Debunking Misinformation: COVID-19 Vaccine
Recently, some media outlets published attention-grabbing articles on the COVID-19 vaccine.
As usual, these articles attempt to scare people away from getting the COVID-19 vaccines by claiming that they have caused multiple deaths. Without scientific evidence, these media outlets assert that the COVID-19 vaccine will repeat the same “tragedies” caused by the HPV vaccine years ago.
In Pfizer’s vaccine clinical trial, 21,621 people were vaccinated between July and November 2020, and 126 people, or 0.6% of them, had severe adverse events, and less than 0.1%, or two people, died.
This statistic causes an uproar among anti-vaccine advocates, who claim that the vaccine caused deaths and serious adverse effects on more than 100 people.
However, in the same clinical trial, 21,631 people were injected with a placebo (NOT the COVID-19 vaccine), and 111 people (0.5%) experienced severe adverse events, while four people (again, less than 0.1%) died.
In other words, among the 20,000 people that were vaccinated in the Pfizer trial, a portion of people experienced severe adverse events or died during the monitoring period unrelated to the vaccine; the near-identical probabilities of health issues with the vaccinated and control (placebo) group indicate that there is no causal relationship between the COVID-19 vaccine and adverse events or death.
In Moderna’s clinical trials, of the 15,185 people vaccinated between May and November 2020, 89 had serious adverse events, and two died. Of the 15,166 people injected with a placebo, 93 had serious adverse events and 3 died. Once again, there is no causal relationship between vaccination and serious adverse events or death.
The US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, is a common reference for anti-vaxxers to spread their narrative on the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine. VAERS, monitored by the CDC and FDA, is a system that allows people to report their “adverse” symptoms after vaccination. Two important things to note are that
- The system only collects data from vaccinated people, so there is no direct control group to compare the events and their frequencies to
- The criteria for reporting adverse events are subjective
Going back to the first point: because there is no direct comparison with non-vaccinators, it is easy for anti-vaxxers to pull on VAERS-reported deaths that occur after a COVID-19 vaccine and claim that the vaccine caused it.
To remedy and disprove this allegation, the U.S. CDC, in collaboration with nine private hospital groups, is conducting a research investigation to compare the frequency of adverse events between vaccinated and non-vaccinated patients. The results showed that, again, the COVID-19 vaccine is not causing increased deaths.
The vaccine for the new coronavirus has been administered to many people across the globe. As we know, scientists have put lots of research into this vaccine and have extensive papers and analyses to point to for proof of the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
I ask that media outlets write vaccine-related articles based on solid, well-established scientific research, not subjective personal anecdotes.