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CDC director says her COVID comment was actually highlighting vaccine effectiveness

During a Senate hearing Tuesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky debunks claims that arose from an out-of-context clip.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky debunks misinformation during Senate hearing

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. 

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, debunked false claims stemming from a recent interview, saying Tuesday that a remark she made was taken out of context. The interview comment in question, made Friday during a segment of Good Morning America, was actually about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines -- which differs from what conspiracy theorists took from an edited version of Walensky's remarks.

In the GMA video clip shared on social media, the CDC director can be heard saying, "The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities," meaning they also had other conditions. Conspiracy theorists used the edited clip to affirm their belief that the only people dying from COVID are those with other conditions. 

But Walensky was referring to a large study the CDC published last week that wasn't focused on COVID overall but looked at adults who'd been vaccinated against the coronavirus. The results showed that COVID vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death, with only a very small percentage of those in the study dying. The issue of other conditions comes into play because most of that small percentage of vaccinated people who did die from breakthrough infections had at least four comorbidities.

"The study was a cohort of 1.2 million people who were vaccinated, and 36 people passed [away], demonstrating the remarkable effectiveness of our vaccines," Walenksy said during a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

The aired clip of Good Morning America has been removed, and a new clip has taken its place with the added context about the study. On the show's YouTube page, the video ends with a message saying, "This video clip has been updated to include an extended version of a GMA interview with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky. A shorter version edited for time was broadcast on Friday, January 7."

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