- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2021

YouTube said it was wrong to take down a video of a speech by Rep. Darrell Issa in which he disparaged Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine program. 

The Google-owned YouTube acknowledged its mistake and said it reinstated the video, though the video still isn’t available because the original uploader has deleted it.

Mr. Issa’s speech was delivered at the EDGE 2021 conference in July. In the speech, he said of the Sputnik vaccine that Russia wasn’t “first with the vaccine and it doesn’t work as well but for Russia.”

YouTube did not say why the video was removed.

“We sometimes make mistakes, and when flagged we work as quickly as possible to address it,” YouTube said in a statement to The Washington Times.

Mr. Issa was not responsible for uploading the video. He learned of the video’s removal from the conference’s team earlier this week, according to a spokesman for the California Republican.

“In my now-censored speech, I pointed out that Russia’s vaccine program was inferior to Operation Warp Speed,” Mr. Issa tweeted. “And the Russians repeatedly exaggerated their vaccine’s effectiveness every time another country launched a better one. Is any free speech on vaccines allowed?”

Tech platforms like YouTube use a combination of humans and computer programs to enforce rules on their platforms. YouTube says it has more than 2 billion monthly active users and people watch more than a billion hours of video on YouTube every day. 

Before YouTube’s acknowledged error, Mr. Issa’s spokesman said YouTube’s actions against conservatives’ content showed it has a political bias. 

Mr. Issa’s speech at the conference is still visible elsewhere online, including on Vimeo. 

During the speech, Mr. Issa advocated for the federal government to help workers catch up to the competition in other countries like China, and he ribbed Russia

“This is like when Sputnik went up,” said Mr. Issa in the speech. “Oddly enough, you know, Russians called their vaccine Sputnik, which I thought was interesting because they were not first with the vaccine and it doesn’t work as well but for Russia, Sputnik is still their pride. But like Sputnik, we are behind our competition.”

Mr. Issa’s jab at Russia is a reference to the space race of the last century and the Soviet Union’s launch of the first satellite Sputnik in 1957, which the U.S. government has claimed caught it by surprise but some historians have disputed that claim. 

Russia also developed a vaccine for COVID-19 bearing the “Sputnik” name, but some outside of Russia have withheld judgment regarding its effectiveness. Last month, the World Health Organization told Reuters it was still assessing the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. 

Operation Warp Speed, by contrast, was a project of former President Donald Trump’s administration to spur the quick development of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19 by the private sector.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Rep. Darrell Issa‘s name in the headline.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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