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Bureaucrats Rewriting Pandemic History

The CDC is blaming a boy’s death on bacteria found in his corpse.

Illustration: Pfizer Inc
(Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

You cannot talk about vaccine injuries without being called a nut. Even my sympathetic editor at The American Conservative warned me that writing this column would require threading a very fine needle. He was right to say so. 

But much has changed in recent years, especially the last three. The mass radicalization caused by the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020—an effect we might just as fairly call an awakening as a reaction—is not going the way of the pandemic protocols in the rear-view mirror. It is good that it is not. The further we get from the pandemic itself, and especially as institutions attempt to inject new life into failed early pandemic policies, as one Atlanta college did this week, the truer this becomes. 


Meet Jacob Clynick, a 13-year-old boy from Saginaw County, Michigan. One Sunday in mid-June 2021, Clynick received a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a Walgreens pharmacy. He complained of fatigue and developed a fever, which persisted through the following days, but had no other visible symptoms. On Wednesday morning, he was found dead in his bedroom. 

You have heard this story before. Clynick’s family reported that the preliminary results of the autopsy revealed evidence of myocarditis, an acute and often deadly condition in which the inner muscular layer of the heart wall becomes inflamed. Yet, according to all reports at the time, Clynick had been an otherwise healthy eighth-grader, with no known pre-existing conditions. 

The story went so viral that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention felt obligated to weigh in. While Clynick’s was far from the first possible case of myocarditis to develop in a young boy who was recently vaccinated, his was one of the more poignant stories due to its tragic ending. By June 23, about a week after Clynick’s death, a CDC advisory committee acknowledged a “likely association” between Pfizer and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines and the risk of heart problems in young adults and children. 

At this point, the CDC was reporting at least 1,200 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis—a similar condition, but in the tissue surrounding the heart rather than within the muscle itself—in adults who had taken the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. A disproportionate number of these cases were in males under the age of 30, and outcomes for these young men reportedly varied from a brief hospital visit to sudden, seemingly unexplained death. By July 2, the CDC announced it would investigate the causes of Jacob’s death, a process that they said would take three to five months, and hopefully put to rest the fears of the vaccine-hesitant. In the meantime, Americans were to continue to take the shots, many against the threat of losing their jobs, and hope they weren’t Case Number 1,201. 

More than two years later, the results of that investigation have finally been published—or rather, wrestled into the public eye by way of a Freedom of Information Act request. Last Friday, the CDC responded to a FOIA request from the Detroit Free Press by saying their study found Jacob had died due to an unexplained “systemic bacterial infection” that caused sepsis. It was the same explanation they had tried to push two years ago, before the investigation had concluded: The primary cause of the myocarditis found in the initial autopsy of the young boy was, the spokesperson said, Clostridium septicum, “a type of bacteria that produces a toxin that can cause inflammation and damage to the heart and other organs.” The CDC is blaming the boy’s death on bacteria found in his corpse. 


Their explanation does not pass the sniff test for Joseph Clynick, Jacob’s father. 

“I think it had to have something to do with the vaccine,” he told the Free Press. “It doesn't make any sense that it wouldn't.”

The medical examiner who conducted Jacob’s autopsy, Dr. Randy Tashjian, apparently disagreed with the CDC’s conclusion, according to internal correspondence disclosed in the Free Press’s FOIA. In the eight months which passed between Clynick’s death and the release of his official autopsy, Tashjian and federal officials at the CDC exchanged a flurry of emails and phone calls about the death, disagreeing over details as small as verbiage and as large as the cause of death. One has to wonder how many other bodies receive this level of attention from the CDC; certainly, Clynick’s was a highly political corpse. 

The CDC wanted the cause of death attributed to the bacteria from the beginning, but Tashjian rejected this: There was no obvious gastrointestinal source of the infection, and the damage in the teen boy’s heart did not look like myocarditis caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Moreover, though there was some bacteria around Jacob’s heart, the majority was elsewhere. The CDC, Tashjian would later add in a medical journal article, “misinterpreted common postmortem findings, including bacterial overgrowth.” Elsewhere, in a dispute over this characterization, he called the bacteria “a postmortem artifact, not an ‘important finding’ or an ‘alternate cause of death.’”

Perhaps more concerning than the potential cause of Clynick’s death itself is the way in which the army of public health officials descended upon it, anxious to ensure that whatever was recorded about his body would fit and even promote a particular political agenda. Even now, two years after the fact, these officials are writing history the way they wish it to be, attempting to cover their behinds against the possibility that an eighth-grader’s death was caused by something they urged on an entire nation of people. 

Fortunately, however, the records of the federal bureaucracy are not the only account of this boy’s death. Nor do they account for the broader memory of the American public, at least for the generations who have lived through 2020, and 2021, and 2022, and who remember vividly the way their own leaders wielded “public health” against them. The question now must be which account will be passed down to future generations. If it is the one written by the federal officials in Atlanta, we will almost certainly see a repeat of 2020.


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