Population-wide COVID-19 vaccines a failure measured by death toll?

The mRNA vaccines invented in 1987 by Robert Malone and perfected to build immunity against COVID-19 in 2020 have been hailed by many as a great public health success. CNN, 5/26/2021: “The speed at which vaccines for Covid-19 have been developed and their effectiveness at stemming the pandemic are nothing short of a modern miracle. … society will marvel at the science behind these vaccines for years to come …”

Certainly the clinical trials suggested that these work far better than my June 2020 proposal: U.S. should approve a saline injection as a Covid-19 vaccine?

The most vulnerable Americans, i.e., the elderly living in retirement and nursing homes, were vaccinated beginning in December 2020. The vaccine rolled out quickly to the rest of Americans 65 and older and, by November 2021, 98.5 percent of seniors had been vaccinated (Forbes).

Even without a vaccine, we might have expected the 2021 death toll from COVID-19 to be lower than the 2020 statistic. A virus usually kills the most vulnerable people first. The nursing home residents who died in 2020, e.g., in Cuomo’s technocratically managed New York State, couldn’t be killed a second time in 2021.

What actually happened?

  • “The COVID-19 pandemic caused approximately 375,000 deaths in the United States during 2020.” (CDC)
  • roughly 425,000 COVID-19-tagged deaths in the United States in 2021 (CDC says about 800,000 deaths through end of 2021 and subtract the 2020 deaths from that total)

Is it obvious from the above numbers that the vaccination effort was a huge public health success?

One explanation for the apparent failure of vaccines as a public health measure is that the clinical trials did not include the kinds of people who are typically killed by COVID-19. I raised this point in December 2020: If COVID-19 vaccines weren’t tested on likely COVID-19 victims, how do we know that they will reduce COVID-19 deaths?

Deplorable Canadian MDs in a slide deck regarding Pfizer make a similar point:

The vaccines were tested on the healthy, and then immediately given to the frailest members of the society – the elderly with multiple health conditions. This is unscientific and unethical.

The Canadian docs make some good points about the terrible quality of the research that has been done, but I’m inclined to think that they’re at least partly wrong. This is not because their dangerous anti-science message has been banned by Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the Internet righteous, but because of my love of influenza analogies. Flu vaccines are somewhere between 10 percent and 50 percent effective and therefore my best long-term estimate of COVID-19 vaccines is in this range as well.

“Benefit of COVID-19 vaccination accounting for potential risk compensation” (Nature, by Stanford Medical School professor John P. A. Ioannidis, a.k.a., the one honest person in medical research) points out that a vaccine that is less than 60 percent effective might be worse than no vaccine if humans who are vaccinated change their behavior as a result of having been vaccinated.

What have we seen? Karen goes to Universal during Christmas week. Karen gets on 100-percent full flights to attend a wedding. Karen clogs airline flights and hotels for leisure trips. The formerly bunkered Karens in our old neighborhood changed their behavior 180 degrees after getting their children vaccinated against a virus that has primarily killed 82-year-olds in Maskachusetts. Prior to the Sacrament of Fauci, their children were forbidden to meet other kids in outdoor playgrounds. After the Sacrament, they were literally hosting sleepovers. Their behavior could be explained as rational only by inferring that they considered the vaccines to be 100 percent effective.

A New Year’s card from a friend who has a Ph.D. in public health:

We are grateful for 2021’s vaccines that allowed travel to [foreign country 10+ hours of flight time away] and [far-away state], kids returned to school, [PhD in public health] resumed in-person teaching… Here’s to lots of joy, health, and as the kids say “more playdates and sleepovers.”

Paging Dr. Ioannidis!

Risk compensation is well-known phenomenon (Wikipedia isn’t a bad place to start). Anyone who claims expertise in public health certainly could and should have expected dramatic changes following the release of wildly optimistic clinical trial results.

