By Zachary Stieber
Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made multiple false statements this month regarding possible COVID-19 vaccine side effects, continuing a trend of mis- and disinformation from the public health agency.
Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, a top CDC official, recently repeated the lie that the agency has never detected a safety signal for ischemic stroke for the old COVID-19 vaccines.
“No safety signals were detected for ischemic stroke for primary series or monovalent boosters for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in U.S. and global monitoring,” Shimabukuro told the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a CDC advisory panel, on April 19.
CDC researchers identified ischemic stroke as a safety signal for the original Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, according to files obtained by The Epoch Times. More recently obtained documents show the CDC detected the signal as early as May 6, 2022.
The CDC acknowledges in official documents that any adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination that meet a certain criteria constitute “a safety signal.”
Shimabukuro, who also made the false claim during an earlier meeting in February, has not responded to requests for comment.
A CDC spokesperson previously doubled down on the claim, falsely stating that Shimabukuro was correct.
Ischemic stroke happens when the brain fails to get enough blood supply, according to the Mayo Clinic. It causes brain cells to die within minutes and often leads to death.
Another unnamed CDC official falsely told NBC that the agency has not found data “suggesting a link between COVID-19 vaccines and tinnitus,” a condition that has symptoms such as constant ringing in the ears.
The CDC identified tinnitus as a safety signal in its analysis of possible signals in data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), according to the files obtained by The Epoch Times.
Bert Kelly, a CDC spokesman, told The Epoch Times in an email: “To date, we have no data to support tinnitus and its link to COVID-19 infection or vaccination.”
After becoming aware of reports to the adverse event system of tinnitus after COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC analyzed data from a different surveillance system called the Vaccine Safety Datalink. CDC researchers did not identify any “clustering of tinnitus diagnoses” in the datalink system in the 70 days after COVID-19 vaccination, according to Kelly.
He did not make the data available.
Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, noted that there have been more than 24,000 reports of tinnitus submitted to VAERS after COVID-19 vaccination.
“There is mounting evidence in the medical literature that tinnitus involves inflammation in the brain,” Fisher said, pointing to several studies. “CDC officials should be taking the tinnitus signal seriously and actively pursuing every available avenue of research to find out what is going on rather than doing everything they can to quickly dismiss the reported risk for developing chronic ringing in the ears after COVID shots.”
Tinnitus is listed as a potential side effect of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and regulators in some countries list the condition as a potential adverse event following AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer haven’t been formally linked with tinnitus, though some research has found a statistically significant increase in tinnitus following COVID-19 vaccination, which researchers said “suggest an association between the COVID-19 vaccines” and tinnitus.
One sufferer recently told The Epoch Times that she has a dull ringing in her ears that started an hour after receiving a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Another said she suffered hearing loss after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Another Official Gives False Information
The CDC said it would analyze VAERS data through a data mining technique called Proportional Reporting Ratio (PRR). The agency later falsely said that the mining was not in the agency’s purview before changing its tune and saying it had actually started running PRRs in February 2021.
Dr. John Su, head of the CDC’s VAERS team, provided the new dates in a statement to The Epoch Times.
Su has since acknowledged it was false. The CDC now says it actually didn’t start the PRRs until March 2022, and stopped before the year ended.
Newly obtained emails show Su was told by a colleague that the CDC was not running PRRs between February 2021 and September 2021, but still gave the false information.
“We were not running any PRRs during this time,” Paige Marquez, a CDC employee, told Su and others in a June 2, 2022 email.
A month later, Su conveyed the false information to a CDC spokesperson, who relayed it to The Epoch Times. “We’ve been performing PRRs since Feb 2021, and continue to do to date,” he claimed.
Su did not respond to a request for comment.
Su also gave the false information in August 2022 to a colleague, Jeremy Goodman, before Marquez stepped in, the newly obtained messages show.
“I stand corrected: we did not conduct PRR analysis during the specified period,” Su wrote in one email. The CDC has said that none of its workers intentionally gave false information about PRRs.