Medicine regulator writes to Grant Broadcasters over misleading COVID-19 messages

Former politician Clive Palmer (pictured) has funded the ads 

The regulatory body for Australia’s medicines, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has weighed in on the mounting controversy surrounding Clive Palmer’s anti-vaccination ads which were given a spin on radio over the past week.

As first reported by Radio Today, the ads caught consumer attention over the weekend after running across a number of Grant Broadcasters stations in Queensland.

The ads don’t appear to have a specific call-to-action, however do cast doubt over the COVID-19 vaccine and provide claims about vaccine-related deaths which have been debunked.

The audio, which can be heard below, says: “Australia has had one COVID-19 associated death in 2021. But the TGA reports that there’s been 210 deaths and over 24,000 adverse reactions after COVID vaccinations. Authorised by Clive Palmer, Brisbane.”

Both the ABC and the TGA have previously dismissed the claim that COVID-19 vaccinations directly caused 210 deaths. Instead, one death, in April this year, has been linked to the jab.

And now, in response to mounting concerns and complaints, the Government body issued a statement saying it is “seriously concerned” about the misleading information within the ads which “provides an incorrect picture of the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations”.

“Such misinformation, in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, poses an unacceptable threat to the health of Australians. COVID-19 has resulted in the deaths of over 3.7 million people worldwide including over 900 deaths in Australia,” the statement explains.

The TGA said it had taken up its concerns with both one-time politician Palmer and Grant Broadcasters, which ran the ads.

“Public figures have a responsibility to be factual and to not to undermine our health through spreading misleading information. The head of the TGA, Adjunct Professor John Skerritt has written to both Mr Palmer and the CEO of the Grant Broadcasters Radio network to remind them of this responsibility,” a statement from the TGA said.

Radio Today has on multiple occasions attempted to get clarification from Grant Broadcasters over its responsibilities in airing the ads and sought a response on the TGA’s warning, but has not had a response.

Industry bodies Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) and Ad Standards have both said the ads are outside their remit as they are “political”.

The full TGA statement can be read below.

TGA statement

Misleading radio messages about COVID-19 vaccine safety

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is seriously concerned about misleading information, authorised by Mr Clive Palmer that has recently been broadcast on radio stations in the Grant Broadcasters Radio network and which provides an incorrect picture of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

The TGA investigates reported adverse events and has found only one case where an individual with vaccine related thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) or any other related condition has passed away.

Sadly, about 160,000 people die in Australia every year – almost 3000 each week – and therefore it is quite expected that there have been some deaths reported within days or a few weeks of vaccination.

All deaths and serious illnesses that are reported as possibly being linked to vaccination are reviewed by an expert team of clinical staff and advice is obtained on particular cases from a panel of external medical specialists and community representatives.

Analysis includes comparing expected natural death rates to observed death rates following immunisation as well as in depth reviews of the patient histories. The TGA is open and transparent about adverse events reported, by publishing the weekly report and through the Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN), which makes individual adverse events publicly available online 90 days after reporting.

Such misinformation, in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, poses an unacceptable threat to the health of Australians. COVID-19 has resulted in the deaths of over 3.7 million people worldwide including over 900 deaths in Australia.

Health professionals and consumers can report suspected adverse events following immunisation directly to the TGA, or to public health units in their state or territory. In some states, it is mandatory for health professionals to report adverse events. The TGA encourages health professionals to report even if they are not sure that the vaccine caused an adverse event.

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases such as COVID-19. When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and helping to protect the wider community.

Public figures have a responsibility to be factual and to not to undermine our health through spreading misleading information. The head of the TGA, Adjunct Professor John Skerritt has written to both Mr Palmer and the CEO of the Grant Broadcasters Radio network to remind them of this responsibility.

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Insert eye roll here
9 Jun 2021 - 9:44 am

Just because Clive paid for them and tacked on ‘authorised by’ at the end does not make them ‘political’. It’s disinformation pure and simple.

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