At debate, San Antonio U.S. Rep. Chip Roy cites document signed by — giggle — Dr. I.P. Freely

click to enlarge Former Texas Sen. Wendy Davis (left) and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy - Twitter / @wenddavis (left); Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore (right)
Twitter / @wenddavis (left); Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore (right)
Former Texas Sen. Wendy Davis (left) and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, freshman U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-San Antonio-Austin, has repeatedly said he supports herd immunity, a controversial theory widely denounced as dangerous by public health experts.

In defense of his position during a recent televised debate with Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, Roy talked up “The Great Barrington Declaration,” a petition that advocates everyone but the most medically frail resume normal life to build widespread immunity to COVID-19.

Proponents of the widely circulated petition sponsored by a libertarian think tank point to its signatures by 15,000 purported scientists and medical practitioners as evidence of widespread support.

Turns out, eh, maybe not so much. 

An investigation by Britain's Sky News turned up dozens of fake names on the list of medical signatories, among them Drs. I.P. Freely, Person Fakename and Johnny Bananas. Another signed as Dr. Harold Shipman, which also happens to be the name of a U.K. general practitioner who killed 200 patients before being arrested in the late '90s.

Beyond the giggle-worthy fake names, Sky uncovered plenty of other reasons to question the document's amount of legitimate scientific support. Among those:
  • 18 of people listed as medical practitioners are self-declared homeopaths, or unlicensed healers who believe the body can repair itself with the help of plants and folk remedies.
  • Among the 100 "therapists" who signed are massage artists, hypnotherapists, psychotherapists and a Mongolian singer who purports to be a "therapeutic sound practitioner".
Naturally, Davis' campaign couldn't resist getting in a post-debate potshot at Roy, who this summer told a right-wing talk show host Democrats were overplaying the crisis for political gain and that "on November 4, there'll be a magic awakening on how we suddenly beat the virus."

“Congressman Chip Roy has spent his time during the pandemic downplaying the risk of COVID-19, spreading misinformation and raising the profile of dangerous, fringe conspiracy theories,” Davis campaign manager Rebecca Lipson said in an emailed statement. “Congressman Roy’s fringe beliefs, coziness with conspiracy theories, and inability to listen to the experts has risked  lives and livelihoods."

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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