Given the above simple arithmetic (deaths in vaccinated 2021 exceeded deaths during unvaccinated 2020) combined with the American belief that “success” is measured by COVID-19 body count (shades of the Vietnam War) has it been scientifically proven that the COVID-19 vaccines are a public health success?


39 thoughts on “Population-wide COVID-19 vaccines a failure measured by death toll?

  1. Ski helmets don’t seem to reduce injury and it may be because people push the limit more when protected by them.

  2. We’re getting closer to people realizing it is the vaccine killing everyone. You will all get there eventually. Denial is moving towards anger on the more perceptive of the duped.

    • GB: Isn’t a simpler explanation that the vaccine isn’t very effective combined with the massive changes in human behavior post-vaccination? Some old/frail people, including my own father, died shortly after getting vaccine shots (see https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2021/02/25/obituary-of-nathaniel-greenspun-1930-2021/ ), but that’s not enough to account for the COVID-19-tagged deaths that occurred in 2022.

      While I recognize that this question is unfair, considering that most of human biology is poorly understood (e.g., anesthesiologists don’t know why anesthesia puts patients to sleep), what is the mechanism by which vaccines are actually killing people? And are you talking only about mRNA vaccines? The Chinese have broad vaccine coverage and minimal deaths tagged to COVID-19, obviously. (As covered in a previous post, the Chinese apparently don’t believe that vaccines are highly effective against COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths because they haven’t abandoned their COVID-related restrictions.)

    • Sorry for the loss of your dad. In the olden times Harvard claimed VAERS only recorded 1% of adverse events, go look how many deaths are on VAERS for 2021. Compare to previous years. Look at all the athletes dropping dead post vaccine rollout. Over 300 according to web posts trying to keep track. Athletes didn’t start falling until the vaccine was available I don’t see how it could be Covid or a Covid variant that somehow kills professional athletes. Peruse local obituaries note ages and ‘died suddenly’ and ‘died after a short illness.’ Most of my family and many of my friends took the vaccine so I’m not rejoicing in being a doomsayer but I have to agree with the tinfoilists that it doesn’t look good. That said I hope people don’t succumb to more fear, fear is unhealthy. If people are worried the alternative health crowd have suggested vaccine detox plans. And prayer, never forget prayer.

    • GB: What about the fact that VAERS wouldn’t previously have included people old enough to die from miscellaneous causes because the COVID-19 vaccines were the first ones given to the old/frail/comorbid? (not sure that last one is a legit word, but it should be!) I guess the Shingles vaccine is one that has been given to old people and there weren’t VAERS reports of people dropping dead shortly after getting that one. I hate to cite VAERS because everyone else who cited VAERS has been banned from Facebook and Twitter!

    • re: VAERS, the rules changed this time around in order to get a far higher % of reports (though I’m being lazy this time and not looking up the details that I don’t recall). Its a very misleading source since people are supposed to report all adverse conditions in the weeks after vaccination *regardless* of the cause which may not be known. For example *all* deaths soon after a vaccine dose regardless of cause.

      They *intend* it to be people that may have died *from* the vaccine *or* might only have died “with” the vaccine (or whatever lesser adverse event). The intent is for them to spot *possible* problems and *then* investigate whether there vaccine might have anything to do with it. The system allows pretty much anyone to report so not all the reports will be real and some may be duplicate.

      The issue is if anything they are reporting too few deaths: since you can compare the base rates for events happening to hundreds of millions of people normally within a period of weeks: and they are lower than the VAERS numbers. Those who are obsessed with VAERS should perhaps wonder if the vaccine miraculously prevents other causes of death and illness 🙂 or of course more likely the data is flawed.

      The other problem with VAERS is: it doesn’t control for nocebo effects which can be a major factor among those who are stressed about the idea of taking a vaccine. Its standard for treatments to be compared to placebos: it needs to be just as standard to consider nocebo effects. I’ve found that most people that refer to VAERS don’t really grasp its flaws.

