Tucker: Why have so many people died after getting vaccinated?

Last night’s segment was so reckless in spreading vaccine paranoia that Twitter appears to be scrubbing tweets that featured clips from his monologue even if those tweets aimed to debunk Carlson’s claims.

Here was the gist of his point:

“Between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the covid vaccine in the United States — 3,362,” Carlson said, citing data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). “That’s an average of roughly 30 people every day.”

He added: “It’s clear that what is happening now, for whatever reason, is not even close to normal. It is not even close to what we see in previous years with previous vaccines. Most vaccines are not accused of killing large numbers of people. … Again, more people, according to VAERS, have died after getting the shot in four months during a single vaccination campaign than from all other vaccines combined over more than a decade and a half. Chart that out. It’s a stunning picture.”

It’s one big “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy, the idea that because some people have died after being vaccinated they might have died because they were vaccinated. Here’s the CDC on how they process submissions to VAERS:

Over 245 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through May 3, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 4,178 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.

Take a few minutes to read through this thread from radiologist and conservative Pradheep Shanker, as it’s illuminating about how VAERS works. One important point to grasp is that it’s not just doctors who submit reports to the system. Anyone can. If your relative dies after being vaccinated, of whatever cause, you can give the CDC a heads up and they’ll look at it to see if there might be a link to the vaccine somehow.

Another good point from Shanker: For all of Tucker’s grumbling that the public isn’t allowed to ask questions about the vaccine, the whole point of VAERS is to let people ask questions of the CDC about whether a vaccinated person might have suffered a serious complication. “Tucker’s whole thing is ‘They don’t want you to ask any questions, you’re not allowed to ask questions,’ etc,” said Seth Mandel about Carlson’s monologue. “When what’s really happening is ppl keep answering the questions and he ignores them so he can state the opposite and then also play victim.”

People who know what they’re talking about are in fact offering to come on his show and answer his questions:

As others have noted today, it’s surely true that Americans have died after watching episodes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Statistically, given how long the show’s been on, it must be true that some have died while watching an episode. Does that mean Tucker caused their deaths?

Of course not, because correlation doesn’t prove causation.

Aaron Blake of WaPo did a nice job answering some of Carlson’s just-asking-questions musings today:

According to CDC data, an estimated 8,000 Americans die every day of all causes. That’s 1 in every 41,000 people, every day. If you apply that number to 135 million people who are vaccinated, you’d expect that more than 3,000 people who were vaccinated would be dying every day right now — again, of something. That’s significantly more than the 30 per day Carlson suggests is alarming. Even if you account for the gradual increase in vaccinations, the idea that we’d be seeing hundreds and then thousands of vaccinated people dying per day is completely expected…

And the vaccinated population isn’t just a random sample of 135 million Americans; the earliest vaccine efforts focused on elderly people who were more susceptible to the worst of the virus — and were also more susceptible to dying of other causes. In other words, we’d expect more deaths from all causes of vaccinated people.

The Pfizer clinical trial also showed that, of more than 18,000 people who received a placebo — i.e. not the vaccine — two later died. If you apply that rate to the more than 100 million people getting a vaccine, you get more than 10,000 deaths, and in a shorter time period than the one Carlson describes.

Correlation isn’t causation. If a 95-year-old got vaccinated and then died three months later, her death might very well end up in VAERS. That doesn’t mean the vaccine killed her, although the CDC will check it out. It means 95-year-olds die all the time of old age and other health problems. And we’ve vaccinated a lot of old people in the past four months. Go figure that we might be seeing more VAERS reports than usual being filed lately.

There was so much upset last night at Tucker for pushing the idea that the vaccines might just kill you that even some Fox contributors felt obliged to speak out. A notable one:

If Carlson wants answers about the vaccine he could always invite Saphier on his show. Why doesn’t he?

She identified a major irony of the pre-vax/post-vax period in her tweet. Some COVID truthers like Tucker’s occasional guest Alex Berenson took a doggedly skeptical view of the cause of deaths attributed to COVID while taking a curiously credulous view of possible vaccine links in deaths among vaccinated people. Never mind the enormous surge in “excess deaths” that America experienced in 2020, proof that people were dying in far greater numbers than in normal years: For COVID truthers, each death by a COVID patient was potentially just a heart attack or stroke that was unrelated to the disease itself. (“Mr. Smith died *with* COVID, not *of* COVID.”) But ask the same people about a 95-year-old dying a few months after being vaccinated and suddenly they’re all too open to the possibility that the vaccine, not being 95, killed grandma.

There’s another irony in Carlson’s segment. Much of right-wing media has lambasted the FDA for being overcautious in “pausing” the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after finding a handful of blood-clot cases caused by that product. I’ve done it myself. Examine any graph tracking daily vaccinations in the U.S. and you’ll find that demand began to collapse on the very day that the pause was announced, strong evidence that the FDA spooked vaccine-hesitant people into not getting immunized for fear of experiencing an ultra-rare side effect. The FDA justified its decision, though, by citing it as proof that it was being completely above board with Americans about vaccine complications. They were willing to risk derailing the momentum of the entire national vaccination program in order to make sure that the public knew that J&J *did* have a serious side effect, albeit one you have lottery-type odds of experiencing. And they did in fact derail that momentum with their candor.

So now here’s Tucker all but accusing them of a massive cover-up in which thousands of people have secretly died from the vaccine.

By the way, coincidentally, this happened on “Fox & Friends” this morning, around 12 hours after Carlson’s monologue set critics on fire:

The hosts were back together for the first time in nearly a year and Steve Doocy was proudly displaying his vaccination card. I wonder if that was FNC management’s way of doing a little damage control from last night’s fiasco.

If you want to watch Tucker’s segment, it’s available on Fox News’s website. I’ll leave you with this instead.