COVID Vaccines Provide Meager Benefit to Young Kids, CDC Report Shows — Media Get It Wrong Again
If you believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) weekly communiqués should be taken as gospel, it’s probably best you don’t read any further.
Mainstream media, in typical fashion, summarized this week’s CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), “Hospitalizations of Children Aged 5–11 Years with Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 2020–February 2022,” without any critical analysis of the CDC’s findings.
Forbes magazine covered the MMWR with this headline: ”87% of Kids Hospitalized With Covid During the Omicron Wave Were Unvaccinated, CDC Says.”
The messaging is clear: Get your child vaccinated.
What’s also clear is this: Media outlets unquestioningly accept these CDC missives at face value, without critiquing the agency’s methodology or conclusions.
A summary of the MMWR findings
The CDC this week chose to report on the hospitalization of children ages 5 to 11 during three different periods: pre-Delta (March 1, 2020 – June 26, 2021); Delta-predominant (June 27, 2021 – Dec. 18, 2021); and Omicron-predominant (Dec. 19 – Feb. 28, 2022).
The relevance of hospitalization rates during the first two periods is difficult to find given the COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age group was authorized only as of Nov. 2, 2021.
For that reason, I limit my discussion of the report to the CDC’s findings in the “Omicron-predominant” period.
The CDC’s COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET) is a population-based surveillance system that collects data on laboratory-confirmed COVID-associated hospitalizations among children and adults through a network of more than 250 acute-care hospitals in 14 states.
COVID-NET has a catchment area of 10% of the U.S. population.
According to the MMWR, in the 10-week period between Dec. 19 and Feb. 28, 2022:
397 children (median age 8) were hospitalized.
72.9% were “likely” hospitalized for COVID-related illnesses.
70% had one or more comorbidities.
19% were admitted to the ICU.
There were no deaths.
There were no significant differences for severe outcomes by vaccination status.
87% of the hospitalized children were unvaccinated.
Hospitalized children who were partially vaccinated (children receiving one dose or a second dose within 14 days of admission) were counted as unvaccinated.
Hospitalization rates for the unvaccinated were 2.1 times higher than for the fully vaccinated.
As these numbers show, fewer than 3 of 4 of hospital admissions were due to COVID.
The CDC chose not to report how many in each of the two groups (unvaccinated and vaccinated) were actual COVID admissions.
Forbes chose to use the 87% figure in its headline without providing any context in its discussion of the study.
Forbes nevertheless reported, “Tuesday’s CDC study reinforced previous findings that vaccination protects children against potentially life-threatening COVID complications like multisystem inflammatory syndrome, researchers said.”
Notably, the MMWR did not report any incidences of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in the hospitalized children.
The key point missing here is a comparison of the numbers at risk. In other words, the majority of children in this age group remained unvaccinated throughout the window of observation.
As of one week after the end of the period in question, only 32% of children were fully vaccinated. We can surmise that at the beginning of the time period, the overwhelming majority of children were unvaccinated.
Unless we are given the percentage of children in this population who are vaccinated on a weekly basis along with the numbers of hospitalizations occurring during each of those weeks, it is impossible to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness over time.
Nevertheless, the report indicated there was a 2.1 times higher risk of hospitalization for unvaccinated children if hospitalizations were summed over the entire 10-week period.
A 2.1-fold risk reduction translates to the vaccine being approximately 52% effective in preventing hospitalization.
This number is consistent with findings from the state of New York. Authors of that study noted the plunging effectiveness of the vaccine — to only 48% within seven weeks.
No mention of any risk associated with inoculation
In order to provide meaningful information parents can use to make an informed decision about whether or not to vaccinate their children, the absolute risk of hospitalization must be assessed.
According to this week’s MMWR, the cumulative hospitalization rate in the unvaccinated was 19.1 per 100,000 compared to 9.2 per 100,000 in the fully vaccinated. This is how they calculate a 2.1 risk-reduction factor (19.1/9.2 = 2.1).
More importantly, these hospitalization rates allow us to determine that it will require 100,000 primary series of vaccinations (two vaccinations per primary series) to avoid 10 hospitalizations.
In other words, in order to prevent a single hospitalization, 10,000 children need to be fully vaccinated. This is the Number Needed to Vaccinate, a metric rarely discussed by vaccine manufacturers or legacy media (or mentioned by the CDC for that matter).
