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How a doctor who questioned the safety of vaccines ended up as DeSantis' surgeon general nominee

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Ron DeSantisWikimedia Commons

On paper, Gov. Ron DeSantis' choice for Florida's next surgeon general, Joseph A. Ladapo, appears to be a good fit. He received his medical and PhD degrees from Harvard University, and he has taught at major universities such as New York University and UCLA.

However, public health professionals and several Florida legislators have raised serious concerns about Ladapo. Some claim he lacks public health policy experience. Others refer to Ladapo's concerns about the safety of Covid-19 vaccinations as well as the efficacy of lockdowns and mask regulations. He has also aroused eyebrows for his support of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria medicine touted by former President Donald Trump as a coronavirus cure. The FDA eventually revoked the use's emergency authorisation.

DeSantis' appointment of Ladapo provides the Republican governor with a health adviser who shares his views on the pandemic. DeSantis is a vocal opponent of face mask mandates, particularly in schools, and has advocated for the use of monoclonal antibody treatments to treat the virus while downplaying the need of immunizations. The 42-year-old Ladapo still needs to be formally approved by the GOP-controlled Florida Senate, but he is likely to be easily confirmed.

Ladapo will manage the Florida Department of Health, which is the state's principal agency in the fight against Covid-19, as surgeon general. His future actions could aid in the containment of the coronavirus, particularly in the event of further outbreaks. The Delta variety plagued Florida last summer, causing an increase in infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

Ladapo issued an emergency regulation repealing mandatory quarantines for schoolchildren exposed to Covid-19 on his de facto first day on the job for which he's already experiencing a backlash.

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