Anders Hviid & Tracy Høeg

Investigating the Florida mRNA vaccine study

October 12, 2022
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“Today, we released an analysis on Covid-19 mRNA vaccines the public needs to be aware of. This analysis showed an increased risk of cardiac-related death among men 18-39. FL will not be silent on the truth.”

So went the announcement by the Florida Surgeon General, Joseph A. Ladapo, less than a week ago. The analysis he posted in PDF form listed no authors and was not attached to any publication or university, but made a claim that made headlines around the world: that young men were 84% more likely to die of heart problems in the 28 days after having had an mRNA-based Covid vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna.

This claim, unsurprisingly, sparked a huge reaction. Within hours experts had lined up to defend or attack the study: was it irresponsible flame-throwing by an under-qualified political appointee that was designed to help Florida Governor Ron DeSantis rather than save lives? Or was it a brave and long overdue public acknowledgement by an official of a danger we had all known about for too long?

Finding credible independent voices on a topic like vaccines is not easy. Many establishment experts would rather avoid the topic altogether, as they don’t want to be accused of casting doubt on the sacred shibboleth of vaccine safety. Meanwhile many anti-establishment critics have become activists, determined to uncover wrongdoing, and prove conspiracies far beyond the plausible evidence. Unsurprisingly, we found the sanest voices come from the Nordic countries.

First we spoke to Professor Anders Hviid, Senior Investigator in the Department of Epidemiology Research at the Danish Health Agency SSI. The Danes have been among the most evidence-led health officials in the world, and it is his agency that recently stopped offering vaccination to healthy under-50 year olds.

“If I had to phrase it nicely, this is an incomplete presentation,” says Professor Hviid. As well as the absence of authors and normal transparency, he is unconvinced by the method.

The so-called “self-controlled case series” method which the Florida study uses is unusual: instead of comparing one group against a control group, it looks at timings of events within the same group. The problem he raises is that when the “event” under examination is death, those individuals are obviously not present in the subsequent time period. “That’s a red flag for me,” Professor Hviid says. “I would have liked to see them discuss it and see if it is an important violation of the method.” He doesn’t stop there:

I can’t use this study to substantiate anything. I could talk all afternoon about all the different criticisms I have. For example, the fact that when you are using cause of death, these are delayed; in the study period which they have used this delay would influence the younger people to a larger extent because they are more likely to have been vaccinated at the end of the period and still have incomplete death registration. That’s another obvious source of bias here.
- Professor Anders Hviid

Professor Hviid prefers to point to his own pan-Nordic study investigating the link between myocarditis and mRNA vaccines. His study looked at the health records of all people across Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and did not shy away from controversy:

We have shown ourselves that yes, there is an association between the mRNA vaccines and myocarditis, in particular after the second dose, and this is strongest in younger males. But what we’ve also observed that, at least if you look at the 28 days after you have received your diagnosis of myocarditis… in 23 million people in the Nordic countries there were no deaths among young males. That lends support for the idea that although myocarditis after vaccination is a thing, it is much milder than classical myocarditis.
- Professor Anders Hviid

In summary, the Danish view is that while myocarditis is a genuine side effect of mRNA vaccines, it is very rare and does not cause deaths. It is serious for the small minority who suffer from it, and it factors into the agency’s decision to discontinue Covid vaccination for healthy under-50s, but it is not the cause of deaths in any significant number.

Next I spoke to Dr Tracy Hoeg. In theory, she belongs firmly in the anti-establishment corner: she is a consultant epidemiologist for the Florida Health Agency (reporting to none other than Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo) and she has been a vocal critic of lockdowns, school closures and vaccine mandates.

Although she is at pains to avoid criticising her “good friend” Mr Ladapo, even she is not fully convinced by the Florida study. She doesn’t know who the authors are, and she works in the same department: “It’s one finding, it’s one study… It’s interesting that it would only affect 18-39 year old males and not the other groups, so I don’t think it should be dismissed,” she said. But she acknowledges the very small sample size:

It’s really important for people to consider that context: the number of deaths is very small. And I agree that if it were just a couple fewer it wouldn’t have been statistically significant. If we’re seeing deaths following the vaccine in this age group, it’s not in high numbers. That’s important to state.
- Dr Tracy Hoeg

She also finds the evidence of the earlier Nordic study powerful:

They didn’t have deaths in that study… I will say that in the New England Journal of Medicine from Israel, there was a death reported related to myocarditis in a young male. And there have been some deaths reported due to myocarditis in the peer reviewed literature, but to my knowledge they are less than 10.
- Dr Tracy Hoeg

She is against vaccinating children, against continued vaccine mandates on university campuses, and supports the Danish government’s decision to cease vaccinations for healthy under-50s: “If you’re healthy and you’re not high risk under 50, I think that that is a fair cut off.”

But she does not think that vaccines are the underlying cause of the excess deaths that we are continuing to observe around the world, which remains a popular theory on the internet:

I have been looking to Sweden again, the great control group, to figure out what’s been going on with the excess deaths. Up until recently they really didn’t have excess deaths following the vaccination campaign — in my mind that speaks very strongly to the excess deaths being seen in Europe and the US being related to the harms of the lockdowns predominantly rather than the vaccines. I am not saying there are no deaths being caused by the vaccines — that’s really difficult to rule out… but I do think that we shouldn’t be jumping to the conclusion that this is due to vaccines.
- Dr Tracy Hoeg

Although they diverge in emphasis, it seems these experts are both approaching a position that we might call vaccine-centrism. This involves acknowledging that vaccine injury is real, that side-effects such as myocarditis are real, and for groups like younger men make the risk-reward calculus of taking further Covid mRNA boosters highly questionable. However, it rejects the idea that the vaccines have been causing large numbers of deaths and that there is any global conspiracy to cause or cover-up harms for malevolent ends.


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