New York Times Investigation Finds People Injured by COVID Vaccines Are Being 'Ignored'

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Originally published on by Brenda Baletti, Ph.D.

After years of reporting on news about vaccine injuries as "misinformation" and "conspiracy theory," The New York Times today reported that "thousands" may have been injured by the COVID-19 vaccines -- but ran accompanying articles declaring the shots safe and life-saving.

The New York Times today reported that COVID-19 vaccine injuries exist and that vaccine-injured people have been ignored. Those findings resulted from a yearlong investigation into the issue, the paper said.

After years of labeling commentary, articles and even search engine queries about vaccine injuries as misinformationconspiracy theory, and "far-right," lambasting social media companies for allowing vaccine injury stories on their platforms and even ridiculing a family whose children died from the vaccine, the Times conceded that "thousands" may have been injured by the COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the headline, "Thousands Believe Covid Vaccines Harmed Them. Is Anyone Listening?" Times reporter Apoorva Mandavilli reported that the injuries aren't unexpected because "all vaccines have at least occasional side effects."

The article featured several vaccine-injured people, reporting on their medical issues and the "disbelief and ambivalence" they encountered from doctors and the media.

The Times also published two commentaries related to the investigative feature. One, by Mandavilli, summarized key takeaways from the investigation and the other, by David Leonhardt for "The Morning Newsletter," reassured readers about the safety of the vaccines and downplayed the injuries.

The Times' coverage is "better late than never," Children's Health Defense (CHD) CEO Mary Holland told The Defender. "The mainstream media, including The New York Times, is finally -- three-and-a-half years late -- acknowledging the devastating harm from the COVID shots," she said.

"Their only redemption will be to cover this issue seriously now and to seek to hold those accountable who knowingly pushed extraordinarily dangerous, experimental products onto the whole global community," Holland said.

The feature story included interviews with vaccine-injured doctors, nurses and researchers, like Dr. Gregory Poland, editor-in-chief of Vaccine, who said he could not get his colleagues to investigate his injury.

It also told the story of Michelle Zimmerman, Ph.D., a neuroscientist who experienced brain damage from the vaccine.

Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D., a vaccine researcher at Yale University, told the Times that people with post-vaccination injuries are "just completely ignored and dismissed and gaslighted."

Dr. Janet Woodcock, former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told the Times she believed that some of the vaccine-injured did in fact experience effects that were "serious" and "life-changing" beyond those officially recognized by federal agencies.

"I'm disappointed in myself," she added. "I did a lot of things I feel very good about, but this is one of the few things I feel I just didn't bring it home."

The article also quoted other unnamed public health officials saying that the side effects -- tinnitus, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, Bell's palsy and others described in the article did not result from the vaccine. And it suggested that at least one of the injuries it profiled likely came from a "contaminated" vaccine batch.

Federal agencies may not identify all safety issues associated with a vaccine through their surveillance, the article conceded.

It also discussed the challenges faced by people seeking compensation through the federal Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, which has compensated only 12 people for COVID-19 vaccine injuries since the pandemic began.

The article and the accompanying pieces reiterated the mainstream COVID-19 vaccine talking points that such injuries were rare -- likely only among thousands of people -- and that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks "for most people."

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data show 1,637,441 reports of adverse events following COVID-19 vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and April 26, 2024. The data includes a total of 37,061 reports of deaths.

Shifting the 'Overton Window'?

The articles are part of a shift in mainstream media coverage that has begun to acknowledge some limitations to the COVID-19 narrative that has dominated the mainstream media since the onset of the pandemic.

Dr. Pierre Kory, who has published recent op-eds in mainstream outlets said this week on "The Defender In-Depth" podcast that he thought the "Overton Window" was shifting because injuries and deaths following vaccination have become so widespread that mainstream media can no longer ignore them.

Kory has published op-eds in USA TodayNewsweekThe HillTrialSite News and The Washington Times, he said, seeking to "bring forth a discussion of caution around these [COVID-19] vaccines."

"We had to be very careful [when] approaching mainstream outlets to try to engender this discussion," Kory said.

Brianne Dressen, who was injured by the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine during a clinical trial, told The Defender that she wasn't surprised that the Times emphasized the alleged success of the vaccine program in an article about vaccine injuries.

"A few mainstream outlets are beginning to take a peek behind the curtain, albeit it is happening through a painstaking process of editors and lawyers to verify each and every word of copy," she said. "Of course they cannot possibly write about injuries without hailing the great success of the COVID vaccine program."

Dressen, founder of React19, a nonprofit organization advocating for vaccine injury victims, said the article was more honest than she expected, adding that:

"The sad reality is that these are the hardest pieces for these reporters to make it to print. For every mainstream piece, there are dozens of other articles that never make it to print. For several of these articles, the injured spend years working with reporters.

"This is a painstaking process but necessary if we are going to get the majority of the country to talk about this. The injured that end up in these articles are pretty brave. They don't know how these articles are going to be spun or twisted. Will it hurt the injured community? Or help the injured community? It's impossible to know.

"Is it because it's not newsworthy? Certainly no.

"Now is the time for the injured to reach out to their local and national news outlets. Now is the time to speak out loud and forcefully: We are real, we need recognition, we need compensation."

