Vaccination of the frail elderly with experimental vaccines – the same people at risk of illness and death from COVID-19, and/or with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test – is discussed here. This demographic were excluded from all trials so the global rollout is their contribution to the ongoing trial data due to complete in 2023. Governments are reporting these events even if media are not sharing it.
It is interesting that for vaccine-associated deaths, “expected” rates are compared and “coincidental” deaths considered. As should happen. Similar analysis of those dying with positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests – as should happen – is labelled “granny killing”, “genocide” and “murder”.
Risk-benefit analysis in vaccination is basic public health.
So is informed choice.
Reports of death following vaccination, particularly in the elderly
The TGA uses its adverse event reporting system to closely monitor reports of death following COVID-19 vaccination. During the early stages of the vaccine rollout in Australia and many other countries, deaths were reported following vaccination in older people living in aged care as this is where the vaccine rollout started. Many of these deaths were in frail elderly people and were coincidental with vaccination.
However, it is possible in frail older people that even relatively mild and expected adverse reactions following the vaccination may contribute to deterioration of an underlying illness. For this reason, the Product Information documents for both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccines provide advice about vaccinating frail elderly people (over 85 years old) and warn that the potential benefits of vaccination must be weighed against the potential risks for each individual person.
To 23 May 2021, 3.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given in Australia. In this period, the TGA has received 210 reports of deaths following immunisation – 109 have been reported for the Pfizer vaccine, 94 for the AstraZeneca vaccine and seven where the vaccine was not specified. Most of these reports (93%) were for people 65 years of age and over, and over three quarters were 75 years of age and over. Many of the deaths relate to elderly aged-care residents.
The TGA reviews all deaths reported after vaccination and monitors for safety signals. Part of our analysis includes comparing expected natural death rates to observed death rates following immunisation. To date, the observed number of deaths reported after vaccination is actually less than the expected number of deaths.
Each year in Australia, there are about 160,000 deaths, equating to 13,300 a month or 3050 each week. In the most recent reporting year (2018)(link is external) two-thirds of these deaths were in people aged 75 years and over.
Additionally, deaths from COVID-19 disease overwhelmingly occur in the elderly. While the 20-29 age group has had the highest number of cases of COVID-19 in Australia (followed by the 30-39 age group), 94 % (852 of 910) of COVID-19 deaths in Australia(link is external) have been in those aged 70 or over.
Apart from the single Australian case in which death was linked to TTS, COVID-19 vaccines have not been found to cause death. Given the benefits of vaccination with regard to preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19, particularly in older age groups, immunisation is strongly encouraged as we head into the winter months.
Dr Nigel Kellow is an ICU attending physician and consulting cardiac anaesthetist.
Dr Zoe Harcombe is a Cambridge University graduate with a PhD in public health nutrition.
Here they compare notes on the fully vaccinated +/- naturally immune remaining under strict Covid regulations at the expense of health service staffing.