Fact Check: Government Data Do NOT Reveal COVID-19 Vaccines Killed, Injured 946,000

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Government Data Do NOT Reveal COVID-19 Vaccines Killed, Injured 946,000 Report ≠ Proof

Do government data reveal that more than 946,000 people suffered injuries or death from COVID-19 vaccines? No, that's not true: The so-called revelations are misused and misquoted material from a list of unverified vaccine reaction reports that anyone with a computer can add to. That list contains duplicates and other junk data common to this kind of early warning system, which is not designed to quantify vaccine side effects, only to note patterns that can then be checked. The video in which the claim appears also misstates the contents of government reports and recycled debunked claims that ignore the tens of thousands of people on whom the vaccines were tested.

The "946,000" claim appeared in a January 4, 2022, video on oan.com (archived here) titled "Govt. data reveals over 946K people suffered injuries or death from COVID-19 vaccinations" which opened:

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are reporting strange and troubling side effects after getting injected with COVID-19 vaccines. One America's Pearson Sharp has more.

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

Govt. data reveals over 946K people suffered injuries or death from COVID-19 vaccinations

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are reporting strange and troubling side effects after getting injected with COVID-19 vaccines. One America's Pearson Sharp has more.

At the 0:11 mark in the video, OAN personality Pearson Sharp says 946,000 is a big number, adding:


The left is doing everything they can to discredit this number. But the fact is, that's how many people have suffered serious side effects or even died after getting injected with the COVID vaccine.

Sharp is drawing on a misleading article from The Defender website, which misstates the meaning of material from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). The Defender is operated by the anti-vaccine organization of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., one of the "Disinformation Dozen," identified as the leading spreaders of false information about COVID-19 and the vaccines against it. As the VAERS site repeatedly warns users, the material on VAERS is unverified, flawed by the nature of uncontrolled origins, and cannot be used to draw cause-effect conclusions about vaccines. In fact, the VAERS site does not allow access to the material until the user hits a button declaring they understand and accept the limitations of VAERS material.

Sharp goes on to recycle several false medical conclusions. This fact check does not address every claim made in the video.

False claim: Vaccines are ineffective against COVID

At the 0:33 mark, Sharp says:

And what's worse, not only does the vaccine appear to be useless against the virus, but people who do get injected seem to be much, much worse off than those who remain unvaccinated.

Sharp makes the claim without reference to peer-reviewed data used by medical practitioners treating patients.

The vaccines were approved for use based on the findings from field testing on more than 40,000 human volunteers, which showed the vaccines are both effective and safe. The Mayo Clinic, one of the top-rated medical centers in the U.S., summarizes the effectiveness of the vaccines in this chart:

vaccines compared.png

(Source: MayoClinic.org screenshot taken Fri Aug 20 21:45:30 2021 UTC)

The Mayo Clinic endorsed the standard findings that the Pfizer two-shot vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19, the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective and the Janssen/J&J vaccine is 66% effective at preventing symptoms of the viral infection.

False claim: That a federal government agency blamed the vaccines for 100,000 hospitalizations

At the 1:33 mark, Sharp cites a nonexistent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, saying:

Well, according to the US government's own data reported by Health and Human Services, over 100,000 people have required hospitalizations after getting the vaccine.

That is the opposite of what Health and Human Services said in its October 5, 2021, report, headlined: "New HHS Report: Vaccination Linked to a Reduction of Over a Quarter Million COVID-19 Cases, 100,000 Hospitalizations, and 39,000 Deaths Among Seniors.

The only way to derive Sharp's claim from that report is to misleadingly excerpt it. Lead Stories uses strike-through marks here to show what would have to be left out: New HHS Report: Vaccination Linked to a Reduction of Over a Quarter Million COVID-19 Cases, 100,000 Hospitalizations, and 39,000 Deaths Among Seniors

False claim: That the vaccines are untested and unproven

Sharp at the 4:05 mark says:

We're talking about 946,000 people... We're witnessing the consequences of this untested, unproven rushed vaccine firsthand and it's far worse than anyone feared ...

Sharp makes the claim without reference to any qualified medical or scientific professional's judgement it was unproven.

Meanwhile, professional medical researchers peer-reviewed the safety testing of the vaccines in use in 2022. Peer review is the process by which competitive experts look at the methods, data and conclusions in a study proposed for publication and suggest corrections, clarifications and other changes that improve the final product or can cause editors to reject a study for publication.

The Pfizer vaccine safety trial enrolled more than 40,000 volunteers and was published December 10, 2020, in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing the benefits of the vaccine far outweighed rare side effects.

Moderna's real-world trial enrolled more than 30,000 volunteers. The resulting study was published in a December 30, 2020, New England Journal of Medicine article.

The Janssen vaccine safety trial enrolled more than 19,000 volunteers. It was published in an April 21, 2021, article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Further peer review happens after publication, when even more peers are able to see the work and attack weaknesses. None of the three papers has been retracted or corrected.

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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 Managing Editor 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 Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University's Center for News Literacy for six years, then as Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting. Most recently, he wrote the twice-weekly "Save the Free Press" column for The Seattle Times. 

Read more about or contact Dean Miller

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