by Jay Bhattacharya
Tuesday, 8
March 2022
Analysis
11:07

New Pfizer data kills the case for universal child Covid vaccines

The real-world trial in New York yielded disappointing results
by Jay Bhattacharya
Credit: Getty

A recent study of the efficacy of Covid vaccines for children in New York state provides a striking reminder of how rarely children and adolescents are hospitalised when they get Covid. The study tracked vaccinated and unvaccinated children in New York state last December and January to measure the efficacy of the Covid vaccine against infection and hospitalisation. The study did not track childhood deaths from Covid, presumably because there were so few that no meaningful comparison could be made between these groups.

During those months, a massive wave of Omicron Covid swept through New York state, despite longstanding restrictions and measures like mandated masking for children and vaccine-based segregation. During the peak in the first week of January, the study tracked over 40,000 New York state kids aged 5-11 who tested positive for the virus, with a total of 83 admitted to hospital. The numbers that week were similar for kids aged 12-17 — over 40,000 who tested positive and 141 admitted to the hospital. To provide context, there are about 3 million children in those age groups living in NY state.

What about the efficacy of the vaccine for children in preventing infection or hospitalisation? The results were dispiriting. For older kids, vaccine efficacy against being infected dropped from 76% in the first two weeks after full inoculation to 46% a month later. For the younger kids, it dropped from 65% in the first two weeks to negative efficacy: -41% a month later. In other words, the vaccinated young kids were actually more likely to be infected than unvaccinated kids a month and a half after vaccination. Against hospitalisation, the vaccines held up better over time, but since the number of hospitalisations in this age group was so small even without the vaccine, the vaccine prevented few cases.

Against this small benefit of hospitalisations avoided, it is important for parents to understand that the vaccine can produce negative side effects. In adolescent boys and young men, we know that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines cause inflammation of the heart muscle somewhere between 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 10,000 vaccinated. There may be other side effects that are found as the vaccine is used in larger and larger numbers of children.

Vaccines routinely used in children, including the MMR and DPT vaccines, are fundamentally different from the Covid vaccine. The infectious diseases they protect against are inherently more dangerous to the health of an infected child than Covid is. And unlike the Covid vaccine, they provide long-lasting protection against both infection and severe disease, and thus contribute to herd immunity against measles, mumps, and the other diseases they prevent. The vaccines themselves have been used for decades, with the experience of billions of children testifying to their safety (though of course vaccine injuries do rarely happen).

The proper use of the Covid vaccine in children is thus to offer it so that it can be used — in consultation between parents and physicians — on children with specific health needs, rather than a blanket positive recommendation for everyone. Given the evidence that has emerged about its efficacy on kids in real world data, there is no warrant to mandate the vaccine for children or premise their participation in childhood activities (school, sports, or anything else) on vaccination status.

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Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
5 months ago

This is exactly right. Unfortunately, I don’t think the CDC, NIH or FDA will be willing to accept the real world data regarding vaccination in children. More importantly, if a vaccine does not prevent either infection or transmission, it would seem to me that there is absolutely no case that can be made for mandates in any age group. It should be up to the individual and in the case of children their parents to decide based on their interpretation of the facts. And further the public health authorities would do well to be completely open and transparent with regard to COVID vaccine adverse events so that people can really assess the benefits and risks for themselves, depending upon their own particular situation and health status.

Last edited 5 months ago by Johann Strauss
Graham Stull
Graham Stull
5 months ago

Professor Bhattacharya is one of the as-yet unsung heroes in this sad debate, together with Professor Gupta and a handful of others.
God bless you, sir, for your bravery and commitment to truth.

Peter LR
Peter LR
5 months ago

Jay, that was a great interview with Mark Steyn on GBNews last night. I appreciated your plain statements and especially your respect for Sunetra Gupta – “the world’s pre-eminent epidemiologist”!

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
5 months ago

Good article. Sorry for the cancellation that’s about to happen. But you knew the rules: no misinformation. Misinformation being defined as any advice based on genuine scientific studies rather than political platforms.

