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The Vaccine Injured Are Speaking Out

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Clinical trial patient says side-effect information ‘hidden, swept under the rug’

“This isn’t depression or some psychosomatic issue,” Brianne Dressen says. “Your legs are failing, you’ve got electrical shocks, you’ve got severe tinnitus, you can’t see right, and you can’t think straight.”

In a recent episode of “American Thought Leaders,” host Jan Jekielek spoke with Brianne Dressen, a wife, mother, and former preschool teacher in Utah who was severely injured after participating in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in November 2020. She is the co-chair of React19, the leading nonprofit organization aiding those who have been injured by the genetic vaccines.

Jan Jekielek: It’s been a year since you helped introduce us to the realities facing the vaccine injured in America. What I want to hear is your personal story and what happened to you.

Brianne Dressen: Before my vaccine, I was healthy. I was a mother of two young kids and a preschool teacher. I was definitely all in on the vaccine. I firmly believed that if I got vaccinated, I wouldn’t spread the disease to others. I wanted to do everything I could to take care of those around me.

So I signed up for a clinical trial with AstraZeneca and got my shot on Nov. 4, 2020. Within an hour, I had tingling down the same arm of my shot. Later that night, my vision had become blurry and double. Within 2 1/2 weeks, I landed in the hospital after four ER visits.

Each visit had new symptoms, severe tachycardia, bradycardia, and limb weakness. The paresthesia moved from one arm to the other to all over my body. There was this horrific electric shock all over my body that I deal with to this day. And severe tinnitus—a freight train sound in one ear and a high E in the other.

When I landed in the hospital, my legs weren’t working and I had become incontinent. My sensitivity to light and sound had become so severe that my kids couldn’t be in the same room with me. My husband would check on me, and just the swishing of his pants was painful in my ears. I had to hole up in a room by myself 24/7.

The doctors weren’t sure what it was. They didn’t run typical tests to rule out GBS [Guillain-Barré syndrome] or transverse myelitis or those other neurological issues associated with vaccines, although not common. Instead, they slapped me with the label of anxiety due to the COVID vaccine. Four days later, I was discharged with intensive in-home physical and occupational therapy to rehab my legs and my cognitive deficits.

Mr. Jekielek: It sounds unbelievable that the symptoms you describe would be diagnosed as anxiety.

Ms. Dressen: Because I was the first at that point, or one of the first, I gave the doctors a lot of leeway. It was clear they had never seen anything like it and didn’t really understand it.

Now, this has happened to tens of thousands of Americans that I know of. Most likely, there are far more, where physicians are unbelieving or just dismissive of their patients’ complaints.

But what you know inside your body is that this is not anxiety. This isn’t depression or some psychosomatic issue. Your legs are failing, you’ve got electrical shocks, you’ve got severe tinnitus, you can’t see right, and you can’t think straight.

Mr. Jekielek: Presumably, you reached out to the people involved in the trial.

Ms. Dressen: I have yet to speak to a real human at the drug company. I’ve talked to people at the clinical trial office. When my husband and I became financially ruined because of this, we reached out to the drug company and the clinical trial company, begging for help. We had to refinance our house because they did not own up to their part of our contract. The contract says they will pay for any and all expenses resulting from injury.

Mr. Jekielek: That first diagnosis seems critical here.

Ms. Dressen: That anxiety diagnosis plagued me for six or seven months until I went to the NIH [National Institutes of Health]. It didn’t matter how many doctors I saw, what tests I had run. If I cried even a little in a doctor’s office because my life was ruined, then yes, it was all in my head.

They told me it was anxiety so many times that I saw a psychiatrist, who did a full neuropsychological evaluation. He said, “I’m not sure what this is, but it isn’t anxiety. There’s something going on in your body.”

Finally, the NIH took pity on me and flew me there to be treated.

Mr. Jekielek: Please explain how that worked.

Ms. Dressen: My husband is a chemist, and he realized early on that the doctors and the drug company weren’t going to do anything. He had to be the one to figure it out. He started digging into the studies and reaching out to researchers all over the globe.

A lead researcher in Germany got my blood a month after my injury, and my test results showed I was positive for anti-neuronal autoantibodies, which means your immune system is attacking your nerves. Even then, it was labeled as anxiety.

My husband reached out to Dr. Avindra Nath and Dr. Farinaz Safavi at the NIH on Jan. 11, 2021, about a month and a half into my injury. They replied right away. There was another person here in the United States who had a similar cascade of symptoms after her COVID vaccine from AstraZeneca. We got her in touch with the NIH. So two of us were complaining about the same thing.

We don’t know if it’s directly correlated, but 10 days later, AstraZeneca was pulled off the market. At that point, the NIH had started a study investigating COVID vaccine injuries that were neurological in nature. They collected samples from people all over the country.

I was patient No. 1 in that study, and my friend Dr. Denise Hertz, a California gastroenterologist, was patient No. 2. So they studied us and others. The amount of knowledge the NIH has on the COVID vaccine injuries is very detailed. Yet the public is told that the vaccines are safe, period.

This information has all been hidden—swept under the rug and minimized—instead of investigating these cases, collecting the data, and using that information to help those like us and who came after us from becoming as chronic and severe as we are.

Mr. Jekielek: The NIH treatment helped you profoundly as I understand it, right?

Ms. Dressen: Yes. I’ve told Dr. Nath he’s one of the main reasons why I’m still alive. He was the guy at the NIH calling my doctors and saying: “Look, your patient isn’t crazy. There’s something wrong with her. You need to help her.”

So I have almost a survivor’s guilt. Why was I one of the few selected to get that golden ticket to the NIH, to have my trajectory of recovery essentially changed, when tens of thousands of Americans deserve the same treatment? They weren’t afforded that because the people that could do this stayed silent.

Mr. Jekielek: How does your organization, React19, fund itself?

Ms. Dressen: React19 is a nonprofit that was organized because the government wasn’t doing its job. The injured realized, “If no one is coming to save us, we’ve got to do it ourselves.”

So it was started by the injured for the injured. In one short year, we have amassed over 21,000 COVID vaccine injured just here in the United States. That number could be up to 27,000, 30,000 easily. And we have close to two dozen international partners across the globe. One hundred percent of the donations go to supporting the injured. We are also 100 percent volunteer-run, which I’m very proud of.

We have an advocacy program in which an injured is assigned an advocate, like a buddy system. They listen to them and figure out their constellation of symptoms. They help them find local doctors who are compassionate and willing to help them.

We love those people. We know their names and their families. We want to do everything we can to help them get their lives back and stop the progression of their disease. In turn, these people will be able to share their voices against this injustice so it doesn’t happen again.

Mr. Jekielek: What’s on the horizon for React19?

Ms. Dressen: We’ve got to get these people better, and we’ve got to get the truth out. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that investigations happen, that people are held accountable, and that policies are changed.

We the people have to demand better from our elected officials, the pharmaceutical companies, and the media. Until we generate a public outcry, policy will not shift. Without question, they’ll do the same thing to people again when the next emergency appears.

Mr. Jekielek: It sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you.

Ms. Dressen: Yes.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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