A new report from Politico shows that DeSantis’s Sugeon General Joseph Ladapo altered the state’s analysis on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine to serve DeSantis’s political narrative. In press conferences with DeSantis, Ladapo has highlighted his official recommendation against the vaccine for young men in Florida, even though the state’s original, unaltered analysis of the vaccine found nothing supporting that recommendation, and even confirmed the safety of the vaccine and the dangers of catching COVID-19.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo personally altered a state-driven study about Covid-19 vaccines last year to suggest that some doses pose a significantly higher health risk for young men than had been established by the broader medical community, according to a newly obtained document.
Ladapo’s changes, released as part of a public records request, presented the risks of cardiac death to be more severe than previous versions of the study. He later used the final document in October to bolster disputed claims that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were dangerous to young men.
The surgeon general, a well-known Covid-19 vaccine skeptic, faced a backlash from the medical community after he made the assertions, which go against guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics. But Ladapo’s statements aligned well with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stance against mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.
Researchers with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and University of Florida, who viewed Ladapo’s edits on the study and have followed the issue closely, criticized the surgeon general for making the changes. One said it appears Ladapo altered the study out of political — not scientific — concerns.
“I think it’s a lie,” Matt Hitchings, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida, said of Ladapo’s assertion that the Covid-19 vaccine causes cardiac death in young men. “To say this — based on what we’ve seen, and how this analysis was made — it’s a lie.”
The newly released draft of the eight-page study, provided by the Florida Department of Health, indicates that it initially stated that there was no significant risk associated with the Covid-19 vaccines for young men. But “Dr. L’s Edits,” as the document is titled, reveal that Ladapo replaced that language to say that men between 18 and 39 years old are at high risk of heart illness from two Covid vaccines that use mRNA technology.
Yet the researchers who viewed a copy of the edits said Ladapo removed an important analysis that would have contradicted his recommendation. Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, called Ladapo’s changes “really troubling.”
“He took out stuff that didn’t support his position,” Salmon said. “That’s really a problem.”