A New York cardiothoracic surgeon the other day posted on LinkedIn the results of a study that didn’t ring right in my pedestrian mind. My skepticism was heightened because it appeared in JAMA, a medical journal published by the American Medical Association. The AMA a few months ago fired the longtime editor of JAMA for a clumsy politically incorrect tweet and it enthusiastically promotes the notion of systemic racism in healthcare, so understandably few physicians belong to the wokester organization. I’d expect JAMA would be delighted to publish pro vaccine research.
The conclusion of the study according to the surgeon was that the Covid-19 vaccine didn’t cause an increase in spontaneous abortions compared with ongoing pregnancies. What struck me as odd was the study’s conclusions were based on a very short period. Vaccines didn’t become readily available to women of childbearing age until around April. Moreover, while vaccines might not cause abortions, potential dangers to babies still aren’t known. I’m mindful of the Thalidomide tragedy, where an anti-nausea drug caused more than 100,000 babies to be born with deformities and 7,000 died. The tragedy was averted in the U.S. because an FDA examiner maligned as a “bureaucratic nitpicker” refused to approve the drug because she studied the data and followed the science.
Admittedly, I’m not an expert on medical research. But the study’s sponsor furthered my skepticism, as did the conflicts of the authors.
The study was sponsored by the CDC, which controlled all aspects of it, including design, data collection, management, analysis, and interpretation. What especially concerns me is the CDC controlled the manuscript and whether to submit the findings for publication. Two of the authors received funding from Pfizer for unrelated studies while another served on the Pfizer independent external data monitoring committee for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Researchers with ties to Pfizer don’t strike me as independent, nor does the CDC given the agency supports vaccine mandates and boosters.
The conflicted study sparked a recall of a ProPublica investigation I read more than a year that revealed widespread conflicts in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. It was published on December 6, 2019, before the COVID pandemic became widely known. The findings of the investigation have taken on greater significance, particularly as Dr. Fauci ultimately approved many of the conflicted research studies.
ProPublica’s “Dollars for Profs” investigation found that NIH funded health researchers reported more than 8,000 “significant” financial conflicts of interest worth at least $188 million since 2012. ProPublica said the outside interests ranged from stock holdings in companies that may benefit from the outcome of research to payments for royalties, consulting work and speaking engagements. ProPublica said the total value of the conflicts was likely much higher than $188 million, because 44 percent of the disclosures didn’t put a dollar value on the investigator’s financial relationship.
Outside income from interested parties can potentially impact the objectivity of researchers and influence the design and findings of their tax subsidized work, ProPublica said.
“Can you trust (the studies’) findings?” ProPublica asked in a headline.
Notably, ProPublica said the NIA is the biggest public funder of U.S. biomedical research, with more than 80 percent of the agency’s $39.2 billion budget going towards grants to fund studies at universities and research institutions. Dr. Anthony Fauci, as the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the NIH, had the ultimate say on how much of the research dollars were spent.
A beneficiary of NIA research grants has been the Philadelphia-based Wistar Institute, which specializes in vaccine research and development. Wistar’s executive vice president David Weiner has a financial stake in Inovio Pharmaceuticals, which in turn has exclusive rights to license intellectual property resulting from a collaboration with Wistar. According to the website wallmine, Wiener’s Inovia stock as of May 17 was valued at $6.8 million. He also receives an additional $193,151 to serve as a director.
Inovio, based in suburban Philadelphia, in January announced an exclusive partnership with a Chinese-based biotech company to commercialize a COVID 19 DNA vaccine in greater China. The vaccine was developed under President Trump’s warp speed initiative. The FDA last September halted Inovio’s plans to commence mid-to-late trials of its vaccine in the U.S., saying it wanted more information. Inovio said the delay wasn’t due to any side effects in earlier trials.
Inovio recently announced its vaccine has received regulatory clearance from the Chinese and Brazilian governments to conduct trials in those countries.
The Intercept revealed last week that Fauci’s NIAID also funded EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S. based health organization, to conduct controversial bat coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, lending credence that the Covid-19 virus escaped from that lab. EcoHealth’s president Peter Dasak dismissed such speculation as a “conspiracy theory” and was reportedly responsible for a letter co-signed by scientists and published in the prestigious medical The Lancet denouncing the speculation. U.S. and corporate media previously dismissed the speculation as “misinformation” and “racist.”
The NIH and CDC also can influence what doesn’t get researched. The CDC in May stopped routinely tracking so-called breakthrough infections that didn’t lead to hospitalization or death. The absence of this data makes it difficult to determine how a vaccinated person might infect others as well as determining how well vaccines work over extended periods against emerging Covid-19 variants.
Given that the Biden Administration is all in on vaccines and blaming the unvaccinated for its inability to control the pandemic, the CDC possibly has a political reason for impairing breakthrough infection research. That’s not a reckless or unfounded allegation; ; it’s been reported that the FDA’s two top vaccine researchers have resigned because of political pressure to approve booster vaccines.
As for pregnant women getting jabbed, the CDC says they can get jabbed but admits “data are limited about the safety of Covid-19 vaccines for people who are pregnant.” If the CDC has data indicating some possible risks, it’s far from certain they will release it.