Lena Bloch
Lena Bloch
5 months ago

I have the deepest respect and admiration for Dr. Bhattacharya, however he seem to be missing the point WHY exactly the ghouls demand kids’ injection. Not to save kids – oh no! It is because the depravity of the general population reached the unprecedented lows claiming that the pandemic is driven by kids, who, like plague rats or rabid animals, run around spreading the disease onto others, while remaining healthy themselves.
In my view, this is the most abominable trait in the “new” mentality. That kids are the spreaders, while they themselves don’t get sick. That is why there is such a push to vaccinate kids of all ages, and some insist on vaccinating babies and the newborn. So they don’t “spread”.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
5 months ago
Reply to  Lena Bloch

Yes, disgusting and from people, many of whom live deliberately unhealthy lives, exposing themselves to a disproportionate risk from Covid in the first place with obesity, cvd, hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. They do nothing about it, relying instead upon a hasty and emergency vaccine programme and an already overloaded (overloaded in large part from their own co-morbidities!) health system. Moreover they demand the authoritarian imposition of prolonged and economically and socially disasterous lockdowns and masking, measures which disproportionately disadvantage the young and healthy, and then expect those same young and healthy people to spend the rest of their blighted lives paying the bill. These are the selfless virtue-signallers of our glorious caring big society.

Last edited 5 months ago by Martin Smith
Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
5 months ago
Reply to  Lena Bloch

The sheer cowardice and immorality is truly shocking and degenerate. Children and young people have been badly treated in so many countries.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
5 months ago

Following the science seems to go out of the window when considering the vaccination of minors against Covid19. The JCVI advised against the vaccination of under-18s because there was no evidence that benefit exceeded the risk, yet the Government went ahead anyway.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
5 months ago

…. and we should stop using the word ‘vaccines’ for these new medicines of which we know not much so far. Why not call a spade a spade and call the whole injection campaign what it really is: a large scale medical experiment inflicted on society under coercion… it will take time before such a statement will be acceptable.(in the history books in 100 years???).. But then: vaccines are a religion. And with religions: there are good things…. until you get fanatic, and want the Gods to save us…

Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
5 months ago

To really understand what’s going on read “The real Anthony Fauci…” by Robert F Kennedy jnr. I’m only about half way through this book and it’s been a real eye opener to see the interaction between Fauci, big Pharma and the MSM. It’s made me rethink my trust in the medical authorities, politicians (who usually only regurgitate what’s handed to them by the medical authorities) and the pharmaceutical industry.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
5 months ago

Is there any research looking at the COVID rates in families of vaxxed and non-vaxxed kids?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

Interesting, and worth considering. Even if – as always – you should never conclude on the basis of a single study in isolation. . Considering that everybody (either side) in the COVID debate has a tendency to quote data selectively – and that Bhattacharya has long ago nailed his colours to the mast – there is one thing more I would like to know, though: How common is inflammation of the heart muscle among young people who catch COVID? Would his ‘1 in 2000 / 1 in 10000’ among the vaccinated cases cause hospitalisation, or would it only be discovered if you were specifically looking for side effects? In short, how good is his comparison between the effects of vaccination and the effects of COVID?

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I can’t recall the exact numbers but for young males the risk of actually getting myocarditis post COVID infection was smaller. (I haven’t got time to dig this out). Also, you have to take into account the probability of even catching COVID, let alone the fact that the Omicron variant is very mild. What I mean is the following. Let us say that the risk of myocarditis post-vaccination is 1 in 2000. That’s a fixed number and entirely deterministic. i.e. You get vaccinated and your risk is 1 in 2000 of getting myocarditis (as a young male). Let us now say that the risk of getting myocarditis post-COVID infection is also 1 in 2000. But the risk of catching COVID is not 1 (you may never get infected). So let us say that that risk is 1 in 10 of actually catching COVID, then the probability of getting myocarditis without vaccination, assuming that vaccination prevented infection, would be 1 in 20,000. But in fact that risk could be reduced by a further factor of 10, since one has to have severe COVID to get myocarditis and the risk of that would be at least an order of magnitude less (and more like two orders of magnitude). However, the vaccine doesn’t prevent infection and it doesn’t even prevent death and hospitalization. Indeed, recent data from UKHSA, I believe, would suggest that the real impact of the vaccine in terms of hospitalization and death is actually minimal. Under those circumstances, especially given the very poor safety profile of all current COVID vaccines in comparison to all other regular childhood vaccines, I would suggest that the risk of vaccinating health children (and for that matter healthy adults with no co-morbidities) is simply not worth it. l.e. in terms of risk/benefit, the risks of vaccination for children vastly outweigh any benefits. And that’s all the more so since the frequency and nature of any long-term sequelae (and by long-term I’m referring to adverse events that might occur even 50 years in the future, let alone 10 years) are unknown. Even in the context of myocarditis which has been portrayed as mild (a complete misnomer, since any type of medical admission for more than a day cannot possible be defined as mild), one has no idea what the long term consequences are. For example, a normal ejection fraction is between 50-75%; below 50% is considered heart failure. In myocarditis the ejection fraction generally falls to around 20%. But even if the ejection fraction recovers back to 50%, it may still be (and likely will be) way down to where the individual was prior to the myocarditis. And hence, when that individual who is currently in the 5-25 age group then develops congestive heart failure in their 70s, well before one really should, one obviously has a problem.

