Ron DeSantis’ surgeon general 'personally altered' key data on COVID-19 vaccines’ safety: report

Ron DeSantis’ surgeon general 'personally altered' key data on COVID-19 vaccines’ safety: report

Throughout most of his career, Dr. Anthony Fauci, now 82, was hardly an object of hatred among Republicans. Fauci, who began working for the United States' federal government in the late 1960s, served under several conservative GOP presidents without any problem: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The younger President Bush, in fact, praised Fauci when he gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in 2008. George W. Bush's exact words: "As a physician, medical researcher, author, and public servant, Dr. Anthony Fauci has dedicated his life to expanding the horizons of human knowledge and making progress toward groundbreaking cures for diseases. His efforts to advance our understanding and treatment of HIV/AIDS have brought hope and healing to tens of millions in both developed and developing nations. The United States honors Anthony Fauci for his commitment to enabling men, women, and children to live longer, healthier lives."

But that was before Donald Trump's presidency, the far-right MAGA movement and the COVID-19 pandemic. Attacking Fauci's response to the pandemic became a badge of honor among MAGA Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — whose surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, disagreed strongly with Fauci and President Joe Biden on the value of COVID-19 vaccines. DeSantis and Ladapo made vaccines a culture war issue in Florida, and according to Politico reporter Arek Sarkissian, Ladapo "personally altered a state-driven study about COVID-19 vaccines" in 2022 "to suggest that some doses pose a significantly higher health risk for young men than had been established by the broader medical community, according to a newly obtained document."

READ MORE: Inside Ron DeSantis' plan to take on Trump from the right: report

Politico published Sarkissian's report on Ladapo and the study on April 24. And CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht offered additional reporting in an article published on April 26.

Gumbrecht explains, "Politico said it obtained a document as part of a public records request that shows Ladapo's changes to the eight-page analysis. The changes deleted comments that said a link with slightly increased risk of cardiac-related deaths after COVID-19 vaccination was 'no longer significant' for multi-dose vaccines and 'there is little suggestion of any effect immediately following vaccination.' The document shows an added line that says mRNA vaccines may be driving an increased risk of cardiac-related death in males, especially those ages 18-39."

The CNN reporter adds, "The version released publicly in October 2022 said COVID-19 vaccination was 'associated with a modestly increased risk for cardiac-related mortality 28 days following vaccination,' and says the vaccines may be driving the risk, especially among younger men."

Gumbrecht notes that the "Florida analysis" of last year "was not peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal, but was posted online by the Florida Department of Health and shared in a news release" published on October 7, 2022.

READ MORE: Inside Ron DeSantis' plan to take on Trump from the right: report

The Florida Health Department, on April 26, said it stands by Ladapo's 2022 statements. But Gumbrecht points out that the Sunshine State "is an outlier in its recommendations against the COVID-19 vaccine for young men and healthy children" and is "at odds with" the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

Fauci and Biden, in contrast to Ladapo, have been aggressive proponents of COVID-19 vaccines — which they believe have saved countless lives. Both Fauci and Biden had mild COVID-19 infections in 2022 and believe that their infections might have been worse had they not been vaccinated.

COVID-19 has been the world's deadliest health crisis since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918/1919. According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, COVID-19 has killed more than 6.8 million people worldwide since it was first reported in Wuhan, China in late 2019. That death toll includes over 1.1 million people in the United States.

But much has changed since the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Although COVID-19 is still highly contagious, most of today's COVID-19 infections are not fatal and do not require hospitalization. Many COVID-19 restricts around the world have been lifted.

READ MORE: Inside Ron DeSantis' plan to take on Trump from the right: report

Read CNN's full report at this link and Politico's full report at this link.

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