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.
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).