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US Marcus Lamb, founder of Christian network Daystar and vaccine opponent, dies after contracting COVID-19

21:13  01 december  2021
21:13  01 december  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Marcus Lamb, head of Christian network Daystar who has been a vocal opponent of the coronavirus vaccine, has died of COVID-19, his family announced.

The conservative Christian Daystar Television Network announced his death Tuesday on Twitter, saying the Network's founder "went home to be with the Lord this morning." His wife, Joni, confirmed on the network his coronavirus diagnoses and that he had "pre-existing conditions" including diabetes. He was 64, she said.

One of the two largest Christian television networks in the world, Daystar has over 70 stations reaching 100 million U.S. households nationwide and 680 million households across over 200 countries, according to the network's website. The network is based in Bedford, Texas.

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Daystar has broadcast segments and published information online that features misinformation about the virus, vaccines and unproven treatments for COVID-19.

Marcus Lamb had encouraged unapproved treatments for COVID-19, including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. He called ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that federal health officials have not approved for treating the virus, a "miracle drug." The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health have warned Americans against using the drug to treat COVID-19.

A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. on Jan. 21, 2021. © Jae C. Hong, AP A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. on Jan. 21, 2021.

Joni Lamb said they were trying to treat the virus "with the different protocols we use, including the ones we talk about on Daystar."

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About a week before Lamb's death, his son, Jonathan, said on a Nov. 23 broadcast that he believed his dad's illness was a "spiritual attack from the enemy" in order to "take down" his dad.

It's unclear if Lamb was vaccinated. Arnold Torres, a spokesperson for Daystar, confirmed Lamb's death in a statement to USA TODAY but did not comment on his vaccination status.

"He will always be remembered for his fierce love of God, people, and his family," the statement said.

Joining the broadcast from the hospital, Joni Lamb asked viewers to pray for her husband's "lungs to clear" and "his oxygen levels to continue to be strong."

The Lamb family and Daystar have made controversial statements about the pandemic and promoted misinformation about the virus and vaccines. The network hosted prominent anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose Instagram account was removed for sharing debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

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Daystar's website also peddles a host of misinformation about vaccines, urging readers to rethink getting vaccinated and raising concerns about vaccine mandates. For one episode, titled "A Hidden Crisis," the Daystar website says, "What if the most dangerous thing your child could face in life is the very thing you’re told by your doctor is safe?"

Vaccines remain the safest and most effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Meanwhile, amid mounting concerns over the omicron variant, the CDC is encouraging Americans to get their booster shots as soon as possible.

White evangelical Christians have resisted COVID-19 vaccines at higher rates than other U.S. religious groups and report greater vaccine hesitancy. Experts point to a mistrust of government and mainstream science, fed by online conspiracy theories, as reason behind the group's distrust of vaccines.

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Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Marcus Lamb, founder of Christian network Daystar and vaccine opponent, dies after contracting COVID-19

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