UF says no 'standing' to review Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo's COVID-19 guidance

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference in West Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. (Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

A group of University of Florida medical-school faculty members challenged controversial guidance by state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo on COVID-19 vaccinations, but a university official said Wednesday the guidance is outside the scope of Ladapo’s work with the school. 

Ladapo, who holds a faculty position in the university’s College of Medicine, was tapped in September 2021 by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve as surgeon general and secretary of the Florida Department of Health. Ladapo has become a controversial national figure because of his positions on issues such as COVID-19 vaccines and mask requirements. 

In October, Ladapo issued guidance advising males ages 18 through 39 to avoid getting shots with COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. The Department of Health published an analysis that showed an increase "in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death" among males in that age group roughly a month after receiving the shots. 


The report by the UF College of Medicine’s Faculty Council Committee, first reported by The Washington Post, was shared with medical-school faculty Tuesday. It outlined seven "major critiques" of Ladapo’s vaccine guidance.

Among the critiques was an assertion that Ladapo’s analysis committed "reporting bias by cherry-picking results; focusing only on evidence that supports his stance, ignoring contradicting evidence, and failing to appropriately acknowledge the limitations of his own data set." 

The committee said it has "concerns" that Ladapo violated UF’s research integrity policy and that the issue had been referred to the school’s research integrity officer. But David Norton, vice president for research at the university, said in a statement Wednesday that UF’s research integrity office has "no standing" to look into the committee’s accusations. 

"As this work was done by the Dr. Joseph Ladapo in his role as the state of Florida Surgeon General and not in his role as a UF faculty member, the UF Office of Research Integrity, Security and Compliance has no standing to consider the allegations or concerns regarding research integrity set forth in the Faculty Council task force report," Norton said.