On October 29, 2021, 53 authors put their name on a paper that they should be, at best, deeply ashamed of and, at worst, held liable for. Seventeen of those authors were members of CDC’s COVID-19 Response Team. ICAN sent them a letterdetailing the gross scientific misconduct evidenced in the paper and demanded that they withdraw their names from the study.
The non-peer-reviewed paper titled Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Among Adults Hospitalized with COVID-19–Like Illness with Infection-Induced or mRNA Vaccine-Induced SARS-CoV-2 Immunity — Nine States, January–September 2021purports to compare the risk of infection between those who previously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and those who received a COVID-19 vaccine.
It misleadingly concludes that the unvaccinated have more than a 5x greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. If this strikes you as absurd based on the dozens and dozens of peer-reviewed studies that show the opposite result, and based on everything we know about natural immunity, that is because it is.
There are multiple layers of issues with the way this rigged study was conducted. First, it makes an irrelevant and meaningless comparison. This study does not answer the question of whether vaccination or previous infection is better at decreasing the risk of subsequent COVID-19 disease. Had it studied this question, it would likely show what over 50 other studies have shown: previous infection is more durable, robust, and effective.
Instead, it compares, on the one hand, the percentage of previously positive patients admitted with COVID-like illnesses (CLI) that test positive, with, on the other hand, the percentage of previously vaccinated patients admitted with CLI that test positive. This is meaningless. Under this approach, if there are 100,000 vaccinated individuals admitted with CLI and 10% of them test positive but there are only 10 previously infected individuals admitted with CLI and 100% of them test positive, this study design would find that the previously infected individuals are 10 times (100%/10%) more likely to test positive for the virus. Nonsense.
Further, what should have been the most eye-opening data revealed by the study was seemingly ignored by the authors and by the CDC! The data showed that between June and September 2021, when the percentage of Americans who had previously been infected was just about equal to the percentage who had been fully vaccinated (and not previously infected), but yet the vaccinated had 5,213 cases of CLI and 306 positive cases while the previously infected had only 189 cases of CLI and 89 positive cases.
This finding should have been jaw dropping and raised questions within the CDC such as “why, when the number of people in each group should be the same, are we seeing so many more COVID-like illnesses and COVID-19 infections in those vaccinated than in those who have natural immunity?” But this study was not about asking these questions or getting to the truth.
ICAN made clear to the CDC authors that it knows what they already know: The study was designed to support the irrational, illogical, authoritarian, and punitive policies of the CDC to apply limitations to those previously infected that do not apply to those vaccinated. This is not science. This is misconduct. The burden is now on these scientists to either do the right thing and withdraw from the paper or to double down and deal with the legal consequences of doing so.