What Is The Truth About Florida’s COVID-19 Vaccine Study?

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
Font Size:

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo shared a study Friday alleging a link between COVID-19 vaccines and heart-related death, and became the first state surgeon general to recommend against COVID-19 vaccination for young men.

Ladapo’s study found there is an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related deaths in men aged 18-39 years after they get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. His announcement and subsequent recommendation were both met with widespread criticism, including from other doctors who pointed out flaws in the research.

Numerous studies have shown COVID-19 vaccines are associated with cardiovascular problems, most often in young men. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged there is an increased risk, albeit small, of developing conditions like myocarditis and pericarditis after getting Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for young men.

While most doctors and scientists accept this risk exists, Ladapo has been the first in a public health position such as surgeon general to buck the CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommend against the demographic getting the vaccines at all. Many proponents of vaccination, when confronted with the research on myocarditis, will point to data showing the risk of developing the condition from COVID-19 itself is higher than that of developing it from a vaccine.

An 84% increase in cardiovascular complications would be a far greater increased risk than most other research has shown. Some other doctors were quick to point out flaws in the research shared by Ladapo, including there are no authors listed and it has not been peer-reviewed. (RELATED: COVID-19 Vaccine mRNAs Found In Vaccinated Women’s Breast Milk: STUDY)

Many critics pointed out the analysis did not compare post-vaccination cardiac death rates to pre-vaccination rates. Rather, the paper compared cardiac-related death rates in the first 28 days after vaccination to weeks 5-25 post-vaccination. The data showed the risk of cardiac-induced death was higher in the first 28 days than the ensuing weeks, but made no comparison to a baseline before vaccination was completed at all.

Ladapo responded to this particular criticism Monday morning, arguing the methodology was used to determine if adverse events were “clustering” near the time of vaccination. But the research was still widely panned for not including a baseline death rate.

The analysis also showed that overall risk of death was lower post-vaccination than before. Ladapo’s conclusion that there is a higher risk of cardiac-related death after vaccination was based on the fact that a higher percentage of deaths were heart issue-related, even though there were less deaths overall.

Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who served under former President Donald Trump, pointed out the large number of limitations the study’s authors listed. “The ‘limitations’ section of the study is one of the longest I’ve ever seen,” Adams tweeted. “It reads like a note written by a hostage (“I’m fine, my captors are nice”… blink, nose tap) and still it clearly states: ‘This study cannot determine the causative nature of a participant’s death.'”

Individuals who either died from COVID-19 or had a documented COVID-19 infection were excluded from the analysis. Critics argued it couldn’t possibly be known if every patient studied had COVID-19 at some point, with some claiming COVID-19 status was only available on death certificates. Ladapo disputed this, claiming the researchers had access to other records like test results.

His own claim is refuted by the text of the analysis, which states that “COVID testing status was unknown for those who did not die of/with COVID.”

The analysis also failed to compare the risk of COVID-19 vaccination to the virus itself, which is standard for most research on adverse effects from vaccines. Despite that, Ladapo used it to conclude the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits for young men, a conclusion some doctors disagreed with.

The analysis also lists as a limitation that it cannot be determined what the cause of the cardiovascular-related deaths actually is.

Despite the many flaws with the study, many opponents of vaccination and accompanying mandates supported Ladapo’s finding and recommendation. Ladapo has been consistently praised by those groups for breaking with the establishment on a number of COVID-19 related issues, ranging from mask mandates and the need to keep schools open, to vaccine efficacy and safety.

Since being appointed to his position by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ladapo has criticized other doctors for “blindly following Big Pharma” and has railed against the public health establishment and government officials who were leading the fight for mandates.

Much of the newfound vaccine skepticism sweeping the country has followed a similar pattern — emerging from opposition to mandates and distrust in agencies like the CDC and the FDA, which have admitted themselves they botched major aspects of the pandemic response. As a result of figures like Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky getting critical parts of the pandemic wrong, fewer Americans report they trust public health institutions than before the pandemic.

Another factor which has enflamed tensions is censorship of opposing views by Big Tech companies. Twitter contributed further to that phenomenon earlier in October when it temporarily removed Ladapo’s tweet, labeling it as “misinformation,” before ultimately reinstating it. (RELATED: Biden Can’t End The COVID Public Health Emergency — His Agenda Is Depending On It)

The Florida Surgeon General said he “love[s] the discussion” his recommendation ignited, suggesting said debate is part of the scientific process.