STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Are children 50 times more likely to be killed by the COVID-19 vaccines than by the virus itself? No, that's not true: The person who made the claim offered no proof for the claimed numbers of deaths from the COVID vaccine. As of November 10, 2021, 490 children ages 5-18 have died from COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while "There have been no vaccine-related deaths in children who have been immunized by the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine," a Pfizer spokesperson told Lead Stories. This is the only vaccine currently approved for children ages 5 to 17. The CDC told Lead Stories they are not aware of any vaccine-related deaths involving children 5-18.
The claim appeared as an Instagram post (archived here) on November 5, 2021. It opens:
'Children are 50 times more likely to be killed by the COVID vaccines than by the virus itself.'
This is what users on social media saw at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Thu Nov 11 07:34:56 2021 UTC)
The quote in the claim was made by former Pfizer employee Michael Yeadon, whose claims Lead Stories has previously debunked here and whose Pfizer titles have been overstated by some who quote his views. He made these comments on Steve Bannon's internet show in June 2021. The video can be seen at this archived link. Yeadon is quoted in the article at that link:
'Here's the real problem,' he said. 'I'm a father and grandfather. Young people are not susceptible to covid-19.
'They're not at risk,' Dr. Yeadon said. 'It's a crazy thing then to vaccinate them with something that is actually 50 times more likely to kill them than the virus itself.'
'If you look from about January of this year and compare month by month to any previous year ... the number is just enormous,' he said. 'It's between 50 and 100 times higher. It's not my data, it's the U.S. public data.'
"There is no evidence to suggest that claim and there have been no vaccine-related deaths in children who have been immunized by the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine," a Pfizer spokesperson told Lead Stories via email on November 11, 2021.
"With regard to vaccine deaths, there is no evidence for the statement that 'children are 50 times more likely to be killed by the COVID vaccines than by the virus itself,'" Dr. Robert Anderson, CDC chief, Mortality Statistics Branch, told Lead Stories via email on November 15, 2021. "I am not aware of any vaccine-related deaths involving children 5-18."
CDC data for children 5 to 18 years old, those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, shows 490 deaths from coronavirus from January 4, 2020, to the week ending November 6, 2021:
(Source: CDC website screenshot taken on Thu Nov 11 15:17:33 2021 UTC)
There have been no confirmed deaths from the COVID-19 vaccine in children eligible for the vaccine, ages 5 to 18.
Yeadon refers to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) for his claim, recycling the claim that VAERS reports document deaths and injuries.
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 it only provides a tally of unverified notes about any health event people experience after they are vaccinated.
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.
According to the data released by Pfizer regarding the vaccines:
The FDA based its decision on data from a Phase 2/3 randomized, controlled trial that included ~4,500 children 5 through 11 years of age (2,268 from the original group and 2,379 from the supplemental safety group). Results from this trial were reviewed by the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). In the trial, the vaccine demonstrated a favorable safety profile, robust immune responses and a vaccine efficacy rate of 90.7% in participants without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, measured from 7 days after the second dose. The Data Monitoring Committee for the study has reviewed the data and has not identified any serious safety concerns related to the vaccine.
2021-11-15T20:41:12Z 2021-11-15T20:41:12ZThis story was updated with response from the CDC and with comment from Dr. Robert Anderson of the CDC.