- Sep 29
- 28 min read
Do Pfizer vaccines “kill” 2 people for every 1 saved? Evaluating Steve Kirsch claims.
Updated: Oct 15
Summary of Key points:
- Blatantly misleading headlines have circulated on social media stating that that “FDA experts conclude Pfizer vaccines kill 2 people for every 1 saved” following the FDA meeting on boosters, causing some alarm.
- These comments were not made by FDA experts, but from a member of the public speaking for 3 minutes during the public comment section of the meeting.
- Bold claims like this require strong scientific evidence, so I evaluated the evidence the person and his collaborators provided for their claims in the presentation slides and a supporting white paper.
- In spite of many pages of writing and claims of over a dozen “independent analyses” verifying their results, their evidence falls far short of substantiating these dramatic conclusions, including a claim that vaccines have caused >250k excess deaths in the USA.
- Their case is built primarily on a VAERs analysis, and one whose results are driven by assumptions of an artificially low background death rate and high underreporting rate with questionable justification. I demonstrate that with more realistic assumptions based on population death rates, the reported VAERs deaths are in line with background rate of deaths in the population, and does not provide evidence of excess deaths caused by vaccination, much less the 250k they claim.
- They claim to independently validate these results with another dozen or so alternative “methods”, but these consist of a series of largely unscientific arguments including anecdotal reports (some unverified), opinions elicited from select clinicians who believe the vaccines are inherently dangerous and/or treatment strategies like Ivermectin are the answer, public polls on whether people “know” more people who have died of COVID-19 or vaccines, and extrapolation of select data with very small sample sizes, often blatantly imputing assumptions that seem directly motivated by their chosen hypothesis.
- They also cite an analysis of case fatality rate (CFR) that may be interesting for hypothesis generation, but cannot be used to draw any rigorous conclusions given its complete dependence on national case and death rates. Ignoring any of the many potential confounding factors, they conclude the only explanation for increasing CFR after vaccination is widespread fraudulent misclassification of vaccine deaths as COVID-19 deaths that, if true, comprises the greatest and most universal medical conspiracy in history, and leads them to infer estimates of 100k to 200k vaccine caused deaths in the USA.
- Overall, the level of evidence provided is not even close to what is required to substantiate such bold and dramatic claims.
- In an appendix, I evaluate even more extreme claims made in a recent paper published by the editor of the journal Toxicology Reports, in which they use VAERs data with even more extreme claims on background death and underreporting rates to suggest that between 225k and 1.4m USA residents have been killed by vaccines within 31 days of vaccination, predicting this is the tip of the iceberg with many more to come.
- Looking at excess all cause death data for the USA, I show that that these claims are completely implausible, with vaccinations occurring during the lowest excess death periods of the pandemic, and the real spikes in excess deaths occurring during viral surges with high levels of confirmed cases and COVID-attributed deaths.
In conclusion, based primarily on a VAERs analysis of deaths after vaccination, Kirsch claims that he has evidence that the vaccines have killed >250k Americans, more than they have saved. I argue that this VAERs analysis makes questionable assumptions on background death rate and underreporting rate, and when population-based background death rates are used, the counts in VAERs fall within the range of expected number of VAERs death reports within days or weeks of vaccination even if none were in fact caused by vaccines. And this conclusion holds for a wide range of assumed underreporting rates, including the 41x value Kirsch assumes (that I think is too high).
Although he claims to independently validate these results with another dozen or so alternative “methods”, most consist of a serious of largely unscientific arguments including anecdotal reports (some unverified), opinions elicited from select clinicians within their circle who believe vaccines are inherently dangerous, public polls on whether people “know” more people who have died of COVID-19 or vaccines, and extrapolations of select data sets with small sample sizes, often blatantly imputing assumptions that seem directly motivated by their chosen hypotheses. He also cites an excess CFR analyses that generates interesting hypotheses but but does not adjust for any relevant contextual factors so not sufficient do draw rigorous conclusions, certainly not of dramatic claim of ~100k-200k vaccine-induced deaths fraudulently misclassified as COVID-19 deaths.
Bold and dramatic claims like these require high levels of evidence to substantiate, and the presented analyses do not even come close to what is required to support them.
While the clinical trial results suggested serious adverse events and deaths had similar rates in placebo as vaccinated groups, it was not powered to detect rare events of incidence <1/10k or so. Thus, post approval monitoring of vaccine safety is crucial to identify any serious adverse events that might be caused by vaccines, even if very rare. The passive and active monitoring systems designed by the FDA and CDC should be actively used in these goals, and countries with centralized records should perform population studies comparing serious adverse event rates between vaccinated individuals and unvaccinated individuals matched on key demographic and clinical factors to adjust for systematic differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts, just as Israeli researchers have done in this NEJM paper. While international efforts have already uncovered various rare but potentially dangerous risks, anaphylaxis and myocarditis/pericarditis for mRNA vaccines and VITT or GBS for viral vector vaccines, one could argue more should be done to rigorously check population-level data to identify and characterize any other risks not yet discovered or acknowledged. The companies should be held accountable. I strongly agree.
But over the top, dramatic unsubstantiated claims like “vaccines are killing more than they are saving” does not help.
Following is an Excel spreadsheet containing the data I used to compute the background death analysis explained in the previous blog post. I encourage others to download, evaluate, and adapt/update with their own assumptions if they would like.Estimating background death rate relevant for Pfizer vaccinated Sept21.xlsxDownload XLSX • 19KB
It’s a very long article. Read it here:
Here’s an example of his bull shitting.