Gregory Poland almost lost control of his car after he heard a loud noise while driving home from receiving his second Covid-19 vaccination.
Poland, who is 66 years of age said that "it startedled me" and that he thought it was a whistle from a dog.
It wasn't a dog whistle, it was his brain making a piercing sound for some unknown reason. Poland believes it was a side effect from the vaccine.
It was one year ago. He said that the noise has not stopped since then.
The mRNA Covid vaccine he received from Poland and the rest of the medical community cannot be proven to have caused his sudden onset tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition often described as a buzzing, buzzing, or ringing in one or both ears. It can be intermittent or constant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and vaccine manufacturers have examined anecdotal reports about tinnitus using programs such as the Vaccine Averse Event Reporting Systems, or VAERS, after Covid vaccination but found no evidence of cause and effects.
Poland's story might not be as compelling if he were not Dr. Gregory Poland, a respected physician who has dedicated his life to vaccine research and development. Poland is the founder of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group located in Rochester, Minnesota.
Furthermore, Poland is a paid scientist adviser to Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Global Services and consults on vaccine development for Moderna as well as other pharmaceutical firms.
Poland's interest and the uncertainty about a link between vaccine and tinnitus - not to mention the strong antivaccine movement - why would he make public his suspicions that a vaccine might be involved?
Poland stated, "As a doctor who's taken an Oath to do no harm first, I think about these matters." Poland stated that his day-to-day goal is to help patients understand the possible risks and benefits of any treatment.
He said, "I refuse to be less transparent." "I refuse cherry-pick information that should be available to people in order to make good decisions."
What does science tell us?
Tinnitus is not a known cause, but it can be caused by "acoustic trauma", such as active military personnel.
Some evidence suggests that Covid-19 may make the condition worse in those who have suffered from ringing in the ears in the past.
Research is limited on potential auditory side effects of vaccines.
The study, published in the medical journal JAMA Otolaryngology -Head & Neck Surgery, examined reports on hearing problems following Covid-19 vaccinations. These reports were submitted to VAERS.
These reports raise concerns about unexpected side effects following vaccinations. Scientists then review the reports and look for unusual side effects.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's JAMA study examined 555 VAERS reports of hearing impairment possibly linked to any of three Covid vaccines currently in use in the U.S. from mid-December 2020 through mid-July 2021.
The analysis showed that hearing loss and other auditory problems were not more common after vaccination than they would have been in the general population. An estimated 10 percent of Americans have suffered from tinnitus, regardless of cause.
Covid infections have been shown to cause hearing loss and severe, sometimes unbearable, tinnitus.
The Texas Roadhouse restaurant chains' chief executive officer, Kent Taylor, was the most prominent example. According to his family, the 65-year-old entrepreneur committed suicide in January 2005 after suffering from Covid illness that included constant tinnitus.
A second study was also published in the JAMA last month. It found that hearing loss increased slightly after administration of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination. However, such reports were very rare.
Pfizer stated in a statement to NBC News that it takes adverse events reported by its employees "very seriously."
The statement stated that "tinnitus cases have not been reviewed and no causal link to the Covid-19 vaccination has been established."
Johnson & Johnson stated that tinnitus was a side effect of its Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials. However, it also said that it was impossible "to establish a causal relationship to vaccine-exposure."
Moderna has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Poland stated that the challenge is to "try to discern what's real and what's coincidental." This is how do you know if such hearing problems are so common that they can be expected to happen regardless of vaccination.
The CDC acknowledged that there have been reports of tinnitus after Covid-19 vaccinations. This included Moderna and Pfizer's mRNA vaccines.
However, the agency stated that the safety monitoring data are insufficient to prove that there is a causal relationship between vaccination and tinnitus.
At Stanford Medicine Molecular Neurotology Laboratory in California, director Dr. Konstantina Stankovic, an otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon, is leading preliminary research to determine the potential impacts of both Covid and its vaccines on auditory function.
Stankovic stated that tinnitus could be an unrecognized side effect.
She said, "My email is being bombarded from people across the globe who really feel they don't know how to speak up." "They feel they are being dismissed and that people don’t take them seriously. Yet, they tell me in very moving terms how they can tie it with the vaccine."
Stankovic is quick and open to admitting that personal stories don't prove causality.
She said, "You can't make large claims based only on the individual patients." They should not be ignored.
Poland's experience in tinnitus was borderline traumatizing. Although he has had ringing in his ears before, nothing as severe or long-lasting.
He said, "I sat down one night and looked at the stars. Tears came to my eyes as I thought out of the blue that I might never hear silence again." He wakes up at night and cannot ignore the sound of his alarm.
Poland is a minister as well as a doctor. Even church music is unacceptable to him.
He got his booster, and he would not hesitate to recommend the vaccine.
Poland stated that no one should be afraid of getting a vaccine due to the possibility of an auditory side effect. He cited the well-known risks of Covid complications.
"A wise person considers the balance of benefits and risks and decides that there are many known risks to vaccines, but these are much lower than the risk of contracting the disease," he stated.