Falsehoods not Facts: COVID-19 Vaccines
Recently Pandemic Data Analysis (PANDA) has started spreading "infobites" under the heading "Facts Not Fear". Here I address these and show how they are misrepresenting facts. Number 11/13 addresses COVID-19 Vaccines.
PANDA state that:
COVID-19 vaccines may be offered to high-risk individuals (mostly people above 50, with other health problems) who are not recovered from COVID only when the benefits of the vaccines clearly outweigh their risks for the individual. Their informed consent is essential.
This statement is strange as the article they link to does not identify high risk groups. The second article is just another PANDA opinion piece so somewhat self-referential.
There is no material provided that identifies clearly for which individuals PANDA feels the risks outweigh the benefits. If they have such data (which I doubt), they should reference it with this infographic. Given that COVID-19 can lead to serious disease and death at all ages and perhaps because of the well established safety of vaccines this evidence is not easy to find...
PANDA then claim that:
There is an alarming signal in the adverse events reporting systems around the world of serious adverse events, following COVID-19 vaccination, particularly myocarditis in the young. Immediate action must be taken to prevent greater harm.
They link to reporting based on VAERS data. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a US system to report vaccine related adverse events.
On the official VAERS website they state:
A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.
So VAERS reporting does not indicate causation and is not verified. This twitter account shares some of the VAERS reporting that illustrates this point:
Any work based on VAERS reporting needs lots of review of the cases to separate them out. Most alarmist reviews, such as those shared on the site PANDA links to, do not review the data in any detail and thus counts reports such as the above in their adverse outcomes, massively overstating the risks.
It is a little strange because PANDA actually links to CDC page that clarifies all of the above but they fail to reflect that on their infographic. The article they link to contains the following information:
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
- Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.
- CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older get vaccinated as soon as possible to help protect against COVID-19 and the related, potentially severe complications that can occur.
- VAERS accepts reports of any adverse event following any vaccination.
- Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.
They go on to state that:
- Anaphylaxis after COVID-19 vaccination is rare.
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccination is rare.
- The mention rare cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
- Myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.
On deaths they state that:
Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. More than 403 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through October 6, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 8,638 reports of death (0.0021%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.
The linked report mentions 3 deaths.
In the CDC report PANDA links to on myocarditis in the young the CDC concludes that:
CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 12 years of age and older given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death.
PANDA then goes on to state that:
For the following low-risk groups, the vaccine risks outweigh their benefits- vaccinating these groups will increase total harm
They then list these groups:
- Children & young people
- Individuals with past SARS-CoV-2 infection (including asymptomatic infection)
- Individuals below 60 with no existing health problems
- Risk to the foetus and breastfeeding infant from the vaccination of their mother cannot be determined yet.
They do not provide any evidence of the fact that risks outweigh the harm. In fact the evidence they do link to under previous claim explicitly supports continued vaccination due to the rare risks of the vaccines and the severe impact of having COVID-19 could have..
In South Africa roughly half of deaths occurs below 60 as was pointed out by PANDA linked sources. It would seem to be ignoring the risks of COVID-19 to use 60 as a cut-off then? There have also been deaths in South Africa in children.
Studies on vaccines in children over 12 show they are safe and effective.
This article also summarises the benefits of getting vaccinated even if one were previously infected. It comes down to:
- Vaccination offers a boost to your immunity from infection.
- Vaccination offers a more consistent antibody response that does not vary as much as natural immunity varies from person to person.
CDC recommends women who are pregnant get vaccinated due to the increased risk COVID-19 presents to pregnant women and because vaccines have been found safe and effective for pregnant women. They also do so for those that are breastfeeding and refer to reports that antibodies may get passed along the child and thus also protect the child.