Conclusions: This lack of clear benefit should cause governments to rethink their vaccination policy.
The present assessment raises the question whether it would be necessary to rethink policies and use COVID-19 vaccines more sparingly and with some discretion only in those that are willing to accept the risk because they feel more at risk from the true infection than the mock infection. Perhaps it might be necessary to dampen the enthusiasm by sober facts? In our view, the EMA and national authorities should instigate a safety review into the safety database of COVID-19 vaccines and governments should carefully consider their policies in light of these data. Ideally, independent scientists should carry out thorough case reviews of the very severe cases, so that there can be evidence-based recommendations on who is likely to benefit from a SARS-CoV2 vaccination and who is in danger of suffering from side effects. Currently, our estimates show that we have to accept four fatal and 16 serious side effects per 100,000 vaccinations in order to save the lives of 2–11 individuals per 100,000 vaccinations, placing risks and benefits on the same order of magnitude.
Pfizer’s vaccine “may be more than 90% effective.” (Mahase, BMJ 2020;371:m4347, November 9) Specific data are not given but it is easy enough to approximate the numbers involved, based on the 94 cases in a trial that has enrolled about 40,000 subjects: 8 cases in a vaccine group of 20,000 and 86 cases in a placebo group of 20,000. This yields a Covid-19 attack rate of 0.0004 in the vaccine group and 0.0043 in the placebo group. Relative risk (RR) for vaccination = 0.093, which translates into a “vaccine effectiveness” of 90.7% [100(1-0.093)]. This sounds impressive, but the absolute risk reduction for an individual is only about 0.4% (0.0043-0.0004=0.0039). The Number Needed To Vaccinate (NNTV) = 256 (1/0.0039), which means that to prevent just 1 Covid-19 case 256 individuals must get the vaccine; the other 255 individuals derive no benefit, but are subject to vaccine adverse effects, whatever they may be and whenever we learn about them……We’ve already heard that an early effect of the vaccine is “like a hangover or the flu.” Will vaccinees who are later exposed to coronaviruses have more severe illness as a result of antibody-dependent enhancement of infection (ADEI), a known hazard of coronavirus vaccines? Is there squalene in the Pfizer vaccine? If so, will vaccinees be subject to autoimmune diseases, like Gulf War Syndrome and narcolepsy that have been associated with the adjuvant?