Shifting Goalposts – COVID Deaths versus Vaccine Deaths

Imagine changing the rules in the middle of a football game. The halftime score is 14-12, the Raiders scoring two touchdowns while the Broncos kicked four field goals. In the second half the rules change with field goals worth seven points and touchdowns only three points. Suddenly the Broncos are ahead 28-6. Absurd isn’t it?

That’s what is happening with the reporting of COVID deaths versus vaccine deaths, the media and medical establishment now defining deaths far differently in order to push their agenda of COVID bad, vaccine good.

COVID deaths don’t distinguish between death with COVID versus death from COVID. Early in the pandemic, Dr Deborah Birx said as much:

So, I think in this country we've taken a very liberal approach to mortality. There are other countries that if you had a preexisting condition and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem some countries are recording as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. Right now…if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death.

Perhaps that is why the US has more COVID deaths compared to many other countries, although in a world ranking, the US is in tenth place in deaths per million, behind Belgium, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Preexisting conditions are certainly important and death is often multifactorial. According to the CDC, only 6 percent of COVID deaths were due to COVID only, meaning no preexisting conditions. But what about the other 94 percent?

Suppose coroners ask the question, “If not for COVID, would this patient be alive today?” If the answer is yes, it will be recorded as a COVID death. But one could easily ask the question differently. “If not for diabetes (or COPD, heart disease, obesity, etc) would this COVID patient be alive today?” in which case any of those other comorbidities could just as easily be listed as the cause of death, rather than COVID.

In other words, the diabetic patient may not have died if they didn’t have COVID but may not have died either if they didn’t have diabetes. It seems COVID trumps everything else in death attribution.

Is it the same for the vaccines or have the rules now changed?

YouTube screen grab

An Israeli man suffered a fatal heart attack hours after receiving the
COVID vaccine. The media was quick to disavow any linkage between the two events. From the Jerusalem Post, “Man's fatal heart attack likely unlinked to vaccine he took 2 hours before.”

The Times of Israel says much the same,

88-year-old dies hours after vaccine; doctors stress he was seriously ill. Hospital says deceased, who collapsed at home, had a long history of health ailments.

Some American press were more straightforward in their reporting, simply presenting the facts without caveats distancing the death from the vaccine. The New York Post headline, “Israeli man reportedly dies of heart attack hours after getting COVID vaccine.” They did not tie the two events together but instead just reported the two events factually, without opining, what journalism is supposed to do.

Other American media, of the left-wing variety, were quick to draw a distinction between the two events, claiming them to be unrelated, even though that is speculation, not certainty, and the opposite approach to COVID death reporting. From The Wrap,

NY Post Ripped for ‘Totally Irresponsible’ COVID-19 Vaccine Headline

Outlet ran a story on a man who died shortly after taking Pfizer’s vaccine — but the headline failed to mention health officials believe it was “unrelated” to the shot.

A Swiss man also died after receiving the COVID vaccine and again the media was quick to deny any causation. According to Yahoo,

Swiss drugs regulator swissmedic on Wednesday said it saw no link between the death of a 91-year old person in the canton of Lucerne and the COVID-19 vaccine, adding the deceased suffered from multiple illnesses before getting the shot.

Are any COVID deaths reported with such disclaimers? Do the death counts touted on Fox News or CNN ever mention those COVID deaths in individuals “suffering from multiple illnesses” before getting COVID?

Will the Swiss man’s death certificate say he died due to the vaccine or natural causes? If we were to apply Dr Birx’s rule to the vaccine paraphrasing, “if someone dies with the vaccine, we are counting that as a vaccine death” then these two elderly men died from the vaccine.

In reality, a 92-year-old man actuarily has a 20 percent chance of dying within a year and I agree that it is unlikely the two events are related. If he has multiple illnesses, that percentage rises significantly. Yet if he died with a positive COVID test, he would almost certainly be classified as a COVID death, at least in the US, his medical problems deemed secondary.

I am not anti-vaccine and not denying the seriousness of COVID, particularly in the more vulnerable populations. I am only pointing out the shifting goalposts in how this viral illness is and has been treated, with politics trumping science.

This is more than just a few examples of media creating rather than reporting the news, to further their political agenda. There are real life consequences to inaccurate or sensationalized reporting.

In Los Angeles County, where COVID rules and lockdowns appear as fickle as the weather, 20 to 40 percent of medical frontline workers offered the vaccine have refused it, in some neighboring counties, 50 percent saying no thanks.

Perhaps after almost a year of the medical experts like Drs. Birx and Fauci constantly changing the rules and guidelines, and the media weaponizing all COVID news as a means of hurting the orange man whom they loathe, people are understandably skeptical.

The consequence is a longer pathway to herd immunity, the only way to get rid of the ongoing restrictions, either through natural infection or vaccination.

Moving the goalposts mid-game, shifting the criteria for death with COVID and death from vaccine adds to mistrust in anything the government recommends. Expect to see more of this sharp distinction between how COVID and vaccine deaths are reported and subsequent puzzlement as to why many are in no hurry to be vaccinated.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and freelance writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn, Twitter, Parler, and QuodVerum.