Fact-Checking FactCheck.org’s Ms. Catalina Jaramillo: Part 2

A FactCheck.org Editorial Response to My Objections About the Incomplete and Poor Reporting By Ms. Jaramillo

FactCheck.org editor, Mr. Eugene Kiely, has refused to revise and amend the record to reflect the evidence suggesting COVID-19 vaccination of the naturally immune is only marginally, if not at all, “clinically beneficial” to such already immune persons. Nor is he willing to amend the record to include UK data indicating that the rate of vaccine adverse events is higher when the recently infected are indiscriminately vaccinated. Why is that?

FactCheck.org’s Ms. Catalina Jaramillo recently published a poorly researched opinion article on the problem of indiscriminate vaccination of the already naturally immune and recently infected. This article was presented as a “fact check”, though in reality it was a disingenuous and shameful attempt at debunking a real safety concern to a minority subset of Americans in harm’s way.

In a previous article, I detailed my position on the totally unacceptable, dangerous and politically motivated orientation of Ms. Jaramillo’s article.

I also engaged the editors of FactCheck.org in an email requesting that Ms. Jaramillo either, a) include a few critical pieces of public health information she has totally ignored in her opinion piece or b) retract this badly researched article.

Of course, FactCheck.org, being the politically motivated outlet that it is, has refused to do so. Instead, they simply added an addendum to limit liability to their organization for having attempted to defame me as an immunologist and physician, by insinuating that I belong to an “anti-vaccine” contingent. So, in a CMA maneuver, they added an addendum stating:

Clarification, April 27: Although nothing in the article indicates that Dr. Noorchashm is a member of an anti-vaccination group, Dr. Noorchashm requested that we add that he is not anti-vaccine. He said he has been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Of course, is is very clear based on the responses I received and based on the editors’ unwillingness to complete the record, that they are not interested in the truth and that this article is simply a politically motivated “hit job”.

I don’t doubt that these reporters believe that they are doing the right thing for public health and for “majority benefit”. But good journalism cannot be a teleological process. That means that good journalists start from the premise that both side of a controversy may be incorrect — and they apply skepticism equally and irrespective of the numerical or institutional disadvantage of one side. Jaramillo’s argument is just another lopsided and grotesquely biased opinion piece that amounts to a media endorsement of the establishment narrative — NOT a “Fact Check”. It’s politics, not fact checking — stupid!

For the public record, I think it is important for me to publish my email communications with FactCheck.org editor Mr. Eugene Kiely — below:

— — — — — Forwarded message — — — — -
From:
Hooman Noorchashm <noorchashm@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Apr 28, 2021 at 10:14 AM
Subject: Re: REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE CORRECTION OR RETRACTION — Article By Catalina Jaramillo
To: Kiely, Eugene T <eugene.kiely@factcheck.org>
Cc: Catalina <catalina.jaramillo@factcheck.org>, Karl <kstark@inquirer.com>, Denise <grady@nytimes.com>, Jon <jon.kamp@wsj.com>, mark.maremont <mark.maremont@wsj.com>, <betsy.mckay@wsj.com>, <Amy.Marcus@wsj.com>, Gerri S <gsconstant@cbs.com>, Kelly <kelly.mcnally@foxnews.com>, Matthew Ong <matthew@cancerletter.com>, Paul Goldberg <paul@cancerletter.com>, Janet <Janet.woodcock@fda.hhs.gov>, Peter <Peter.Marks@fda.hhs.gov>, <Doug.Lankler@pfizer.com>, William C <Bill.Gruber@pfizer.com>, <wherry@pennmedicine.upenn.edu>

Mr. Kiely,

The very troubling problem with your article in FactCheck.org is that it is NOT a correctly balanced article — and basically amounts to an opinion article that is “debunking” a highly evidence and science based hazard, based only on majority opinion. But, the fact that you are unable to see the need for balance and amendment of the evidence presented, in favor of the “experts’” opinions you’ve projected, is even more troubling and corrupt journalism.

I write here for the public record and I hope that you and your colleagues have sufficient humility to read with care and consider your error outside the bounds of your egos as “Journalists”.

I hope you, as an editor, recognize that neither “facts” nor “ethical conduct” are necessarily guaranteed by group consensus or establishment narratives.

