Death Of An Orthopod From COVID-19: Was It The Virus, Was It The Vaccine, Or Was It Both?

Dr. J. Barton Williams, an Orthopeadic Surgeon in Memphis, TN, died of complications of COVID-19 disease following vaccination with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Last week the press reported on the tragic death of Dr. J. Barton Williams, a 36 year old orthopaedic surgeon in Memphis, TN, from complications of a prior asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.

His physicians have stated on the record that Dr. Williams died of a “delayed immune response to COVID” — or what clinicians describe as multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS).

What makes this death unusual and ominous is that Dr. Williams appears to have been an otherwise healthy 36 year old, whose only related issue was an asymptomatic COVID-19 infection a few weeks prior to his death — AND that he developed his inflammatory disease after undergoing COVID-19 vaccination.

So what triggered the “delayed” immune response to COVID-19 in Dr. Williams’ body — in a setting where all tests for replicating virus were negative at the time?

What tipped Dr. Williams over the edge and in the direction of developing the fatal systemic inflammation that killed him?

It is quite clear that Dr. Williams’ so-called “delayed immune response” to COVID-19 emerged after he completed his COVID-19 vaccine course — this, according to his physicians.

In stating the above I know that I will likely inflame my critics and those with political, ego or financial interests at stake, who would rather not look at or think critically about any potential vaccine related diseases or adverse events — for fear that such discourse would create “vaccine hesitancy” or damage hard won political positions in the vaccine regulatory space.

These critics are wrong. For it is the duty of all our public health leaders, corporate leaders and public health advocates to carefully think about Dr. J. Barton Williams’ death, the forensic analysis of his pathology, and a potential linkage to his vaccine regimen. His, may be an important index case for a wider public health hazard from the COVID-19 vaccine, causing “minority harm”.

So, here I offer my forensic analytic as an immunologist, physician and public health advocate — on the tragic death of Dr. J. Barton Williams — for public discourse and regulatory consideration.

There are only three forensic options to consider in thinking about this index case:

  1. TRUE, Dr. Williams died of a delayed COVID-19 related inflammatory disease — and, TRUE, Dr. Williams developed this disease after completing his vaccination course. BUT, these events are “unrelated”. And we should continue business as usual.
  2. Dr. Williams’ death from a systemic inflammatory disease has no connection to either his past asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, or his most recent vaccination regimen. And we should continue business as usual.
  3. The COVID-19 vaccine activated an antigen specific systemic inflammatory response to viral antigens persisting in Dr. Williams’ tissues following his recent asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. This inflammatory response was further boosted after his second vaccination and spun out of control, morphing into an uncontrollable and deadly disease.

Unfortunately, the majority in the mainstream press, vaccine industry advocates, well-meaning physicians with limited immunological training, and public health officials seem to be inclined to adopt explanations #1 or #2 to explain away Dr. Williams’ death. That is, a reluctance or total failure to consider explanation #3, that the COVID-19 vaccine, could trigger systemic inflammation in the currently or recently infected.

Of course, the vast majority people who are unwilling to consider explanation #3, are simply comfortable with the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine imparts protection and benefit to the vast majority — and are willing to tolerate “minority harm”. For them, “majority benefit” justifies “minority harm”.

So in what follows, I will put together a forensic theory and ethical analysis, based on what has been reported in the general press, about Dr. Williams’ tragic death. It is my opinion that explanation #3, above, is directly relevant to the death of Dr. J. Barton Williams of Memphis, TN. And I do hope that his physicians, and perhaps his loved ones, may be able to help protect others like him, recently or currently infected with COVID-19, from likely harm caused by indiscriminate vaccination of the infected.

Fundamental immunological science tells us that when a person (or experimental rodent) is infected with a virus or other microbial pathogen, even after all clinical signs of illness and infection have resolved, antigens from the invading pathogen persist in the tissues of the infected for many months — even years.

Additionally, we know that all effective vaccines are effective because they can activate an antigen specific immune response on the part of the cellular components of the adaptive immune system: that is, B-cells (responsible for making antibodies) and T-cells (responsible for causing inflammation and killing infected cells). Of course, one of the most remarkable features of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines is the fact that they powerfully activate just such immune responses by T-cells and B-cells.

So, one does not have to be a trained immunologist to logically extrapolate that if a person’s tissues are harboring antigens from a past COVID-19 infection, when a vaccine is administered to activate an immune response to viral antigens, an antigen specific inflammatory response will be directed to these previously infected tissues.

Based on the above immunological principles, this is my forensic theory about the cause of Dr Williams’ tragic death: That the COVID-19 vaccine activated, potentiated, and subsequently directed, an antigen specific inflammatory response to his previously infected tissues, which harbored persistent viral antigens — an inflammatory response that evolved into an irreversible and deadly state following administration of his second vaccine.

