Google searches about whether vaccines are effective against new strains of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been trending since last November. “Vaccine” searches gradually replaced queries for “coronavirus,” which in 2020 was the No. 1 topic globally in Google’s news and search categories.
Yet, while the search term “vaccine” is now used less on Google, searches aimed at determining the “adverse effects” from COVID-19 vaccines have become the fourth-most-popular on Google worldwide and the most-popular in some African countries.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an “adverse event” is “any health problem that happens after a shot or other vaccine.” The problem “might be truly caused by a vaccine, or it might be pure coincidence," the CDC says.
Most people are reasonably concerned about the effectiveness and risks of the COVID-19 vaccines because their development has been fast-tracked and they were approved under emergency orders. News of mutations in the original SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID-19 have added to these concerns. The CDC provides comprehensive information about vaccines, in English and many other languages.
Now, “adverse effect” has become a favored term of anti-vaxxers, who are spreading falsehoods and misrepresenting official data.
The Trillions Intelligence Network is not the most prominent anti-vax website, but Polygraph.info chose to review one post because it includes several of the popular myths about COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccines and takes U.S. adverse effects data out of context.
“COVID Vaccines Kill and Maim Thousands + Ineffective on New Strains of Virus,” which the network published on February 7, has been widely shared on social media networks.
The piece repeats debunked coronavirus myths, such as the claim that all existing COVID-19 vaccines are still “experimental” and haven’t passed required clinical trials. That claim has been fact-checked and proven false.
Another popular myth is that vaccines do not protect against the new mutations of the virus. That claim has also been investigated; while the vaccines may not be as effective on some new strains, they still appear to provide protection. Furthermore, booster shots could be used to strengthen the vaccines' effect.
The article goes on to claim that COVID-19 vaccines have killed and maimed “thousands.” As evidence, it cites the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a data portal run by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approves COVID-19 and other vaccines.
“As of Jan. 29, the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System shows 501 reported deaths and 10,748 other injuries,” the article says.
Those statistics are accurate from the system -- but they give a false impression because Trillions leaves out critical information. The data published on VAERS is from unverified reports; it is raw data collected for analysis later. The CDC says it cannot be used to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the vaccine and reported adverse health events.
Health professionals are encouraged – and vaccine manufacturers required – to report all adverse effects. But anyone can voluntarily share their vaccination experiences via VAERS. The system also provides the public with tools for searching and downloading its data.
Searching VAERS on February 11 using the terms “all vaccines” and “covid-19” yielded 11,249 events that were reported as adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccination, including 414 deaths, two brain deaths, 56 cardiac arrests, 28 other types of cardiac failures, and other types of serious or life-threatening complications.
Here's the problem: That doesn’t mean the deaths, cardiac arrests, etc., were from the vaccine. As VAERS explains, the system has multiple limitations:
- The data “may include incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental and unverified information.”
- “In large part, reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases.”
- “The number of reports alone cannot be interpreted or used to reach conclusions about the existence, severity, frequency, or rates of problems associated with vaccines.”
The Trillions Intelligence story lists no author. The site’s “About” section says it is published by an “independent and international” group of volunteers. The Trillions Intelligence website does not provide contact information except for an online form that did not work when Polygraph.info attempted to get comment.