CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Supposedly “independent” CDC advisors received bribes from Big Pharma
By Ava Grace // Mar 13, 2024

Advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who are supposedly "independent" are far from it – as they have accepted Big Pharma bribes at some point in their respective careers.

Children's Health Defense (CHD) said nine new members of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) were appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in mid-February 2024. The ACIP – which shapes vaccine policy in the U.S. – decides which vaccines should be recommended to the public.

ACIP is comprised of a chair, an executive secretary and 15 voting members – 14 medical experts and a lone member representing consumers. HHS struggled to fill eight vacancies over the last year, CHD said, adding that an extra four members will be needed when existing members' four-year terms come to an end in June.

Meanwhile, a CDC spokesperson confirmed the appointment of nine ACIP members. Four members will begin their tenure immediately upon submission of paperwork:

  • Dr. Denise Jamieson, dean of the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine
  • Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, pediatrics professor at Stanford University
  • Dr. Albert Shaw, infectious diseases professor at Yale University's School of Medicine
  • Dr. Robert Schechter, medical officer with the California Department of Public Health

The second set of four new ACIP members will begin their tenure on July 1. They are:

  • Dr. Edwin Asturias, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the Colorado School of Public Health
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  • Dr. Helen Chu, infectious diseases specialist at the University of Washington
  • Dr. George Kuchel, geriatric medicine professor at the University of Connecticut
  • Noel Brewer, health behavior professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Aside from these eight, Vanderbilt University infectious diseases researcher Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot will rejoin the ACIP to serve as it chair. She had previously chaired the committee from 2018 through 2022. While members typically are not eligible for reappointment, the HHS provided a waiver to that existing policy in the case of Talbot.

New ACIP members far from independent

But according to CHD, the new ACIP members are far from independent. Some of them have received grant funding or consulting fees from major pharmaceutical firms including Pfizer, Moderna and Merck. Meanwhile, some of them have also publicly backed vaccines for diseases such as the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human papillomavirus (HPV). (Related: Vaccine advisers outraged as Moderna, government scientists CONCEALED key data about COVID boosters.)

In one example, Asturias has reportedly received over $60,000 in consulting fees and travel costs from Merck, Pfizer, GSK, Sanofi Pasteur and Astellas Pharma. His colleague Brewer, who works as a paid consultant for Merck, has also received commercial grants from his employer alongside similar grants from Pfizer and GSK.

Meanwhile, Chu was the co-author of a study that outlined the effectivity of COVID-19 bivalent boosters in children and adolescents aged between five and 17 years old. She also raised alarm about a "triple-demic" of RSV, COVID-19 and the flu – ostensibly to promote the RSV vaccines.

Kuchel, another strong advocate of the RSV vaccine, reportedly took consulting fees from two pharmaceutical companies in two consecutive years. Based on figures from OpenPaymentsData, he received approximately $13,000 from Janssen (under Johnson & Johnson) in 2019 and approximately $1,300 from Novo Nordisk the following year.

"ACIP has long been a rubber stamp for any and all vaccines Big Pharma wants to push," said CHD President Mary Holland in response to the new appointments.

"But the brazenness of the HHS-Big Pharma fusion has never been so much on display. The only silver lining in this grotesque display is that more and more people are waking up to the reality that ACIP has nothing to do with health and everything to do with profit."

Watch this clip from "The HighWire with Del Bigtree" about the CDC moving the goalpost on COVID-19.

This video is from the High Hopes channel on

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