Ms. Jaramillo’s article is NOT a “fact check”, but rather an opinion piece that totally ignores several critical pieces of real evidence. The trouble with this reality you’ve chosen to ignore is that it totally undermines the credibility of your outlet — and, this is not a good sign for you or your colleagues. Let me delineated these for the record:

1) The idea of vaccine “benefit” in the already infected, as Jaramillo describes it, is based on a paper Dr. Wherry’s group at Penn published in Science. However, what Dr. Wherry’s group claims to be “benefit” is NOT at all demonstrated to be “clinical benefit”. While it is true that based on a few important immunological metrics, the vaccine boosts the immune response as it is supposed to, in previously infected persons as it does in the uninfected, these alone are not demonstration of “clinical benefit”. It is disingenuous of Dr. Wherry to have claimed clinical “benefit” in vaccination of the already infected — he has NO evidence of clinical benefit. Of course, he is entitled to his opinion as a decorated academic and non-clinical immunologist and you are welcome to write his opinion. BUT, FactCheck.org is supposed to be balanced, especially when you claim to be “Fact checkers”. Fundamentally, Ms. Jaramillo has ignored several key pieces of information, which demonstrate that there is actually NO ADDED CLINICAL BENEFIT in vaccinating the naturally immune. FactCheck.org and Ms. Jaramillo should at the very least point to these articles in your write up — especially because you are making such definitive pronouncements in your article starting from its ridiculous title that is aimed at quashing any dissent against a lopsided establishment narrative. Here is the evidence of “NO ADDED CLINICAL BENEFIT” — it is critical for the integrity of your reporting for Ms. Jaramillo’s article to include these, as more data is almost certainly accumulating for this:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.04.20.21255670v1

https://noorchashm.medium.com/j-js-covid-19-vaccine-data-table-14-natural-immunity-is-equally-protective-if-not-better-than-d9082d6c181f

2) The idea that vaccinating the infected is NOT harmful is something that you MUST be skeptical of for two reasons — BUT, again, here Jaramillo fails. First, we already know that the vaccines have an inherent risk rate to a minority of people — this is fact. So, if it is true that the vast majority of naturally immune persons do NOT benefit from added vaccination ( as the above two pieces of evidence point to), the only thing the naturally infected are subjected to when vaccinated indiscriminately are those inherent risks of harm. Second, Jaramillo totally ignores evidence from the U.K. demonstrating that, in fact, the recently infected experience a higher rate of adverse reactions to the vaccination. Of course, any clinician and epidemiologist worth their salt would know and understand that when a bell-shaped curve of adverse events is shifted to the right, the tail end of that curve is a lot more present in “death valley”. Here is the evidence for a higher rate of adverse events in the infected — it is critical for the integrity of your reporting for Ms. Jaramillo’s article to include this:

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210426/Previous-SARS-CoV-2-infection-associated-with-more-adverse-events-following-mRNA-vaccination.aspx

3) There are several on point anecdotes of young and otherwise quite healthy persons being harmed and killed by vaccination in the setting of a recent infection. Dr. J. Barton Williams of Memphis, TN is one of them. Ms. Christopher Sarmiento of NM is another. Though these are anecdotes, the strength of the safety signal is so loud, it must not be ignored. Especially in a setting where you are presumably doing a “fact checking”. Jaramillo’s article MUST include a pointer to these men (and, trust, when I tell you that there are others like them not covered by the MSM).

Fundamentally, by publishing Jaramillo’s article in FACTCheck.org and coming to such terribly dogmatic conclusions about the “safety” of indiscriminate vaccination in the previously infected, you and your reporter are being quite dangerously dishonest — and undermining your own credibility very badly. The FACT is that you’ve not debunked anything. You’ve simply parroted out the prevailing “majority” narrative in a setting where “minority harm” is very likely to be happening from indiscriminate vaccination of the already naturally immune — and you’ve not even fairly presented all the evidence. Go talk to the Israeli and British authors, if you really are interested in truthful fact checking.

I understand that there are egos and political commitments involved in your work at FactCheck.org. But, why not do a decent and good job? Why not be committed to the truth and the “facts” and balance, instead of the prevailing bully pulpit of the establishment? Amend the Jaramillo article to include the evidence I’ve presented above. Since when has the American press become the megaphone for the decorated “majority opinion”, instead of a balanced skeptic when “minority harm” is likely or possible?

Do this favor to your own integrity as journalists….because indiscriminate vaccination of the already immune is almost certain to be harming a “minority subset” of Americans…Since when is the press a parrot for “majority benefit”, at the expense of “minority harm”. Truly, Jaramillo is either a clueless reporter, or she’s a hired gun. Step out of that space and into ALL the facts, not just majority opinion, Mr. Kiely.

Oh, and Mr, Kiely, if you or a loved one has had COVID-19 before, I’d advise you to #ScreenB4Vaccine — just like if you you are driving your child somewhere in a car, I’d advise belting him/her in a car seat. Maybe you see — but I have my doubts.

Sincerely and in defense of the US public health,

Hooman.

