Fact Check: Deaths of 2,433 Babies NOT Found In VAERS, 'Another Study' Does NOT Show mRNA Shots Unsafe for Pregnant Women

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Deaths of 2,433 Babies NOT Found In VAERS, 'Another Study' Does NOT Show mRNA Shots Unsafe for Pregnant Women Doesn't Add Up

Do the reported adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines in the United States include the deaths of 2,433 babies, and is there another study that shows mRNA shots are not safe for pregnant women? No, that's not true: A Lead Stories analysis of the numbers found in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), based on data through October 29, 2021, wasn't able to duplicate the claimed results plus no conclusions can be reached from VAERS reports until they are verified. The cited study about mRNA shots misrepresented data.

The claims appeared in an article (archived here) published on the Health Impact News website on November 7, 2021, with the title "2,433 Dead Babies in VAERS as Another Study Shows mRNA Shots Not Safe for Pregnant Women." It opened:

There have now been 2,433 fetal deaths recorded in VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) from pregnant women who have been injected with one of the COVID-19 shots. (Source.)

The vast majority of these have been from the Pfizer shot (1,862 deaths) and the Moderna shot (656 deaths.)

There have been more fetal deaths in the past 11 months following COVID-19 shots than there have been for the past 30+ years following ALL vaccines (2,198 - Source.)

Last month (October, 2021) the New England Journal of Medicine admitted that the original study used to justify the CDC and the FDA in recommending the shots to pregnant women was flawed. (Source.)

Since then, researchers in New Zealand have conducted a new study on the original data, and concluded:

A re-analysis of these figures indicates a cumulative incidence of spontaneous abortion ranging from 82% (104/127) to 91% (104/114), 7-8 times higher than the original authors' results. (Source.)

And yet, the CDC and FDA still continue to recommend the shots for pregnant women, even though a correct analysis on the original data shows that 82% to 91% of pregnant women will suffer miscarriages if their unborn child is less than 20 weeks old. (Source.)

This is what the article looked like on the Health Impact News website on November 9, 2021:

health news network 2.png

(Source: Health Impact News screenshot taken on Tues Nov 09 17:17:26 UTC 2021)

These fetal death numbers are credited to the VAERS database, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lead Stories couldn't match the figures cited by Health Impact News. We came up with much different numbers on November 9, 2021, for VAERS data available through October 29, 2021.

The VAERS website includes this stipulation:

VAERS data ... are updated every Friday. Hence, results for the same query can change from week to week.

Lead Stories came up with 1,193 fetal deaths in a VAERS search that correlated COVID-19 vaccine reports with the same 18 "adverse events" that Health Impact News included in the sourcing of information for its story:

vaccine deaths.png

(Source: VAERS screenshot taken on Tues Nov 09 18:01:23 UTC 2021)

Using the same criteria, but searching the National Vaccine Information Center, the Health Impact News article came back with 2,433 fetal deaths:

National Vaccine Information Center.png

(Source: National Vaccine Information Center screenshot taken on Tues Nov 09 21:27:42 UTC 2021)

The nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center bills itself as "an independent clearinghouse for information on diseases and vaccine science, policy, law and the ethical principle of informed consent." Founded under the name Dissatisfied Parents Together (DPT) in 1982, it has been criticized as a leading source of misinformation about vaccines. The National Vaccine Information Center shares VAERS data, but without the standard warnings of its limitations.

Lead Stories has debunked several claims about vaccine deaths that misuse VAERS.

Anyone with internet access can add a report to the VAERS list of reports. The public access link to it expressly warns against unwarranted conclusions based on VAERS material because the list only provides a tally of unverified notes about any health event people experience after they are vaccinated.

The list itself cannot be used to prove or quantify, since all it shows is a chronological correlation, not the causal link that would be more difficult to establish. It's the equivalent of a police precinct's running "blotter" reports that may serve as a starting point for police work, not an endpoint.

VAERS website warnings include:

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.

The CDC says COVID vaccines are safe for everyone age 5 and above, including those planning families:

  • Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
  • Pregnant people may receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Children 5 to 17 years old can receive the Pfizer vaccine, as well as adults. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are approved for those 18 and older. Details on the vaccines can be found here.

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding:

CDC vaccine prego.png

(Source: CDC screenshot taken on Wed Nov 10 15:11:23 UTC 2021)

Previously, Lead Stories debunked the claim cited in the Impact Health News article that said the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) backtracked on saying COVID shots are safe for pregnant women. An update posted by the Journal in September 2021 did not change the number of pregnancies a study found resulted in a spontaneous abortion after receiving the COVID vaccine; the number remained the same from the study published in July 2021. The correction did not say that the vaccine may not be safe for pregnant women.

The original version of the New England Journal of Medicine article was also mischaracterized. Lead Stories previously debunked a claim that falsely asserted the NEJM found women who received the COVID-19 vaccine -- within 30 days of becoming pregnant and up to 20 weeks pregnant -- had a miscarriage rate of 82%.

The November 2021 study cited in the Impact Health News article rehashes those figures. The study was published by the Public Health Policy Initiative at the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge, which was founded by Dr. James Lyons-Weiler, who holds his Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and conservation biology and is the nonprofit's CEO.

He has made numerous false and misleading claims about COVID-19 and vaccines. A March 8, 2020, study rebuts his claim that the COVID-19 virus was created in the lab:

Dr James Lyons-Weiler, the CEO of the 'Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge,' made an appalling online statement on 3 February 2020, which claimed the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) responsible for the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic was most likely constructed via laboratory recombination.

In a 2020 U.S. Court of Federal Claims opinion, Senior Judge Nancy B. Firestone cited a special master who said Lyons-Weiler and a medical doctor were "not qualified to opine o[n] the issue of diagnosis and [were] not persuasive in contending that Mr. [Michael] Bailey suffered from GBS [Guillain-Barre Syndrome]" in a flu vaccine case.

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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.

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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