Federal Judge Hits CDC Over Withholding Data on Adverse Vaccine Reports

by | Apr 5, 2024

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to resist disclosing information on claimed side effects and problems with its COVID-19 vaccines, including from healthcare workers. Due to a January order by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in a Freedom of Information Act case, the CDC is being forced to turn over hundreds of thousands of “free text” entries from V-safe. The court has scolded the CDC for its continuing efforts to withhold information on these complaints.

As the CDC and the Biden White House gear up for another possible pandemic, the case reminds us that we still need to address the conduct of the government — and the reporting of the media — from the last pandemic. Once agency officials were told that they could censor those with opposing views, a culture of speech controls took hold at the CDC and the government narrative was then amplified by the media.

To question such mandates was declared a public health threat. The head of the World Health Organization even supported censorship to combat what he called an “infodemic.”

A lawsuit was filed by Missouri and Louisiana and joined by leading experts, including Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya (Stanford University) and Martin Kulldorff (Harvard University). Bhattacharya previously objected to the suspension of Dr. Clare Craig after she raised concerns about Pfizer trial documents. Those doctors were the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated for a more focused Covid response that targeted the most vulnerable population rather than widespread lockdowns and mandates. Many are now questioning the efficacy and cost of the massive lockdown as well as the real value of masks or the rejection of natural immunities as an alternative to vaccination.  Yet, these experts and others were attacked for such views just a year ago. Some found themselves censored on social media for challenging claims of Dr. Fauci and others.

The media has quietly acknowledged the science questioning mask efficacy and school closures without addressing its own role in attacking those who raised these objections. Even raising the lab theory on the origin of Covid 19 (a theory now treated as plausible) was denounced as a conspiracy theory. The science and health reporter for the New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli,  even denounced the theory as “racist.” In the meantime, California moved to potentially strip doctors of their licenses for spreading dissenting views on Covid.

It is clear that much still has to be done to create a culture of transparency at the CDC. Judge Kacsmaryk has slammed the agency for withholding the data on the health complaints on spurious grounds. There still appears a culture at CDC in withholding data that could be used to question its decisions or conclusions.

For a year, the CDC has been fighting these efforts. The lawsuit by the Informed Consent Action Network, revealed “nearly 8% of V-safe users said they required medical care, another 12% couldn’t perform normal daily activities and yet another 13% said they missed work or school.” With limited “boxes” supplied by the CDC, people had to write in their complications. The CDC then failed to disclose those reports.

The free-text entries reportedly support one of the most controversial moves by the CDC to downplay heart complications. Litigants say that the new disclosures show a frequency of symptoms associated with myocarditis – inflammation of the the heart muscle myocardium.

Experts raising these concerns were labeled “anti-vaxxers” and conspiracists.

As I have previously testified in Congress, the surest way to combat this culture of censorship is to pass legislation barring a single dime of taxpayer funds from being used to fund censorship efforts, including third-party groups on removing “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.”

The government can always speak in its own voice, but we should get the government out of the business of controlling the speech of citizens and groups. It can rebut critics on its ample platforms without using third parties to silence them as surrogates.

Additionally, Congress should demand answers on the failure of the CDC to discuss opposing views and to withhold countervailing data during the last pandemic. The loss of public confidence in both the CDC and the media could prove disastrous if we face another pandemic. The years of barring and throttling opposing views (including many later vindicated by the science) has left many Americans deeply distrustful of both the government and the media. That is a real potential health danger. If we want to prepare for the next pandemic, we need to repair that trust.

Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org.


  • Jonathan Turley

    Professor Jonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals at Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, and other schools.

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