Protester carries a banner against vaccines and confinement at a demonstration on April 20 to call for an end to restrictions for the coronavirus in North Carolina

Anti-vaccines, identified as a new threat to national security in the US

FBI-related investigators warned months ago of the public health risk that may be posed by those who refuse vaccination.

The anti-vaccine movement in the United States is a threat to national security in the event of a “pandemic stemming from an unknown organism.” This was warned months before the coronavirus crisis broke out by an American organization dedicated to research that collaborates with the FBI.

This is a text published in the internal bulletin of InfraGard, a relatively little-known organization specialized in national security and connected to the FBI, and signed by Christine Sublett, a cybersecurity consultant and specialized in the health industry, and Mark Jarrett, a Doctor with years of experience and Chief Quality Officer, Vice President and Associate Chief Medical Officer for Northwell Healthtrabaja, New York State’s largest hospital network. Both warn that “the greatest threat when it comes to controlling a virus comes from those who categorically reject vaccination” with “disinformation campaigns on social networks and propaganda” that respond to the pattern of Russian intoxication.

Since Covid-19 began hitting the United States,  some anti-vaccine activists and some political representatives who sympathize with them have participated in protests against confinement orders to slow down the spread of a virus that has already claimed more than 56,000 in the United States lives.

Under the title The Anti-Vaccine Movement and National Security, it presents a pandemic scenario quite similar to the one that affects the United States and the rest of the world today and includes extremes such as “social distance and isolation generate an impact that includes the decrease in the production of goods, food supply and other problems in the logistics chain. ” He then moves on to the anti-vaccine movement and argues that sufficient resistance to vaccination would limit the chances of achieving community immunity against a highly infectious pathogen.

He also claims that these movements have received momentum in recent years because they are aligned with “other conspiracy theories including the extreme right, disinformation by social networks and the propaganda campaigns of both internal and external actors. These include the Internet Research Agency, an organization linked to the Russian government. “

On its website, Infragard says it is a “non-profit organization linked to the FBI and that aims to strengthen national security” with the mission of protecting “America’s fundamental infrastructure.” He explains that it consists of local sections and that “one FBI special agent from each field office is assigned the task of acting as a coordinator with the private sector.”

Divergence of opinion on the article

Ben Harris-Roxas, a public health expert at the University of New South Wales, corroborates the epidemiological argument of the article and explains that “doubts about vaccines represent a major threat, not only about the vaccine that can be developed before Covid- 19 but before measures that can support citizens and health services such as influenza vaccination campaigns. “

Other experts are concerned about what it means for an article to define a specific group as a threat to national security and to be published with the support of the FBI. Michael German, a Brennan Center investigator who was an FBI agent and leaked information in the past, says he is concerned about the possible unintended consequences that may result from that definition, which involves pouring out a threat against a particular group because of their beliefs, what It could influence political and legal decision making.

“Imagine a young police officer who wants to protect his community and do a good job, and suddenly they are told that anti-vaccines are Russian agents,” he says. German adds that “the lack of preparation and material the government has shown in responding to the pandemic has been a much more serious problem than a small group of anti-vaccine activists ever could be. But it is difficult to argue when it comes to defending that political decisions must be made based on scientific criteria “.

InfraGard has come under fire from civil rights groups because of its origins as a national security organization and its ties to the FBI. An FBI spokesperson states that “InfraGard is a non-profit organization that operates in a public-private alliance with companies, citizens and the FBI.”

The same spokesman adds that “it is important to distinguish between the statements, points of view and comments that FBI representatives make with those of InfraGard personnel,” and declines to comment further.

InfraGard magazine editor Dr Ryan Williams says in a phone conversation that his magazine is peer-reviewed, and in this case, he received additional oversight from the InfraGard Council involving FBI members with extensive experience and representatives of other organizations.

One of the authors, Dr Jarrett, explains that the article was inspired by the experience of a measles outbreak in early 2019 and that the current crisis corroborates what was predicted. “In the face of the current crisis,” he says, “if they find a vaccine and 15% of the population say that they do not want to receive it, that they do not believe in it, that it is going to cause harm, the collective immunity scale that will be you need to stop the process. “

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