Recently, anti-vaccine advocates have been pointing out that there have been over 20,000 deaths from the COVID-19 vaccine that have been reported to the VAERS database. If you’re not familiar with VAERS, you can find a wealth of information in my previous post. In short, VAERS is a passive reporting database that serves merely as an early warning system for potential vaccine adverse events. Anyone can submit a report to it, and a report in VAERS does not necessarily mean that the adverse event was caused by the vaccine.
Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let’s be charitable to the anti-vaxxers and assume that all of these reports are indeed legitimate in that each report involved a death occurring within 30 days of injection. All of the following numbers are accurate at the time of this writing (August 12th, 2021).
In the USA, 49.97% of the US population (over 164 million people) have received both vaccine doses since the vaccine was available less than a year ago.
How many of those people would have died regardless of being vaccinated? To answer this, we can look at the base rate of deaths in United States over a 1 year period. For 2019, when the COVID vaccine was not available to anyone, the death rate was 8.7 per 1,000 people. But wait, the COVID-19 vaccine has only been widely available since January, so let’s conservatively adjust and say that 5.8 per 1,000 people would die between January-July inclusive. (8.7 * 7/12 months)
This means that out of those 164 million people with 2 doses, we would expect approximately 0.95 million (164 million x 0.58%) of those individuals to die in between Jan-Jul, from other causes. If we account for the fact that these individuals had two shots, then there are 60 days in this period in which they were within the 30 day window of having received a vaccine dose. This accounts for roughly 28.6% of the period between Jan-Jul (2/7 months).
Adjusting the 0.95 million by 28.6% means that on average, we would expect 271,700 people to die within 30 days of receiving the vaccine, from causes other than the vaccine.
Note that the expected number of coincidental deaths following the vaccine is roughly 13.6 times higher than the number of deaths reported in the VAERS database.
Of course, anti-vaxxers would now point out that VAERS suffers from under-reporting. This is true. In fact, the VAERS website states that under-reporting is a limitation of passive surveillance systems and the “degree of under-reporting varies widely.” However, this is a far cry from any sort of proof that the vaccine is causing deaths. Presently, we don’t have a reliable way of verifying how much under-reporting is taking place. Moreover, we could inflate the number of reports to account for the under-reporting, but this would not change that the VAERS reports do not necessarily imply a causal connection. Finally, we don’t have any good evidence to suggest that the COVID vaccine is causing death in the first place.
When we take into account these statistics, there is literally nothing compelling about anti-vaxxers’ claims of COVID vaccine deaths.