No clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the US – PolitiFact

PolitiFact | No clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the US

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“New data shows that death is proportional to dose” for COVID-19.

false

false

A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Miami. (AP)

No clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the US

If Your Time is short

  • According to the CDC, in the U.S. the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

  • There is no clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the U.S., the CDC says.

As variants of the coronavirus continue to take more lives in the United States — by and large, among the unvaccinated — an Instagram post blames the increased deaths on COVID-19 vaccines.

“New data shows that death is proportional to dose,” the post states. 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Research shows the unvaccinated are far more likely to die from COVID-19, and that there is no clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the U.S.

The claim

The post includes a chart that purports to show the “relative fatality rate” rising as second doses of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are given.

The user’s source for the claim is an article on Medium that includes a slightly different version of the chart. 

The author of that article indicates his expertise is in “cryptocurrency, quantitative trading and trading technology.” He says in the article that the chart is based on his analysis of data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

That analysis is flawed, in that VAERS data cannot be used to conclude that a vaccine caused a death.

Unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die

COVID-19 has killed more than 700,000 people in the U.S. The vaccines authorized in the U.S. — Moderna and Pfizer, along with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson — have been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

A minuscule percentage of vaccinated people have died from COVID-19.

As of Sept. 27, 2021, more than 183 million people in the United States had been fully vaccinated and there were 5,226 breakthrough infections in which the person died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That comes out to 0.0028%. Of those, 86% were people over age 65. And 17% were people who didn’t have COVID-19 symptoms or whose death was not COVID-related. (For example, someone who was hospitalized for injuries following an auto accident and tested positive for COVID upon hospital admission.)

The CDC reported on Sept. 10 that, based on a study of more than 600,000 COVID-19 cases in 13 states from April through mid-July, unvaccinated people were 11 times more likely to die than vaccinated people.

No evidence vaccines have caused death

There is no clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the U.S. Researchers are still evaluating whether there is a connection between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and rare types of blood clots that have led to deaths, but such cases are few.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires health care providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, jointly run by the CDC and the FDA, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. 

From Dec. 14, 2020, through Sept. 27, 2021, VAERS received 8,164 reports of death among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. But reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. Anyone can submit a report of an adverse event but the reports themselves are not verified. Incomplete VAERS data is often used in conjunction with false claims about vaccine safety.

In a part of the CDC website that addresses the topic of adverse events following COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC notes that “a review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”

Our ruling

An Instagram post states: “New data shows that death is proportional to dose” for COVID-19.

Research shows the unvaccinated are far more likely to die from COVID-19, and that there is no clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the U.S.

We rate the post False.

Instagram, post, Oct. 4, 2021

Medium, “Spike Protein, a Dose Dependent Killer?”, Oct. 3, 2021

PolitiFact, “Claim that vaccine campaign boosted COVID-19 deaths errs in several ways,” Oct. 1, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Case Investigation and Reporting,” Sept. 29, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination,” Sept. 27, 2021

Associated Press, “CDC finds unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die of COVID,” Sept. 10, 2021

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