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This week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky provided witness testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations responsible for overseeing the funding of various federal programs related to labor, health, education and other related agencies.

But serious questions have been raised about the veracity of Walensky’s testimony.

Congressman Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) asked Walensky if her March 2021 public statement on MSNBC, in which she unequivocally said that “vaccinated people do not carry the virus, they do not get sick” was accurate. “At the time it was [accurate],” Walensky replied confidently.

She then proceeded to explain, “We’ve had an evolution of the science and an evolution of the virus” and that “all the data at the time suggested that vaccinated people, even if they got sick, could not transmit the virus.”

However, there was no such evidence at the time and it prompted criticism from scientists who said there wasn’t enough data to claim that vaccinated people were completely protected or that they could not transmit the virus to others.

One of those critics was Jay Bhattacharya, professor of health policy at Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Back then, Walensky didn’t know if it was true. It was just an irresponsible use of a bully pulpit as a CDC director to say something that she did not know for certain to be true at the time,” said Bhattacharya.

“Unfortunately, people used that information to discriminate against unvaccinated individuals and would certainly have been used as fuel for very destructive policies like vaccine mandates,” he added.

Notably, only days after Walensky made that statement to MSNBC, a spokesperson from her own agency had to walk back the comments saying, “Dr. Walensky spoke broadly in this interview” adding that it was possible for fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19.

Did Walensky miss the memo?

Walensky should have known that when mRNA vaccines were first authorized in 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) listed critical “gaps” in the knowledge base. One of them was the vaccine’s unknown effectiveness against viral transmission.

Also, in Pfizer’s and Moderna’s original pivotal trials, there were 8 and 11 people respectively, who developed symptomatic COVID-19 in the vaccine group, proving the vaccines never had absolute effectiveness, like Walensky had claimed.

Several months later, the FDA’s evaluation stayed the same. In a clinical review, the FDA wrote:

“Remaining uncertainties regarding the clinical benefits of BNT162b2 in individuals 16 years and older, include its level of protection against asymptomatic infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, including for the delta variant.”

Even today, the FDA remains clear that efficacy against transmission is unproven. The FDA’s website states:

“While it is hoped this will be the case, the scientific community does not yet know if Comirnaty will reduce such transmission.”

No, Cochrane summary wasn’t ‘retracted’

Another astonishing falsehood made by Walensky was her response to Congressman Clyde’s question about the Cochrane review which found that wearing face masks in the community “probably makes little to no difference” in preventing viral transmission.

Walensky enthusiastically stated:

“I think its notable, that the Editor-in-Chief of Cochrane, actually said that the summary of that review was [stumble] she retracted the summary of that review and said that it was inaccurate.”

However, the summary of the review was not retracted, nor have the authors of the review changed the language in the summary.

Misleading statements by New York Times columnist Zeynep Tufekci has likely led to this falsehood being repeated (which I cover in a previous article).

In response to Walensky’s comments, Tom Jefferson, lead author of the Cochrane study said, “Walensky is plain wrong. There has been no retraction of anything.”

“It’s worth reiterating that we are the copyright holders of the review, so we decide what goes in or out of the review and we will not change our review on the basis of what the media wants or what Walensky says,” remarked Jefferson.

Bhattacharya was also stunned by Walensky’s comments. “It’s irresponsible for her to claim that the Cochrane review [summary] was retracted when it was not. It damages her credibility and harms the scientific process, which requires public officials to be honest about scientific results,” he said.

Will Walensky be held accountable for misleading Congress?

Witnesses at these hearings are expected to provide truthful and accurate information to the committee and may be subject to legal penalties if they provide false information or knowingly make false statements.

But will Walensky be held accountable for misleading Congress? Unlikely.

Originally published on Maryanne Demasi’s Substack page.