Do fact check outlets serve as bodyguards for biomedical companies and those in power?
The Disinformation Chronicle’s Paul Thacker continues to provide some of the best deep investigative journalism on Covid vaccines, the lab leak theory of the virus origin, and other stories Big Pharma would prefer we ignore. The takeaway: “A new study published in Vaccine—the premier journal for vaccine research—found the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were associated with a 16 % higher risk of serious adverse events.”
And the new vaccine? We posted a recent report that we don’t yet have reports on trials with humans. I’ll still get the new vaccine. But I do like to know the facts.Michael Lerner
A new study published in Vaccine—the premier journal for vaccine research—found the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were associated with a 16 % higher risk of serious adverse events. The study was limited to analyzing trial data the companies submitted to the FDA and did not evaluate the vaccines’ overall harm-benefit. However, the authors followed up in The BMJ with a public call for the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna to release the original COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial data for independent analysis.
When first published as a preprint, the study spurred not 1, not 2, but 3 different fact checks—all of which threw cold water on the study. As I first reported in July, Facebook’s fact-check website called LeadStories accused the authors of analyzing a data set that they never even accessed and sent a harassing email to the lead researcher’s university. Since that reporting, LeadStories has added an awkward update, backpedaling from their initial fact check. Nonetheless, the preprint still has a “false news” label by Facebook.✓
Two other fact check sites deserve further scrutiny for their attempts at analysis and apparent peer review. The fact checking outlet called Health Feedback published an analysis of the preprint that reads like a dog’s breakfast of complaints. Health Feedback is run by Emmanuel Vincent, who has been running about Paris to evade legal complaints.
Health Feedback’s fact check was written by Flora Teoh who has no relevant experience or publishing record in clinical trials and starts off by accusing the study authors of “cherry picking.”
The list of serious adverse events assessed included hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), but excluded hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It included gastrointestinal hemorrhage, but excluded duodenal ulcer hemorrhage (a subtype of gastrointestinal hemorrhage). No explanation was given for why these exclusions were made.
As researchers explained in the study, they matched the serious adverse events that Pfizer and Moderna reported in their own clinical trials, against the Brighton Collaboration standards. Any questions that Ms. Teoh had about data that she felt Pfizer or Moderna should have included, could have been dealt with by asking the companies or the Brighton collaboration why they excluded it.