked the court to show his client mercy.

While federal sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of at least 2½ years, he explained that was largely because they are based on the fraud’s gross proceeds. And that, he said, gives the world an out sized view of the crime at hand.

“A thief who takes $860,000 in cash from an account solely for personal gain receives the same points as Ms. Varzmanesh, who skirted eligibility requirements but whose business nonetheless provided actual services that benefited dozens and dozens of patients,” Kelleter said in court documents.

He described those services as “needed” and “life-enhancing.”

The argument swayed U.S. District Judge Henry C. Morgan Jr., who ultimately handed down the reduced sentence.

Sometimes these health care professionals partner with people in your very own community to commit their acts of fraud. These people could be your “friends”, neighbors or even “family”. Would you recognize health care fraud when you see it? What does it look like? What should you do when you see it? Sometimes health care fraud results in poor health out comes (where patients health deteriorates) and even death often costing the tax payers unspeakable amounts of money. Where is their mercy?

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Memphis woman sentenced in health care fraud case, charged in Paycheck Protection Program scheme

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Source: By
Staff| November 9, 2020 at 4:01 PM CST – Updated November 9 at 4:03 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – A 27-year-old Memphis woman has been sentenced for health care fraud and is also facing new charges for her involvement in a Paycheck Protection Program loan scheme.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee says Princess Terry is set to spend 65 months in federal prison for healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft while also facing new charges for wire fraud and making a false statement in connection with a loan application.

Terry owned and operated a home health care service called Caring Heart Memphis which provided services to elderly patients like in-home aides, nursing and physical and occupational therapy.

In the statement below, the U.S. Attorney’s Office describes the details of the crime:

“Between approximately January 1, 2016, and June 27, 2019, Terry submitted over $2 million in fraudulent billing to Humana, a private health insurance provider, for services that were not actually rendered. Terry’s fraudulent billing practices included numerous instances of billing for home health services on days when patients were actually hospitalized, billing for services in excess of 24 hours in a given day for the same patient, and billing for services purportedly rendered after the patient was deceased.”

Officials say Terry also committed identity theft by forging patient’s signatures without their knowledge or consent on forms describing services that were not performed.

In May 2020, Terry allegedly told the Small Business Association and two other financial organizations that Caring Hearts Memphis was still in business even though it had been non-operational with no employees since 2017.

She was able to obtain $290,000 in loan funds from the Paycheck Protection Program which was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help small businesses fulfill payroll obligations and remain in business.

The new charges are expected to be presented to a grand jury at a later date.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.

Often third party companies and organizations assist with health care fraud submitting information to insurance companies and government agencies in hopes of a payday. Those committing fraud often do so without the consent, knowledge nor authorization of supposed patients often signing their name, as stated above.

Would you recognize health care fraud if you saw it? What does it look like? What should you do?

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Ask E. Jean: My ER Doctor Is Stalking Me

But I’m too nice to confront him about it?

Source: Elle


Dear E. Jean: When I visited the ER—I’d sprained my wrist—the doctor and I seemed to feel a genuine connection and spark. He was in his early thirties, good-looking, professional; I assumed he was involved with someone. But he seemed nervous (I was too!), and when he asked if I had a boyfriend, I was so flustered, I just said, “Yes,” but I didn’t.

Fast-forward a couple of years. I’ve recently discovered that I’ve been followed by several private investigators hired by the doctor. (I was informed of this by one of them, who didn’t seem to like the doctor much.) I then hired my own investigator (I went to police but they were no help), and it turns out the doctor has set up private investigators as tenants in the townhouse across from mine that was for rent, and he’s ordered me to be videotaped going in and out!

