Government Watchdog Asks Biden Science Czar to Investigate CDC, FDA Science Misinformation

Government Watchdog Asks Biden Science Czar to Investigate CDC, FDA Science Misinformation

  • May 10, 2023
HHS and its subagencies the subject of numerous scientific integrity complaints

Today, government watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) announced it has submitted a complaint to the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) regarding a series of allegations of scientific integrity violations at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and various HHS subagencies. PPT has documented its previous complaints on the Science Undermined webpage, the first five of which were entered into the record in a recent Congressional oversight hearing.

PPT’s complaints involve the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To date, the agencies have neither corrected these apparent scientific integrity violations nor publicly taken action to prevent their recurrence. Given that the nation is still dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19 as well as various governments’ responses to the pandemic, it’s troubling that most of the complaints fall on the CDC, under outgoing Director Rochelle Walensky. The alleged false statements and misrepresentations regarding COVID-19 and related vaccines could have contributed to polling showing fewer than half of Americans trust the CDC on Coronavirus. Among the complaints:

  • In August 2021 the CDC miscited research to falsely support claims that COVID-19 vaccines were superior to natural immunity from prior infection – an assertion repeated by then-NIH Director Francis Collins in an interview with Fox News.
  • In February 2022, The New York Times reported that the CDC declined to release data it had collected about the effectiveness of booster shots on those 18-49 years old out of “fear” the public would make up its own mind about boosters.
  • In June 2022, CDC Director Walensky broadly recommended COVID-19 vaccination for small children. The move was, according to one report, a “sweeping recommendation [that] was based on extremely weak, inconclusive data provided by Pfizer and Moderna … [n]o reputable medical journal would accept such sloppy and incomplete results with such a small sample size.”
  • Also that month, two CDC doctors made a presentation that overestimated child deaths from COVID-19 by 32 percent. Though they were informed the study they cited was flawed within a day of the presentation, neither they nor the CDC issued any correction. Worse yet, Director Walensky made a public statement a week later in which she repeated inaccurate claims from the flawed study that COVID-19 was a top five cause of childhood death.
  • The CDC refused to collect data on severe side-effects to the COVID-19 vaccines. In the early stages of vaccine distribution, CDC employed an app for collecting side-effect data that deliberately produced unusable results and omitted relevant data about severe reactions. It did this even though it knew a specific set of severe reactions was possible.
  • The FDA ignored its own research and overruled its own scientists in its quest to ban certain vaping products.

“Politicians and government officials have consistently claimed to ‘follow the science,’” said PPT Director Michael Chamberlain. “But the public needs a reasonable expectation that the science is being presented in good faith and not in service to a political agenda. The apparent breaches of scientific integrity erode trust in scientists, public health officials, and government. So does the silence with which our complaints have been met. We hope OSTP will uphold President Biden’s exacting standards for scientific integrity at HHS.”