How dangerous is Covid? Should one take a vaccine? Pfizer and Moderna Phase 3 vaccine trials data (added JNJ and Sinovac data)

Last update, December 2021 (added comment on RCT data at end)

01 December 2020
Data about Covid is all over the place, because of different tests and methods used to qualify positives and deaths worldwide. However, some good data has come out of Pfizer and Moderna from their Phase 3 vaccine trials.

Deaths due to Covid

Data from placebo groups of Pfizer (about 21K people. Press release here) and Moderna (about 15K people. Press release here) trials shows that combining the two placebo groups, there was 

- 1 Covid death in a total of 36K people in a period of about 3 months (Pfizer 0 deaths, 1 death in Moderna).

Therefore, the Covid mortality rate scaled to 1 year, is 4 deaths in 36K per year, or about 0.1 deaths in 1000 people per year.

The global all causes mortality rate is 7.7 deaths per 1000 people per year (Reference Wiki). [This means that about 0.77% of the population dies every year).

The effect of Covid is therefore 0.1/7.7, or about 1% increase in mortality rate.

Interestingly, no deaths from other causes were reported in this large sample of 36K (oversight or intentional?) by either Pfizer or Moderna. On a mortality of 7.7/1000 per year, you should see 277 deaths per year from non-Covid causes, or about 70 deaths in 3 months in these groups. Where are these 70 deaths (total) in these placebo groups of Pfizer and Moderna? I asked these companies via Twitter, but didn't receive any response.

The vaccinated groups together must also show around 70 deaths (if chosen sample on whom vax was tested represents the population, as it should in a well designed trial).

Looking at this data in another way, the vaccinated groups combined together of Pfizer and Moderna should have 70 deaths. The unvaccinated group should one extra death than the vaccinated group, or 71 deaths.

Severe illness due to Covid

Pfizer and Moderna also report severe cases of Covid. 9 cases were reported in the placebo group by Pfizer, and 30 by Moderna (again, the size of these groups were 21K Pfizer and 15K Moderna), for a total of 39 cases in the placebo groups of the two firms.

39 cases of severe case of Covid in a population of 36K in 3 months, is about 1 in 1000 in 3 months, or 4 in 1000 per year. Basically, assuming linear progression of the disease and no repeat infections, you will get the severe disease once in 1000 months, or 80 years. I am aware that these are rough estimations, but the ball park is that you will fall sick once with severe Covid in a lifetime.

The vaccines are being touted as lowering this already low probability even more. Covid is much like the HPV in that sense, as explained by my article here.

Positive tests due to Covid (mild illness)

Both Pfizer and Moderna also talk about mild Covid illness, and those numbers are 162 for Pfizer and 185 by Moderna.  I don't think vaccination should be even considered for mild illnesses, so this number is basically junk. They are touting them as cases because of Covid positive tests, which as I have argued before as being highly faulty. Not to mention that some people even in the vaccinated groups tested positive, why is that number not 0? 

Overall take: I believe a vaccine is not necessary at all for Covid, given the low probability of deaths, and even of severe illness due Covid. Just analyzing all the data from the horses' [Pfizer and Moderna] mouths.

See also notes on "statistically significant but clinically meaningless note" in this article regarding vaccinations and RCTs

Update 28 Feb 2021
JNJ also got approval from FDA for emergency use of their Covid vaccine. See details here. There were no deaths reported in the placebo group or the vaccine group. After 14 days, 60 people got severely ill in the placebo group (about 20K in each of the placebo and vaccinated groups, for a total of 40K participants) while 14 got sick in the vaccinated group.

These numbers are in same ball park as Pfizer and Moderna, once again showing no need to take this vaccine (details explained above).

Update 11 March 2021
China's Sinovac data, details here. Sinovac is supplying its vaccine in developing countries (South America, Turkey and Indonesia). there were no deaths reported in the placebo group or the vaccine group. After 14 days, 160 people got severely ill in the placebo group (about 13K total in placebo and vaccinated groups, not clear if they are equal in size) while 60 got sick in the vaccinated group.

These numbers are quite a bit higher than other trials, both for placebo and vaccinated groups. The relative advantage of vaccine is quite low.

Update May 2021:
There is massive discrepancy between deaths published by these pharma companies in their trials vs. what is published by public health departments worldwide (the public health departments show orders of magnitude higher deaths) [looking at just the placebo groups of pharma trials data]. The pharma data is more reliable than the public health department data because in public health data deaths are being labeled Covid deaths even when the person came into the hospital for something else, got their test for Covid because they are overzealous about testing, and died. The test data is then just false positives, or "with Covid", not from Covid, where Covid should be the root cause of the death. The pharma company data is the correct methodology; the public health departments are not.

Update July 2021:
Pfizer published the follow up study (downloadable from here) for all their trial participants. Recall that there were about 21K in each group, placebo and vaccinated.

Reproduced is Table S4 from this study. You can see that there were 15 deaths in vaccinated group, and 14 in placebo group. There was one death in the vaccinated group from Covid, whereas there were 2 in the placebo group. Interestingly, there were 4 deaths from cardiac arrest in the vaccinated group, and 0 for cardiac arrest in the placebo group. Some may attribute it to a particular side effect of the vaccine. Overall though, if the vaccine was really effective, you would see a much larger number of deaths in placebo group vs. the vaccinated group, and most of those would be due to Covid. This is clearly not the case, affirming my previous conclusion that there is no significant advantage in taking the vaccine.

On Twitter, Ben @USMortality brought this data to my attention.

Update Dec. 2021:
Toward the beginning I had said why there is a lot of  'bad data' for Covid vaccines. This is because RCTs do blinding-the doctors do not know who got the vaccine, who didn't. The data coming out of hospitals and health departments is biased-they will make the vaccinated look good, and the unvaccinated look bad (treatment bias), which is why blinding in RCTs is done.

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