Today we begin with a critically important investigation that stands to impact millions. Only now are scientists starting to unravel some of the most confounding mysteries surrounding the many illnesses that can linger similarly after both Covid and Covid vaccines or sometimes suddenly emerge months or years later.
Many physicians are left in the dark, without effective treatment guidance from public health experts. But we found one doctor-turned-medical-detective whose findings are viewed as so groundbreaking, his help is sought-after from doctors and patients across the U.S. and beyond.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
If there’s a singular person that first set the gears turning for Dr. Jordan Vaughn, it’s Vandiver Chaplin. It was December 2020, shortly after his Covid vaccines.
Sharyl: What were you feeling?
Chaplin: I just felt terrible. You know, dizzy, lethargic, all those kind of things. I was having some optical issues too. My vision would just go blurry suddenly, and then maybe a minute or two later it would clear up.
Sharyl: You're kind of patient zero for Dr. Vaughn?
Chaplin: Well, that's what he told me. All I did was go get my vaccines and react to it. So I didn't necessarily do anything special, but except maybe I feel like a meteor coming from space that I dropped down near Dr. Vaughn.
Dr. Vaughn is an internal medicine specialist and CEO of MedHelp Clinics in Alabama. He ran some scans and other tests on Vandiver, his longtime patient, but didn’t find anything abnormal.
Vaughn: And at that time, I did some blood work, found that he had abnormal clotting issues. He was significantly short of breath.
The abnormal blood-clotting issues were there all along, says Vaughn, just hidden from view.
Chaplin: As I understand it, I was making lots of blood clots, but they were so tiny you couldn't detect them.
Dr. Vaughn: So I treated him as if he had something that I wasn't able to totally see, which would be smaller vascular issues, and his symptoms significantly improved. So that really pushed me off on a, really a kind of a journey to say, “What is going on here?"
Dr. Vaughn was onto something. By the time we visited his Birmingham practice, he and his team had treated more than 1,100 patients, from athletes in their teens to people pushing age 90. We asked a few to speak with us.
Andy Sink: Andy Sink, 55. Had acute Covid that required hospitalization.
Phil Williams: Phil Williams, 58. He's treating my wife for blood-clotting.
Mibi Bailey: I have congestive heart failure as a result of it.
Corey Kekler: I had GI symptoms and heart issues.
Henry Ray: Mini blood clots in my lungs.
They report a wide range of debilitating after-effects from Covid, Covid vaccines, or both. Some became sick right away. Others were hit hard a year — or even two years — later.
Hannah Bourgeois: Hannah Bourgeois. I'm 39, and I had shortness of breath from Covid.
Dr. Greg Bourgeois and his wife Hannah, parents to five children, were vaccinated and got Covid. She became so sick, she was nearly bedridden for two years.
Hannah: I felt like my body was just shutting down on me, and there wasn't anything I could do about it.
After a consult with the famed Mayo Clinic brought no improvement, Greg Bourgeois, a dermatologist who attended medical school with Dr. Vaughn, heard about what Vaughn was doing — and sought him out to treat his wife.
Sharyl : What did you learn was wrong with you, in layman's terms, if you can kind of explain it to people who don't know about all the intricacies?
Hannah: So I learned that there were a lot of microclots kind of throughout my body that was just causing oxygen not to be able to get around very well. He was the first doctor that when I went to see him, he would finish my sentences for how I was feeling. That was so, I mean, I think I started to cry the first time because that was so new, and he understood, and he said, "You know, it all makes sense."
Sharyl: What is the treatment he gave you, and how do you feel today?
Hannah: So he put me on the triple anticoagulant therapy, and within a couple days I started to notice some difference. But within two weeks, I felt like I had risen from the dead. I mean, I got my voice back. I could walk. I could do things.
Greg: And then to see the turnaround, it was pretty dramatic, in a way that I personally have not gotten to witness a lot of in my career.
Another physician who sought Dr. Vaughn’s help is 88-year old Donald Carmichael, a retired vascular surgeon and former professor of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He and his wife Mary Alice, both vaccinated and boosted, say they got Covid more than once. The last time — a near-killer for him.
Mary Alice Carmichael: We thought he was not going to live through the night. Our son, who is a friend of Dr. Jordan Vaughn, said, "We are not taking you anywhere else except to him in the morning." His treatment put him back in, basically in full health. And he was so giddy, I thought he had lost his mind.
There are also young athletes. The case of 15-year-old Braden Little baffled doctors for two years. He’s seen here suddenly collapsing on the court after Covid. After seeing Dr. Vaughn, he’s so vastly improved — he’s back on the road playing again.