Times makes some concessions, but perpetuates false narrative, researchers say 

Leonhardt's article said the vaccine injury subject is "uncomfortable" to read and write about because "it feeds into false stories about the COVID vaccines that many Americans have come to believe."

He cited Robert F. Kennedy Jr., independent presidential candidate and CHD's chairman on leave as a primary source for this "misinformation," the scale of which is "staggering" he wrote, quoting Dr. Joshua Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins University.

To avoid any misinterpretation of the feature article -- which he encouraged readers to check out -- he clarified the takeaway in a summary statement:

"The benefits of the Covid vaccines have far outweighed the downsides, according to a voluminous amount of data and scientific studies from around the world. In the U.S. alone, the vaccines have saved at least several hundred thousand lives and perhaps more than one million, studies estimate.

"Rates of death, hospitalization and serious illness have all been much higher among the unvaccinated than the vaccinated."

He added, "Not only are the vaccines' benefits enormous, but the true toll of the side effects may be lower than the perceived toll," because people suffer "mysterious ailments" all of the time and may be incorrectly associating those with the vaccine.

Data scientist and immunology researcher Jessica Rose, Ph.D., disagreed.

She told The Defender that in her research, she has been unable to locate any case or published study "where there are no conflicts of interest involved," supporting the claim that COVID-19 injectable products saved lives.

All-cause mortality researcher Denis Rancourt, Ph.D., told The Defender, "The claims that vaccines saved lives are vast and groundless exaggerations, modeling fantasies," as his research has shown.

Rose added the claim that rates of death, hospitalization and serious illness were higher among the unvaccinated -- which Leonhardt presented with no citation at all -- is false.

She also said the Times' admission of harms associated with the COVID-19 injectable products after years of mandated rollouts, "is a stark indication of just how bad the problem of injection injuries really is in the context of these products, in my opinion."

She added:

"Anyone who has looked at a pharmacovigilance database can see immediately that there is disproportionate reporting of hospitalizations, serious illness and death, when comparing the COVID-19 products with all vaccines combined, going back 30 years (in the case of VAERS).

"This pattern is also seen in the EudraVigilance database. It is absolutely evident that millions of people are suffering at the hands of the COVID-19 injectable products.

"Even if one does not delve into pharmacovigilance databases to obtain a clear picture of the 'anomalies', it is enough to just listen to what the people are saying."

Many of the comments in the comments section of the feature article come from people sharing their own vaccine injuries.

M. Nathaniel Mead, public health research scientist and lead author of the "Lessons Learned" paper summarizing issues with the COVID-19 shots, told The Defender that while the article did "a good job commenting on the human side to the COVID-19 vaccine harms," IT was "heavily biased in favor of the COVID-19 modified mRNA injectables."

"The sources they cite in the article for the claims of millions of deaths and hospitalizations prevented are just government website reports, not primary sources from valid peer-reviewed studies," he said. "When you have once esteemed publications like the Times completely whitewashing what the published science has shown, you continue to perpetuate misinformation on a massive scale."

Mead added:

"The author points out the challenges posed by the lack of a centralized repository for vaccine recipient and medical records, but then repeatedly echoes official assertions that adverse reactions are exceedingly rare and emphasizes the millions of lives purportedly saved by injections.

"Paradoxically, these claims appear to be based on databases that, according to Mandavilli's initial assertion, do not exist for tracking vaccine injuries."

He added that the article, "completely sidesteps the critical issues of cancer, autoimmune disease, immune dysfunction, and excess deaths, conveniently failing to mention the various relevant analyses."

"The public deserves to know about the true harms caused by these gene-based drugs that are being called vaccines," he said.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) tweeted that the article is a "limited hangout." And that vaccine injuries "are real and impossible to hide."

Mandavilli part of Times Pulitzer Prize-winning COVID coverage

Mandavilli was part of the Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its 2021 coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her reporting repeatedly overstated numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.

Dr. Vinay Prasad wrote in a blog post that Mandavilli "is incompetent as a science journalist. She has her own views on covid policy. She is pro mask, pro boosting kids, and pro school shutdown. She seems as if she favors partisan Democratic positions on COVID policy. Her own views color her journalism and lead to one-sided errors."

In another blog post, "Why is Apoorva Mandavilli giving lectures on misinformation when her own articles require so many corrections?" Prasad compiled some of her most egregious overstatements of COVID-19 illness and death that the paper was forced to correct.

These included stating on Oct. 8, 2021, that 900,000 children had been hospitalized for COVID-19 rather than 63,000.

In May 2022, she reported that 4,000 children had died from "multisystem inflammatory syndrome," when in fact 4,000 had been diagnosed with it. They had not died.

In February 2024, she reported that last winter there were 1,500 deaths per day, when in fact that number was estimated per week.

She also tweeted that the lab-leak theory had "racist roots," a tweet she later deleted after backlash.

Prasad also pointed to more recent distortions and unsupported claims in Mandavilli's articles. Including, for example, a claim that vaccination decreases the chances of long COVID, and another one implying that COVID-19 continues to be a serious public health threat. She also asserted that improving indoor air quality stops the spread of respiratory viruses, which no studies have shown and that people still ought to mask.

Dressen was more sympathetic to Mandavilli, who she said has been trying to cover the issue since 2021.

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