On Tue, Apr 27, 2021 at 6:16 PM Kiely, Eugene T <eugene.kiely@factcheck.org> wrote:

Dear Dr. Noorchashm,

This acknowledges your correspondence. After review, we have confirmed that the information presented in our article is accurate. We stand by our reporting. Although we believe the article does not state or imply that you are anti-vaccine, we will publish a short clarification stating that you are not anti-vaccine and have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Eugene Kiely

Director, FactCheck.org

202 South 36th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

@ekiely

Donate to FactCheck.org. Help us hold politicians accountable

From: Hooman Noorchashm <noorchashm@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2021 9:42 PM
To: Kiely, Eugene T <eugene.kiely@factcheck.org>
Cc: Jaramillo, Catalina <catalina.jaramillo@factcheck.org>; Stark, Karl <kstark@inquirer.com>; Grady, Denise <grady@nytimes.com>; Kamp, Jon <jon.kamp@wsj.com>; mark.maremont <mark.maremont@wsj.com>; betsy.mckay@wsj.com; Amy.Marcus@wsj.com; Constant, Gerri S <gsconstant@cbs.com>; McNally, Kelly <kelly.mcnally@foxnews.com>; Matthew Ong <matthew@cancerletter.com>; Paul Goldberg <paul@cancerletter.com>; Woodcock, Janet <Janet.woodcock@fda.hhs.gov>; Marks, Peter <Peter.Marks@fda.hhs.gov>; Doug.Lankler@pfizer.com; Gruber, William C <Bill.Gruber@pfizer.com>; wherry@pennmedicine.upenn.edu
Subject: Re: REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE CORRECTION OR RETRACTION — Article By Catalina Jaramillo

Dear Mr. Kiely,

First, do understand that every day Ms. Jaramillo’s article remains online is another day that her characterization of my opinion damages my reputation as being “anti-vaccine” or not credible. I ask that you immediately remove this article from the live web as you adjudicate the validity of my complaint here.

Second, I would ask that you dig into what exactly Dr. Wherry meant by “benefit” — he certainly has NO data demonstrating clinical “benefit”. Please understand that the clinical definition of “benefit” is susceptibility to infection, duration of illness and transmissibility. Dr. Wherry has NO data on any of that. But to contrary, data from J&J’s vaccine trial AND more recently from my colleagues in Israel, as I quoted for you, demonstrate equivalent protection from infection in vaccinated and naturally immune persons.

Do consider that Ms. Jaramillo’s article starting from its title through to its terribly researched mischaracterization of my position is simply an embarrassment to FactCheck.org and the Annenberg center — because it truly read like a political hit job on a concocted “anti-vaccine” position.

For your record, on a personal level, I have undergone vaccination myself with the Moderna vaccine and have a large quantity of IgG antibody against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in my blood. My son, who contracted a COVID-19 infection in November also has a large titer of the same kind of IgG antibody in his blood — he will not be getting vaccinated in the near future as he is naturally immune. On the other hand my 18 year old daughter did NOT have any IgG antibody to SARS-C0V-2 spike protein and underwent her first shot of the mRNA vaccine today.

Fundamentally, Ms. Jaramillo and FactCheck.org can do a far more balanced and truthful job than the present article. Certainly, you MUST immediately eliminate the politically motivated dimension of an article that amounts to an attack on my professional character and a politically motivated hit-job. I do recognize that you folks may not clearly understand why it is critical for physicians and public health experts to decently and rationally engage Mr. Tucker Carlson’s audience. But, my conversation with Mr. Carlson does not deserve the type of underhanded and unfounded professional character assasination Ms. Jaramillo launched in her very poorly research article. Please immediately remove this article from the Live web, as you adjudicate my complaint and revise or retract the Jaramillo opinion piece.

Happy to speak with you or with Ms. Jaramillo by phone, if you wish.

Sincerely,

Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD.

On Mon, Apr 26, 2021 at 5:30 PM Kiely, Eugene T <eugene.kiely@factcheck.org> wrote:

Dr. Noorchashm,

We will review your request and get back to you in due time.

