New York Times Posts Lengthy Correction After Badly Botching Story on Vaccine Strategies for Children
The massive correction on, among other things, the number of COVID hospitalizations among U.S. children led some to ridicule the paper over forcing out veteran health and science reporter Don McNeil Jr. earlier this year over a fake “racism” scandal.
Not only was this week a terrible one for so-called “fact-checkers” like the ones at the Associated Press and Politifact, but the New York Times found itself in a rather embarrassing situation after they had to issue a massive correction to a Wednesday report their health and science reporter Apoorva Mandavilli wrote on Wuhan coronavirus vaccine strategies for children.
In the original story, archived here, Mandavilli claimed that officials in Sweden and Denmark were “joining the ranks” of other countries by “announcing that adolescents should get only one jab of the Moderna vaccine.” She also reported that “nearly 900,000 [U.S.] children have been hospitalized with Covid-19 since the pandemic began”:
Officials in Britain, Hong Kong, Norway and other countries have recommended a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 and older — providing partial protection from the virus, but without the potential harms occasionally observed after two doses. On Wednesday, Sweden and Denmark joined the ranks, announcing that adolescents should get only one jab of the Moderna vaccine.
Nearly 900,000 children have been hospitalized with Covid-19 since the pandemic began, and about 520 have died. Some children have developed so-called long Covid-19, in which symptoms can persist for months, and more than 4,000 have been diagnosed with a dangerous condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
Just in those two paragraphs alone were multiple errors, two of which were easily preventable if the reporter had simply looked at the very link she referenced.
On the claim about Sweden and Denmark, the Reuters report Mandavilli linked actually noted officials in both countries were pausing the use of the Moderna vaccine in young people, citing rare side effects.
Further, the false “900,000 children” claim about children in the U.S. who have been hospitalized should have been detected and fixed before the story was published since it’s widely known that severe Wuhan coronavirus cases among children requiring hospitalization are rare. This is something an award-winning science reporter like Mandavilli should have known without even having to look at the data.
There were other erroneous claims as well, which were indicated by the lengthy correction the New York Times posted at the bottom of the article the following day:
Correction: Oct. 7, 2021
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described actions taken by regulators in Sweden and Denmark. They have halted use of the Moderna vaccine in children; they have not begun offering single doses. The article also misstated the number of Covid hospitalizations in U.S. children. It is more than 63,000 from August 2020 to October 2021, not 900,000 since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the article misstated the timing of an F.D.A. meeting on authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children. It is later this month, not next week.
It’s been screengrabbed for posterity’s sake:
I see this NYT reporter is meeting her usual standards today. pic.twitter.com/zZ3OV348PU
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) October 8, 2021
Original: "Nearly 900,000 children have been hospitalized with Covid-19 since the pandemic began…"
Corrected: "More than 63,000 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 from August 2020 to October 2021…"
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) October 8, 2021
The Times was widely mocked on social media after the correction was revealed, especially among those who remember how the paper forced out veteran health and science reporter Don McNeil Jr. earlier this year over a fake “racism” scandal simply because triggered wokesters in the newsroom demanded it:
The NYT used to have a science reporter who didn’t make these mistakes. Wonder what happened to him. https://t.co/jWcjfQGrk6
— Aaron Sibarium (@aaronsibarium) October 8, 2021
NYT had an outstanding, highly experienced COVID reporter, but was fired because he made very rich teenagers unhappy when forced to entertain them on a paid trip.
Now we have an incompetent in his place constantly doing this, or saying it's racist to investigate COVID origins: https://t.co/iGoCvgP9Jx
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 8, 2021
To add insult to injury, Mandavilli was the “2019 winner of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting” as noted in both her New York Times author bio and on her Twitter page, which just goes to show that prestigious awards are not what they used to be, something legend-in-his-own mind Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, a longtime New York Times columnist, also reminds us of on an almost-daily basis.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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