YouTube Videos – Fact Check on Danish Pre-Print COVID-19 Vaccine and Mortality Study

A Danish study that assessed the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on mortality is used online as evidence that messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna offer “no mortality benefit”.

“mRNA Vaccines Show No Mortality Benefit – Danish Study” is the title of a YouTube video that states that the April 5 study found that mRNA injections from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna did not stop infections or transmission and do not reduce deaths, showing “No discernible mortality benefit.”

The video adds that in contrast, the adenoviral vector vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca show a “very positive mortality benefit from COVID and, intriguingly, even non-COVID deaths.”

The video features Chris Martenson, a former pharmaceutical financial analyst and founder of Peak Prosperity, a website that appears to be devoted to sharing concepts from a book he authored. It was reported as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)

PolitiFact contacted Peak Prosperity for comment, but did not hear back.

The study, titled “Randomized clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines: do adenovirus-vectored vaccines have non-specific beneficial effects?” was published on April 5 on the Lancet journal’s preprint server. A “preprint” is a research paper before it is peer-reviewed or accepted for publication by a scholarly or scientific journal. The study was conducted by researchers affiliated with various institutions, including the University of Southern Denmark, the Statens Serums Institut and the Bandim Health Project.

The research analyzed randomized controlled trials to see how well COVID-19 vaccines reduced deaths from all causes, and it sought to compare the difference in outcomes between adenoviral vector vaccines and mRNA-based vaccines. .

For mRNA vaccines, the study found that 61 people out of 74,193 participants died. Thirty-one received the vaccine, while 30 received a placebo, showing that the vaccine had essentially no impact on “overall” mortality, according to the study.

For adenovirus-vectored vaccines, the study recorded 46 deaths out of 122,164 participants. Of the 46, 16 had received the vaccine, while 30 received a placebo.

The authors concluded that the two types of vaccines differed significantly “in terms of overall mortality.” They also said adenovirus vaccines were associated with protection against non-accidental, non-COVID-19 related deaths.

But when looking specifically at death rates related to COVID-19, the picture changes.

The study found that of the 31 deaths that occurred among those vaccinated with mRNA, only two were due to COVID-19. The rest was due to other causes. For the adenovirus vaccinated group, two of the 16 deaths were due to COVID-19.

One of the study’s lead authors, Dr Christine Stabell Benn, professor of global health at the University of Southern Denmark, posted about the findings on her LinkedIn page. She argued that scientists cannot presume to know the full effect of a vaccine “just by knowing its effect against the target infection” and said scientists must study its effect on overall health.

“We need to be clear about the vaccine and outcomes we’re talking about,” Benn wrote. “Analysis of randomized clinical trials suggests that COVID-19 vaccines are not a homogenous group. Therefore, we (health authorities, doctors, politicians, media as well as citizens) must distinguish between “COVID-19 mRNA vaccines” and “COVID-19 adenovirus vector vaccines”, and we need to clarify whether we are talking about COVID-19 specific mortality or all-cause mortality.

She wrote that headlines that say COVID-19 vaccines reduce mortality are oversimplified.

But the same argument can be said for the title of the YouTube video – that mRNA vaccines offer “no mortality benefit”. This is misleading because it does not state that the results are for deaths unrelated to COVID-19, that the study is a preprint, or that further research is needed. While scientists like Benn argue that it is important to study the overall effects of vaccines on mortality, people were given these shots to protect against COVID-19, which these vaccines continue to do.

“The study is not about the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against COVID,” said Amesh Adalja, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security. “The study aims to determine whether COVID vaccines have nonspecific impacts on mortality that extend beyond the indisputable mortality benefit they confer against COVID-19. Some vaccines have effects that extend beyond the target infection and decrease mortality from other causes (eg measles vaccine).

Dr Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, also said the article’s question was not about COVID-19, but whether vaccines had a beneficial effect on other causes. of mortality.

Research confirmed that both types of vaccines significantly prevented deaths from COVID-19, “which is not surprising because both types of vaccines generate cellular immunity against SARS-CoV-2, protecting us against serious illnesses”.

Study results showing a stronger association between improved mortality and adenoviral vector vaccines might suggest that these vaccines have other beneficial effects, Ghandi said. But, again, that doesn’t mean the mRNA vaccine has no mortality benefit.

“However, to be fair,” said Gandhi, “the number of non-COVID and COVID deaths was rare across all pooled analyzes and causes of non-COVID deaths not well judgedtherefore this analysis should be considered preliminary and hypothesis-generating at best.

The authors acknowledged that the study was based on limited available data over a shorter period than desired.

In an email to PolitiFact, Benn said she felt the lack of data documenting whether vaccines reduced deaths from causes other than COVID-19 was an area in need of further research and suggested that such data may provide a more complete picture of overall vaccine safety.

Meanwhile, in an emailed statement, Pfizer said numerous peer-reviewed studies around the world have confirmed the safety and efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine.

“With hundreds of millions of doses administered worldwide, the benefit-risk profile of our vaccine remains positive for all approved indications and age groups and we remain confident in the protection and safety that our COVID-19 vaccine will provide. 19 offer,” the statement read.

Our decision

A video circulating on social media claims that a Danish study found that mRNA vaccines offer “no mortality benefit”.

This is an oversimplification and does not accurately reflect the pre-printed study, which has not been peer reviewed. Researchers used data from clinical trials to see how different COVID-19 vaccines reduced deaths from all causes. They found that adenoviral vector vaccines appeared to protect against non-accidental, non-COVID-19-related deaths, while mRNA vaccines didn’t have much of an impact. They said more research was needed.

The research did not conclude that mRNA vaccines were ineffective in protecting people against death from COVID-19.

We are evaluating this fake.

Shirley K. Rosa