New York Times corrects itself after major false claim regarding hospitalization of children for COVID

The New York Times has issued a correction after wildly overstating the number of children who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19.

In a report under the headline, “A New Vaccine Strategy for Children: Just One Dose, for Now,” science and health writer Apoorva Mandavilli made several mistakes, leading the liberal daily paper to make significant corrections, including overstating child COVID hospitalizations by more than 800,000.

Initially, the Times reported that “nearly 900,000 children have been hospitalized” with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, but after editors fact-checked the story the number was reduced and the corrected version read “more than 63,000 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 from August 2020 to October 2021.”

In addition, the story misreported actions that were taken by government and health regulators in the European countries of Denmark and Switzerland, while also getting the time of a crucial Food and Drug Administration meeting wrong.

The correction read: “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.”

Other journalists picked up on the massive correction including Jeryl Byer, who asked on Twitter, “How did an error that large happen, @NYTimes?”

American Commitment president and free-market policy analyst Phil Kerpen added, “I see this NYT reporter is meeting her usual standards today.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald also took the paper to task for the mistakes.

“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,” he wrote in reference to Donald McNeil Jr., who was forced out earlier this year.

“Now we have an incompetent in his place constantly doing this, or saying it’s racist to investigate COVID origins,” Greenwald noted further, mentioning an incident in which Mandavilli claimed the COVID “lab-leak” theory had “racist roots.”

Others ridiculed the Times for mentioning under the correction that Mandavilli “is the 2019 winner of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.”

Additional reporting about the coronavirus pandemic has often been called into question as well. One of the paper’s former journalists, for example, has come under fire for his takes: Alex Berenson, who worked at the times from 1999-2010, when he became a full-time novelist, has followed the pandemic throughout and has spoken about his experiences with left-leaning journalists and outlets who have attacked his reporting.

“The left seems frantic to stop any debate – about how to handle COVID, global warming, whether ‘trans’ women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports,” Berenson wrote in an op-ed in February. “Worse, it is no longer content to try to shout down views it does not like. It wants to punish the people who hold them.”

He has noted that due to his criticism of COVID-19 lockdowns, mask mandates, and other policies, he has difficulty finding work as a writer and can’t get major publications to review his books, though he has had 12 bestsellers in the past.

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Jon Dougherty

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