Since last year, I had formally and publicly warned FDA, CDC, Pfizer and Moderna that indiscriminate vaccination of the recently or currently COVID-19 infected persons poses a danger to public health — for exactly the reasons I have detailed above in thinking about Dr. Williams’ death. Though all these government and corporate entities acknowledged receiving and fully understanding my risk prognostication, none have done much to mitigate against the projected risk to the population. Of course, I also proposed a simple solution involving a regulatory warning — particularly for the elderly and frail.

As an American physician, immunologist and public health advocate, I find the absent to lethargic response to my warning on the part of FDA, CDC, Pfizer and Moderna quite disturbing — because the immunological reasoning behind this risk prognostication is logically unassailable. And, because we are very literally indiscriminately administering the COVID-19 vaccine to millions of people across the globe in the midst of a pandemic when millions are recently or currently infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Mocking critics cry, “where is the ‘evidence’ for what you warn of?”. To which I can only respond: The pandemic is only months old. the vaccine is only weeks old. We are vaccinating millions daily across the world. The science of immunology is not fickle. And by the time the “evidence” your egos demand emerges, it will be too late to mitigate harm to the “minority” harmed. We must mitigate now. We must stop indiscriminate vaccination of the recently or currently infected. Do you not see?

I believe that Dr. Williams’ death, as tragic as it is, represents an important index case for the leadership of FDA, CDC, Pfizer and Moderna, for what will be a larger scale public health danger affecting a minority subset of citizens undergoing indiscriminate immunization with the COVID-19 vaccine — albeit a daily growing “minority subset” made up of recently or currently infected persons.

And to be crystal clear to my vocal critics, I do not believe that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, or any other iteration of this vaccine, are intrinsically dangerous. Certainly, I am almost 100% confident that these vaccine are some of the most powerful immunogens ever created to combat a pandemic — and that they will protect the vast majority of citizens quite well. But, I am not so naive as a clinician or public health advocate as to believe that there is no subset of patients in whom indiscriminate use of the vaccine will be unsafe or deadly. As an Immunologist, I am nearly certain that persons recently or currently infected with SARS-CoV-2 are this “minority subset” in harm’s way from indiscriminate COVID-19 vaccination.

In this pandemic where millions of citizens have been recently or currently infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, indiscriminate vaccination of such persons, poses the risk of activating systemic inflammation or tissue specific injury. Because the tissues of such recently or currently infected persons, even if asymptomatic or convalescent at the time of immunization, are almost certainly harboring viral antigens, which will be targeted following vaccination.

To be clear, I do believe that the majority of such recently or currently infected persons, especially the young and otherwise healthy, would only exhibit mild to moderate symptoms of inflammation and recover well. A few unfortunate, like Dr. Williams, might experience devastating inflammatory symptoms and become gravely ill or tragically die.

But, it is gravely concerning that recently or currently infected elderly and frail with cardiovascular disease may not be as resilient as the young — not to mention many are institutionalized and carry intellectual deficits that bar them from communicating their symptoms or consent. And it is precisely this population in whom we are most anxiously deploying the COVID-19 vaccine as rapidly as possible — we are so doing dangerously, indiscriminately.

There really is only one responsible public health lens from which to look at Dr. J. Barton Williams’ death from systemic inflammation: He was a recently SARS-CoV-2 infected person, whose vaccination pushed him into a deadly systemic inflammatory state.

To assume that neither Dr. Williams’ vaccination, nor his prior asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection are causally related to this death is simply irresponsible. Because his death is highly likely to be a clear index case for a public health hazard that is causing “minority harm” in the midst of a critical utilitarian medical practice — one that is sure to benefit “the majority” in our nation and the world.

Balancing the overall good of the nation with the safety of minority subsets of citizens and residents of the United States in harm’s way is the work of the United States Food and Drug Administration. But accepting the intellectually lazy and easy path offered by the dogmatic utilitarian position (i.e., majority benefit from vaccination), as the ethically (and legally) correct and absolute one, would be a grave regulatory error by the FDA and its new commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock — certainly by Pfizer and Moderna executives.

Tolerating “Minority harm” in an otherwise utilitarian equation has never been an acceptable or stable American position — irrespective of the extent of “majority benefit”. THIS fundamental tenet is what sets American government apart from that of most other democracies — and government in the public health space ought not be an exception.

In the aftermath of Dr. J. Barton Williams’ tragic death, FDA, CDC, Pfizer and Moderna must act definitively to protect the infected, with known or occult SARS-CoV-2 recent or current infections, from indiscriminate vaccination — with all due urgency.

May the spirit of Dr. J. Barton Williams work to protect those others, with recent or current SARS-CoV-2 infection, in likely harm’s way from indiscriminate COVID-19 vaccination.

In friendship and in defense of US and global public health,

Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD.


Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD is a physician-scientist. He is an advocate for ethics, patient safety and women’s health. He and his 6 children live in Pennsylvania.