By Zachary Stieber
U.S. drug regulators influenced the decision not to send an alert on heart inflammation cases that were appearing after COVID-19 vaccination, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was preparing to issue an alert about postvaccination myocarditis, or heart inflammation, through its Health Alert Network in May 2021. But that plan changed after meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the emails.
“The initial draft is with Rochelle now,” Sherri Berger, a top CDC official, wrote in an email on May 26, 2021. Dr. Rochelle Walensky was the CDC’s director at the time.
Hours later, a CDC spokesperson, Abbigail Tumpey, informed colleagues and officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that “we are still discussing the strategy on this topic.”
“However, after discussions internally and with FDA, we will likely [redacted],” she wrote. “Our team is on a call with FDA now. I will share the messaging shortly.”
Ms. Tumpey later emailed to say that the CDC had opted to issue a document called clinical considerations rather than an alert.
The CDC issued the online considerations on May 28, 2021. They stated that “increased cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported in the United States after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna)” but that every person aged 12 years and up should still get vaccinated.
Ms. Berger and Ms. Tumpey, both of whom have since left the CDC, did not respond to requests for comment.
The FDA did not deny influencing the decision not to send the alert.
“The FDA continues to work collaboratively with the CDC to monitor for known safety risks related to vaccines and determine how best to ensure any relevant safety information is conveyed to the public, health care providers and clinicians,” a spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email. “After thorough assessment and when the potential risk was clear, the FDA updated the fact sheets for the COVID-19 vaccines and communicated with the public in a manner that was determined to be appropriate for the assessed risk.”
The FDA, which authorized the Pfizer and Moderna shots, did not add warnings about myocarditis until June 25, 2021.
A CDC spokesperson declined to say why the CDC decided not to send an alert. The spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email that the same audience of healthcare providers received the considerations but did not supply any evidence supporting that claim.
Documents previously acquired by The Epoch Times showed that the CDC and FDA were aware of post-vaccination myocarditis cases by February 2021, including a “large number” of patients in Israel and cases among the U.S. military.
The emails about the CDC-FDA call were obtained by The Daily Clout through a FOIA request. The CDC alert was planned to be targeted at emergency departments “rather than a broad advisory,” another email showed.
Prepared to Review
Other emails from the same tranche showed that two top officials in President Joe Biden’s administration asked, and were going to be able to, review the warning before it was sent out.
Dr. Rachel Levine, the administration’s assistant secretary for health, and Dawn O’Connell, the administration’s assistant secretary for preparedness and response, were going to be sent a draft of the alert after Dr. Walensky reviewed it, according to the emails.
“Dawn and Sarah need an early heads up and to see the language before hand,” Ms. Berger wrote in one missive, referring to Ms. O’Connell and Sarah Boateng, another official with the Department of Health and Human Services.
“I would also very much appreciate the opportunity to see the HAN before it is final,” Dr. Levine wrote.
“Initial draft with Walensky now. Flagging that you’d like to review as well,” Ms. Berger replied.
Dr. Levine was also in touch separately with Dr. Walensky on myocarditis, promoting claims that the heart inflammation might be unrelated to the vaccines.
“Myocarditis with COVID-19 is uncommon and even more uncommon with the vaccines- if it is associated at all with the vaccines,” Dr. Levine wrote after meeting with doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Still, the AAP experts conveyed that “significant risks that can be associated with adolescent myocarditis” and that youth with the heart inflammation should be placed under exercise limitations for at least three months, according to the emails.
The AAP put out guidance around the same time that encouraged people to get vaccinated despite the apparent risk of heart inflammation. It has since deleted that guidance but still maintains a similar position.
In another call with the AAP, experts shared that “the cases are infrequent and mild and seem to resolve without treatment,” Dr. Levine wrote. In reality, a number of the cases do not resolve for months, if at all.
“Wow, thank you so much for this super helpful engagement,” Dr. Walensky said in a reply. The CDC planned to meet with the AAP on the matter, according to the emails.
Dr. Levine was later invited as a panelist for a call with public health partners to discuss the myocarditis cases, other missives showed.
Dr. Levine and the AAP did not respond to requests. A spokesperson for Ms. O’Connell declined to comment.