The police say that hiring PIs is legal and photographing private citizens in public is okay. The doctor seemed so nice, so “normal.” However, what he’s done and is still doing is not normal! We did seem to like each other, but I’m too nice a person and I’m afraid to confront him and tell him to stop. I imagine he’ll deny everything. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been told my beauty is intimidating to guys. Is he so fearful of rejection that this is all he could think to do? —No Exit From the ER

Miss No Exit: Your wits, temporarily, no doubt, my luv, have deserted you. Dr. Nervous is bankrolling a pack of private dicks to tail you (and planning God only knows what further abominations), and you, Miss “Nice Person,” are writing to Auntie Eeee because you’re worried that you may be “intimidating” to him?

I admire your sangfroid, but this crawling, skulking, spying, townhouse-renting, chicken-livered, dangerous little quack should be in jail.

Hire a lawyer specializing in—here comes a brain mangler—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In these bizarre times, when Uncle Sam is hacking your calls, texts, emails, packages, etc., one mighty fortress of privacy remains in America: your health information. And when your lawyer informs the hospital and its bloated band of legists that this doc, using private information that you provided in the ER, is paying PIs to have you followed and videotaped, they will (to employ a medical term) totally freak.

You may file the complaint yourself, using this link: But you’re such a romantic (“We did seem to like each other,” etc.) and so sweet tempered (“Is he so fearful of rejection?”) that I think it’s wise to have a warrioress lawyer at your side who will have a restraining order issued against Dr. Good-Looking if he dares flick an eyelash in your direction. You must gather proof that the doc is paying to have you followed and make vigorous arrangements for your own safety, and please think twice before allowing your lawyer to shellac the hospital for excessive damages—or we will all foot the bill with higher insurance costs.

So much for the advice portion of this answer. Now. A word in your shell-like ear: That twaddle that you’ve been told you intimidate guys?? Come on. Every female is told she intimidates men. It’s total crap. If women intimidated men, we’d be heading 100 percent of the Fortune 500 companies (instead of 4 percent of them). The truth is, we are not intimidating men enough.

Good luck. Let me know how you are doing.

This letter is from the E. Jean archive.

Would you recognize unethical health care practices if you saw them? What do they look like? What should one do?

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Two Women Sentenced for Roles in Health Care Fraud

Source: Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Virginia

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Medicaid overbilled approximately $2.4 million

NORFOLK, Va. – Lisa Marie Barrett, age 50, of Norfolk, and Jaqueline J. Harris, age 34, of Portsmouth, were both sentenced yesterday for their roles in a massive Medicaid fraud conspiracy.  Ms. Barrett was sentenced to serve a term of 96 months in prison, followed by a three-year term of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $126,126 in restitution to the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services.  Ms. Harris was sentenced to serve 60 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $237,570 in restitution. 

Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mark R. Herring, Virginia Attorney General; John S. Adams, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Norfolk Field Office; Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C. Field Office; Thomas J. Kelley, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Steven Anderson, Special Agent in Charge for the Washington Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General-Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, made the announcement after sentencing by United States Chief District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.

Barrett pleaded guilty on December 1, 2014, to one charge each of health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, and perjury.  According to court documents, Barrett worked for Progressive Counseling Services, LLC, as a qualified mental health professional responsible for providing mental health support services to Medicaid-eligible clients who purportedly suffered from severe psychiatric limitations.  In reality, not only was Barrett not qualified to provide such services, she signed false progress notes in order to support reimbursement claims to Medicaid.  Barrett signed progress notes that listed dates, times, and locations that conflicted with other progress notes, that consisted entirely of material copied verbatim from articles available on the Internet, and that contained descriptions of counseling sessions that were identical to the descriptions provided in other progress notes submitted by other counselors.  Additionally, Barrett signed multiple notes that detailed counseling sessions that purportedly occurred while she was working as a parking attendant at a City of Norfolk parking garage.  In total, Barrett personally signed 639 of these progress notes causing Medicaid to reimburse Progressive approximately $126,126.

