Fact Check: CDC Does NOT 'Admit' More Dead from COVID-19 Vaccine Than Vaccines Over Last 20 Years Combined

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: CDC Does NOT 'Admit' More Dead from COVID-19 Vaccine Than Vaccines Over Last 20 Years Combined Opinion ≠ Data

Did the CDC "admit" that COVID-19 vaccines have killed more Americans than all vaccines since 2001, combined? No, that's not true: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which monitors vaccine reactions and safety, says the opposite: There have been no documented deaths due to the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J/Janssen vaccines. The article making the claim cites only the false and misleading statements of opinion writers, not CDC scientific reports.

The claim appeared in an article published by WeLoveTrump.com on May 10, 2021, (archived here) titled "CDC Admits: More Dead from COVID-19 Vaccine Than ALL Vaccines From Last 20 Years Combined," which opened:

It's official. This is now fact, not speculation. More people have died from the COVID-19 vaccine than from all other vaccines over the last 20 years... COMBINED. That's right: the vaccine that is supposed to "protect" you from COVID is now responsible for killing more people than all the other vaccines put together. Trending: President...

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

CDC Admits: More Dead from COVID-19 Vaccine Than ALL Vaccines From Last 20 Years Combined

It's official. This is now fact, not speculation. More people have died from the COVID-19 vaccine than from all other vaccines over the last 20 years... COMBINED. That's right: the vaccine that is supposed to "protect" you from COVID is now responsible for killing more people than all the other vaccines put together. Trending: President...

The CDC has made no such statement and has officially said the exact opposite.

The most recent CDC report on vaccine safety says that millions of vaccine doses have been injected with no detectable patterns that would indicate a safety problem:

Other than rare reports of severe allergic reactions, analysis of VAERS reports has not detected any patterns that would indicate a safety problem with COVID-19 vaccines.

That, the CDC reports, during the most intense vaccine safety monitoring in U.S. history. There were 115 million Americans vaccinated, with 261,599,381 doses administered as of May 10, 2021

The WeLoveTrump.com article making the false claim about historic death rates amounts to a collection of quotes not from CDC scientists, data or webpages.

Instead, quoted in the WeLoveTrump.com article are a collection of anti-vaccination activists, conspiracy theorists and conservative activists who misstate the purpose and contents of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), calling it death data when it is clearly labelled as anything but. WeLoveTrump's sources are:

Wheelock is a Ph.D., not an MD. His specialty is food policy and diet.

VAERS is an early warning system, not a precise instrument of measure. VAERS reports are unverified, can be filed by anyone and, according to the CDC, may include information that is incomplete, inaccurate or coincidental.

It's a hodgepodge of anecdotal information, not a library of fully investigated cases. When it works correctly, it helps the CDC and FDA monitor the rollout of a new vaccine by revealing patterns.

The website for VAERS makes clear the system's uses and limitations, and the editors and writers at WeLoveTrump.com and the activists they quoted would have seen the warnings if they examined the VAERS data. The site reads:

When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.

And, also:

A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Dean Miller

Lead Stories staff writer Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a one-year Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy for six years. As Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting, a dual licensee, he oversaw radio, TV and print journalists, and documentary producers. He moved west to teach journalism at Western Washington University, edit The Port Townsend Leader and write the twice-weekly Save The Free Press column for the Seattle Times. Miller won the 2007 national Mirror Award for news industry coverage and he led the team that won the 2005 Scripps Howard first amendment prize. 

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