The BBC claims that vaccines have reduced mortality by 95%. They state:
But the actual number of people dying would be much lower – a 20th as many as if no-one was vaccinated, according to PHE estimates.
They add the Public Health England (PHE) “estimate” that 27,000 lives have been saved. Politicians, for example the New Health Secretary Sajid Javid, have made similar claims. They assert that vaccines efficacy is proven and that they are known to be safe.
All claims, no matter who makes them, must be supported by evidence.
In this case, when we look at the evidence allegedly “proving” vaccine efficacy and safety, there are many unresolved questions. It seems these claims cannot be trusted. There are reasons for doubt.
The BBC proclamation is based upon the models of the PHE and MRC Biostatistics Unit’s COVID-19 working group (PHE/MRC).
The PHE/MRC have created the PHE/Cambridge real-time pandemic surveillance model. Using this model they claim the vaccination programme has prevented between 6.4 and 7.9 million infections and 26,100 and 28,400 deaths in England alone. The PHE/MRC add:
The total was calculated by comparing the estimated impact of vaccination on infection and mortality against a worst-case scenario where no vaccines were in place to reduce infections and mortality.. Vaccination rates in the model are based on the actual number of doses administered, and the vaccine is assumed to reduce susceptibility to COVID-19 as well as mortality once infected.
This is an estimate, based upon assumptions, compared to a model of a worst case scenario. So the question is, what are the assumptions informing the “worst case scenario” and the subsequent claims about lives saved? Are these assumptions reliable and is there clear clinical evidence to substantiate them?