Telegraph cartoonist pushes covid conspiracies

Bob Moran has become the darling of the covid deniers and anti-vaxxers, argues Sophia Dourou

A photo of a vaccination needle

A Telegraph political cartoonist is pushing dangerous anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and attacking the NHS. Bob Moran has become the darling of the covid denying and anti-vaxxer crowds by pushing increasingly outrageous polemics through his tweets.

According to Moran, had the media ignored the pandemic last March, ‘hardly anyone’ would have been aware of the virus presence. In that scenario, there would have been just a ‘couple of headlines’ of about 50 to 60,000 a elderly people dying of a new virus strain and we would have not ‘surrendered to dictatorship’.

Of course, this libertarian fantasy ignores that the tragic number of deaths we are dealing with is with interventions — the timings and implementation of which are a whole other debate. And while the death toll is actually far higher and not limited to the elderly, dismissing even ‘just’ tens of thousands of eldery deaths to a ‘couple of headlines feels very callous.

Beyond just being another advocate for the Swedish laissez faire approach to the pandemic, Moran takes it a step further, writing ‘there is not, in fact, a genuine pandemic.’ He accuses the NHS of ‘lying’ for reasons that are unclear to anyone but Moran and his fellow travellers. 

Not just content with railing against the health service overall, he attacked a nurse tweeting about how ‘exhausting, stressful, and draining’ working through a pandemic. 

Moran wrote: “I agree. It is our responsibility to mark and remember every single person that they allowed to die. The young mothers.

“The middle-aged dads. The children with cancer. The newborn babies. Never let them forget how unforgivably evil they have been.

“And take back all the applause.”

When he’s not calling nurses evil to his 29,000 followers, Moran is raging against the dangers of the vaccine. In the seemingly ‘just asking questions’ manner of online ‘sea lioning’ enthusiasts, he ponders how many people the vaccine has killed, calling common side effects ‘not normal’ and even drawing parallels to the drug Thalidomede, which led to a birth defect crisis in the 1950s.

One thing one cannot accuse Moran of is being just a keyboard warrior, as by his own words he applies those theories in his life too. He tweeted: “Both my parents have decided not to have the vaccine. I’m very relieved.”

As Private Eye reported, Moran’s online antics have led to Telegraph journalists to complain to executives, telling them he is ‘undermining our reporting and maybe even endangering lives’. As the paper is running articles on how online misinformation is encouraging vaccine hesitancy, it seems like it’s speaking from bitter experience.

In response to this piece, Moran said: “I believe there is a novel coronavirus known as SARS CoV-2 which can end the lives of vulnerable people through acute respiratory infection. I have never denied the existence of this virus or the disease it causes.”

On whether he believes the NHS is lying, he said: “I have pointed out misleading information such as “Covid causes cancer” (Radio 5 Live, December 29 – the clip has since been deleted from Twitter) and “whole wards of children with Covid” (Radio 5 Live, Jan 1) which has been reported via NHS staff in the media.

“The NHS also continues to make unsubstantiated claims about the efficacy of lockdowns and potential for asymptomatic spread which I have called into question on numerous occasions.”

On Thalidomede, he said: “I have never directly compared the effects of mRNA vaccines to Thalidomide, and I strongly refute any such suggestion.

“I have pointed out the importance of keeping an open mind when questioning the safety of new pharmaceutical technology, and I used Thalidomide as an example of this importance.”

Sophia Dourou is a freelance journalist

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