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Fact Check: CDC Supposedly Released Redacted Study on Myocarditis After COVID-19 Vaccination. Here's What We Know

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency Getty Images
Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency Getty Images

Claim:

In March 2024, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an entirely redacted, 148-page study on myocarditis outcomes after a COVID-19 vaccination.

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In March 2024, anti-vaccine advocates claimed that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had released a wholly redacted, 148-page study on myocarditis occurring after a COVID-19 mRNA vaccination. The document was the subject of discussions during a hearing of the Novel Coronavirus Southwestern Intergovernmental Committee on March 15, 2024, which was livestreamed.

"One hundred and forty eight pages," said Arizona State Sen. Janae Shamp as she held up blank pages during the hearing. "The entire thing is redacted. What good does a study do if there's nothing there?"

Peter McCullough, a cardiologist who contributed to the spread of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, was also at the hearing. "We're witnessing an active cover-up of a colossal consumer safety debacle that is basically affecting the entire world," McCullough said. He then accused the CDC, the FDA, as well as the U.K., European and Australian medicine regulation agencies, of being complicit in this alleged cover-up.

As we will demonstrate below, the redacted document was not in any sense a "study."

A clip of the intergovernmental committee's hearing was shared on X/Twitter (archived) on March 18, 2024, and was viewed 4 million times and amplified more than 20,000 times.

(screen capture)

The CDC's Redacted Pages

The CDC did release 148 redacted pages following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by The Epoch Times concerning "MOVING" (Myocarditis outcomes after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination) surveys. These pages, however, were not a study. Zachary Stieber, the Epoch Times reporter who made the FOIA request, posted on X that he had noticed "confusion" about the document:

(@ZackStieber / X)

The post (archived) to which he replied included the 148 blank pages. Clicking on the linked document and zooming in, a small inscription appears in the upper left corner of the first page:

(X screenshot)

The inscription (b)(5), seen above, is repeated on every page of the document. This refers to information that is exempted from FOIA requests. According to the U.S. Justice Department:

Exemption 5 of the FOIA protects "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency."

This detail confirms that the 148 redacted pages did not comprise a study, but were instead communications within the CDC or between the CDC and other agencies. We contacted the CDC asking for more details on the reason for the redaction and will update this story if we receive an answer.

Stieber, in his post, added that the CDC team in charge of studying myocarditis outcomes following COVID-19 vaccinations has already shared several studies on the topic. He links to one of them, published in 2022 in The Lancet, which concludes:

After at least 90 days since onset of myocarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, most individuals in our cohort were considered recovered by health-care providers, and quality of life measures were comparable to those in pre-pandemic and early pandemic populations of a similar age.

The paper also recommends further study into the topic.

More Studies on Myocarditis Outcomes After COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine

The CDC and other research institutions have indeed released several studies on the link between the COVID-19 vaccine and both myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the thin tissue that lines the heart. The CDC website links to 10 studies on myocarditis after the vaccine carried out between 2021 and 2022. As Stieber indicated in this post, the MOVING team told him it plans to publish another study with updated findings.

Several studies found that while myocarditis and pericarditis can follow mRNA vaccination, the data show vaccination protects against complications. For example, a study from Germany showed that the risk of dying from myocarditis from a COVID-19 infection is much higher than the risk of dying from myocarditis not caused by COVID-19.

Sources:

Bemtgen, Xavier, et al. 'Myocarditis Mortality with and without COVID-19: Insights from a National Registry'. Clinical Research in Cardiology, vol. 113, no. 2, 2024, pp. 216–22. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00392-022-02141-9.

Kracalik, Ian, et al. ' Ian Kracalik, PhD   • Matthew E Oster, MD • Karen R Broder, MD • Margaret M Cortese, MD • Maleeka Glover, ScD • Karen Shields, BS • et al. Show All Authors Published:September 21, 2022•DOI:Https://Doi.Org/10.1016/S2352-4642(22)00244-9• PlumX Metrics'. The Lancet, vol. 6, no. 11, Nov. 2022, pp. 788–99, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(22)00244-9/fulltext.

Office of Information Policy | FOIA Guide, 2004 Edition: Exemption 5. 23 July 2014, https://www.justice.gov/archives/oip/foia-guide-2004-edition-exemption-5.

Vaccine Safety Publications | Research | Vaccine Safety | CDC. 27 Feb. 2024, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/research/publications/index.html.

Video Player. https://www.azleg.gov/videoplayer/?clientID=6361162879&eventID=2024031052. Accessed 22 Mar. 2024.