Nineteen-year-old runner Ellen Redinger is hoping for a similar recovery. She’s also a patient of Dr. Vaughn’s after getting vaccinated, getting Covid, and getting very sick.
Redinger: I mean, I can pinpoint the day, the time, where I was, when I was running. I was doing a workout. And all of a sudden, I cannot feel my legs. I cannot feel, I mean, my heart rate is going 200. I can't do it. I call my dad. I'm like, "I'm done working out. I can't, I can't do it." And I went for like three or four months of just feeling awful.
Sharyl: You had to give up running obviously for a period of time?
Redinger: Right. And I mean, I can't do any type of working out. I can go on a walk, but it has to be like a small, short walk, for a short period of time. And if I do ever do it, I feel all I can do the next day is lay down.
Together, Vaughn and his small team are unraveling some of the emerging mysteries that, for whatever reason, have become taboo to discuss in some practices, especially when it crosses into vaccine adverse events.
Vaughn: I always say it's almost like there's two worlds. There's before Covid and after Covid. And a lot of doctors are still living in the "before Covid" world, where everything's in the textbook. But when you have a syndrome that that comes before you, and it happens to be associated with this new pathogen that everyone seems to have been in contact with, you've got to kind of open your eyes, open your ears, and also get into the literature and try to figure out what the heck's going on.
Vaughn thinks he’s figured out why people who have had both Covid and Covid vaccines often seem to get the sickest. And it has to do with what’s seen in these immunofluorescent images — something called fibrin.
Vaughn: So we are designed all to make fibrin. Fibrin is one of the first kind of response mechanisms.
Sharyl: It forms a clot if you're injured or something?
Vaughn: Yeah, it's like trauma or infection, all those kind of things. You're going to make fibrin as a response to that. But the fibrin you usually make is, again, like spaghetti that just came out of the colander. But the fibrin you make in response to a spike protein that's associated with Covid and the vaccine is kind of like burnt spaghetti with cheese in it that you have to get a Brillo pad and get it off the bottom of a casserole dish with. And in that sense, that's why it's so unique. It's resistant to being broken down. Literally everyone, when they have the spike protein exposure from either the vaccine or from the infection, you're going to make some of these amyloid fibrin. The question is, who can get rid of them? And if you can't get rid of them, they sludge up the small vessels and inhibit the delivery of substrates, and those are things like red blood cells, which carry oxygen. And so in that case, if you can't get oxygen to tissues, you're going to have significant dysfunction at every level.
Dr. Vaughn is drawing from emerging research, and some of the research is confirming his own conclusions. Yale researchers recently reported, “Persistent symptoms after vaccination ‘long vax’ are similar to those reported with long COVID”
Science magazine writes, “Rare link between coronavirus vaccines and Long Covid–like illness starts to gain acceptance."
According to CDC, Covid vaccines instruct the patient’s cells to make the same spike protein that’s in Covid.
CDC video: This small RNA sequence, when injected into the muscle, initiates the production of spike proteins.
The spike proteins, some scientists now say, are apparently causing damage through microclots months or years later.
Back in December of 2020, a chilling foreshadowing from a Harvard-affiliated pediatric specialist. In a letter to the FDA just before the first vaccines hit the market, Dr. Patrick Whelen wrote, “[I]t appears that the viral spike protein [created after Covid] vaccines is also one of the key agents causing the damage to distant organs” He called for more research and warned “it would be vastly worse if hundreds of millions of people were to suffer long-lasting or even permanent damage to their brain or heart microvasculature [small vessels] as an unintended effect ofvaccines...”
Vaughn: I think that silver lining of this is we're going to really start to understand what is happening there at the tissue level. You’re basically not getting oxygen out to the tissues. Those tissues can be anything from your brain, to your vision, to your ability to take a big deep breath, all the way down to whether you can run or do other things. And the problem is, when something affects every system, it’s a little different to address it. And it takes kind of somebody who's who can put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Today, Vaughn and his team are fielding requests for help from as far away as Germany, conducting original research, and sharing what they’re learning.
Vaughn: I speak to groups of a couple hundred physicians every couple, every month or so. I have even round tables at night on Zoom with a bunch of physicians that are interested in what we're doing. A lot of people that really care about their patients have realized whatever they're doing is not working. And we've got to figure out a way to help them.
Sharyl (on-camera): For more on this topic, watch a special Full Measure event: I'll be hosting a one-hour town hall. It'll be streamed live online at this station's website and on all Sinclair station sites, Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
Watch cover story here.