The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting system, referred to as VAERS, was a 1990 research project designed to detect potential problems with commonly administered inoculations not seen during pre-market testing, as well as ensure a stable supply of vaccines. The intention was to help medical researchers identify adverse bodily events related to vaccines, so if a trend emerged, they’d be able to monitor it.
This surveillance database, jointly managed by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has become the subject of speculation and misinterpretation since the rollout of the COVID vaccine.
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk recently speculated that between 123,000 and 1.2 million people may have died after receiving the COVID shots. Kirk suggested that as few as one percent of adverse vaccine events may be reported to VAERS, a statistic derived from a 2010 study conducted by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc., a health insurance company that has a research affiliation with Harvard University.
The study reads:
Adverse events from drugs and vaccines are common, but underreported. Although 25% of ambulatory patients experience an adverse drug event, less than 0.3% of all adverse drug events and 1-13% of serious events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported. Low reporting rates preclude or slow the identification of “problem” drugs and vaccines that endanger public health.
To account for the possible maximum percentage that didn’t report adverse events, Kirk used a multiplier on the VAERS data which suggests there could’ve been as many as 12,313 post-vaccine fatalities.
“If VAERS is off by 99 percent, that would mean that 1.2 million people died after getting the vaccine. If VAERS is off by 90 percent, that means that 123,000 people died. I’m not saying that’s true, I’m saying that according to how we calculate VAERS…this could be true,” Kirk clarified.
To illustrate what he believes to be error in Kirk’s reasoning, Dr. Bradford Becken, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, offered an analogy in an interview with National Review. If a customer flew with an airline and didn’t file a complaint, odds are they didn’t have a bad experience on that flight. The same applies to VAERS reporting, he said.
The vast majority of people will not suffer serious health complications in the aftermath of COVID vaccination, explaining why so few enter them into the system, Becken suggested. “The whole reason you wouldn’t report is that you haven’t had an adverse event,” he added.
Dr. Brian Labus, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the University of Nevada School of Public Health, echoed Becken in saying, “If there’s a clinician who has a patient who died from the COVID vaccine, they will definitely report it. Really serious problems will be reported.”
“Kirk is saying that if everyone submitted an adverse event, we would have a much higher number of post-vaccine fatalities.” But most people have minor reactions to the vaccine, such as a sore arm or headache, and therefore don’t notify their physician or publish it themselves, Labus continued.
Another flawed deduction one could make from VAERS is that the reported adverse events were directly caused by COVID vaccination. The public portal is comprised of honor-system entries which are not verified and cannot prove that vaccination itself induced death.
“VAERS is set up so anybody can make a claim. Patients can make claims, doctors can make claims. What’s available to the public is simply a claim, nothing has been confirmed,” Labus elaborated.
As far as post-vaccine deaths go, “There may be a temporal relationship but there’s no causation that’s established. It by no means indicates that the vaccine is what caused the adverse event,” Becken said.
Labus used the example of emergency 911 calls to demonstrate his point. “It’s like trying to calculate the violent crime rate by 911 calls. If I want to determine whether homicides were committed, I’m not going to rely on 911 calls alone, there has to be an investigation,” he stated.
Both medical professionals affirmed that if the potential death rate Kirk postulated were true, the vaccine wouldn’t have advanced past clinical trials and been approved.
The United States has fully vaccinated 162 million people, according to an NPR study. “With the death rate he’s implying, the vaccine would have never gone to market. We didn’t see serious problems in the clinical trials at all,” Labus said.
“He’s starting with a system that doesn’t show what he thinks it shows. And then he’s extrapolating that they’re underreported,” the doctor concluded.