The number of vaccine injury reports that poured in after the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines caught officials off guard, newly disclosed documents show.
The contractor hired for $9.4 million to process reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) estimated a maximum of 1,000 reports per day—the “worst case scenario,” according to one document. But the number of reports broke through the “red line” on Dec. 26, 2020—less than three weeks after U.S. regulators authorized COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.
“Two vaccines have been released since the last report. Since release the number of incoming COVID-19 reports has significantly exceeded the estimated maximum of 1,000 reports per day,” General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the contractor, informed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a status report on Jan. 15, 2021. “As a result, GDIT is unable to meet processing and other timeframes (data processing, telephone inquiries, clinical [inquiries], etc.).”
A chart included in the report shows that the number of daily reports was in the thousands, even going above 4,500 on Jan. 10, 2021.
The metrics in December 2020 set new records, including for the number of incoming reports.
GDIT struggled to keep up with the record number of reports in 2021.
“Although staff processed over 40,000 reports in February, a record high, they are unable to keep up with the increased surge in reports at current staffing levels,” GDIT told the CDC in an update on March 15, 2021.
The backlog of reports to the system skyrocketed to 93,940, despite the contractor having hired more than 290 additional staffers and having processed more reports in the ensuing months.
It took until the end of May 2021 to clear the backlog while handling the incoming reports and conducting related activities, such as sending medical records to relevant parties.
The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by a researcher, who shared them with The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity. Hebrew University lecturer Josh Guetzkow first reported on them.
Reports Much Higher Than Before
In the CDC’s contract with GDIT, obtained by the same researcher, the CDC stated that VAERS received an average of 53,000 reports each year from 2014 through 2018. Of those reports, 5 percent were serious.
The total number of reports received during the COVID-19 pandemic is unclear, as each month didn’t include an exact number. But 268,157 reports were received by the end of March 2021, less than four months after the vaccines were rolled out, the newly disclosed documents show.
In 2022, GDIT started struggling with processing incoming medical records, which it blamed on its fax machines being overrun and on a jump in emails, including emails with medical records attached.
It also stated that it was having trouble with following up with health care workers, citing, in part, an increase in serious reports.
Compared with the 5 percent of the reports received from 2014 through 2018 that were serious, the CDC stated in the contract that up to 40 percent of the reports for COVID-19 vaccines were expected to be serious.
The exact percentage of serious reports wasn’t listed in the newly disclosed documents. Serious reports include reports of hospitalization, life-threatening illness, and death.
According to MedAlerts, which tracks VAERS data, 12 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine reports have been serious through March 10, 2023. There have been 994,275 COVID-19 vaccine reports lodged since December 2020.
The CDC paid GDIT at least $31.6 million for work on VAERS, which the government describes as “the nation’s early warning system” for vaccine issues.
Hundreds of events met the safety signal criteria in VAERS, according to CDC records obtained by The Epoch Times.
Objectives of the work, according to the contract, were to “rapidly detect new, unusual, or rare” adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination, monitor trends in known vaccine adverse events, and identify vaccine lots for COVID-19 vaccines with an increased number or type of reported adverse events.
That type of information wasn’t included in the newly disclosed documents. The Epoch Times has filed a Freedom of Information Act seeking the information.
Although GDIT’s contract went until the end of August 2022, no documents about its work were produced for the last month.
Another firm, Eagle Health Analytics, was tapped in mid-2021 to help with the VAERS work through mid-2022. That contract was modified in November 2021 to increase staffing levels, in part to expand the work to V-safe, a CDC-run phone survey application that’s also used to monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety.
V-safe data released through a court order in 2022 showed that millions of people required medical care, or missed normal activity, after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC left adverse events it knew were possibly linked to the vaccines off of the surveys.
The expanded Eagle contract also raised the time of work on VAERS from 12,480 hours to 20,800 hours.
Eagle has received $7.1 million of the $11.4 million owed for its work. The firm has also received $2.7 million out of the $9 million owed for a similar contract.