EXCLUSIVE: Jim Banks Demands Pentagon Hand Over Stats That Could Debunk COVID-19 Vax Argument

(U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia McCarroll)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana demanded the Pentagon give updated data on diseases rates that could show whether COVID-19 or the vaccine caused the illnesses to spike as side effects, according to a Thursday letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Internal Department of Defense (DOD) medical data showed a spike in eight medical issues linked to the COVID-19 disease in 2021, but the same information for previous and subsequent years is not publicly available, Banks noted when he first requested the data at a March hearing. The updated data requested could clarify whether the increases in illnesses stemmed from COVID-19 infection, itself, or were more likely to stem from the vaccine, which was widely accepted in the military after a secretary of defense mandate in late 2021.

“It seems to me that you’re skewing the data … to justify your use of the vaccine,” Banks said in March.

“How are we to trust the department and the Biden administration that you all are being honest, when it reaches a conclusion that all of these medical problems were due to the infection and not the vaccine?” he continued.

The letter indicates Congress has not finished probing the Pentagon for transparency over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic following extended criticism of a vaccine mandate that gave troops little choice but to take it or face expulsion from service. Whistleblowers accused top officials of seeking to paper over adverse reactions to the vaccine. (RELATED: ‘You Screwed Up’: Matt Gaetz Invokes The Bible To Hammer Sec Def Austin On Hospitalization)

The Pentagon promised to provide the data on new cases for the conditions—hypertensive diseases, ovarian dysfunction, migraine, pulmonary embolism, Guillain-Barre syndrome, malignant neoplasm of esophagus and myocarditis — linked to COVID-19 infection at the hearing.

According to previously published data housed in the Defense Medical Surveillance System, case counts for each of those diseases was more than 10% higher than the average count over the previous 5 years, the letter states.

Banks criticized the Pentagon during the March hearing, which was intended to examine the effect of COVID-19 on the armed forces, for failing to provide the requested data beforehand.

“We do have the numbers. It takes our analysts time to write programming code to pull the data. It then has to be reviewed by an epidemiologist to ensure that the code is accurate, that the output is accurate. And we will get you those numbers,” Dr. Shauna Stahlman, the senior epidemiologist for the Defense Health Agency, said at the time.

Maj. Robert Brancieri, executive officer, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Conroy Bowl on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii on Jan. 14, 2021. While the COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary, all beneficiaries and Soldiers are encouraged to be vaccinated to protect their health and their community. Vaccines are being administered in a phased approach, prioritizing healthcare workers and first responders, as well as mission critical and deploying personnel. Vaccination distribution prioritization within DOD, and the U.S. Army, will be consistent with data-driven CDC guidance for national prioritization. Soldiers will continue to wear appropriate masks, practice social distancing, regularly wash their hands, and follow restriction of movement guidelines to maintain the safety of others as a large portion of the population will need to be vaccinated before COVID-19 risks diminish.

Maj. Robert Brancieri, executive officer, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Conroy Bowl on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii on Jan. 14, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Angelo Mejia)

The 2021 data showed a 151% increase in Myocarditis, which was later shown to be a possible side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to information the Pentagon confirmed to Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson in July 2023.

In the response, former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gil Cisneros said the increase in illnesses was a result of COVID-19 rather than the vaccine, the letter showed.

Comparing what is known about medical case rates in 2021 with 2020 — after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic but before a vaccine was available — and 2022, when most troops were vaccinated, could indicate whether the disease or the vaccine was more to blame.

More than 95% of the active duty force was vaccinated for COVID-19 as of October 2021. Data on the suspected side-effect conditions of the vaccine could further shed light on the true impact of the pandemic and its alleged fix on the health of service members, according to Banks.

A DOD study published in June 2021, prior to the mandate, found unusual rates of heart inflammation among previously healthy male servicemembers who received either of the mRNA vaccines. Researchers expected to find up to eight cases among fully vaccinated males, who make up roughly 80% of the total force, according to a 2020 demographics report, but instead recorded 20.

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