An online newsletter suggesting COVID-19 vaccines have killed millions of people has based its claim on a single study based on only 15 cases that has not been peer-reviewed and that three experts told Reuters has serious limitations.
The Substack letter published on Dec. 28 by Steve Kirsch, an individual previously fact-checked by Reuters (here and here), calls for an immediate halt to vaccine rollouts, saying the implications of the study are “potentially enormous resulting in millions of deaths”(here).
It adds that the research shows that 93% of people who died after receiving a COVID-19 shot “were killed by the vaccine”.
According to Bhakdi and Burkhardt, a pathologist assessment of 15 persons who died after vaccination and were aged between 28 and 95 found “irrefutable evidence” of the shots causing deaths. This, it says, was concluded due to the organs of 14 out of 15 patients (93%) showing evidence of “immunological self-attack”.
But three experts speaking to Reuters have highlighted several major issues with the research, as well as its lack of peer review.
Professor Neil Mabbott, personal chair in immunopathology at the University of Edinburgh, told Reuters he would be “very surprised” if the preprint passes credible review.
He warned that “many non-specialist readers won’t necessarily be aware of the distinction” between a preprint – a version of a scientific manuscript posted on a public server prior to formal peer review (here) – and a peer-reviewed study published in a scientific journal “as so much important coronavirus related data has been released as preprints”.
Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, raised concerns over the number of cases analysed – and said the Substack headline that 93% of deaths are caused by vaccines was also unfounded.
He told Reuters: “What is definitely not true is what is said in the headline to the Steve Kirsch article. Bhakdi and Burkhardt did not look at all the people who died after being vaccinated – that’s clearly not possible because a lot of people will die after being vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to with the vaccine.”
McConway added that the 15 cases were not a representative sample of people who have died after being vaccinated. This is due to the autopsies being carried out for specific reasons such as family preferences or the refusal to accept a decision from a previous pathologist or coroner.
“So, what we have is that 14 out of 15 people, not typical of those who died after vaccination, had, in the opinion of one pathologist, signs that indicated that the vaccine may have had a role in their death, even though a previous pathologist or coroner did not agree with that conclusion,” he said.
“I’ll also mention that there’s no comparison with people of similar ages and so on who also died, but were not vaccinated, so there’s no way to tell from what is said here how common these pathological findings are in unvaccinated people, apart from the pathologist’s opinion.”
McConway’s comments were also echoed by Dr Rosie Cornish, a research fellow in Population Health Sciences at Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, who told Reuters: “This is a study of 15 people who died. All of them had received a COVID-19 vaccine between 7 days and 6 months prior to death. This tells us nothing.
“Chances are that all of these people would have many other factors in common in the same time frame preceding death. For example, had they all eaten bread at some point? Had they had a drink of water? Brushed their teeth? This list could be very long. Nobody is suggesting that any of these other factors could be the cause of death.
“The description of the study tells us very little. How were these 15 people selected? What were the recorded causes of death? Why did the study only include 15 people? Why didn’t the study include a control group – of similar ages and similar causes of death – who had not received a vaccine so that comparisons could be made in terms of histopathologic findings?”
Dr Cornish then contrasted the research with a U.S. study of roughly 11 million people aged 12 and above (here) which “showed that recipients of COVID-19 vaccines had slightly lower rates of (non-COVID-19) mortality than unvaccinated individuals”.
Misleading. Three experts have highlighted multiple major flaws in the study used to claim that millions have died vaccine-related deaths.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
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