Fact check: CNN headline altered to reference Hamlin, COVID-19 vaccine – USA TODAY

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Damar Hamlin back in Buffalo after release from Cincinnati hospital

Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin was upgraded from critical to good condition, which allowed doctors to clear him to fly home from Cincinnati to Buffalo.

Scott L. Hall, USA TODAY

The claim: CNN reported Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest was due to COVID-19 booster

A Jan. 17 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows what appears to be a screenshot of a CNN headline about Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin.

“Doctor of Damar Hamlin confirms Cardiac Arrest was due to the 4th Booster Vaccine,” reads the purported CNN headline.

The post garnered more than 80 likes in a day and was also posted on Facebook

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Our rating: Altered

The image in the post is fabricated. A CNN spokesperson confirmed the headline is not authentic. While Hamlin did suffer cardiac arrest, there is no evidence it was related to a COVID-19 vaccine or booster – a claim his agent has said is “ridiculous.”

CNN headline altered

The headline shown in the Instagram post was not published by the outlet, CNN spokesperson Sydney Baldwin told USA TODAY in an email.

“This is a fabricated image,” she said. 

USA TODAY found no evidence of an article bearing the purported headline on the CNN website. 

However, the photograph, byline and timestamp shown in the altered image match an actual CNN article about Hamlin being discharged from the hospital. The article says the 24-year-old football player spent more than a week in the hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest during a game. 

“No cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest has been publicly announced,” reads the article, which does not mention COVID-19 vaccines or boosters.

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USA TODAY has previously reported that there is no known link between the COVID-19 vaccine and Hamlin’s cardiac event. Hamlin’s agent, Ira Turner, told USA TODAY claims linking the two are “ridiculous.”

The altered image was also debunked by Associated Press, PolitiFact and Reuters

USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user who shared the post for comment.

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