By Jefferey Jaxen 

What happens when a mainstream medical journalist writing for a major corporate media outlet continues to misrepresent key data during important policy inflection points? We are watching this saga play out in real time via The New York Times. 

NYT recently ran the article chronicling the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation of Pfizer’s Covid shot for kids 5-11-years-old. NYT initially reports, “Nearly 4,000 children aged 5 to 11 have died from a Covid-related condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome during the pandemic.”

The public is being taught that misinformation is incorrect or misleading information presented as fact. It is differentiated from disinformation, which is deliberately deceptive.

At first glance, the NYT appears to be floating a gigantic, dangerous misstated fact. One that seems a medical reporter with editors working for a major outlet would be hard pressed to get wrong.

The author, New York Times reporter and Twitter blue-checker Apoorva Mandavilli boasts in her profile that she was the 2019 winner of Victor Cohn Prize. An annual award ironically given for excellence in medical science reporting to writers who exemplify “clarity, accuracy, breadth of coverage, enterprise, originality, insight and narrative power” according to the Council for the Advancement of Science who bestows the award. 

Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at UC Berkeley Shamik Dasgupta took to Twitter calling Mandavilli out:

To their credit, Mandavilli added a correction to the bottom of the article stating, “An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the numbers of children aged 5 to 11 with multisystem inflammatory syndrome. About 4,000 have been diagnosed, not died, with the syndrome.

‘Died’….’diagnosed’ they’re just words right? 

Stanford School of Medicine Professor Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD., who has had a front row experience during the last two years of the government Covid response to understand what the weaponized, business end of corporate medical journalism really looks like, had this to say in response:  

This isn’t the first incidence Victor Cohn Prize winner for medical journalism accuracy Mandavilli missed the mark. 

In an October 6, 2021 NYT’s article titled A New Vaccine Strategy for Children: Just One Dose, for Now she stated that 900,000 U.S. children have been hospitalized due to Covid. She was again forced to correct the glaring error when the real number was found to be slightly more than 63,000. 

In the same article, she also needed to publicly correct that both Sweden and Denmark regulators halted Moderna’s vaccine in children, due to the risks, instead of offering a singly dose. 

Two weeks after her October article, The Biden administration said it’s boasted that the U.S. had enough of Pfizer’s Covid shot for all 28 million 5 to11-year-olds – despite FDA approving it at the time. Six days later, that changed as the agency gave a questionable approval to the shot in the age group.

Why does she continue to widely and dangerously overestimate numbers of Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths in children?

Although there is no emergency in children to justify the recent Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer’s Covid shot for 5 to 11-year-olds, the move was rammed thought anyway by both the FDA and CDC. The FDA’s press release, the only piece of information initially given to the public, FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. stated 

While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, the omicron wave has seen more kids getting sick with the disease and being hospitalized, and children may also experience longer term effects, even following initially mild disease,

Califf’s wording has similar undertones as Mandavilli, before her correction, to create fear and urgency where there is none, from a greater public health standpoint, to rollout such a debatable vaccine in this age group.

Why does the misinformation from both public health agencies and corporate media outlets continually error on only one side of the debate protecting a debatable Covid vaccine paradigm and questionable health interventions. 

After the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy asked for examples of misinformation, Indiana Attorney General sent letter to Dr. Murthy and Health and Human Services writing, “We submit the following examples of disinformation from the CDC and other health organizations that have shattered the public’s trust in science and public health and will take decades to repair.

The list of nine examples including for following:

  1. Over-counting COVID-19
  2. Questioning Natural Immunity
  3. COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent Transmission
  4. School Closures Were Effective and Costless
  5. Everyone is equally at risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection
  6. There was no reasonable policy alternative to lockdowns
  7. Mask mandates are effective in reducing the spread of viral infectious diseases
  8. Mass testing of asymptomatic individuals and contact tracing of positive cases is effective in reducing disease spread
  9. The eradication of COVID-19 is a feasible goal

Jefferey Jaxen

Jefferey Jaxen is a health journalist and featured in his weekly segment, ’The Jaxen Report’, on The HighWire. As an investigative journalist, researcher, and compelling writer, Jefferey serves as Lead editor of The HighWire News and Opinion Team.

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