    • On VAERS, this study “…identified health service employees as the reporter in at least 67% [of reports]. The sample contains only people vaccinated early in the programme, and hence is made up primarily of those who are elderly or with significant health conditions. Despite this, there were only 14% of the cases for which a vaccine reaction could be ruled out as a contributing factor in their death.”

  3. Apparently Dr. Malone appeared on Joe Rogan’s show and said some thing that disagreed with the narrative, and as a result he no longer invented the technology.

    • Ken: Yes, it is important to follow Science, but when Nature says that Malone invented mRNA as a medicine, it is important to be skeptical of authority. See https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02483-w :

      In late 1987, Robert Malone performed a landmark experiment. He mixed strands of messenger RNA with droplets of fat, to create a kind of molecular stew. Human cells bathed in this genetic gumbo absorbed the mRNA, and began producing proteins from it1.

      Realizing that this discovery might have far-reaching potential in medicine, Malone, a graduate student at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, later jotted down some notes, which he signed and dated. If cells could create proteins from mRNA delivered into them, he wrote on 11 January 1988, it might be possible to “treat RNA as a drug”. Another member of the Salk lab signed the notes, too, for posterity. Later that year, Malone’s experiments showed that frog embryos absorbed such mRNA. It was the first time anyone had used fatty droplets to ease mRNA’s passage into a living organism.

    • This guy Dr. Malone sounds like a real Dumb Dumb. I prefer to get my advice from Dr. Jill Biden!

  4. It doesn’t appear that the vaccines are doing diddy-squat on a macro scale to reduce contagion. Well-vaccinated Canada was just added to the do not travel list. If well-educated, orderly, compliant Canada, Germany, and Iceland weren’t able to control this thing, what chance do we have in the U.S.?
    So, if they aren’t reducing transmission, the only real reason to get the jab is for one’s own well-being (still a pretty solid reason, in my book), and we really ought to lay off the mandates.

    • Now correct that solid reason by the well-known horrible side effects at a very noticeable rate.

    • “So, if they aren’t reducing transmission, the only real reason to get the jab is for one’s own well-being” Is this actually true? Or could it be the vax does nothing and the current crop of covid isn’t as bad?

  5. When I surf the Internet on one of my computers (the one I don’t clear tracking cookies on) I still keep getting Amazon advertisements for Crayola masks, which are about as effective against a ~0.1 micron virion as the proverbial chain link fence in a sandstorm. At one time last year they were the hottest-selling item in “Home Care and Improvement” on Amazon.

    But people keep buying and wearing them, and wondering why things aren’t going according to #Science!



    Oh for Pete’s sake, where have the Zexy Leopard Print models gone?


    • People do artificial risk compensation when they drive drunk! Most drunk drivers think they are *better* drivers after downing several ounces of alcohol or more. Alcohol is a CNS depressant and its effect on humans is to lower their inhibitions, leading them to engage in riskier behavior than they ordinarily would. In moderation, this can be just fine, so that socially-awkward and slightly neurotic people can break the ice and blend in, so to speak. Unfortunately, a few too many and the behaviors turn destructive.

      We have been told throughout this pandemic that cheap, ineffective masks work to protect us and that vaccines were, until recently, the Shield of Achilles as we went into battle against an airborne respiratory coronavirus. It’s no surprise to me that people who have heard and internalized the propaganda for ideological and #Scientific reasons have also succumbed to risk compensatory behaviors like standing behind chain link fences in a sandstorm.

    • > as effective against a ~0.1 micron virion as the proverbial chain link fence

      A 100 layers of chain link fence is actually very effective blocking something as small as a pebble (ever seen a roll of fence at Home Depot?). Masks are 100s or even 1000s of layers thick.

  6. The Canadian’s slide deck page 11: Pfizer’s 44,000 person study shows the vax reduced c19-related deaths from 2 in the purebloods to only 1 in the vaxxed group, but cardiovascular-related deaths was 5 purebloods vs 9 vaxxed, and all-cause deaths was 14 purebloods vs 20 vaxxed.

    So the vax reduces covid deaths, but kills more people?