This number has relevance only if there is an associated risk of vaccination, which explains why it is never discussed — our regulatory agencies rarely, if ever, acknowledge a risk of serious adverse reactions from these products.
What is the risk of COVID vaccines to 5- to 11-year-old children? Nobody really knows.
Children of this age have been exposed to these products for only a few months.
In its report (page 12) to the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biologic Product Advisory Committee on Oct. 26, 2021, Pfizer acknowledged 842 passively reported adverse events occurred in children under the age of 12.
At the time, approximately 125,000 children in that age group were fully vaccinated.
So how was Pfizer able to obtain EUA from the FDA? There were no COVID deaths, hospitalizations or even serious bouts of illness in either the treatment or placebo arm of the study.
Pfizer offered six different “models” of potential risk/benefit based on vaccine-induced antibody levels and associated rates of COVID hospitalization and vaccine-induced myo/pericarditis in older children.
Of note, Pfizer assumed in each of its models that its product’s effectiveness in preventing hospitalization was anywhere from 80% to 100% (Table 14 in the report).
As outlined above, the actual effectiveness is 52% and likely falling with time. With the vaccine manufacturer’s models now proven to be grossly inaccurate by the CDC’s own report, why hasn’t EUA been rescinded?
The CDC authors failed to mention this key point in their report.
Why are partially vaccinated included in the unvaccinated group?
Throughout the pandemic, authors of MMWRs, vaccine trials and observational studies measured vaccine effectiveness by measuring outcomes only in the fully vaccinated (14 days after the second shot) compared to the unvaccinated.
Why should effectiveness of an intervention be measured from the time of maximum effect onwards?
Moreover, if there is a risk associated with the intervention (in this case a two-shot primary series), that signal will be lost if the partially vaccinated are excluded from the treatment group, and worse yet, included in the non-treatment group (unvaccinated).
“ … if you’re computing without respect to what happens during the early period — regardless of expectations of efficacy during that time … — then you are not examining the sum total of the effects of the therapy.”
Nevertheless, this practice remains unchallenged by legacy media or the FDA and CDC advisory committees. Yet, clearly this will magnify the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Pfizer’s original (adult) trial data demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of only 52.4% (Table 13) during the period between first and second doses.
Comparing the incidence of COVID between placebo and vaccine recipients from the time of first injection, the vaccine’s efficacy would be 82%. Nevertheless, Pfizer was allowed to claim 95% efficacy by counting only those COVID cases occurring two weeks or more after the second dose.
The pediatric trial did not report on COVID cases between the first and second shots.
In the MMWR, hospitalizations among the partially vaccinated will be tallied in the unvaccinated column. This will automatically exaggerate the benefit of being fully vaccinated.
It also begs the question: If the authors were able to differentiate between fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated and unvaccinated, why didn’t they separate them into three groups to provide better information? Was it an innocent oversight?
Instead they chose to report in their limitations that “… analyses based on vaccination status are biased toward the null because partially vaccinated children were grouped with unvaccinated children.”
This is a remarkable statement. “Biasing toward the null” indicates the protective benefit of vaccination is being underestimated because they include the partially vaccinated with the unvaccinated.
In other words, they assume partial vaccination must carry a protective benefit.
How do they know this? As stated above, in the pediatric trials, COVID outcomes were not tabulated among the partially vaccinated.
Not only did the CDC include partially vaccinated hospitalized children among the unvaccinated (thereby driving up vaccine effectiveness), the CDC stated that this results in the opposite effect.
Finally, the possibility that some of these hospitalizations were due to vaccine adverse events cannot be ruled out.
Known adverse events, such as headaches, myalgias, abdominal pain, altered mental status/confusion, chest pain, diarrhea, fatigue, fever/chills, muscle aches/myalgias, nausea/vomiting, rash and seizures were all considered to be signs of suspected COVID.
Here are the key takeaways:
The vaccine offered no protection in preventing severe disease.
Risk of hospitalization from COVID is exceedingly low.
Protection from hospitalization barely meets minimum EUA requirements.
Risk of vaccination continues to be ignored.
In terms of preventing hospitalization, the CDC report is consistent with New York data that demonstrated a 50% effectiveness at the end of a seven-week period.
It is likely vaccine effectiveness in this population is mirroring the results from New York, which demonstrated steep declines week after week.
Although mainstream media promoted the CDC report as justification to compel parents to vaccinate their children, this MMWR is actually confirmation these products have very little benefit with a risk that remains unknown and unacknowledged by the authors.
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