The New York Times’s COVID vaccine injury report is too little, too late

Like many people, each day my eyes lightly scan the “morning update” emails from the news organizations I subscribe to. But the first lines of the New York Times’s “The Morning” email written by David Leonhardt on May 3 hooked me: “Let me start with a disclaimer,” he wrote. “The subject of today’s newsletter will make some readers uncomfortable. It makes me a little uncomfortable.”

A trigger warning of this sort could only mean one thing: Leonhardt was preparing his fragile readership to confront a heresy that had become so undeniable that not even the New York Times could suppress it. 

The article, “Thousands Believe Covid Vaccines Harmed Them,” written by acclaimed global health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli, probably did trigger the most thoroughly enbubbled New York Times readers. One could imagine legions of pink-hatted Karens reading it and then tossing the Gray Lady into the fireplace before darting to the New York Times comment section to issue anti-anti-vaxxer screeds. 

But the report, which is a disorienting blend of COVID vaccine horror storytelling and COVID vaccine apologism, left me in a rage for a different reason.

Approximately three years ago, I suffered what appears to be permanent hearing loss in my left ear following my second Moderna shot. Like a sap, I actually believed the government and legacy media line about vaccine safety and efficacy. (I also believed claims that masks reduced the spread of infection and that the virus had a natural origin, both of which turned out to be false.) 

In the years since, I’ve spent thousands in medical expenses in order to determine the cause: more than a dozen blood panels, a CT scan, allergy tests (the one where they stick the needles in your back), and visits to numerous ear, nose, and throat doctors. In the end, not one doctor could say what happened for sure, only that there had been “an event” that caused my ear to whoosh like the ocean for a few days before giving way to a persistent “buzz” and a feeling of fullness.

Now, I’d always suspected that either COVID itself or the vaccine could have played a role in my hearing loss, but I never had the nerve to ask one of these doctors point-blank. After all, the white coats on cable news not only ridiculed skeptics of COVID vaccine orthodoxy but treated them as if they were social terrorists (I’m looking at you, Peter Hotez). 

Who can forget the New York Times report in April 2021 (the very month I decided to get the first dose) that attempted to cast all vaccine skeptics as paranoid religious freaks who were beyond the appeal to reason? It was in this environment of extreme coercion that I chose to take an unnecessary vaccine — young, healthy men were not at risk of dying from the disease and vaccination didn’t stop the spread of infection — that left me half-deaf. 

Not that I’m special. Indeed, nearly everyone knows someone who has suffered a health episode following the shot. The stories recounted in the Mandavilli report aren’t news to anyone who hasn’t been covering their ears for the past three years. On the contrary, they are immediately familiar. 

Take the story of Dr. Gregory Poland, editor of the journal Vaccine. The New York Times reports, “A loud whooshing sound in his ears had accompanied every moment since his first shot, but … his entreaties to colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explore the phenomenon, tinnitus, had led nowhere.” Mandavilli reports that he “has since sought solace in meditation and his religious faith.”

Then there’s Dr. Ilka Warshawsky, a 58-year-old pathologist who lost hearing in her right ear following a COVID booster shot. She has since suffered from vertigo and tinnitus. 

Shaun Barcavage, a nurse practitioner in New York City, experienced symptoms suggestive of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which has now been linked to the COVID vaccine. He has attempted to obtain government help, but has been dismissed at every turn. “I am told I’m not real. I’m told I’m rare. I’m told I’m coincidence,” he said.

The focus on the injuries of medical professionals was intentional — Mandavilli herself said so in the comment section of the article. This is laudable because for years the public has been force-fed the views of only a certain kind of scientist and medical official, while highly credible dissenters within the scientific community, such as Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who authored the Great Barrington Declaration, were censored and systematically smeared by the Anthony Faucis of the world. In the case of the vaccine and other issues related to the pandemic, a robust public discourse between health officials could have prevented so much suffering in both public health and the economy. 


But as we know, the legacy media was only ever interested in politicizing the pandemic by framing it as yet another front in “the resistance.” Their refusal to investigate and report facts that contradicted their contrived narrative is the fundamental cause of the distrust and cynicism toward the vaccine — not “anti-vax conspiracy theorists.” We were all made dumber for their efforts, and some of us suffered real damage as a consequence.

Make no mistake, the New York Times’s willingness to report on COVID vaccine injuries is a welcome development. But in terms of regaining the public’s trust, it’s too little, too late.

Peter Laffin is a contributor at the Washington Examiner. His work has also appeared in RealClearPolitics, the Catholic Thing, and the National Catholic Register.

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