Exclusive: ‘Independent’ Advisor Who Evaluated Pfizer Vaccine Safety Was Former Paid Pfizer Consultant

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    by Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D., Childrens Health Defense:

    Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a well-known vaccinologist who served on the data monitoring committee charged with ensuring the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, previously worked as a paid consultant and advisor to Pfizer. A closer look into Edwards’ credentials reveals this was just one of many conflicts of interest.

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    A member of a purportedly independent data monitoring committee charged with ensuring the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine previously worked as a paid consultant and advisor to Pfizer.

    Dr. Kathryn Edwards’ apparent conflict of interest was revealed during a recent episode of “The Highwire with Del Bigtree.” Bigtree, an independent journalist and founder of Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), interviewed Aaron Siri, ICAN’s lead attorney.

    Siri, supported by ICAN, deposed and then cross-examined Edwards during Hazlehurst v. Hays, the first vaccine-related autism case to ever reach a jury in the U.S.

    Edwards served as an expert witness in the Hazlehurst case for one of the defendants, a medical clinic in Tennessee that administered several childhood vaccines to Yates Hazlehurst in 2001. She testified that the vaccines Hazlehurst received “were not relevant or important” to Hazlehurst’s subsequent development of autism.

    Court transcripts reviewed by The Defender reveal that Edwards’ conflict of interest involving Pfizer was just one of several revealed in her deposition and cross-examination.

    The transcripts reveal that Edwards had, at times, served on government committees evaluating vaccine safety while maintaining concurrent affiliations with vaccine manufacturers whose products were being evaluated.

    A review of Edwards’ August 2020 deposition and January 2022 cross-examination by Siri also reveals multiple instances where Edwards was apparently coached by others while her testimony was in progress. Edwards denied she was being coached, even when supporting evidence was presented.

    Along with Edwards’ prior apparent conflicts of interest — many of which involve her parallel association with vaccine manufacturers and with bodies evaluating candidate vaccines — the court transcripts raise questions about the broader impartiality of theoretically “independent” committees that evaluate vaccine safety.

    As part of this investigation, The Defender reviewed video and transcripts from Edwards’ deposition and cross-examination, and copies of her 2014 and 2019 curriculum vitae (CV) and other documentation relevant to her medical and professional background.

    Who is Kathryn Edwards?

    Edwards is viewed as a world-renowned vaccinologist, board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases, who has held professorships at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, since 1980 — the year she also joined the institution’s Vaccine Research Program, which she previously directed and of which she remains a member.

    According to one of her bios on Vanderbilt’s website, Edwards is a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where she is also vice-chair for clinical research.

    Aside from her affiliation with Vanderbilt, Edwards is principal investigator of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network.

    Another university bio for Edwards states she is “currently working with the CDC to address adverse events after immunization.”

    In Edwards’ own words during her 2022 cross-examination, she said she has “directed and organized and conducted studies on vaccines. Some of those studies are the first times those vaccines are used in people and [I] have studied vaccines and their safety. I continue to work with the CDC in providing safety assessment for vaccines and work on research to make sure that the vaccines are safe and effective.”

    Yet another Vanderbilt bio for Edwards states she has received contracts from the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH), and served on several CDC, NIH, World Health Organization (WHO) and Infectious Diseases Society of America committees.

    Edwards’ participation in WHO-related endeavors includes a 2007 advisory role in the evaluation of pandemic influenza vaccines, an unspecified 1999 advisory role, and chairing a 1997 meeting on maternal and neonatal pneumococcal immunization, according to a publicly available 2014 version of Edwards’ CV.

    The same CV indicates that Edwards, between 1991 and 1995, was a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and that between 1996 and 2000, she served as a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC).

    Testimony Edwards provided during her 2020 deposition confirmed the above, plus a second tenure on the VRBPAC from 2016 to 2018. According to Edwards’ 2022 testimony, ACIP “is a group of non-governmental experts in infectious disease vaccines and adult and child health that advise the CDC on vaccine policy.”

    According to the FDA, the VRBPAC “reviews and evaluates data concerning the safety, effectiveness, and appropriate use of vaccines and related biological products which are intended for use in the prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of human diseases.”

    Edwards’ 2014 CV also shows previous experience on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ executive committee of the Section on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Infectious Diseases, prior membership on the National Academy of Science’s Vaccine Priorities Committee and past membership on the council of the American Pediatric Society.

    Edwards is also one of the associate editors of “Plotkin’s Vaccines,” widely viewed as one of the preeminent medical school textbooks on vaccines — which Bill Gates described as as “an indispensable guide to the enhancement of the well-being of our world.”

    Edwards co-authored the COVID-19: Vaccines section of UpToDate, an online point-of-care medical resource.

    Edwards also was on the editorial board numerous well-regarded medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Clinical and Vaccine Vaccine Immunology, and Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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