MAILBOX: Disappointment in BizNews carrying “so much irrational commentary” on COVID vaccines

Written on 11/24/2022
Nadya Swart

Andrew Donaldson asserts that the evidence presented in the article relating to Covid-19 vaccines and excess deaths on BizNews is misleading.

Below is an email received from BizNews community member Andrew Donaldson in response to the article ‘Pfizer documents, official government data confirm: .75m vaccine deaths in 2022, critical infertility’, relating to excess deaths and Covid-19 vaccines, published on on Wednesday. As is customary, readers are provided with both sides of the story so they can make up their own minds.

By Andrew Donaldson

It’s good, of course, that BizNews draws attention to the official data on excess deaths. But Nadya’s reading of the evidence is misleading.

It is indeed possible that the vaccines have some impact on mortality risks, but the 750,000 number is an overestimate because people with “underlying conditions”, particularly in mid-life age cohorts, were more likely than others to vaccinate.

We don’t know enough yet about the 2022 excess deaths trends. We know the proximate causes – these are mainly cardio-vascular and circulatory disease deaths, and diabetes-related deaths. Perhaps the vaccine is a contributing factor. Perhaps prior Covid effects and “long Covid” are contributing factors. We certainly know that the latter is possible, because the impact of Covid on the vascular system is well documented (indeed, Stellenbosch University’s medical faculty has been a leading contributor globally to this knowledge). We know that while the vaccines provide protection they don’t provide complete protection.  

But there is a more important point to make, which is that if you want to assess the efficacy of the vaccines or comment on the desirability of the vaccination programmes then you have to compare losses with gains. We know that the vaccines saved lives during the height of the pandemic because the hospitalisation and death rates of unvaccinated people were several orders of magnitude higher than those of vaccinated people. Sure, we don’t know how many lives were saved, but the actuaries who work on these things carefully come up with numbers for the OECD countries that are much larger than the 750,000 number that Nadya quotes.

So BizNews (or your readers) might not “like” the idea of being advised to get vaccinated, but it is not rational to publish arguments that imply that getting vaccinated (during the pandemic) was a mistake. Whether it is sensible to continue with national vaccination campaigns now that we in SA, for example, have fairly high natural and vaccine immunity levels is a rather more complex matter.

It remains a disappointment to me that you allow BizNews to carry so much irrational commentary on matters of profound social importance.

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