Idaho doctor co-signs letter demanding the FAA, airlines ground vaccinated pilots

The letter makes claims that are not supported by scientific research.

By: - January 5, 2022 4:30 am
The Wilbur Wright Federal Building, also know as Federal Office Building 10B, is located at 600 Independence Avenue SW, in Washington, D.C. It is one of two buildings used as the headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration; the other is the Orville Wright Federal Building.

The Wilbur Wright Federal Building is located at 600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. It is one of two buildings used as the headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration; the other is the Orville Wright Federal Building. (Photo by Matthew G. Bisanz, via Wikimedia Commons)

An Idaho doctor who is under investigation for false claims about COVID-19 vaccines signed a Dec. 15 letter to the Federal Aviation Administration and major airlines that claims pilots cannot be allowed to fly after receiving a coronavirus vaccine.

The FAA and airlines are breaking federal rules that “prohibit pilots from flying with non-FDA approved agents in their bodies like the COVID-19 inoculation,” claims the letter, signed by Garden City pathologist Dr. Ryan Cole.

The letter cites federal guidance that says pilots should not receive medical certificates “without clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration” if they take certain drugs. The list includes any medications the FDA “approved less than 12 months ago.”

The letter was signed by seven people including Cole, cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough, Robert Kennedy Jr. and other activists against childhood immunizations and COVID-19 public health recommendations, including attorneys from Children’s Health Defense and Advocates for Citizens’ Rights.

They addressed the letter to the FAA, U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Justice, and to officials at American, Delta, United, Southwest and Alaska airlines.

The letter argues that adverse events from vaccination would cause “a pilot (to lose) control of his aircraft” and lead to “untold devastation.” The letter offers no solid data to support its claims.

The health events it describes are very rarely caused by vaccination; myocarditis and blood clots are, however, not uncommon among COVID-19 patients.

To support an assertion that pilots should undergo blood tests and three different types of heart tests after vaccination, the letter cites a study published in November in a journal of the American Heart Association. The letter quotes a passage from the study has since been corrected — one of a number of significant corrections. The letter doesn’t acknowledge that the journal added an “expression of concern” to the article shortly after publication, noting among other problems that “the author is not clear that only anecdotal data was used.”

The letter also repeats a false claim that no COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA in August granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine for people age 16 and older. The pharmaceutical company gave it a brand name, Comirnaty.

The FAA did not provide a comment on the letter. An FAA representative directed the Idaho Capital Sun to a webpage summarizing its policy for pilots to follow for 48 hours after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Additionally, the FAA’s 2022 Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners lists a 48-hour observation period for pilots who have received COVID-19 vaccines. “After any vaccine … (pilots) should not fly if experiencing significant side effects,” it says.

The guide also addresses medical considerations for pilots after a COVID-19 infection — ranging from those who are fully recovered, to those with ongoing health problems caused by COVID-19.

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.