YouTube has blocked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) from uploading videos for seven days over clips the platform said violated its COVID-19 “medical misinformation policies.”
The clips were taken from a June 3 appearance by Johnson at the Milwaukee Press Club in which the senator ripped the Trump and Biden administrations for “not only ignoring but working against robust research [on] the use of cheap, generic drugs to be repurposed for early treatment of COVID,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“It always baffled me that there was such a concerted effort to deny the American public the type of robust exploration research into early treatment early in this pandemic,” Johnson added before describing the drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as “incredibly safe.”
A YouTube spokesman told the Associated Press on Friday that clips of Johnson’s remarks were pulled from the popular video-sharing site “in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus.”
According to the policy, enacted in May 2020, “YouTube doesn’t allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19.” The policy specifically rules out posting content that “[c]laims that Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine are effective treatments for COVID-19.”
Hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, was heavily touted by then-President Donald Trump as a potential treatment for COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. Trump even told reporters in May 2020 he was taking the drug to avoid contracting the virus. However, studies have indicated the drug is ineffective at treating coronavirus and may cause adverse effects.
In December 2020, Johnson, then the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, held a hearing at which Dr. Pierre Kory, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, described ivermectin as a “wonder drug” with immensely powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents. However, there is no evidence that ivermectin — a drug used to treat parasitic works — is effective in treating COVID-19.
The Journal Sentinel reported that full video of Johnson’s appearance was pulled off the Milwaukee Press Club’s YouTube channel, despite assurances by club President Corri Hess that it would remain online.
Johnson blasted Google-owned YouTube in a statement Friday, saying his suspension showed big tech sites “have accumulated too much unaccountable power.
“Big Tech and mainstream media believe they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives,” he added. “They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies.”
On Thursday, Johnson stood by the treatments, claiming to reporters that “the NIH guidelines as it relates to treatment of COVID remains … to basically do nothing, go home, isolate yourself, be afraid, and if you just happen to get sick enough to where you have to check yourself in the hospital, check yourself in the hospital, [and] maybe we can save your life.”
“There is growing evidence — it’s not being reported on by the media,” Johnson claimed. “Mexico’s having great success with ivermectin. Certain provinces in India are having great success with ivermectin. Where’s reporting on that? … It’s not too late. Lives can be saved. We’re still going to need early treatment, no matter how effective a vaccine is, no matter how effective immunity from having been infected is, other people will get infected. Other people are gonna need early treatment.”