New York Times Issues Multiple Corrections For Article Falsely Claiming 900,000 U.S. Children Have Been Hospitalized For COVID-19 During Pandemic

The New York Times was forced to issue multiple, major corrections for an article published on Wednesday that falsely claimed 900,000 children had been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The full correction reads:

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. 

The headline and subhead still mention single-dose vaccines for children, but that only refers to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

And while the Times article discusses how other countries are trying to balance the risks of vaccinating children, it notes that the U.S. is doing things differently. One infectious diseases physician told the outlet that “We’ve had a significant impact on our pediatric population.” This is when the Times originally claimed 900,000 children had been hospitalized during the pandemic. The article now says 63,000 children were hospitalized between August 2020 and October 2021. It also states that 520 children have died due to COVID-19, without noting how small a fraction that is compared to the hundreds of thousands of adults who have died during the pandemic or noting the low likelihood children have of getting COVID.

As New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz noted on Twitter: “The article addresses that other countries are slowing down on vaccinating children 12-17, either stopping it altogether or just giving one dose. The whole piece is about how other countries are weighing the risks and then in the US we’re like nah, let’s just do it.”

This isn’t the first time the author of the Times article, Apoorva Mandavilli, has had numerous editors added to her article.

In August of last year, Mandavilli wrote an article about coronavirus tests that also required multiple sections to be corrected. The correction on that article reads:

An earlier version of this article, using information provided by a laboratory spokesman, misstated the number of positive coronavirus tests in July processed by Wadsworth Center, New York’s state lab. It was 872 tests, not 794. Based on that error, the article also misstated the number of tests that would no longer qualify as positive with a C.T. value of 35 cycles. It is about 43 percent of the tests, not about half of them. Similarly, the article misstated the number of tests that would no longer qualify as positive if cycles were limited to 30. It is about 63 percent of the tests, not about 70 percent.