Florida officials excised key data from vaccine study
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — An analysis that was the basis of a heavily criticized Florida surgeon general recommendation warning young men not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine omitted information showing that the trapping of the virus could increase the risk of cardiac death much more than just getting the mRNA shot, according to drafts the analysis of the Tampa Bay Times.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo’s non-binding recommendation last fall went against advice from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ladapo, a Harvard-trained physician who was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to head the Florida Department of Health in 2021, has scrutinized his joint opposition with the Republican governor to COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates and other federally-approved public health policies.
The early drafts of the analysis, obtained by the Times through a file request, showed that catching COVID-19 could increase the chance of heart-related death much more than the vaccine, but that information was missing from the final version released by became Florida Department of Health last October.
Ladapo said the risk of heart complications in men aged 18 to 39 outweighed the benefits of the mRNA vaccine.
Matt Hitchings, an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida, told the Times that parts of the analysis appeared to have been omitted because they didn’t fit the narrative the surgeon general wanted to push.
“This is a serious violation of research integrity,” Hitchings said. “[The vaccine]has done a lot to improve the health of the people of Florida, and it encourages people to distrust it.”
In a statement on Twitter released Saturday in response to the Times story, Ladapo said, “It is not only unfortunate that COVID has affected scientists’ ability to think clearly about epidemiology, but also sad that people rushing to defend a vaccine that has shown increased cardiovascular disease risk in multiple studies.”
Last year Ladapo released guide Denying immunizations for healthy children, contradicting federal health leaders whose council says All children should get the recordings. In response, the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Florida chapter issued written statements reaffirming their support for vaccinating eligible children ages 5 and older against COVID-19.
DeSantis, who is also considering running for the GOP’s presidential nomination has requested that a grand jury be convened to investigate any wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 vaccines. DeSantis’ request argues that pharmaceutical companies had a financial interest in creating a climate where people believed that obtaining a coronavirus vaccine would ensure they could not transmit the virus to others.
The Florida Supreme Court granted the motion last December.