Coronavirus US

How many people have died from the covid vaccine in the US?

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been widely condemned for suggesting thousands of US citizens have died from covid vaccines, a claim experts dismissed.

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How many people have died from the covid vaccine in the US?
CHIP SOMODEVILLA AFP

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been roundly condemned after suggesting on his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, that thousands of Americans had died after receiving a covid-19 vaccine, based on information gleaned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention VAERS system. Carlson, who has waged a personal war against vaccines and the efforts of the US government to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing, accusing officials of exaggerating the severity of the pandemic. Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’ leading expert on infectious diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, has termed Carlson’s claims that covid vaccines are ineffective as “a crazy conspiracy theory.”

Carlson claims thousands died after covid jab

Carlson’s latest assertion on 5 May has caused a huge backlash from the medical community, who have called the Fox host’s remarks “dangerous and misleading.” Tucker Carlson Tonight is aired during primetime in the US and is the most-watched news show on cable in the US with around four million viewers on average. "Between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the covid vaccine in the United States — 3,362," Carlson said. "That’s an average of roughly 30 people every day. The actual number is almost certainly higher than that, perhaps vastly higher than that. It’s clear that what is happening now, for whatever reason, is not even close to normal."

However, while Carlson is noted for his firebrand rhetoric, he is rarely attributed a firm grasp of the scientific content of the segments he hosts. A climate change denier who has described white supremacy in the US as a “hoax,” Carlson is a polarizing figure. On this occasion, Carlson clearly didn’t carry out a quick check on the source of his science: The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in the US is designed to act as an early warning system for possible effects but it is open-source and anyone and everyone can report basically anything they like.

VAERS system "unverifiable"

As Dr. Paul Offit, the chair of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine told the Poynter Insitute’s fact-checking source Politifact: “If I get a vaccine, or I give my child a vaccine, and I believe that they have turned into the Incredible Hulk, then I can write up a one-page report online and submit it, and that then is included. And that’s been done.”

A disclaimer on the VAERS portal, hosted by the CDC, states: “The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable."

The CDC also points out that “the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not imply causality." That, according to Dr Dana Mazo, an assistant professor of medicine who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, consulted by Reuters for a fact-checking article in April, is the key factor.

“The idea is that we are vaccinating millions of people,” Mazo said, “and, unfortunately, when you look at 96 million people, some of them might die, and they would have died if they hadn’t been vaccinated.”

The CDC also states that of the “245 million doses of covid-19 vaccines administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through May 3, 2021,” the VAERS system received reports of 4,178 deaths among people who received a vaccine, representing 0.0017% of the total number of people vaccinated in the US.

“A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to covid-19 vaccines,” the CDC concludes.

Number of deaths from covid vaccine worldwide

However, the CDC does state on the same page that “recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.”

The CDC’s investigations and tracking systems have as of 4 May detected 23 confirmed instances of Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) among the 8.4 million doses of the J&J/Janssen vaccine administered in the US.

According to the World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, the risk of TTS after being administered an AstraZeneca vaccine (sold under the brand names Vaxzevria and Covishield) is roughly 250,000/1 in the UK, and 100,000/1 across the EU.

A CDC report on cases in the US said it had “reviewed evidence on 8 US reports of serious cases of unusual blood clots with low levels of blood platelets, one of which had a fatal outcome” from a total of seven million people who had received the J&J/Janssen vaccine up to 13 April.

In Europe, the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported in late March that there had been “seven cases of blood clots in multiple blood vessels (disseminated intravascular coagulation, DIC) and 18 cases of Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis" reported from a total of 20 million AstraZeneca doses administered in the UK and the European Economic Area, of which nine were fatal.

In every case, advisory bodies and experts the world over have been consistent in reiterating the same mantra throughout the global vaccination drive: the benefits of receiving a covid-19 vaccine significantly outweigh the potential risks of doing do.