Last edited 5 months ago by Johann Strauss
David Delany
David Delany
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A recent UK study (n > 38 million!) found that, for males younger than 40, the risk of myocarditis following mRNA vaccination is literally twice the risk of myocarditis following COVID infection (Patone et al., 2021) 
Patone, M., Mei, X. W., Handunnetthi, L., Dixon, S., Zaccardi, F., Shankar-Hari, M., Watkinson, P., Khunti, K., Harnden, A., Coupland, C. A., Channon, K. M., Mills, N. L., Sheikh, A., & Hippisley-Cox, J. (2021). Risk of myocarditis following sequential COVID-19 vaccinations by age and sex (p. 2021.12.23.21268276). https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.23.21268276

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
5 months ago
Reply to  David Delany

That’s the preprint link. It has since been published in Nature.https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01630-0

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

Thank you, Very authoritative, and very illuminating.

The most relevant comment from the paper seems to be this:

We estimate that the absolute number of excess myocarditis events in the 28 days following a first dose of adenovirus or mRNA vaccine is between one and six per million persons vaccinated, and the excess risk following the second dose of the mRNA-1283 vaccine is ten per million. By contrast, we estimate 40 excess myocarditis events per million in the 28 days following SARS-CoV-2 infection. The risks are more evenly balanced in younger persons aged up to 40 years, where we estimated the excess in myocarditis events following SARS-CoV-2 infection to be 10 per million with the excess following a second dose of mRNA-1273 vaccine being 15 per million.

NOTE: The myocarditis risk after mRNA-1273 vaccine is maybe twice as high as for other vaccines- that is why the authors chose that one for comparison.

So:
1) Overall, the risks after getting a positive COVID test are 3-4 times as high overall as the risk of getting vaccinated
2) For young people the risks are comparable (not twice as high)
3) The risks are very small, with the Post-COVID risk (the largest) being only 40 per million.
This is not necessarily the end of it. The data may reflect mostly pre-Omicron COVID, which may be weaker, and it is (regrettably) true that vaccination does not prevent disease (only reduce the severity). But still, it is at worst a relatively even balance between very small risks – which ought (what a hope!) to quieten the doom-mongers.

Last edited 5 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

Another post of mine disappeared into moderation. But the clear conclusion of the paper seems to be that the myocarditis risk from COVID (positive test) is maybe four times the risk from vaccination, overall, and that even for young people the risk is about balanced between the two.

David Delany
David Delany
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Oddly, the original critical estimate presented in the preprint of myocarditis rates in young males following vaccination versus SARS-CoV-2 infection appears to be missing from the final published paper and its supplemental appendices.

This is inexcusable, given the known sharp age and sex-related variation in both COVID and vaccine risk (which automatically renders talk of “overall” risk as useless, at best, and badly misleading, at worst).

Interestingly, even for these pooled results the vaccine risk (incidence rate ratio, IRR) is also widely divergent: for the Moderna (mRNA-1273) vaccine, in young people (< 40 yo) the risk of myocarditis following the second-dose is fully five times that of both the Pfizer vaccine (BNT162b2) and SARS-CoV-2 infection (IRR 20.71 vs 3.40 and 4.06, respectively).

Last edited 5 months ago by David Delany
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  David Delany

The preprint says:

Importantly, we also demonstrated that across the entire vaccinated population in England, the risk of myocarditis following vaccination was small compared to the risk following a positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) test [1]

and

the risk following COVID-19 vaccination was largely restricted to younger males aged less than 40 years, where the risks of myocarditis following vaccination and infection were similar. However, the notable exception was that in younger males receiving a second dose of mRNA-1273 myocarditis was higher following vaccination than infection

Not that different from the quote from the final paper (in my awaiting-moderation post). From which I would conclude no more than that young males should use one of the several alternative vaccines.

David Delany
David Delany
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“…the risks of myocarditis following vaccination and infection were similar”

The authors’ evidently misinterpreted their own data in the pre-print: for young males, there are clearly statistically significant higher rates of myocarditis for all mRNA-based vaccines following the second dose compared to SARS-CoV-2 infection (Patone et al., 2021, p. 4) (Note that their BNT162b2 CI values are a typo)

Last edited 5 months ago by David Delany
David Delany
David Delany
5 months ago

Thanks for the update!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Meanwhile my friend has ‘flu’. She sent her Swedish boyfriend home to Sweden with the ‘flu’ last week. The Swedes did not test him for Covid and sent him home to get better – he is over 60. Why on earth is the world still vaccinating young children. It is indefensible.