Sincerely,

Eugene Kiely

Director, FactCheck.org

202 South 36th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

@ekiely

Donate to FactCheck.org. Help us hold politicians accountable

From: Hooman Noorchashm <noorchashm@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2021 2:52 PM
To: FactCheck.org Editor <editor@factcheck.org>
Cc: Jaramillo, Catalina <catalina.jaramillo@factcheck.org>; Stark, Karl <kstark@inquirer.com>; Grady, Denise <grady@nytimes.com>; Kamp, Jon <jon.kamp@wsj.com>; mark.maremont <mark.maremont@wsj.com>; betsy.mckay@wsj.com; Amy.Marcus@wsj.com; Constant, Gerri S <gsconstant@cbs.com>; McNally, Kelly <kelly.mcnally@foxnews.com>; Matthew Ong <matthew@cancerletter.com>; Paul Goldberg <paul@cancerletter.com>; Woodcock, Janet <Janet.woodcock@fda.hhs.gov>; Marks, Peter <Peter.Marks@fda.hhs.gov>; Doug.Lankler@pfizer.com; Gruber, William C <Bill.Gruber@pfizer.com>; wherry@pennmedicine.upenn.edu
Subject: REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE CORRECTION OR RETRACTION — Article By Catalina Jaramillo

Dear Editor,

On April 23, 2021, Reporter Catalina Jaramillo produced an article for FactCheck.org, which contains a poorly researched piece of misinformation:

https://www.factcheck.org/2021/04/scicheck-vaccines-benefit-those-who-have-had-covid-19-contrary-to-viral-posts/

First, as a general point, Ms. Jaramillo’s article reads more like an opinion piece parroting folks with institutional regalia, instead of a well researched article with balanced skepticism of both sides of an argument.

Second, Ms. Jaramillo’s effort to insinuate that, as a physician and immunologist, I am “anti-vaccine”, is not only incorrect, it is irreparably harmful to my public reputation and professional standing. On this complaint, especially, I ask that you make immediate revisions to eliminate ANY insinuation to that effect.

Substantively, at issue are my statements in public that naturally immune persons are, at least equally, protected from subsequent COVID-19 infection as are vaccinated persons — and that, therefore, indiscriminate vaccination of such already immune persons is only potentially harmful to a minority subset of these persons. I state this not only as a fundamental and rational prediction of basic immunological science, but also based on two specific pieces of clinical information demonstrating this fact. One is data from the J&J vaccine’s clinical trials and another is from a large dataset analysis originating from Israel. You may review these FACTS here — please do so carefully:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.04.20.21255670v1

https://noorchashm.medium.com/j-js-covid-19-vaccine-data-table-14-natural-immunity-is-equally-protective-if-not-better-than-d9082d6c181f

Ms. Jaramillo fails to refer to either of these solid pieces of clinical epidemiological evidence in her “Fact Checking” process — which appears more like a terribly biased piece of journalism using Dr. Wherry as the only source pointing to “benefit”.

Therefore, Jaramillo’s contention in FactCheck.org that naturally immune persons will “benefit” from added vaccination is not only incorrect, it is potentially dangerous to public health. That she uses Dr. John Wherry’s comments regarding “benefit” in this population is shocking given the Dr. Wherry is actually not a clinician and is primarily an administrator at Penn with one foot in a basic research lab. Of course, Wherry’s comments are irresponsible and incorrect and go directly in the face of clinical data and facts established by J&J’s clinical trial and from Israelis colleagues (see above).

I am writing here on this record to request that you immediately revise and amend — or retract — Ms. Jaramillo’s incorrect and suboptimal article for the record. This, because your organization’s integrity and commitment to the truth telling is now at stake.

to summarize, I am stating:

1) My position is that of an immunologist and physician with a good understanding of the critical importance of vaccines for control of infectious disease epidemics and pandemics — and one who has, himself, received the COVID-19 vaccine and is serologically immune.

2) Dr. John Wherry’s comment that the already infected “benefit” from added vaccination is incorrect and contrary to epidemiological evidence from J&J and from Israeli clinical experience. Ms. Jaramillo’s article does NOT cover this fact at all — this is simply bad reporting.

3) Because there is highly likely to be no added benefit to vaccination of persons who are naturally immune to SARS-CoV-2, based on a prior infection, their vaccination is an unnecessary medical practice.

4) Implementation of an unnecessary medical practice indiscriminately in millions of Americans, only imposes the risk of harm to at least a minority subset of such unsuspecting persons, who stand to gain no benefit to begin with.

5) that FactCheck.org editors carefully read my detailed critique of Ms. Jaramillo’s poorly researched article here:

https://noorchashm.medium.com/fact-checking-factcheck-orgs-ms-catalina-jaramillo-b69ebebb9996

With several attorneys representing me CC’d here, I ask that FactCheck.org immediately revise (or retract) this article to remove any, even remote, insinuation that I am “anti-vaccine” and revise the record on Wherry’s incorrect statement about vaccine “benefit” in the naturally immune.

I look forward to hearing from you with all expediency — as I would prefer not to formally involve legal professionals in attempting to correct your reporter’s error and misinformation,

Sincerely and in defense of US public health and minority subsets of people in harm’s way from irrational and negligent conduct by the profession,

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.

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