The misleading figures from a video about deaths after the start of the vaccination

Lit by the rising sun, stone giants pierce the morning mist, evoking so many human figures petrified for eternity … It is with this chilling allegory that the trailer for First, do no harm, the new documentary by Pierre Barnérias, associated with “Former journalists”, who, a year later Hold-up, promises this time to unveil the lies around the vaccination against Covid-19 in the world.

Without ever making it clear, the trailer seems to suggest that vaccines are ineffective, if not dangerous, based on two numbers:

  • In the pandemic’s first year (December 2019-December 2020), the virus killed 1.57 million people.
  • During the nine months following the start of the vaccination, in December 2020, it killed 3.23 million.

If these figures are correct, they absolutely do not allow to dispute the benefits of the vaccination.

Why is this misleading

1. Vaccination is being rolled out gradually

“It is misleading to suggest that the mere introduction of vaccination should have immediately reduced mortality everywhere in the world”, reacts Antoine Flahault, professor of epidemiology and director of the Institute of Global Health, in Geneva. Indeed, if the vaccination started well in December 2020, it would be wrong to think that it immediately bore fruit … for the simple reason that it took much longer to deploy throughout the world. This is due to the limited production capacity of the laboratories that produce the vaccines and to logistical difficulties in supplying certain territories.

Thus, only 0.06% of the world’s population had received a first dose of vaccine in 1is January 2021. Even today, in mid-October, only 36.8% of humanity is fully vaccinated.

Vaccination Covid-19 : follow the campaign’s progress around the world

2. Immunization coverage is not uniform

Another pitfall noted by Mr. Flahault: “The rollout of vaccination has been uneven geographically, with people in the wealthier countries being vaccinated much more quickly. ” Indeed, the overall level of vaccination conceals the strong disparities between the regions of the globe: 74% of the French population is, to date, fully vaccinated, against 23% in India and 6% for all African countries.

It is therefore very acrobatic to draw a clear line between the pre-vaccine period and the post-vaccine period, as the trailer for First, do no harm, to conclude that the number of deaths would have increased despite (or even because of) vaccination.

Some of the deadliest contamination waves of 2021, moreover, occurred in countries, at the time, very little vaccinated:

  • India saw 237,000 deaths between the 1is April and 1is July, at a time when vaccination coverage was between 0.7 and 4.2% of the population.
  • Brazil recorded 300,000 deaths between March (less than 1% of the population vaccinated) and August 2021 (20% vaccinated).
  • The United States suffered 279,000 deaths between December 2020 and April 2021, with a vaccination rate rising to 16.7% at the end of the period.

Thus, ten of the fifteen most important affected countries (India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Peru, Indonesia, Colombia, Iran, Argentina, South Africa) are those which had low vaccination coverage during the first nine months of the vaccination deployment. .

3. The death rate has decreased significantly with the vaccine

The trailer for First, do no harm emphasizes, with good reason, that the rate of deaths linked to Covid-19 accelerated after December 2020: there are thus 2.1 times more deaths between December 2020 and today than during the first year of the pandemic.

However, we must not forget that, at the same time, the number of contaminations has also jumped, even more spectacularly: it is 2.7 higher since December 2020 than at the start of the pandemic. This progression is explained in particular by the appearance of new variants of the virus, which are more contagious.

The fact that the number of deaths has increased less rapidly than that of infections argues for the effectiveness of vaccines, since they aim above all to reduce the severe forms of the disease, and they are much less useful in slowing down the diseases. contaminations. Scientists believe that, without the vaccines, the human toll would have been much higher.

“If vaccination is not very effective on transmission, in particular of the Delta variant, we can observe, on the other hand, that it drastically reduces severe forms and mortality, by around 90%., adds Antoine Flahaut. Thus the United Kingdom (nearly 75% vaccination coverage) now has 150 deaths per day with more than 40,000 new infections daily. When immunization coverage was still very low, the daily rate of death was ten times higher (1,200 in January). “

4. The example of France confirms the effectiveness of vaccination

France is another good example, since it now has, for several months, a large vaccination coverage: 74% of the population fully vaccinated at the end of October.

This situation has enabled scientists to carry out a large epidemiological study on an unprecedented sample of 22 million people over the age of 50. The results, published in July, confirm the effectiveness of the three vaccines used in France in “real life”, comparing them to a test sample of unvaccinated people:

  • For those aged 75 and over, the risk of hospitalization falls by 92% for Pfizer, 96% for Moderna and 96% for AstraZeneca. The risk of death decreases in the same proportions for Pfizer and Moderna (the numbers were too low to comment on AstraZeneca).
  • For 50-74 year olds, the risk of hospitalization drops by 92% while the risk of death is reduced by 86% with all vaccines.

The curve of deaths linked to Covid-19 in France also confirms this trend: it has slowed sharply since the end of May, despite an epidemic resurgence from mid-July to mid-September.

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The misleading figures from a video about deaths after the start of the vaccination