Journal retracts study that reported widespread deaths from Covid-19 vaccine

A nurse showing a container of Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine.

A nurse showing a container of Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine.
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

A study into the impacts of covid-19 vaccination – condemned by other scientists as gravely flawed and irresponsible – has now sparked some sort of mutiny. Last week, several well-respected researchers resigned from their involvement with the journal that published the article, which argued that vaccines kill almost as many people as they save from the pandemic. Today the journal has been withdrawn.

The study, titled “The Safety of COVID-19 Vaccinations – We Should Rethink the Policy,” was published on June 24 in the journal Vaccines and was edited by Harald Walach, Rainer J. Klement and Wouter Aukema. Citing multiple data sources, the authors argued that vaccination against covid-19 was more dangerous than commonly believed, and that the benefits of inoculation barely outweighed the risks caused by covid. -19. Most blatantly, they affirmed that for “three deaths prevented by vaccination, we must accept two inflicted by vaccination”.

The document was initially shared without criticism by some on social media, including members of the anti-vaccination movement. But it was fast critical by many other scientists for its flawed assumptions, miscalculations, and outright misinformation.

One of the main pieces of evidence presented by the authors to support their claim that covid-19 injections are lethal, for example, came from the Netherlands’ adverse event reporting system for their vaccines. But as Gizmodo has it discussed previously, these systems are designed to record any health incident, including death, that occurs after a person has received a new medicine or vaccine. They do not demonstrate that the incident occurred as a result of the drug – after all, a person can die for a number of independent reasons after receiving a vaccine – but rather are intended to signal possible signals of side effects. undiscovered that might be related to a new drug or vaccine, signals that then need to be investigated further before judgment can be made.

It wasn’t long before scientists associated with the journal Vaccines began to protest the study’s publication. In a matter of days, eminent scientists like Katie Ewer, a member of the University of Oxford team who helped create their now widely used covid-19 vaccine, resigned from the journal’s editorial board. A day after his resignation, the newspaper published an expression of concern on the newspaper, intended to alert readers to the many criticisms it had received, and announced that it would investigate the matter. The ad didn’t seem to stop the bleeding, however; at the last count, according to Science publication, at least six scientists in total have resigned their positions as associate editors or section editors of the journal.

Finally, just today, the remaining Vaccines editors returned with their verdict, announcing that the newspaper would be retracted. In their note, they pointed out “several errors that fundamentally affect the interpretation of the results”, including the misrepresentation of vaccine safety data from the Netherlands. The editors also noted that the authors were asked to respond to criticisms leveled against their article, but “have not been able to do so satisfactorily.” The newspaper was then withdrawn under their protest.

Even with this ruling, some scientists have questioned how the article went through the peer review process in the first place. Two of the three examiners were anonymous, and none raised any of the issues that led to the withdrawal. The current fiasco is not the only one to have involved MDPI, the publisher of Vaccines and many other open access journals. In his past, some scientists have accused MDPI for being a predatory publisher, more concerned with the quantity than the quality of the research it publishes – reviews that made this year before the last retracted paper.

“We have established procedures to deal with all complaints about published articles, which have been followed,” Damaris Critchlow, MDPI’s publications ethics manager, told Gizmodo in an email. “The editor and the journal investigated the scientific concerns raised, which ultimately resulted in the retraction of the article. Our editor, editorial board and journal treated the investigation with the highest priority. We are in the process of consulting with the Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Board to establish further ways to support our academic writers, who are responsible for accepting manuscript decisions and assessing the quality of review reports. by peers.

This debacle should not, however, take away the importance of confirming vaccine safety. We need to verify the data collected in clinical trials of any new drug once it is released to the public, even in the midst of a pandemic. But caution should be exercised if someone starts making extraordinary claims about safety or the lack of it, especially if those claims are based on adverse event reporting systems.

Often, adverse events are not Related treatment, and only when the risk of a particular event is plausible and it is more than in the general population that scientists begin to suspect a link between the event and the drug. This has happened a few times with covid-19 vaccines, such as now established link between certain types of blood clots and adenovirus vaccines such as AstraZeneca / Oxford injections.

So far, all risks associated with vaccination are considered to be mild, short-lived, or rare and handy, and are clearly outweighed by the benefits they offer in preventing covid-19, a disease that has killed at least 4 million people worldwide in the past year and a half.

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