Fox News host Tucker Carlson warned his viewers Wednesday night that the death toll from Covid-19 vaccines may be disconcertingly high — citing a federal database in which individuals can self-report suspicious deaths or adverse reactions without verification or evidence — even though federal officials say there is no evidence these deaths are linked to the vaccines.
Carlson cited recent data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System — a database run by the FDA and CDC — showing more than 3,300 reports of deaths after coronavirus shots were administered, a sum Carlson called “not even close to normal.”
Carlson acknowledged some of these deaths may have been coincidences, and concluded it’s unclear how many fatalities are actually linked to the vaccines.
The CDC says it promptly investigates these death reports as they arrive, and the agency hasn’t found any link between the coronavirus vaccines and fatalities so far.
VAERS’ own online disclaimer says it shouldn’t be used to count the number of vaccine reactions because it “may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable,” especially since healthcare providers are encouraged to file reports even when they think an adverse event has nothing to do with a vaccine.
The potential for coincidences is especially high because coronavirus vaccines have been administered to so many Americans: “When you’re giving a COVID-19 vaccine to elderly adults, there are going to be people who die shortly after vaccination because they would have died anyway,” Dr. William Moss, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University, told Politifact this week.
Fox News pointed Forbes to multiple instances of Carlson praising vaccines and referring to himself as pro-vaccine.
VAERS reports are often cited by anti-vaccine groups. Carlson says he is pro-vaccine and has encouraged vulnerable people to get vaccinated. On Wednesday night, he framed his coverage of VAERS partly as a critique of the system’s flaws and potential for inaccuracy.
“What is happening now, for whatever reason, is not even close to normal. It’s not even close to what we see in previous years with previous vaccines,” Carlson said. “Most vaccines are not accused of killing large numbers of people.”
“CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports,” the CDC said on its website. “A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”
Carlson has often used his show to float controversial, questionable theories about coronavirus vaccines. He’s implied that public health officials are trying to coerce people into getting vaccinated, and he’s wondered aloud whether the vaccines are ineffective.
25%. That’s the percentage of Americans who say they’re unwilling to get vaccinated, a 10-point decrease since December, according to Gallup polling. Vaccine hesitancy rates are especially high among Republicans.