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CDC punishes scientist who has been unafraid to buck the consensus

Joy Pullmann of the Federalist highlights a mystifying decision from a top federal health agency.

The Centers for Disease Control pulled a world-renowned expert off a vaccine safety advisory committee after he publicly disagreed with the agency’s pause of the Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine.

In an email, the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn said Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard Medical School was being removed for communicating to the public his expert opinion, which differed from what the CDC was saying publicly at the time. Four days later, however, the CDC reinstated the use of the vaccine, effectively adopting Kulldorff’s recommendation after punishing him for publicly communicating it.

“It has been brought to CDC and ACIPs attention recent public statements you’ve made regarding policy opinions that appear to be pre-determined prior to complete review of data,” Cohn wrote Kulldorff in an April 19 email. “We understand and appreciate that VaST members have personal opinions and we do not object to the expression of those opinions. However, we expect members to be objective and devoid of any appearance of bias… Therefore, CDC is respectfully ending your membership on VaST effective today.”

On April 13, the CDC paused the use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine nationwide after six cases of blood clotting in women following their vaccination, among which were three deaths. The agency later determined the risk of this outcome was seven cases per 1 million people among women ages 18 to 49, the highest-risk group. …

… Kulldorff is a “world-class” vaccine safety “superstar,” said Jeffrey Brown, a Harvard Medical School colleague specializing in drug and vaccine safety research. “His qualifications are spectacular,” Brown said of Kulldorff. “He’s an international expert in vaccine safety. No one on earth would question whether he’s qualified to be on that committee. He’s a pioneer.”

In fact, methods Kulldorff helped develop underlie the CDC’s current monitoring system for quickly discovering if a vaccine is causing health risks.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...