Harris pleaded guilty on December 2, 2014, to one charge of health care fraud and one charge of perjury.   According to court documents Harris was also not qualified to provide mental health support services, and signed fraudulent progress notes used in support of Medicaid billing.  Harris personally signed 1,305 false and fraudulent progress notes, causing Medicaid to reimburse Progressive $237,570.  The overwhelming majority of progress notes detailed meetings that never occurred.  On the few instances when Harris actually met with clients, she merely drove them to appointments and on errands, provided transportation to their family members, and had them sign blank time sheets, which were then used to back up her false and fraudulent progress notes. 

The total amount Medicaid overbilled Progressive as a result of all of its activities was approximately $2,483,752.00, according to the court documents.

In addition to their roles in Progressive’s Medicaid fraud conspiracy, Barrett and Harris also testified falsely under oath before the federal grand jury investigating Progressive’s Medicaid fraud conspiracy.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations’ Norfolk Field Office, U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General-Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph L. Kosky and V. Kathleen Dougherty are prosecuting the case for the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:14-cr-137.

Would you recognize health care fraud if you saw it? What does it look like? What should you do?

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Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 9.4.2

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Source: American Medical Association
Medicine has a long tradition of self-regulation, based on physicians’ enduring commitment to safeguard the welfare of patients and the trust of the public. The obligation to report incompetent or unethical conduct that may put patients at risk is recognized in both the ethical standards of the profession and in law and physicians should be able to report such conduct without fear or loss of favor.

CME course: Physician wellness & professional conduct

This e-learning module will help physicians identify and understand their ethical obligations to maintain their own wellness and help fellow colleagues who may be impaired.Go to Course

Reporting a colleague who is incompetent or who engages in unethical behavior is intended not only to protect patients, but also to help ensure that colleagues receive appropriate assistance from a physician health program or other service to be able to practice safely and ethically. Physicians must not submit false or malicious reports.

Physicians who become aware of or strongly suspect that conduct threatens patient welfare or otherwise appears to violate ethical or legal standards should:

(a) Report the conduct to appropriate clinical authorities in the first instance so that the possible impact on patient welfare can be assessed and remedial action taken. This should include notifying the peer review body of the hospital, or the local or state medical society when the physician of concern does not have hospital privileges.

(b) Report directly to the state licensing board when the conduct in question poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of patients or violates state licensing provisions.

(c) Report to a higher authority if the conduct continues unchanged despite initial reporting.

(d) Protect the privacy of any patients who may be involved to the greatest extent possible, consistent with due process.

(e) Report the suspected violation to appropriate authorities.

Physicians who receive reports of alleged incompetent or unethical conduct should:

(f) Evaluate the reported information critically and objectively.

(g) Hold the matter in confidence until it is resolved.

(h) Ensure that identified deficiencies are remedied or reported to other appropriate authorities for action.

(i) Notify the reporting physician when appropriate action has been taken, except in cases of anonymous reporting.

AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: II

Would you recognize health care fraud if you see it? What are the consequences of health care fraud? What are the impacts to patients when health care fraud goes unreported?

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Feds: Doctor in Virginia performed unneeded surgeries on women in fraud scheme

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By WTKR StaffPublished: Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:28 AM EDT
Source: WTKR via CNN

NORFOLK, VA (WTKR) – A Virginia doctor is on trial accused of performing hysterectomies on dozens of women who did not need them.

On Wednesday, the jury was seated in the federal case against Dr. Javaid Perwaiz. He is facing 62 charges of healthcare fraud, making false statements and aggravated identity theft.

In opening statements, U.S. attorneys laid out their case. Prosecutors said Perwaiz performed unnecessary surgeries on women, falsified sterilization consent forms and induced early labor over a nine-year-period.

Prosecutors say at least three dozen women were coerced into getting irreversible invasive surgeries like hysterectomies, or being induced early so Perwaiz could bill insurance companies in a scheme to get more cash payouts.

Perwaiz denies the allegations. His trial is expected to last five weeks.

WTKR via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.

Would you recognize health care fraud if you saw it? What should you do? Why?

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