Two people die every year after a vaccination – 68 have died so far this year following a Pfizer jab

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Updated 8 October with current death figure

According to official figures from the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM), between January 2000 and June 2019, a total of 48 people were reported to have died following a vaccination (all vaccines).

There’s no official evidence that any of 48 people died as a direct result of being vaccinated and it is estimated only 5% of adverse reactions are reported to the CARM database.

However, taking CARM’s data at face value, it shows that on average two or three people die in New Zealand every year following a vaccination.

Since the Pfizer jab started to be rolled out on 19 February 2021, 68 people have died within seven days of being vaccinated against covid-19 and some women have lost their unborn babies due to miscarriage. The authorities say there is no cause for alarm.

Writing on 24 June 2021, Medsafe’s group manager Chris James says: “As the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine is approved for use in New Zealand for people 12 years and older, the Ministry expects to continue to see coincidental events, including deaths, following vaccination.

“These cases have been reviewed by CARM and no safety concerns relating to the vaccination have been identified.

“Of the reports received by Medsafe, all deaths occurred within a week of the most recent dose. It is important to note that as more than 30,000 people die in New Zealand every year, it is expected that some deaths will be reported after vaccination or use of any medicine. Similar reports are recorded during the influenza vaccination programme.”

Medsafe says the normal criteria it uses to decide if a medication should be withdrawn from use are set out in the Medicines Act 1981 (section 35). They are:

  • If the medicine can no longer be regarded as a medicine that can be administered or used safely for the purposes indicated in the application for consent; or
  • The specifications and standards with respect to the manufacture of the medicine that were included in the terms of a consent can no longer be regarded as satisfactory; or
  • The efficacy of the medicine can no longer be regarded as satisfactory

In addition, section 36 of the Medicines Act provides a statutory mechanism by which the Medsafe can raise questions with the relevant company about the safety and efficacy of the medicine.

A spokesperson for Medsafe says: “Unless there is evidence that the Pfizer vaccine is no longer safe or satisfactory for use in terms of the criteria set out above, Medsafe would not be in the position to take any regulatory action.

“Medsafe has no current concerns about the vaccine that would trigger this process. Medsafe continues to monitor suspected adverse reactions reported following vaccination. These reports are assessed by experienced medical assessors.

“Medsafe also obtains expert advice on adverse reactions reported and trends in reporting. Medsafe is not planning regulatory action at this time in relation to the Pfizer vaccine.”

Medsafe keeps a list of adverse reactions here which is updated every Wednesday by around 4pm. There is no threshold number of deaths over which Medsafe withdraws a medication for use.

Writing on 1 February 2020 Chris James said: “Whilst Medsafe is prioritising covid-19 vaccine assessments, the review of safety of any vaccine will not be compromised.

“As well as following our usual approval processes, Medsafe will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and other medicines including taking action if it detects a safety issue.”

CARM is run by staff at Otago University and has been collecting adverse reaction data to all medications since 1965. Reporting adverse reactions is voluntary, anyone can report an adverse reaction, but there is no legal requirement to do so (even GPs are not required to report adverse events).

A GP tells The Buzz that reporting an adverse event to CARM is time consuming, laborious, and is unpaid. And with 20 other things to do – such as seeing patients, reviewing patient test results, and compulsory form-filling – this is why GPs aren’t inclined to report every adverse event they come across.

In short, the adverse event reporting system is broken. See our story on Under-Reporting to the CARM System.

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