(CNN)At first glance, Charles Chamberlain’s letter to the editor of the Tampa Bay Times seems to praise Florida’s new surgeon general for his observation that the natural immunity that comes from being infected with Covid-19 provides “great protection” from the coronavirus.
“I am aware that he is correct because of a recent experience with a member of my family,” Chamberlain writes of the remark Dr. Joseph Ladapo made last week. “He had a severe infection from COVID-19. He is past that now and is completely immune — not only for COVID-19 but flu and other respiratory infections as well.”
Then comes the tragic twist: “Of course, we are burying this family member next week.”
Chamberlain’s letter swiftly gained attention on Twitter, where readers (at least those who actually read to the very end) applauded his message and empathized with his grim sense of sarcasm. But Chamberlain doesn’t pay attention to social media, so he was “kind of stunned” when a reporter from The Washington Post contacted him and told him about the online response.
“I think when you are addressing foolishness, you cannot respond with a serious argument. The only way you can make people aware of something that is ridiculous is through ridicule,” Chamberlain, 81, told CNN in an interview about his September 23 letter, submitted two days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Ladapo.
Chamberlain wrote the letter following the Covid-19 death of his son’s father-in-law this month, he said. The father-in-law was vaccinated and died from Covid-19, a family member confirmed to CNN.
Ladapo has expressed skepticism of Covid-19 health measures, including mask-wearing and vaccinations. He’s also among a group of doctors who have supported unproven and disproved therapies, including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
Chamberlain’s letter takes aim at Ladapo’s position on natural immunity and the protection it offers, which the doctor addressed in a September 21 news conference with the governor.
“You don’t need to go to medical school to look at the data and see that there’s really great protection” offered by getting infected with and recovering from Covid-19, Ladapo said. “There’s tremendous data that supports the fact that natural immunity protects people from getting very ill, also protects people from being infected again. So that’s what it is, and that’s great.”
Ladapo told reporters “vaccines are up to the person,” noting that they “prevent the risk of serious illness,” but “people get to make the choice about what they want to do with that information.”
Asked if the state should do more to promote vaccination, Ladapo told reporters the state should promote “good health, and vaccination isn’t the only path to that.”
Chamberlain acknowledged that natural immunity exists, but criticized Ladapo’s emphasis of it.
“To see a person who should give honest advice telling people you can be indifferent to everything we knew of medical practice, that is an absolute betrayal of public office,” he told CNN.
The Florida Department of Health has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment about Chamberlain’s letter.
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long recommended people who have been infected with the coronavir
After a family member died of Covid, a man’s sarcastic letter took aim at top Florida official
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