  7. If vaccines are not a success measured by death toll, then are they a success measured by economic activity?

    Shouldn’t we applaud those that performed risk compensation by going to Universal or letting their children have play dates?

    If the vaccines kept the death toll roughly constant, but allowed the economy to reopen, wouldn’t that be a success?

    • There still is the theory that the most vulnerable perished early in 2020 (or in winter 2020/2021). The best example is Sweden and its cumulative fatality rate, which is now lower than the one of fascist Austria.

      So a constant fatality rate is not necessarily a success, even with risk compensation.

    • Craig: by this standard opioids are also a public health success. Lots of Medicaid dollars were spent on the pills, then treatment. The GDP was expanded cleaning up after various crimes committed by addicts, non-profit agencies funding to provide housing, clean needles, and other services to “people struggling with addiction”.

    • philg: I don’t think you addressed the questions adequately. Did the vaccines help us get back to a normal life with normal economic activity while holding deaths to a reasonable number? Even if the vaccines were purely placebo and people were able to return to normal living, wouldn’t that be a success? And, aren’t you implicitly encouraging others to return to normal life since there is little to nothing we can do to reduce the medical impact of the pandemic?

    • Craig: I was gently trying to point out that the vaccines were sold as a public health intervention and, in fact, are still being sold as a pandemic-ending intervention (which is why we need to force people of all ages to take them).

      You have raised a separate question, which is whether the vaccines have provided an economic boost. I guess it is possible, but no more than the saline injection that I proposed in June 2020. If economics is a valid input to coronascience and covidcratic management of a population, everything would have been done differently starting in March 2020. Schools would never have been closed, for example, but simply run with the healthier/younger teachers. Old people would have been forbidden to leave their houses while the infection raged among the young, in order to keep the wave as compressed in time as possible. More or less the Swedish plan, in other words. But this is just idle speculation because we are informed that economics are NOT a valid input and there is no price too high to pay to save even one life from predation by SARS-CoV-2.

      It may be that economics are not a valid input to any U.S. government policy decisions. Consider immigration. Suppose that an economist were to prove that bringing in a 75-year-old with a litany of serious health problems, via chain migration, was not going to give the U.S. economy a boost and make existing Americans better off. (Once this person is a legal resident of the U.S., all of the health problems will be addressed at taxpayer expense via Medicaid.) Would that bring a halt to chain migration? If not, one can infer that Americans don’t care about economics. Similarly on free college. Suppose that an economist were to prove that, for millions of Americans and the majors that they’ve chosen, 2-6 years of college resulted in reduced lifetime earnings (partly from spending time out of the labor force and partly because the degree program did not teach anything that employers value). Would the people who currently support free college then stop supporting free college and student loan forgiveness?

    • philg: I suppose most public policy issues may be reduced to a discussion of net economic effects, but that is not the reason for my questions. It seems very simple to me – a sustained lockdown/shutdown is bad (for many reasons including purely economic ones). I believe through your writings you appear to agree with this. Therefore, if the vaccines provide enough sense of security to stop and prevent further lockdowns should we agree that the vaccines are effective?

    • Craig: We can agree on this, but it would be equally true for a saline injection promoted by Saint Fauci and Dr. Jill Biden, so the effectiveness has nothing to do with what is in the vaccine syringe or the biological effects of the vaccine. And this could be considered a success in some realm, but not the “public health” realm.

  8. Here is how I see it.

    If a set of breaks in a car is capable of stopping that car in a few hundred feet from 60 MPH most people would agree that they work just fine, they won’t stop every accident but in most cases if you’re careful you’re gonna be ok.

    However if you try to stop in the same distance after launching you car down the road with a rocket motor at 400 mph there are gonna be problems yet some people will still say hey your breaks don’t work!

    By the end of 2020 the virus (THE CAR) was ever where and was ready to accelerate to 400 mph while many people were saying hey don’t bother to even install breaks (THE VACCINE) don’t work and are dangerous in your car just hope you get lucky and don’t hit anything.

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